seticat: (** 2lumps - o_0 - evilgrins)
Scary, but true.

XKCD "seismic waves"
seticat: (gen - signal-boost - mine)
Budget cuts shutdown SETI

Shamelessly copied from [ profile] syrwolf

SAN FRANCISCO — In the mountains of Northern California, a field of radio dishes that look like giant dinner plates waited for years for the first call from intelligent life among the stars.

But they're not listening anymore.

Cash-strapped governments, it seems, can no longer pay the interstellar phone bill.

Astronomers at the SETI Institute said a steep drop in state and federal funds has forced the shutdown of the Allen Telescope Array, a powerful tool in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, an effort scientists refer to as SETI.

"There's plenty of cosmic real estate that looks promising," Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the institute, said Tuesday. "We've lost the instrument that's best for zeroing in on these better targets."

The shutdown came just as researchers were preparing to point the radio dishes at a batch of new planets.

About 50 or 60 of those planets appear to be about the right distance from stars to have temperatures that could make them habitable, Shostak said.

The 42 radio dishes had scanned deep space since 2007 for signals from alien civilizations while also conducting research into the structure and origin of the universe.

SETI Institute chief executive Tom Pierson said in an email to donors last week that the University of California, Berkeley, has run out of money for day-to-day operation of the dishes.

"Unfortunately, today's government budgetary environment is very difficult, and new solutions must be found," Pierson wrote.

The $50 million array was built by SETI and UC Berkeley with the help of a $30 million donation from Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen. Operating the dishes cost about $1.5 million a year, mostly to pay for the staff of eight to 10 researchers and technicians to operate the facility.

An additional $1 million a year was needed to collect and sift the data from the dishes.

The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, the billionaire's philanthropic venture, had no immediate plans to provide more funding to the facility, said David Postman, a foundation spokesman.

The institute, however, was hopeful the U.S. Air Force might find the dishes useful as part of its mission to track space debris and provide funding to keep the equipment operating.

The SETI Institute was founded in 1984 and has received funding from NASA, the National Science Foundation and several other federal programs and private foundations. Other projects that will continue include the development of software and tools to be used in the search for extraterrestrial life.

Despite the shutdown of the Allen Telescope Array, the search for E.T. will go on using other telescopes such as a dish at Arecibo in Puerto Rico, the largest radio telescope in the world, Shostak said.

The difference, he said, was that SETI researchers can point the Arecibo telescope at selected sites in space for only about two weeks a year.

While the telescope in Northern California is not as powerful, it could be devoted to the search year-round.

"It has the advantage that you can point it where you want to point it and you can keep pointing it in that direction for as long as we want it to," Shostak said.

The dishes also are unique in the ability to probe for signals from extraterrestrial civilizations while gathering more general scientific data.

"That made the telescope a double-barreled threat," said Leo Blitz, a professor of astronomy at UC Berkeley and former director of the observatory that includes the Allen Telescope Array.
seticat: (tvm - drwho-stardust - aerianya)
Thirty one years ago today, LEM "Eagle" settled itself on the face of the moon at a location dubbed "Tranquility Base".

And it all started right here:

"These Seven Men"
Mike Stewart - The Kingston Trio

He's gone away for to stay a little while
but he's comin' back if he goes ten thousand miles.

Who are these seven men whose path leads them so far
and shake our minds to wonder who they are?
They scout the new frontier to find the surest way
and they look to us for they have shown the way.

They're gone away for to stay a little while
but they're comin' back if they go ten thousand miles.

What is there left to look to that yet has not been done. W
hat West is there if all the Wests are won?
Look not back o'er your shoulder but high above your head.
These seven men have shown the way.
These seven men have said,

"We've gone away for to stay a little while
but we're comin' back if we go ten thousand miles.
We're gone, gone away."

Tonight, take a moment and look up into the night sky. Rest your eyes on the beautiful quarter moon floating in the night sky. And ask yourself:

Was is all a dream? When will we go back?
seticat: (cat - quantum-box - lanna-kitty)
Great. I just heard on the news that Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc. wants to put in two nuke power plants in Idaho. Even better, they aren't that far away from me, as wind and weather - and nuclear disasters - go. One in Payette County [just north of Canyon County where I am] and Elmore County [just a county or so over and just south of Boise County]

Map of Idaho counties.

Do Not Wantz Glow-In-The-Dark Powerz! I am a child of 3 Mile Island, Chernobyl and other such incidents.
Wiki article on nuclear and radiation accidents.

I admit, some of my prejudgments may be colored by a book I read many years ago: "We Almost Lost Detroit". But what a lot of folks don't know is the first documented nuclear accident was just on the other side of Idaho from me. Near a city called Arco,Arco is the "National Reactor Testing Station" (NRTS) ,now known as the Idaho National Laboratory, a military test reactor called SL-1 exploded on the night of January 3, 1961, killing the three-man maintenance crew on duty. - "Idaho Falls: The Untold Story of America's First Nuclear Accident"

And let's not overlook the creepy factor that Arco is very near 'Craters of the Moon' National Monument and Preserve.

Call me old fashioned, but no matter how well people are trained in what they do, there will always be a 'lowest common denominator' somewhere: construction, etc. And no one has convinced me that fusion/fission is a safe bet now and for the future. Hell, human beings can't deal with the garbage they already produce. I don't think we need garbage that will be around for multi-generations to come. I'd rather see the effort but into solar, wind and geothermal. Those make more sense for this area than glow-in-the-dark power.

Just my opinion and given for free. You get what you pay for it.
seticat: (gen - moon purple by moonchulde)
Great info and beautiful pictures. I mean, how can you go wrong?

In all seriousness, this is a great web site, an informative newsletter and it's all free. The weekly newsletter brimming with information about space and astronomy, but concise enough to be enjoyed in less than two minutes.

Please, go look things over. I think you'll like it. The year in Space
seticat: (gen - geek-inside - entrenous)
Yet another goodie from [ profile] ysabetwordsmith.

Triple helix genetic material.

Tres cool!


seticat: (Default)

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