Monday, 16 January 2012

Scientists keep watch for communication from aliens

By Melanie Eversley
They're sort of like the keepers of TV's fictional X Files

By Jayne Clark, USA TODAY

A loosely formed group of scientists around the world called Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or SETI, is regularly monitoring the heavens in hopes of catching any trace of communication from aliens, according to the BBC.
The group is made up of about 2 dozen scientists who watch signals coming in from the world's largest radio telescopes, according to the news organization.
If any of the telescopes were to detect any sort of unusual signal from the cosmos, the signal would have to be confirmed by other telescopes, Seth Shostak, SETI's principal astronomer, tells the BBC. This would take about a week, he says. The news would likely travel quickly, he adds.
"In all that time, you can be sure people are e-mailing boyfriends and girlfriends, writing on their blogs," Shostak tells the BBC. "The word will be out there."
All in the SETI community agree that if aliens reach out to Earth, that Earth should respond, according to the BBC. But the scientists don't agree on what to say or how to say it.
"When we're dealing with an alien mind - what they might appreciate, what they might regard as interesting or beautiful or ugly - will be so much tied to their neural architecture that we really couldn't guess," says Paul Davies of Arizona State University, who heads up the SETI Post-Detection Task Group. "So the only thing that we've got in common has got to be at a mathematics and physics level."