Art spoke with Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer at the SETI Institute, about his organization's search for intelligent life in the universe.
Current research is taking place at the Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton (near San Jose, California), Shostak explained, where SETI members are using an optical telescope to look for flashing laser pulses coming from other stars. The major work of the institute is the construction of a new radio telescope called the Allen Telescope Array, he said. When complete the telescope will be composed of 350 antennas capable of peering deep into the center of the Milky Way galaxy, Shostak continued.
He commented on the challenges of finding intelligent life in the universe, noting that "fewer than a thousand star systems have been carefully looked at" by SETI. Shostak also talked about the possibility of having missed a signal in the early days of the SETI program, as well as the "Wow!" signal and the events surrounding the 3 minute message sent from Arecibo back in 1974.
Despite his belief that extraterrestrial life is possible, Shostak expressed skepticism about alien visitations to Earth in UFOs. In particular, he spoke about the Roswell incident. Shostak said the incident can be explained by Project Mogul, a top secret U.S. military operation involving high altitude balloons.