Astronomer Seth Shostak discussed his continued work in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), the nature of possible alien life forms, and various astronomy topics. The Allen Telescope Array, which lost funding last year, is now back up and running through private donations, and is once again listening for signals, he reported. SETI's method is to connect radio telescopes to computers which scan for intelligent or artificial signals. If anything unusual comes up, other scientists are contacted to see if they can reproduce the effect, he outlined.
Interestingly, in the 1920s, Mars was a little closer to Earth than it normally is, and it was suggested that all radio transmitters be turned off, so that people could listen for Martian signals. This was during the era when it was believed that canals existed on Mars, as declared by astronomer Percival Lowell, but he was actually seeing an optical illusion when he made that observation, Shostak explained.
Beyond the Allen Array, other projects in the works include LOFAR, a low frequency antenna array being built in Holland and Germany, that will allow for studying the sky in low frequency ranges, and the Square Kilometer Array, a European initiative that will cover a large distance. Shostak will be involved in the upcoming conference Seticon, this June 22-24th, and also hosts a weekly podcast called Big Picture Science.
First hour guest, Tim Ralston, who's launching a business with his survival inventions, is featured in the new TV series, Doomsday Preppers. He talked about possible scenarios in which parts of the US could get knocked off the grid for long periods, and advised people to move away from large population centers to small rural areas that are more sustainable. Having some kind of water filtration system is important, he said, recommending products made by HTI.
Bumper music from Tuesday January 24, 2012