In a cozy, simply decorated room in the basement floor of Evans Hall, UC Berkeley professor Geoffrey
Marcy operates the Keck telescope, which is located more than 2,000 miles away.
One night, Marcy, a renowned “planet hunter” credited with finding the first system of planets around another star,
was searching not only for Earth-sized planets that might be orbiting nearby stars but also for something else he
has yet to find: concentrated laser light in the universe transmitted by technological civilizations that might
be living on distant planets or in a spacecraft nearby.
In other words, Marcy was searching for aliens.
Less than 1 percent of galaxy’s planets can transmit radio signals, UC Berkeley researchers find
“Think about humanity 300 hundred years from now,” he said. “Suppose we set up a colony on another planet … the
most likely way we will communicate with (humans on those planets) is with radio signals or light beams.”
Marcy believes that there may be other civilizations in the universe that are years ahead of human society and
might currently be communicating with radio signals in a network he calls a “galactic Internet.”
Marcy uses advanced telescopes to detect concentrated signals in space. He believes these signals may indicate
the existence of another advanced civilization, because nothing in the universe is known to emit such signals.
The Templeton Foundation recently granted him $200,000 for his proposal.
Marcy leads a team that specializes in searching for laser light for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence,
or SETI, program at UC Berkeley, a program that uses advanced telescopes to detect strong signals in an attempt to
find technological civilizations in the universe.
His work is only a section of the collective effort of the organization. UC Berkeley has established a reputation
as the world’s largest organization — since NASA’s 1993 SETI program — for exploring advanced life in the universe.
Image source: Fred Thomas under Creative Commons
As more and more Earthlike planets are being discovered, some scientists feel that there is no longer
anything “particularly special about Earth” that makes it uniquely conducive to life, according to Andrew
Siemion, a project scientist in the UC Berkeley SETI group.
Every year, the program gathers approximately $1 million in funding, which is spread over 10 unique projects,
according to Dan Werthimer, director of the UC Berkeley group. Distinct categories each concern a certain range
of the electromagnetic wave spectrum, because the researchers cannot be sure at which wavelength other
civilizations may be emitting their signals.
Werthimer says that the research is significant whether or not signs of extraterrestrial life are found.
“If we do not find life elsewhere in the universe, then that means we are one in trillions and should take
incredibly good care of life on this planet,” Werthimer said.
Like Marcy, all of the researchers involved are respected scientists in their field who work simultaneously on
other research projects in campus departments such as astronomy and electrical engineering. Werthimer and his
colleagues, for example, made the first images of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy.
“You have to know we are not searching for crop circles or flying saucers,” Marcy said with a smile.
So far, the only achievements of SETI at Berkeley are advancements in technology, as researchers have yet to
find direct clues of other advanced civilizations. Nevertheless, Marcy says that these advancements are benefiting
astronomy and science in general.
“I am not an optimist,” Marcy said, describing the likelihood of finding intelligent extraterrestrial life.
“I would bet on my house that we would fail … But this is such an important question, the question of ‘Are we alone?’,
and the only way to find out is to risk it.”
Something Mysteriously Warms Antarctica Ice
Very rapid climate changes take place on Antarctica.
"Something" mysteriously warms Antarctica Ice and it's a dangerous process.
The huge 18-mile-long crack that was discovered at the end of last year, is still growing and it remains unclear what is causing the sudden change in temperature.
Antarctica is getting warmer and the melting of ice is adding to global sea level rise.
Geological Rift That Baffles Scientists Is Still Expanding
This huge rift can be clearly seen from space.
Geologists are truly surprised at how fast it developed, when a 60 meter long rift opened up in Ethiopia.
It occurred in the course of a few days, in 2005 and the rift is still expanding.
Fastest Wind Ever Coming From A Disk Around Stellar-Mass Black Hole Discovered
This record breaking wind is moving about 20 million miles per hour - about 3% the speed of light and may be carrying away much more material
than the black hole is actually capturing.
This is nearly ten times faster than had ever been seen from a stellar-mass black hole, and matches some of the fastest winds g
enerated by supermassive black holes, objects millions or billions of times more massive.
Extremely Distant And Exotic Quasar
It is an exotic and distant object, which has a velocity of recession of approximately 270,000 kilometers per second (!) or - 91 percent of the
velocity of light itself.
The results show that this quasar, known as Q1442+101, is among exotic objects receding from the Milky Way at tremendous velocities of thousands
and occasionally even hundreds of thousands of kilometers per second!
Very Puzzling Appearance And Trajectory Of Fireballs
In the middle of the night on February 13th, something disturbed the animal population of rural Portal, Georgia.
Cows started mooing anxiously and local dogs howled at the sky. The cause of the commotion was a rock from space.
Unusual Pulsar Or Alien Signals?
The pulse timing of this object is considered unusual.
What kind of phenomenon is related to this object?
It is the first time this kind of phenomenon has been observed by astronomers.
The "Cloaked" Star Was Difficult To Find
An object obscured by dust, and buried in a two-star system enshrouded by dense gas, is not easy to find.
A "cloaked" star was discovered after it ate a little of its neighbor. The meal must have given the star a bit of indigestion, because it
"burped" with a blast of high-energy radiation, which gave it away.
Black Gaps In The Sky Puzzle Astronomers
Very dark isolated interstellar clouds of very cold gas like black gaps have puzzled astronomers for more than a century.
Looking at the sky in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius, it is clear that there are extremely dark,
opaque knots of gas and dust especially in the region toward the center of our Milky Way.
Invader From Another Galaxy
This alien intruder from another galaxy is in many ways different from other exoplanets observed by astronomers.
Located about 2000 light-years from Earth in the southern constellation of Fornax (the Furnace), the Jupiter-like planet orbits a dying star of
extragalactic origin and risks to be engulfed by it.