Optical SETI Pioneer Receives Bruno Award
For more information contact: Dr. H. Paul Shuch, Executive Director
(201) 641-1770, or email email@example.com
For forty years, the world's SETI programs have been dominated by microwave technology, while OSETI proponents have argued that laser communication is at least as likely a mechanism as radio for establishing interstellar contact. Dr. Kingsley's has been a voice in the wilderness for at least the past ten years, his optical observatory among the first to search for laser communications from space. The scientific establishment is only now beginning to embrace OSETI, due in large part to Kingsley's research, publications and conference presentations.
Since 1990 Stuart Kingsley has been conducting what has become the world's longest-running optical SETI program, from an observatory dome behind his home in Columbus, OH. His modest 25 cm diameter reflector telescope searches the 550 nm spectrum for pulsed lasers emanating from nearby stars. While most SETI scientists concentrated on the more conventional microwave spectrum, Dr. Kingsley's optical search has received support from such visionaries as Nobel laureate Dr. Charles Townes and novelist Sir Arthur C. Clarke.
As vindication of Kingsley's vision, the past five years have seen the launch of half a dozen ambitious OSETI projects at the Harvard-Smithsonian Astronomical Observatory; the University of California, Berkeley; the Lick observatory in California; on the Keck telescope in Hawaii; at Perth and Sydney, Australia; and in the Czech Republic. Dr. Kingsley now chairs the SETI League's Optical SETI Committee, through which he encourages other experimenters to embrace OSETI.
SETI scientists seek to determine through microwave and optical measurements whether humankind is alone in the universe. Since Congress terminated NASA's SETI funding in 1993, The SETI League and other scientific groups have been attempting to privatize the research. Experimenters interested in participating in the search for intelligent alien life, or citizens wishing to help support it, should email to firstname.lastname@example.org, check the SETI League Web site at http://www.setileague.org/, send a fax to 1 (201) 641-1771, or contact The SETI League, Inc. membership hotline at 1 (800) TAU-SETI. Be sure to provide us with a postal address to which we will mail further information. The SETI League, Inc. is a membership-supported, non-profit [501(c)(3)], educational and scientific corporation dedicated to the electromagnetic Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence.
Dr. Kingsley's curriculum vita may be found on the web, at www.setileague.org/admin/kingsley.htm.
Pictures by Pam Pinali
Message from Stuart Kingsley
Let us hope that by 2010, we will have discovered extraterrestrial laser beacon signals and then know for sure that "we are not alone". Of course, this may take space-based observatories, so it is important that future space-based optical observatories, whether they operate in the infrared, visible or ultraviolet spectrums, should be equipped to undertake Optical SETI observations. I can confidently predict that by 2005, most SETI activities on this planet will be of the optical kind and that by 2010, most funding for SETI will be for the optical variety.
As far as The SETI League is concerned, the next decade will see its membership grow substantially, but driven by vast numbers of amateur optical astronomers who will have decided to take up the optical search. Amateurs make significant contributions to conventional astronomy, so there is no reason why they should not do the same in the Optical SETI arena. We have seen how successful SETI@Home has been in generating interest in Microwave SETI, from data collected by the Arecibo radio telescope. How much more interest will be generated by the ability to collect ones own optical data or process data obtained over the Internet from other research groups! For this reason, The Columbus Optical SETI Observatory intends to make its data available over the Internet when the present upgrade is completed next year.
April 1, 2000