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Open Letter to Frank Drake


Date: September 27, 1998

Professor Frank Drake
SETI Institute
2035 Landings Drive
Mountain View
CA 94043-0818

Dear Frank,

Congratulations to the SETI Institute for at last seeing the "laser" light.   Of course, we don't know if electromagnetic technology would be used by ETIs to communicate with emerging technical civilizations or to communicate between themselves.  However, I have basically known for several decades that lasers are superior for free-space interstellar communications when comparing the efficacy of the radio and optical approaches to SETI, so long as the mean distance between communicating societies is not excessive.

I am reminded that on the occasion of the one and only time we met, which was at the August 1993 Santa Cruz Bioastronomy Meeting, you asked me "Why I was doing Optical SETI in Ohio?".  My reply was that that is where my (day) job is and thus I didn't have much of a choice in the matter.  You may recall that I went on to say that I had recently read your then new book "Is Anyone Out There?", and noted that you had originally intended to become an optical astronomer.  I joked that perhaps you had made a mistake by switching to radio astronomy and that you should have started your SETI research in the optical spectrum!   So the wheels turn.

Warmest regards and clear skies,

Dr. Stuart A. Kingsley
Director, The Columbus Optical SETI Observatory


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