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IEE Lecture on Optical SETI

 

IEE London evening meetings are held at the Institution of Electrical Engineers, Savoy Place, London WC2R 0BL at 5.30 p.m., tea at 5 unless otherwise stated. Colloquia usually begin at 10.30 a.m. or 2 p.m., and registration is required. Discussion meetings begin at 2 p.m. unless otherwise stated and no registration is required. For further details about meetings phone 0171-240-1871, Ext. 2206 or 2205.

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Evening lecture at the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE).

 

          THE SEARCH FOR EXTRATERRESTRIAL INTELLIGENCE
             IN THE OPTICAL SPECTRUM (OPTICAL SETI)
Venue:    IEE, Savoy Place, London WC2R 0BL, England
          Tel: 0171-240-1871
          Fax: 0171-497-3633

Date:     Tuesday, May 21, 1996

Time:     5:30 pm (tea at 5:00 pm)


                             Abstract

This talk will describe the rationale behind the optical search
for extraterrestrial intelligence and the design and construction
of the first Visible Optical SETI Observatory in North America. 
This is the world's first dedicated Optical SETI Observatory. 
The optical approach to searching for ETI technologies touches on
a subject which for various reasons has yet to be accepted by the
majority of the SETI community.  The presenter has been
investigating this subject since 1990.

This talk deals primarily with the superiority of free-space
interstellar optical (laser) beamed communications over its
microwave counterpart.  The advantage that free-space laser
communications has over microwaves is demonstrated with respect
to both future interstellar communications with our deep space
probes and for SETI-type interstellar communications.  

The author has defined three types of Optical SETI:

(a)  Professional Optical SETI employing large telescopes and
     coherent heterodyne detection.

(b)  Professional Optical SETI employing large telescopes and
     incoherent direct-detection/photon-counting.

(c)  Amateur Optical SETI employing small telescopes and
     incoherent direct-detection/photon-counting.



The Columbus Optical SETI Observatory which is presently under
construction at the author's home and place of business, is based
on the Meade LX200 25.4 cm (10") diameter Schmidt-Cassegrain
Telescope (SCT).  This SCT, which is housed within a 10 ft.
diameter dome, can be controlled remotely by computer.  The
automated observatory employs a high-speed photon-counter to
analyze starlight and search for narrow laser beacon pulses from
stars within a few hundred light years of earth.

It is hoped that the observatory will be in a position to start
collecting quantitative data by the summer of this year.  Major
engineering issues for the observatory concern the huge amount of
data required to be collected during observations, and the
appropriate signal processing techniques that can be applied at
reasonable cost.  



                      DR. STUART A. KINGSLEY

                            Biography

Stuart A. Kingsley was born in London, England on May 15, 1948. 
He received a B.Sc. Honors and Ph.D. in Electronic and Electrical
Engineering from The City University, London, England, and
University College London, England, in 1972 and 1984,
respectively.  He arrived in the states in 1981, and went to work
for Battelle Columbus Division as a Principal Research Scientist,
becoming a Senior Research Scientist in 1985.  He left Battelle
in 1987 and established his own photonics consultancy business
Fiberdyne Optoelectronics.  Since 1992 he has been the VP for
Engineering at SRICO, Inc.  He is the Director of The Columbus
Optical SETI Observatory which is shortly to be set up as a non-
profit entity and is also President of ETI Photonics; the future
business side for his Optical SETI activities.

Stuart has been involved in producing a variety of fiber-optic
sensors, including fiber-optic rotation sensors.  He invented the
fiber-optic line-stretcher and fiber-optic line-squeezer phase
modulators that are important components in fiber-optic sensing
systems.  In 1984, he shared the prestigious Rank Prize in
Optoelectronics with his thesis advisor Professor, Sir D.E.N.
Davies (Chief Scientific Advisor to the British Ministry of
Defence and IEE President in 1995/1996), for their pioneering
work on fiber-optic sensing.  He is the author of over 50 papers,
mainly in coherent fiber-optic systems, the so-called fiberdyne
effect or modal noise phenomena in fibers, and distributed
fiber-optic sensing.  He also has several patents, and has
arranged and chaired sessions and two Optical SETI conferences
for SPIE (The International Society for Optical Engineering).  As
VP of Engineering for SRICO, Inc., he is involved in the design
and development of novel integrated optic electric-field and
voltage sensing devices.  He is a member of the IEE, a British
Chartered Engineer, a senior member of IEEE, a member of Eta
Kappa Nu Association, and belongs to various space interest
groups.

Other professional interests of his include the possible health
effects of electromagnetic pollution, and the adverse effects of
fluorescent lighting/VDT flicker.  Presently, Stuart is
pioneering the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) in
the Optical Spectrum.  He is constructing a prototype Visible
Optical SETI Observatory based on photon-counting techniques. 
The aim of the observatory is to detect ultra-fast pulsed laser
beacon signals emanating from star systems within a few hundred
light years.  He also runs a computer bulletin board (ETI
Photonics BBS) in support of future world-wide Optical SETI
activities, which eventually will allow real time Internet access
to the data collected by the observatory.

Suggested Background Reading:
Stuart A. Kingsley (Editor), "The Search for Extraterrestrial
Intelligence (SETI) in the Optical Spectrum", SPIE Proceedings
Vol. 1867, OE LASE '93, Los Angeles, California, January 21-22,
1993.

Paul Davies, "Are We Alone? - Implications of the Discovery of
Extraterrestrial Life", Penguin Books, 1995.  See page 94 for a
brief mention of work on Optical SETI, and also the review of
this book by Arthur C. Clarke in the March 17 issue of The Times
Higher Educational Supplement (page 24).

Barrie Jones, "Amateurs take up the search for life", Astronomy
Now, October 1995, pp. 43-45.

Stuart A. Kingsley and Guillermo A. Lemarchand (Editors), "The
Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) in the Optical
Spectrum II", SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2704, Photonics West  96, San
Jose, California, January 27-February 2, 1996.  To be published.

Detailed Resume

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