Is SETI worth it?

I read recently that Jodie Foster, among some 2000 other private individuals has managed to further fund SETI – the Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence, till the end of this year. The organisation runs a 42 dish radio telescope array called The Allen Telescope Array at Hat Creek Radio Observatory in Northern California. The telescopes scan for signals in the electro-magnetic radiation spectrum, which includes radio waves, microwaves, infrared radiation, visible light, ultraviolet radiation, X-rays and gamma rays. Finding an intelligible signal coming from a nearby planetary system amongst all of the normally occurring background radiation would be evidence of intelligent extra-terrestrial life.

But SETI has me a bit confused. If the primary reason for disbelief in the UFO phenomenon is the premise that light speed is too slow for interstellar travel, then why are we looking for light speed technology in our search of the heavens? What I’m asking is, is it worth looking for anomalous EM (electromagnetic) signals in space when it seems obvious a transmission using such a medium would take many light years to arrive and therefore is virtually useless as an interstellar communication medium.

If extra-terrestrial vehicles are coming here; and there is much evidence to say they are; then they must surely be using faster than light technology. This being the case then surely any communication medium they might employ would also be faster than light, if not instantaneous.

Adding weight to this argument is the fact that SETI have been searching since at least the early 1960’s. Couple this with the several UFO flaps that have happened between then and now and one has to wonder; why did SETI not find any signals when the aliens were practically in their back yard?!

Apart from the “Wow” anomaly found by OSU SETI project volunteer Jerry Ehman on August 15th 1977, SETI claim to have found nothing. As far as I’m concerned this is evidence enough that SETI are using the wrong parameters in their search. I do applaud Jodie Foster and the other people willing to put up funds to continue the search for ET, but one still has to ask; how do we justify the expense here?

Given these facts, could SETI have been a deliberate ruse engineered by those wishing to keep ET secret, or the believing public satisfied thatwe’re looking into it? It seems to be pretty easy to convince academics to disbelieve the phenomena; even the one’s working at SETI don’t believe we’ve been visited yet. Or does the program serve other purposes, after all, watching the EM spectrum for anomalous blips would not seem to be a complete waste of time, even if we do only find 1 in 50 years.

Andrew C Thursby-Pelham © 2011

SETI Search for Aliens to Continue

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