Earth Wind and Fire Star to Perform at SETIcon Jill Tarter Gala.

June 19, 2012

Astronauts, Planet Hunters, Artists, Sci-Fi Actors & Writers 
Meet in Silicon Valley June 22-24

Today the SETI Institute announced Sheldon Reynolds, one of the stars of the band Earth, Wind and Fire, will perform his hit, “Shining Star,” for Jill Tarter’s Gala on Saturday, June 23rd. The intense interest in the gala honoring Tarter has caused SETI to announce that gala tickets will only be available online through Tuesday, June 19th until 11:59 PM PDT at seticon.org. After that, SETIcon II general admission tickets can be purchased in person, beginning June 22nd at 4PM PDT at the SETIcon venue, the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara, 5101 Great America Pkwy, Santa Clara, CA 95054.

“SETIcon is like Comic-Con with a Ph.D.,” said Edna DeVore, Deputy CEO of the SETI Institute. “Combining the best of science and science-fiction, SETIcon will amuse, inform, and provoke the thousand attendees expected to sit in on its panel discussions, fireside chats, and lightning talks. The subject matter? The science and the fiction of life beyond Earth. It’s astrobiology at its best!”

Top scientists and creative talent from the world of sci-fi are converging on the Silicon Valley for SETIcon II , a singular public event taking place the weekend of June 22 – 24. The theme is the exploration of the universe and the quest to find life among the planets and the stars, examined from the perspectives of both the sciences and the arts. The convention is open to the public and the programs will be non-technical, so everyone can participate. The three-day event, organized by the world-renowned SETI Institute, will be held at the Hyatt Santa Clara Hotel, an hour south of San Francisco, and only a few miles from San Jose.

SETIcon II kicks off Friday evening, June 22nd, with two space science stars: Mae Jemison and Alan Stern. Jemison is physician and, as a Shuttle astronaut, was the first African-American woman in space. She played Lieutenant Palmer on “Star Trek: Next Generation” and now leads the new “100 Year Starship” project, an independent, non-governmental, long-term initiative which will ensure that the capabilities for human interstellar flight exist within the next 100 years. Stern is a planetary scientist, space program executive and leading scientist on the New Horizons mission to Pluto and beyond. He’s also training to fly space research missions with Virgin Galactic and XCOR Aerospace next year. They are followed by a sneak-preview of a film about the last shuttle mission, and a party featuring the band, “The Kepler Mission.”

Saturday and Sunday offer more than 50 SETIcon II presenters who will probe such questions as the existence of ancient oceans on Mars, whether we’ll soon find Earth’s twin around a distant star, and why-oh-why are Hollywood aliens so relentlessly hostile? Here’s what some SETIcon II participants say about this upcoming event:

Alex Hall, Senior Director of the Google X-Prize, says, “Imagination is often uncanny in predicting the future - from tricorders to flying cars, flip phones to augmented vision. I'm excited by what concepts and thoughts will come from SETIcon.”

Geoff Marcy, an astronomer who has discovered more worlds than any person in the entire history of Homo sapiens, will discuss the the latest discoveries of planets orbiting other stars and how we might search for inhabitants. Marcy says that “SETI is the greatest quest for our amazing species. Closing your eyes, you wonder if it is really true that the Galaxy is teeming with intelligent life? If so, where are they and how do we detect them?”

Mary Roach, whose best-selling book “Packing for Mars” graphically describes the real nitty gritty of space exploration, will talk about her behind-the-scenes journalistic endeavors in the realm of death, sex, and rocketry. “I like gatherings of smart, interesting people,” she notes in reference to SETIcon II.

Andre Bormanis is an American television producer, screenwriter and author of the book Star Trek: Science Logs noted that “I love working at the intersection of art, science, and exploration. SETIcon is a wonderful opportunity to exchange ideas and information with leading scientists, writers, and artists about one of the most important questions humankind has ever pondered.”

Richard Rhodes, historian of science, said of SETIcon, “For many years I've had a deep and abiding interest in science, the only institution that systematically learns from its errors. Discovering that we are not alone would be transformative.” Rhodes will be signing his just –released, 25 th anniversary edition of his Pulitzer-prize winning book, “The Making of the Atomic Bomb.”

The exciting line-up of panelists and presenters includes:

  • Frank Drake, the astronomer who made the first modern attempt to listen for extraterrestrial radio signals, and founded the SETI field 
  • Robert J. Sawyer, award-winning science fiction writer who has penned some of the best novels ever written about alien contact 
  • Dale Andersen, biologist, spent six months with a multinational, multicultural crew in this remote, hostile environment, carrying out research relevant to the search for life on Mars as the American leader of a joint US/Soviet expedition to Antarctica, 
  • Chris Ford – of Pixar Animation Studios, a key leader in modeling and animating both film characters and astronomical concepts. 
  • Rosaly Lopes, planetary scientist at the Jet Propulsion Lab and one of the foremost experts on volcanoes on other worlds 
  • Jill Tarter, a leader in the quest to find signals from alien civilizations, and the prototype for Jodie Foster’s character in the film "Contact" 
  • Natalie Cabrol, planetary geologist, who dives in caldera lakes of Andean volcanoes to study extremophiles and is leading a team to develop robotic divers for solar system exploration 
  • Alex Filippenko, part of the team that received the 2011 Nobel Prize for discovering that dark energy is accelerating the expansion of the universe 
  • Robert Picardo, television actor and the Doctor in “Star Trek: Voyager” 
  • Andrew Fraknoi, astronomer at Foothill College, 2007 California Professor of the Year, and a frequent media guest who can explain astronomical developments with verve and accuracy
  • Frank Marchis, as asteroid astronomer who discovered the first triple asteroid, and continues the hunt at the world’s largest telescopes
  • Paul Frommer – the linguist who developed the Na'vi language for James Cameron's film Avatar, and the Martian language for the film John Carter
  • Frank Summers, astrophysicist at the Space Telescope Science Institute who produced IMAX’s Hubble 3D 
  • David Morrison, NASA astronomer, one of the founders of the science of astrobiology, and the foremost researcher speaking out about the doomsday 2012 myth 
  • Alex Hall, the senior director of the $30 million Google Lunar X-Prize 
  • Bill Nye, the Science Guy, and now the director of The Planetary Society
  • Pascal Lee, leader of The Mars Project on Devon Island in the Canadian Arctic 
  • Cynthia Phillips, an expert of outer solar system moons, and a leading researcher on Europa, a Jovian moon that may host life in its vast subsurface ocean 
  • Seth Shostak, a SETI Institute senior astronomer, prolific writer, and host of the “Big Picture Science” radio program 
  • Debra Fischer, Yale University astronomer, and the first woman in history to discover a planet around another star. “SETI – I want to be part of it!” says Fischer. 
  • Adrian Brown, a planetary scientists who studies Mars, spectroscopic data gathered by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, in search of hints of water that once flowed on Mars
  • Lynette Cook – noted artist whose scientifically correct paintings of alien worlds have been used in NASA news releases, and many hundreds of science books and articles.

The complete list of presenters is at the SETIcon II website. It includes members of the Kepler Mission science team, a panel of Mars experts, authors, artists, and many of the key scientists from the SETI Institute.

Special events include the Friday evening launch party with noted speakers and music, the Saturday “lunch with a scientist” featuring Bill Nye, the Saturday evening gala banquet honoring Jill Tarter, and the Sunday keynote brunch with Frank Drake being interviewed by Andrew Fraknoi. Tickets for these special events are available online until 11:59 PM, PDT, Tuesday, June 19 only. General admission tickets are available at the door, beginning on June 22, 4 PM.

The program is rounded out with space exhibits, art, films, and an auction of space-related items, art, wine and science adventures! All proceeds from SETIcon II help support the award-winning scientific and educational work of the nonprofit SETI Institute, and are tax deducitble.

For much more information and to purchase tickets, go to: seticon.org