Surveys for radio pulsars serve as excellent historical records of the Galactic and extragalactic radio sky on sub-second time scales. Isolated radio impulses, such as those theorized to occur as signposts for evaporating black holes, coalescing neutron stars, and other violent phenomena, might be detectable in pulsar survey data. Lorimer et al. (2007) first reported the detection of a highly dispersed, 5 millisecond burst of radio emission from an unidentified extragalactic source. Since that discovery, dedicated searches of archival and new surveys have revealed a number of transient pulses that fit the mould of no astrophysical or manmade object known to us, some of them calling the Lorimer et al. pulse's extragalactic origin into question. Excitingly, recent discoveries in the southern-hemisphere High Time Resolution Universe survey may represent the first hint of an extragalactic pulse population.
Dr Spolaor will discuss the pitfalls and advances in this highly dynamic field, and will discuss two current leading extragalactic pulse search and identification efforts: the High Time Resolution Universe survey (at Parkes Telescope) and the commensal V-Fastr survey (in progress at the Very Long Baseline Array).