Where in the Worlds has SETI Institute Been? - Feb 26 - Mar 4, 2018

molten moonSynestia Spin: A New Theory on Lunar Formation

Researchers have proposed a new model to describe the creation of Earth’s moon, one which may help account for certain features in the moon’s composition tha earlier models have not adequately explained.
This collaborative research relies on a theoretical planetary object called a synestia - a doughnut-shaped cloud of rapidly spinning vaporized rock, which then condenses and solidifies. In a paper published in the Journal of Geophysical Research by several authors, including the SETI Institute’s own Matija Cuk, researchers describe a model to explain the similarities and variations found between the Earth and moon, and reverse prior theories by proposing that our moon actually formed first!

dish on earthShhh! Is Earth Too Noisy to Notice ET?

Technological advances have opened the universe to the field of SETI in unprecedented ways, and yet obstacles remain. The scientific search for alien technology includes radio detection, listening for signals with no known natural source in particular. Therein lies the problem: radio waves are quite prolific on Earth, and it can be a challenge to differentiate human-generated chatter from any ET broadcasts that might be coming our way. Newsweek recently examined these and other challenges, noting that, “in the 16 years that physicist Gerry Harp has been hunting aliens at the SETI Institute, he says only one signal has looked promising, but that turned out to be from a satellite”.

Local noise isn’t the only challenge. The sheer wealth of data researchers have to sift through is daunting:

“Every 10 seconds, you get a signal,” says Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the SETI Institute. “You’d go nuts if you had to look at all this stuff.”

These are just a few of the obstacles faced by radio SETI research, but scientists encouraged by new fields opening to researchers as our understanding of the universe continues to expand.

Newsweek: Do Aliens Exist? Human Technology May Prevent Us from Finding Out

Allen Telescope ArrayMeeting ET Might Happen Sooner Than You Think

Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku recently released a book, “"The Future of Humanity" (Doubleday, 2018), which explores possible physical and cultural traits intelligent extraterrestrial life might have. Kaku is confident that we’ll find evidence of ET technology via radio communication, and LiveScience even points to SETI.org’s FAQs page to explain that narrow-band signals are of interest because they "pack a lot of energy into a small amount of spectral space, and consequently are the easiest type of signal to find for any given power level. If E.T. intentionally sends us a signal, those signals may well have at least one narrow-band component to get our attention."
Kaku isn’t the only one to stake a claim that contact is nigh - Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institue, has made a similar wager, betting we’ll find signs of life in just the next 20 years.

Dish arrayShould We Worry? The ‘Threat’ of Alien Hackers

Worries about the menace of alien malware still seem abundant in media reports, following the recent release of a paper in which a pair of astrophysicists contemplate the potential hazard of extraterrestrial cyber-attack. Nobody likes spam or computer viruses, but senior SETI Institute astronomer, Seth Shostak, isn’t overly concerned. As several recent articles mention, Dr. Shostak noted in an op-ed for NBC News several limitations aliens would face transmitting any kind of information to us, let alone anything dangerous:
            “In movies, extraterrestrials often communicate with us in colloquial English. But   a real message from space is likely to be no more understandable than a digital TV signal would be to Guglielmo Marconi. An alien transmission is unlikely to be   a Trojan horse — but it would at least tell us that there’s someone outside the gates.”

JupiterBig Picture Science:

Last week in Meet Your Robot Barista we took a look at robots and AI. This week in Space: Why Go There? our guests consider why, and where, we should be exploring space.

Facebook Live

Last week we talked to SETI Institute scientist Janice Bishop about Martian clays and the climate on Mars.
All Facebook Live videos can be seen on the SETI Institute’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SETIInstitute


  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology: March 10, Cambridge, MA SETI Institute Senior Scientist Franck Marchis will participate in Beyond the Cradle 2018: Envisioning a New Space Age
  • World’s Fair Nano: March 10-11, San Francisco, CA Seth Shostak will be a featured speaker
  • National Science Teachers Association: March 15-18, Atlanta, GA SETI Institute Acting Director of Communication Pamela Harman will lead a workshop
  • Lunar and Planetary Science Conference: March 19-23, The Woodlands, TX SETI Institute scientists whose work will presented include Ross Beyer, Janice Bishop, Nathalie Cabrol, Matija Cuk, Cristina Dalle Ore, Virginia Gulick, Peter Jenniskens, Driss Takir, Matthew Tiscareno
  • City College of San Francisco: March 21, San Francisco, CA SETI Institute senior scientist Franck Marchis will participate in a star party
  • European Week of Astronomy and Space Science, April 3-5, Liverpool, UK Franck Marchis will participate
  • Contact Conference: April 6-8, Sunnyvale, CA Seth Shostak and Nathalie Cabrol will be speaking
  • California Academy of Sciences: April 12, 2018 Seth Shostak to participate in the monthly Nightlife talk
  • Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series: April 18, Los Altos Hills, CA SETI Institute scientists Michael Busch will speak
  • Palo Alto Jewish Community Center, May 2, Palo Alto, CA Seth Shostak to of offer SETI Talk presentation
  • Association of Computer Professionals in Education: May 4, Welches OR Seth Shostak to participate in annual conference
    The Villages: May 8, San Jose, CA Seth Shostak to offer talk about SETI