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Unformatted text preview: Custom Search Search CSI: News & Announcements M EET SI S E DITORIAL B OARD AND CSI S E XECUTIVE C OUNCIL February 2, 2011 Satu rday A pril 2 in Denv er, Colorado! T HE D EATH OF O UR B ELOVED C OLLEAGUE M ARTIN G ARDNER May 5, 2010 We h av e receiv ed th e u nw elcom e new s that ou r longtim e frien d an d colleagu e Martin Gardner died on May 2 2 . He w as n inety -fiv e. S KEPTIC S T OOLBOX 2010 SETI Requires a Skeptical Reappraisal Feature Peter Schenkel Volume 30.3, May / June 2006 Early SETI efforts were marked by overly optimistic estimates of the probable number of extraterrestrial civilizations in our galaxy. In light of new findings and insights, it seems appropriate to put excessive euphoria to rest and to take a more down-to-earth view. Earth may be more special, and intelligence much rarer, in the universe than previously thought. The possible existence of extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) has always stirred the imagination of man. Greek philosophers speculated about it. Giordano Bruno was burnt on the stake in Rome in 1600, mainly because positing the likelihood of other inhabited worlds in the universe. Kant and Laplace were also convinced of the multiplicity of worlds similar to ours. In the latter part of the nineteenth-century Flammarion charmed vast circles with his books on the plurality of habitable worlds. But all these ideas were mainly philosophical considerations or pure speculations. It was only in the second half of the twentieth- century that the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) became a scientifically underpinned endeavor. Since the late 1950s distinguished scientists have conducted research, attempting to receive intelligent signals or messages from space via radio-telescopes. Hundreds of amateur astronomers, members of the SETI-League in dozens of countries, are scanning the sky, trying to detect evidence of intelligent life elsewhere in our galaxy. SETI pioneers, such as Frank Drake and Carl Sagan, held the stance that the Milky Way is teeming with a large number of advanced civilizations. However, the many search projects to date have not succeeded, and this daring prediction remains unverified. New scientific insights suggest the need for a more cautious approach and a revision of the overly optimistic considerations. The standard argument for the existence of a multiplicity of intelligent life runs like this: There are about 200 to 300 billion stars in our galaxy and probably hundreds of millions, maybe even billions of planets in our galaxy. Many of these planets are likely to be located in the so-called habitable zone in relation with their star, enjoying-as Earth-favorable conditions for the evolution of life. The physical laws, known to us, apply also to the cosmos, and far-away stellar formations are composed of the same elements as our solar system. Therefore, it is assumed, many should possess water and a stable atmosphere, considered to be basic requisites for the development of life. Such planets must haveconsidered to be basic requisites for the development of life....
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This note was uploaded on 08/31/2011 for the course STS 302 taught by Professor Nkriesbert during the Summer '08 term at N.C. State.
- Summer '08
- The Elegant Universe