Younger americans continue to be more confident than

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Unformatted text preview: life’ .2 Its website proclaims that its goals are to determine, ‘Where did we come from?’ and ‘Are we alone?’2 In a famous speech, NASA’s chief administrator at the time, Dan Goldin, listed one of the goals of their exploration of space: ‘The fourth goal is to search for Earth-like planets that may be habitable or inhabited … .’3 It is easy to see the shift in NASA’s focus. In 1996, it even proclaimed that it had discovered traces of Martian life in a little piece of rock that was uncovered in Antarctic ice many years earlier (this has now been solidly debunked by many scientists).4 This year they launched two Martian ‘roving’ exploration vehicles, called Spirit and Opportunity, that will try to find water, and they hope, prove that life once existed on the red planet.5 NASA has learnt how to market itself very well. There is an increasing public fascination with the idea of ‘life in space’. This is fuelled by the most popular entertainment genre of today—science fiction—which almost invariably seems to contain alien themes! Lamar Smith, a member of the US House of Representatives, also believed that SETI was more popular than it was being given credit for, when he said: ‘Funding should match public interest … and I don’t believe it does.’1 In the financial lean years that SETI has endured, it has relied on private sponsorship to keep it going. High profile benefactors have included David Packard, William Hewlett and Dr Barney Oliver of Hewlett-Packard; Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel; Paul G. Allen, co-founder of Microsoft; Arthur C. Clarke, the science fiction author; and Steven Spielberg, the famous Hollywood movie mogul. In addition, millions of individual citizens from around the world are encouraged to ‘explore space’ in the SETI@Home project. This involves enlisting home computer users in a massive computing project that analyzes data gathered by the Arecibo radio telescope. Such high-profile endorsers of SETI, and popular culture, have helped to elevate its image. Realizing the immense popularity of the idea of discovering life in space, it appears that NASA wants a piece of the action. Gonzaga Debate Institute 2011 178 Mercury Politics SETI – Contact Aliens – Popular – Public Humans would be delighted and welcome alien contact Radowitz, Metro UK, 1/10/11 (John von, reporter for Metro UK in Ireland, “Aliens 'would not faze modern world”, Metro (UK), P.6, LexisNexis, accessed 6/27/11) EK PROOF that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is unlikely to upset modern Earthlings, an expert claimed yesterday. Times have changed dramatically since 1961 when the US Congress was warned that evidence of extraterrestrials would lead to widespread panic, argued psychologist Dr Albert Harrison. First contact with ET, or the discovery of ancient alien relics on Earth or Mars, would probably be met with delight or indifference, he believes. Dr Harrison, from the University of California, wrote in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: 'The discovery of ETI (extra-t...
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