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  (Source: Warner Bros. Pictures)
Reduced federal dollars and a state budget crisis has put the Allen Telescope Array into hibernation

A lack of funding has temporarily shut down a group of radio telescopes that are used to search the universe for signs of extraterrestrial life. 

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute, or SETI, is located in Mountain View, California and is dedicated to searching the skies for signs of extraterrestrial life through two separate SETI centers: The Center for SETI Research, which looks for signs of extraterrestrial technology, and the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe, which studies the origin and evolution of life forms on Earth and throughout the universe.  

SETI works with the University of California-Berkeley's Radio Astronomy Lab to operate the Allen Telescope Array, which is a field of "dish-like scopes" that is located 290 miles northeast of San Francisco, California. There are 42 telescopes that are 20-feet wide, and worked 24 hours per day. 

Research and development for the Allen Telescope Array began in 2001 after a healthy contribution of $11.5 million came from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. Then, in 2004, Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen donated $13.5 million to the construction of these telescopes. The telescope array was completed and functional in 2007, and it was named after Allen, who had contributed more than $25 million by the end of the project. 

But now, reduced federal dollars and a state budget crisis have put the Allen Telescope Array into hibernation. On April 22, SETI CEO Tom Pierson sent a letter to donors saying that the telescopes will temporarily be out of operation, and that SETI and UC Berkeley's Radio Astronomy Lab will experience staff cuts. 

Since last month, SETI has been searching for donations to help fund the Allen Telescope Array project. According to Karen Randall, SETI's director of special projects, the institute needs $5 million in order to continue operating at the rate it has been since 2007. SETI has not discussed its financial woes with Allen at this point. 

The lab is also planning to lay off four people, which will leave two people as support staff. 

Despite the temporary shut down, there is a bright side. The Allen Telescope Array will resume when the new round of funding goes into effect in 2013. That round will assure that the project stays operative until 2018. 

In addition, SETI has other telescopes across the world that can be used while the Allen Telescope Array is on break. For instance, radio telescopes are placed in Puerto Rico, Australia and West Virginia as a way of "listening to the universe."

"Obviously, we want to be prepared for these kinds of things," said Randall. "We are working on some other angles that have bubbled up that will basically not be so vulnerable to budget cycles." 

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By kattanna on 4/27/2011 12:36:29 PM , Rating: 2
man.. she was soo hot in that movie :>)

one thing i love about that movie is the opening sequence. its a great way to try to get others to start to comprehend the sheer vastness of the scale of the universe. just how really damn big it is. and thats only the part we can see as of right now.

RE: contact
By Brandon Hill on 4/27/2011 12:47:42 PM , Rating: 5
Too bad she isn't into dudes...

RE: contact
By DNAgent on 4/27/2011 12:50:23 PM , Rating: 2
Good thing "kattanna" doesn't sound like a dude's name...

RE: contact
By SilthDraeth on 4/27/2011 12:52:13 PM , Rating: 2
Is that confirmed or are you just feeding the trolls?

RE: contact
By SilthDraeth on 4/27/2011 12:53:17 PM , Rating: 2
Nvm, I guess it is confirmed.

RE: contact
By Reclaimer77 on 4/27/2011 1:05:09 PM , Rating: 5
Yup, she totally eats lunch in box canyon...

RE: contact
By MrBlastman on 4/27/2011 12:53:33 PM , Rating: 2
It has been confirmed and called out on the carpet...

Still, back in the day (early to mid-90's), the thrill of trying to entice a conversion might have been worth it.

RE: contact
By AssBall on 4/27/2011 2:16:41 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe it was more than just animal pictures they were looking at in the Veiwmaster.

RE: contact
By kattanna on 4/27/2011 1:21:02 PM , Rating: 5
Too bad she isn't into dudes...

LOL yeah.. because there is NO market for hot girl on girl action


RE: contact
By Brandon Hill on 4/27/2011 2:33:41 PM , Rating: 3
That's assuming people want to see Jodie Foster picking carpet out of her teeth :)

RE: contact
By Mitch101 on 4/27/2011 4:48:13 PM , Rating: 4
Fan of 70's porn?

RE: contact
By Brandon Hill on 4/27/2011 5:26:42 PM , Rating: 4
I know that many men like to look to lesbians going at it as being the "holy grail", but in the real world, they normally aren't as hot as you'd imagine (or as apt to please with impeccable grooming).

And no, college chicks don't count -- they're all bi-curious at that stage when they get a little tipsy ;-)

RE: contact
By Mitch101 on 4/27/2011 5:48:39 PM , Rating: 2
I have a 6 friends who are true lesbians and you are correct the major majority are not the lipstick kind generally there is one that borders on the male side. I have yet to ask why that is. With that knowing a few lesbians and maybe its just the trend where I'm at and a few drinks later they tell me they all shave down below its the thing like manscaping they do it too. In addition I have been to the establishment they frequent with the wife and can say there are a few lipstick versions in the crowd. Of course my wife says it figures on the night I go there the place is crawling with lipstick girls.

Bi-curious is better it means we have a chance. :)

RE: contact
By kd9280 on 4/28/11, Rating: -1
RE: contact
By MrBlastman on 4/28/2011 11:07:29 AM , Rating: 3
How is that statement he made bigoted? How about you get your politically correct thumb out of your behind before you make such an absurd observation. Since when is speaking your opinion a "bigoted" statement when it might possibly hold a bit of truth?

Is it because the truth hurts? Lately, the politically correct crowd like to cry racism or bigotism at anything that is said that is realistic that brings out the darker side to all of their ideals.

RE: contact
By kd9280 on 4/28/11, Rating: -1
RE: contact
By MrBlastman on 4/28/2011 12:54:05 PM , Rating: 3
@kd (not gonna get a -1 just to reply :))

SO you base your assesment of the lesbian community as a whole through a narrow-filtered lens that is comprised only of a sampling of Hollywood celebrities? Hahaha.

You live in a sad fishbowl. Hollyweird is NOT the whole world. I shudder thinking what Earth would be like if it were.

RE: contact
By kd9280 on 4/28/11, Rating: -1
RE: contact
By derricker on 4/28/2011 7:45:53 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, they are, he is not being bigoted, he is just telling the truth, ah wait, being bigoted must mean to you when one person is guilty of not following the politically correct establishment.

And that quote of about hollywood stars, ellen degeneres?? hot?? please, don't be so bigoted...

RE: contact
By Anoxanmore on 4/27/2011 4:49:36 PM , Rating: 2
That is why we shave Brandon. :P

RE: contact
By OCNewbie on 4/27/2011 5:36:36 PM , Rating: 5
Now I know why you're supposed to put a comma before someone's name, when addressing them in a sentence.

RE: contact
By Quadrillity on 4/28/2011 11:18:52 AM , Rating: 2

RE: contact
By Astral Abyss on 4/29/2011 11:47:33 AM , Rating: 2
Reply of the Year.

RE: contact
By delphinus100 on 4/27/2011 10:55:09 PM , Rating: 2
I believe you mean this...

This wasn't too bad at making the same point, either...

This is sad...
By MrBlastman on 4/27/2011 12:51:59 PM , Rating: 2
Sad, but, there are other telescopes to fulfill the role for the time being. I really like the premise behind SETI and the processing of information from these radio telescopes. The only thing is, would highly advanced alien life actually be using RF transmissions?

They might--perhaps, less developed life. But, in reality, I don't think it matters in the end as any transmission we receive through these telescopes (assuming we do and then manage to identify it through all the mounds of data), will more than likely be hundreds if not thousands or more years old (maybe even millions).

I guess, in the least, it will tell us that--yes, life is out there which may be an eye-opener for the world to those who still think we're completely alone in this gigantic universe.

There is one curious thing though that still sits in the back of my thoughts--and it is that the advanced life out there more than likely has moved from RF transmissions and on to either something at the quantum level or perhaps the outlandish string level, thus allowing them to bridge the expanse of the universe in a very quick manner. Who knows, perhaps they've even binged upon the gravitational-relay level through warping of the folds or if on the string level--possibly using multi-dimensional communication to bridge vast distances in a higher dimension by upstepping it(which really wouldn't be a vast distance there) and then downstepping it back into our 3-4 dimensionality thus relegating the physical distances here as a non-issue by bypassing them completely.

Thus, even the equipment we have now will never see nor find anything at all. Still, the chance, the very infinitessimally small chance that we -do- find something, I really think is completely worth the funding and investment to have that chance. It might not change the technology of society immediately if we do find it, but it could certainly change our worldview completely and set mankind on a better course.

RE: This is sad...
By MozeeToby on 4/27/2011 2:00:11 PM , Rating: 2
As much as I want to believe there are other intelligences out there, the more I ponder the question the more I have to admit that we are probably alone, at least in our galaxy.

The habitable area of the galaxy moves outward with time as stars fuse low weight elements into the elements that are needed for life, a process that happens faster the closer you get to the core. If life is common we should have much older siblings closer to the core. Once you posit that aliens would have a multi-hundred million year head start on us, everything else just falls to pieces.

We already have an idea of an upper limit to how hard it will be to travel to a neighboring star; hell, NASA had rudimentary plans drawn up 60 years ago. Don't get me wrong, it's very difficult, but if we really poured resources into it we could have a mission en route to an extrasolar planet by the end of the century traveling at a low fraction the speed of light (<5%). With a bit more work that probe could be designed to build copies of itself upon arrival and launch them out to the next nearest stars. If this sounds farfetched, just remember how much technological progress has been accomplished in the past 100 years, and keep in mind that it should be possible to send software, and even hardware updates (to be manufactured and installed en route) to the probe as it travels.

In this way, humanity could put a small fleet of autonomous probes into every single stellar system in the galaxy in less than 300 million years, literally a blink of an eye in cosmological time frames. And that is assuming only technology which is reasonably predicted to occur within, at most, the next 500 years of progress. Who can even guess what technology will produce thousands, let alone millions, of years from now.

So... where are the probes? If life is common we should see hundreds of probes in our own solar system (keep in mind that each hypothetical race would send multiply redundant probes to each destination and that there would be several races if life were common).

It's possible that they are lurking on the edges of our solar system, waiting for the right time to make contact, but even that assumes that every intelligent race out there agrees on when it is and isn't acceptable to contact a new species.

Even still, in my opinion, SETI would be better off performing active radar sweeps of the asteroid belts and Trojan points of the solar system. First and foremost, I think it's more likely to produce results, since it relies on fewer assumptions than the radio search does. Secondly, it provides the possibility of instant, real dialog, assuming that hard (or at least believably hard) AI is theoretically possible.

RE: This is sad...
By MrBlastman on 4/27/2011 2:41:46 PM , Rating: 2
A system-wide radar sweep is an intriguing idea, but, I'm sure you realize, even to reach as far out as the Oort cloud, we're talking about nearly 50,000 AU's in distance--which means at the speed of light, it will take easily 289 days roughly each way. In other words, we'd be waiting 578 days before we know anything. I suppose with a continuous sweep we'd be able to keep tabs on movement of objects but still-we're talking about an incredibly large distance to map.

Also, where do you place such a transmitter? Ideally you'd want spherical dispersal rather than just a miniscule 360 degree x 1 degree swath--and, not to mention, what about the grey area and radiation scatter you'll receive from objects in the foreground thus blacking out the background (continuous sweeps will help get around this).

I dunno, it's a start in being active versus passive--but, someone will have to pony up a lot of coin to fund it... not to mention the receiving equipment plus the computers to process it.

Also, per your probe idea, it would certainly get around the _one_ major barrier we face. What if we are the only intelligent life in existence at this time in our Galaxy? I too agree that going beyond our Galaxy for now and even for quite some time in the distant future is impossible (as the distances between Galaxies are astounding) and basically the only practical way to traverse that distance is folding spacetime (and we only have rough estimated distances which, over long distances, could put us in quite a hazardous situation on the other end!).

But, back to my point, we could very well be the only living intelligent life at this point in time due to the assumed propensity for intelligent life to compete with itself, thus leading to their own destruction. I don't necessarily believe this is the case--but, it is a very real possibility.

Either way, the search can not stop. The benefits of knowing far outweigh just accepting we are alone and sitting in our own little corner of the Galaxy.

RE: This is sad...
By MozeeToby on 4/27/2011 2:57:22 PM , Rating: 2
Assuming they are metal clad and not designed to be stealthy, they should stand out quite brightly even in the midst of the 'crowded' asteroid belts and Trojan points. I pick those locations because that is where the raw materials would be most easily obtained to reproduce, refuel, and repair; making them ideal for long term loitering. Performing a radar sweep of the Trojan points of the gas giants would be pretty trivial, it's a small volume of space and given enough power the sweeps could be done from right here on solid ground.

Of course, assuming that they are designed in a way that is easily detectable may be invalid. After all, they almost certainly would have detected our transmissions by now and haven't identified themselves. Most likely said probes don't exist, but there are other possibilities that shouldn't be ignored IMO.

RE: This is sad...
By tng on 4/27/2011 7:46:59 PM , Rating: 2
After all, they almost certainly would have detected our transmissions by now and haven't identified themselves.
Hawking is right though, do we really want other intelligent races to know that we are here?

It used to be the view of all the academics out there that a race that was advanced enough to make it to interstellar travel had to be peaceful. I always looked at that view as myopic, most of the major advancements here on this planet have been made via research for military or war efforts, so the thought of a advanced race finding us is to me, a little scary.

RE: This is sad...
By Reclaimer77 on 4/27/2011 10:01:26 PM , Rating: 2
In galactic terms, the time we've been transmitting with CETI has barely been a blink of the eye. I think making the assumption that our transmissions should have been detected by now is a bit illogical. The distances involved are just astronomical, not to mention that CETI isn't omnidirectional.

Hawking is right though, do we really want other intelligent races to know that we are here?

I assume if they're advanced and intelligent enough, they'll find out whether we want them to or not. Assuming it's intelligent life as we perceive it.

RE: This is sad...
By derricker on 4/28/2011 7:55:01 PM , Rating: 2
I assume if they're advanced and intelligent enough, they'll find out whether we want them to or not. Assuming it's intelligent life as we perceive it.

Who's knows??? maybe they'll be "wanting" us...

RE: This is sad...
By Shadowmaster625 on 4/28/2011 10:21:48 AM , Rating: 3
Where are the probes? How do you know we are not the probes?

RE: This is sad...
By bah12 on 4/27/2011 2:23:12 PM , Rating: 2
They aren't really looking for "advanced" life, just intelligent life. The assumption is that we emit RF so other civilizations at similar points in development would too. The the sheer vastness of space would indicate that at any given point of time there would be lots of signals hitting us from lots of civilizations (some, if not most, of which would already be long gone).

Interesting work, but IMO not all that scientifically useful. It is like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack, and knowing that even if you find it you could not interact with it at all. All that is gained is the knowledge that it existed. It won't convince the devout that believe we are the only ones, and those that don't don't require the proof. So who benefits from this? I'd rather see the funding go toward getting us off this rock than listen for echoes of the past that provide little value other than to stroke the ego of those vindicated by result.

RE: This is sad...
By MozeeToby on 4/27/2011 2:45:54 PM , Rating: 3
The first, high power radio broadcast (one that is theoretically detectable in nearby star systems) took place in 1936 and even that signal would be overwhelmed by natural sources out past 100 light years. With the switch to all digital television broadcasts we are already well on our way to moving away from high powered, omnidirectional signals because they waste tons of bandwidth. The amount of time that our civilization was detectable more than 100 light years away was around 80 years. Obviously, that's a sample size of 1, but it is all we have to go on so we'll treat it like an average.

If a civilization pops up somewhere in the galaxy once every year (do keep in mind this would imply hundreds of millions of intelligent civilizations evolving in our galaxy) there would be only 80 civilizations incidentally broadcasting their existence in the entire galaxy. At the distances which omnidirectional broadcasts are realistically detectable, that number drops so close to zero as to make SETI (as you are envisioning it) pointless.

That's why SETI doesn't look for accidental, omnidirectional broadcasts, they look for beamed broadcasts in frequencies that are mathematically significant and physically convenient (penetrate the interstellar medium well and don't get washed out by background sources as quickly). In short, they aren't looking for neighbors who left their lights on, they're looking for neighbors who are on their back porch with a megaphone shouting "Hello!? Is anyone else out there!?"

RE: This is sad...
By Mitch101 on 4/27/2011 5:17:07 PM , Rating: 2
I love the idea of SETI its the math of catching a civilization that achieves signal broadcast and catching it in the narrow windows when that signal is passing by our planet that makes me think spending the money on lottery tickets is a wiser decision.

Not only are we looking for a civilization that uses radio waves or something else we can detect we have to catch them during their radio wave sending years from billions of miles away. Thats extremely narrow. I suspect in 100 years we wont be using radio waves at all we will have found a way to ride signals on dark matter streams. Who knows.

As for us sorry we missed the 100 years of broadcast signals as they passed earth 100,000 years before seti was created and as the next advanced civilizations 100 years of a broadcast signal passes the earth 50,000 years from now.

Id rather just assume there is intelligent life in the universe and its either going to find us or were going to find them when were able to get to other places in the galaxy or when were able to send communications through some other means than radio waves.

Most probably they will find us because our radio signals reached them and they are a million years more advanced than we are. As it stand if we get a signal we wont be able to visit them until we advance light years more than where were at. It would be fun to dream they are broadcasting the plans for a stargate.

RE: This is sad...
By delphinus100 on 4/27/2011 11:08:40 PM , Rating: 2
And you may well be right (remember, before the discovery of radio, the proposals to light fires on Earth in large geometric patterns, to show evidence of intelligence here to hypothetical Martian observers?), but while we can speculate on those things, we're stuck with being able to look only with what we know how to use...

Besides, it's still not hopeless. Even in your scenario, 'they' will still use RF for certain purposes, and will not have forgotten how to transmit and receive with it. After all, there are people on Earth who still know how to use smoke signals...

By Lazlo Panaflex on 4/27/2011 1:17:44 PM , Rating: 4
Paul Allen has a net worth somewhere in the neighborhood of 12-13 billion. An extra $5 mil to keep the project afloat would be a proverbial drop in the bucket. Get er done, Paul!

RE: hmmm...
By delphinus100 on 4/27/2011 11:12:27 PM , Rating: 2
Net worth and liquid assets aren't the same...

And he has other projects/investments to support, some of them also space related:

I knew it
By Dorkyman on 4/27/2011 12:37:30 PM , Rating: 5
Obama, what are you trying to hide?

By headbox on 4/27/2011 12:33:18 PM , Rating: 1
It looks like we've been successfully infiltrated.

By ThisSpaceForRent on 4/28/2011 8:33:09 AM , Rating: 2
The aliens have inserted a probe to monitor our culture?

Seti = waste of money
By yxalitis on 4/27/2011 11:55:35 PM , Rating: 3
Sorry, I had to say it.
No, I am not a Neanderthal who thinks there is no other intelligent life in the universe. I just don't think we have any way to understand what signals may have a possible intelligent origin, if that intelligence is utterly alien (as it would be, you see). Mankind has this terribly ignorant approach to the unknown, assuming homogeneous consistency and parallelism to what we already know.
ie: intelligent life must have binocular vision, appendages to manipulate items with, evolve in a water-carbon based ecosystem, etc. Then further extrapolating to such ludicrous assumptions as the inevitable development of radio, nuclear power, etc, by which we could detect them...

Just because this is how we (assume) intelligence started on planet Earth, and how that intelligence developed technology, does not give any assurance, not even a teeny one, that the same has happened elsewhere in detectable range.

Yes yes..."but we have to try, even if the chances are tiny!"
Why? even if we DID detect something, that we could absolutely, irrefutably classify as an indication of intelligent life...what then?
(Apart from starting many religious wars).

I would much prefer to see more money invested in understanding our own solar system, develop technologies to take us to the planets, to send more exploration robots to sample, understand, learn how different and complex even "dead" worlds are right here in the Sol system.

And don't even get me started on the Big Bang farce...!

Finally the government get the message....
By SunAngel on 4/27/11, Rating: -1
RE: Finally the government get the message....
By spread on 4/27/2011 12:59:25 PM , Rating: 5
Yup. Like bombing brown people overseas and giving your money away to bankers.

That's a much better use.

By MrBlastman on 4/27/2011 1:06:18 PM , Rating: 2
Get over it.

By bombing brown people, we make red people. It makes the world a more diverse, colorful place!

By Kurz on 4/27/2011 1:10:47 PM , Rating: 3
Eh I am actually ok with SETI.
Though it shold be left up to private donars for the most part.

Reminds me, I did contributed my CPU time for about a year.

RE: Finally the government get the message....
By ClownPuncher on 4/27/2011 2:06:48 PM , Rating: 2
Almost the entire operation was funded by private money. 5 million dollars to operate for 5 more years is pretty insignificant compared to... just about every other expenditure we have in the US.

Each Tomahawk missile fired on Libya cost ~$1.3 million, and 160+ were fired.

RE: Finally the government get the message....
By The Raven on 4/27/2011 2:57:18 PM , Rating: 2
Physicist Stephen Hawking, in his book A Brief History of Time, suggests that "alerting" extraterrestrial intelligences of our existence is foolhardy, citing mankind's history of treating his fellow man harshly in meetings of civilizations with a significant technology gap. He suggests, in view of this history, that we "lay low".-Wikipedia-

So does this mean that it is like the abortion issue for physicists? lol

At any rate, zero tax payer dollars should go to this lest we continue our slow death by 1000 papercuts and some head wounds. We could do without the papercuts since we are suffering from massive head wounds.

It is a mentality problem, not a simple budgeting problem. We have to fix our ways of thinking before the budget is fixed. If we cut the defense budget and SS down to zero we would pour nearly all the savings into these kinds of programs.

These programs are either stupid or they aren't. If it is debatable, then the gov't should stay away and leave it completely to private donors.

RE: Finally the government get the message....
By The Raven on 4/27/2011 3:00:01 PM , Rating: 3
In case I did, I didn't mean to make it sound like I am against cutting 'defense' spending. I am all over that.

The military is for selfless heroes and not a jobs program.

By Master Kenobi on 4/27/2011 6:40:50 PM , Rating: 2
The miltiary itself perhaps not, but many of the civilian jobs that deal directly with the military is most certainly a jobs program, and one that costs way more than it needs to.

By delphinus100 on 4/27/2011 10:59:03 PM , Rating: 2
Just try to shut down a weapons system or military base that even the Pentagon itself believes is no longer necessary, and you'll see...

RE: Finally the government get the message....
By Solandri on 4/27/2011 4:44:33 PM , Rating: 2
Each Tomahawk missile fired on Libya cost ~$1.3 million, and 160+ were fired.

Actually, each one was less than $500k since most of them were bought in the 1980s and have been sitting in crates and magazines since then.

But yeah, stuff like this is a drop in the bucket compared to other things we buy and pay for. In this case though, the direct villain is the manned space program. Each year NASA decides how much of its funding should go to manned vs. unmanned programs. And each year the space shuttles and international space station got the lion's share of that budget, even though the unmanned programs were yielding the vast majority of the science.

RE: Finally the government get the message....
By tng on 4/27/2011 7:38:31 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, each one was less than $500k since most of them were bought in the 1980s and have been sitting in crates and magazines since then.
Well yes, but replacement cost is bound to be higher if they do replace them in inventory.
unmanned programs were yielding the vast majority of the science.
Can't agree with you more there, also the unmanned programs at NASA cost much less as well.

By delphinus100 on 4/27/2011 11:02:06 PM , Rating: 2
Of course all that presupposes that science is the biggest or only reason for manned space flight (though science is rightly along for the ride), or that there would be more money for unmanned probes, in its absence...

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