Forget 'Men in Black 3': Why aliens won't attack Earth
SETI hunter Jill Tarter says Sir Stephen Hawking is wrong about aliens coming to attack or colonize Earth. If aliens can get here, Tarter reasons, they'll be advanced enough not to need slaves, food or other planets,
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Tarter: Well, one step is SETILive.org. We launched that at the end of February as part of the TED Wish that I made in 2009 to get the world involved. And when you look at who's signed on and who's classifying signals, you find that about 30 percent are outside the U.S. So that's a start in getting the rest of the world engaged.Skip to next paragraph
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In terms of funding, how we'll go about that — that's to be determined. But a signal isn't coming to California. A signal isn't coming to the United States. This is something that really involves the entire planet, and we need to sit down and work it out. How are we going to make connections, and how do we do a better job of telling the story?
There's got to be a path for success, and I need to engage a few people who think SETI is as important as I do, and who know how to do this, to get the job done.
SPACE.com: There's going to be a celebration of you and your career next month at the SETICon meeting [in Santa Clara, Calif.], right?
Tarter: I'm not quite sure whether it's going to be a roast; we'll see [laughs]. I'm very flattered that they've decided to dedicate some effort to talking about what we've achieved — what I've achieved, and what our team has achieved over these years.
SPACE.com: What do you regard as some of your, and your team's, greatest achievements?
Tarter: Well, we have the [SETI] Institute, which is is far bigger than I ever envisioned it would be when we incorporated it in 1984 with very modest goals to save NASA money. When I wrote the charter for the Institute, I said, "Well, gee, we're willing to be — and eager to be — the institutional home for research that deals with any of the factors of the Drake equation."
And as a result, we have this little-known secret that the SETI Institute is very large. My team is quite small, and the rest of my colleagues are astrobiologists who are looking for biosignatures and are studying extremophiles and wondering about life under the ice of Europa and Enceladus, and all of this.
So we have a very vibrant institution of astrobiology, and also education and public outreach, that most people don't know about. I'm hoping that we get to celebrate that at SETICon as well.
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