The topic of a SETI Hangout on-Air On October 2, 2013, was
searching for extraterrestrial civilizations with the Colossus telescope.
Frank Marchis, the host and moderator of the hangout, has invited
Frank Drake, the "equation" guy and former director of the Carl Sagan Center,
Dave Summer , chemist, SETI Institute, CA,
Jeff Kuhn, Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii, Colossus Project Leader, and
Svetlana Berdyugina, Kiepenheuer Institute for Solar Physics, Freiburg, Germany.
This team of scientists discussed the potential of the Colossus telescope
to search for extraterrestrial civilizations and the signatures of biospheres
on exoplanets around nearby stars.
"Colossus is a very large and very challenging project. I think it is a good one,
because in our previous SETI searches we've searched for radio signals, we've searched for light pulses --
both are products of technology. We always have to be humble and realize that we are a young civilization,
and it is very hard for us to deduce or speculate what kind of technology of those civilizations who are
even hundreds of years ahead of us is like. Are we looking for wrong things? Are we looking for a wrong
frequency? That is a troublesome thought. As we see in our own civilization, nature of radio transmission
is changing very rapidly, on the timescale of decades, that is shocking comparing to cosmic timescales.
What is especially good about the Colossus is that it is not looking for a specific technology. It is looking
for evidence of a civilization that will be there whether they try to do anything or not... It is just required
for them to be a florishing civilization, and there will be a biosignature. It will be hard to detect them,
it will be difficult to distinguish them from natural signatures, like a rocking vulcano, but it does creat
a new path for detecting civilizations. It has this great advantage that it does not depend on them having
specific technology or making a specific effort to make the presence known...
The Colossus project is very reminiscent of the Arecibo telescope project. There was a need for enormous filled
aperture, and it was needed quickly. The result was a construction of a segmented telescope is segmented,
with 3778 segments, each about the size of a dining table. That telescope was built in four years!
It is a 300m telescope! So, when Jeff says: "Maybe we can do the Colossus in 5 years", this sounds
really quick, but it was done before -- a much bigger telescope, in a very difficult location, entirely new
technology... So, that is not in any way an outlandish proposal... That requires talented, very clever people."
"We all agree that the Collossus is a paradigm shift in ground-based astronomy."
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