SETI really?

Astronomers involved in a Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) have spent at least 50 years looking into the heavens for a signal from some intelligent source.1 But really it seems to be more like YETI, meaning Yearning for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence.2

Man does seem to have this innate desire to connect with some intelligent life other than here on Earth. Why is that? Possibly because God instilled in us the desire to connect with Him. We were created in the image of God and we yearn to connect with an Intelligence beyond us. But sin and hardened hearts have nullified our connection with the Creator and as a result I believe the unregenerate misinterpret that God-connectedness with the belief that intelligent life must exist elsewhere in the Universe.

So much so several large telescopes have been dedicated to the purpose of searching the heavens, particularly around stars with similar properties to our sun. One such radio telescope is the Allen Telescope Array as shown in Fig. 1. The SETI Institute sought private funds for an instrument that could be dedicated to searching the heavens, and in 2001 Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft) agreed to personally fund the technology development and first phase of implementation, culminating in the construction of 42 antennas. In October 2007 the array began commissioning tests and initial observations.3

allen-array

Figure 1: Radio telescopes of the Allen Telescope Array at Hat Creek, California (USA). Credit: AP

Astronomers like those at the SETI Institute are hoping to find an Earth 2.0, like recently claimed,4 but with life, even intelligent life that could send a radio communication signal.1 They assume that life evolved once on Earth so why not elsewhere on similar planets in the Universe since there must be billions of them.5 That’s their reasoning anyway.

The detection

On August 29th 2016 an online news report was published titled “SETI has observed a ‘strong’ signal that may originate from a Sun-like star”.6 A radio telescope, the RATAN-600 radio telescope in Zelenchukskaya, in southern Russia (Fig. 2), which is used in the SETI program, sometime in 2015, detected an 11 GHz microwave signal from a location in the direction of the star HD164595. It was hoped that this was one of those otherworldly intelligent creatures reaching out and as a result it was reported that “there is considerable excitement”6 over this new signal. According to the news report:6 Continue reading