March 5, 2010

SETI's Quest and His Master's Voice

A few weeks ago, by coincidence, some news came while I've been reading "His Master's Voice" by Stanislaw Lem. It turned out that the SETI Institute will open up its data to "Citizen Scientists" via SETIQuest. The data collected by the SETI Institute will be opened to the public for anyone to analyze.

It all made me curious about our reactions if a message from the stars were discovered hidden within the SETI archives. I cant help but think that some of the things that occured in Lem's novel might actually happen. The government might assemble a team of scientists to specifically study this message from the stars. Various experts such as Mathematicians, Astronomers, Astrophysicists, Astrobiologists might be gathered and isolated in a remote location to decipher the message. And of course, the military and other covert agencies will secretly be studying the data with a different purpose in mind. Now Stanislaw Lem writes in a way that makes it all seem like His Master's Voice (HMV) was a real story. It was so much fun to read, that it often made me chuckle.

During Stanislaw Lem's time, he saw a kind of Science that is marked by covert operations, and secret projects perpetrated by a government more concerned with warfare. But now we live in a wonderful time in history where the common folk can get involved in pure Scientific pursuit. The technological advances, and the opening up of massive data now allow anyone to donate their time, skills, and resources for noble purposes. This is the era of Citizen Science and it comes at a perfect time to support the aim of the SETI project as well.

Check out SETIQuest for ongoing developments in the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence and make sure you join the effort. We might find another "voice" from way out there! And if it doesn't happen in our time, just remember that it is worth the effort to keep searching, exploring and learning. It's all part of the journey and adventure to find our place in this Cosmos.