Funding Cuts Take Alien-Hunting Observatory Offline

John Funk

U.N. Owen Was Him?
Dec 20, 2005
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Funding Cuts Take Alien-Hunting Observatory Offline

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence may have come to an end if the public doesn't step in to help.

One of the most burning questions that mankind has asked itself ever since we saw the stars above us for what they really were was "Are we alone?" Is there life - intelligent life - out there in the universe, or are we humans the only ones; a freak chance spinning through this cosmic ocean at thousands of miles a second?

Aside from some occasional probably-false alarms [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/108252-NASA-Scientist-Claims-to-Have-Found-Evidence-of-Extraterrestrial-Life], it's a question that has yet to be answered. And as of today, our most likely source for finding an answer is going offline: Funding cuts at the federal and state levels have led to the choice to shut down the Hat Creek Radio Observatory - and with it, the Allen Telescope Array that is the primary weapon of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (better known as SETI).

According to the seek money help from science-loving private citizens [http://www.seti.org/].

This is a particularly devastating time to take SETI offline, reads the site, because the Institute was planning to take its powerful radio telescopes and examine the thousands of new extrasolar planets [http://kepler.nasa.gov/news/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=98] discovered by NASA's Kepler mission. Some of them are bound to be potentially habitable, no?

The good news is that this is only a "hibernation" of the Observatory and the ATA - it could potentially come back online once (if) the nation squares out its budget issues. For the moment, though, if the Vulcans are beaming radio signals through space, our best chance of finding them is now off the grid.

Read more about the ATA hibernation and SETI's plans here (PDF) [http://archive.seti.org/pdfs/ATA-hibernation.pdf].

Hey SETI, if you're in desperate need of some money, why don't you track down whoever hacked PSN [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/109568-Sony-Admits-Private-PSN-Info-Has-Been-Stolen-All-Of-It]? I hear they have some credit cards they could lend you...

(SETI.org [http://www.seti.org/])

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beema

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Aug 19, 2009
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Though this is a bit disheartening, our budget could definitely be better-spent elsewhere these days. Although I'm sure the funding for this was less than a drop in the bucket as compared to all the other shit the government funds. Like lots and lots of wars. Yeah...
 

Jamous

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Apr 14, 2009
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This is just maddeningly upsetting to me, though not unexpected. Oh well. This probably isn't the end for SETI, and I can DEFINITELY understand the need to spend public money where it's needed more.
 
Apr 28, 2008
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This makes me sad.

Come on, I'm sure we can make some cuts somewhere else. You know, like the military, which takes up about half of the actual budget.

If this does get taken down though, they better put those saved finances to something important, like education.
 

thethingthatlurks

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Feb 16, 2010
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*sigh* budget cuts should never affect research or education (as the retarded governor of this state ought to be reminded). I know the public and elected officials in particular are more often than not completely ignorant of research, and how it is absolutely vital. Yes, SETI has a low probability of successfully completing its mission, but what if it does? Do you have any idea what sort of impact that would have on our society as a whole? Plus I can't imagine SETI needing that much money, as all the data analysis is now done via distributed computing ([email protected], please help), and all of the dishes are already in place. And there are a ton of dedicated volunteers who help out, so...yeah, gimme me back some reason to hope plz.
 

RA92

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John Funk said:
Hey SETI, if you're in desperate need of some money, why don't you track down whoever hacked PSN [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/109568-Sony-Admits-Private-PSN-Info-Has-Been-Stolen-All-Of-It]? I hear they have some credit cards they could lend you...
*Cue in Sony customer rage about how this is no laughing matter*
 

John Funk

U.N. Owen Was Him?
Dec 20, 2005
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The problem with de-funding things in times of financial stress is that it's never as simple as "things are better now" to get the funding back.
 

John Funk

U.N. Owen Was Him?
Dec 20, 2005
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Someone get up to Mir right away and make the that reclusive bastard S.R. Hadden write out a check.
 

HerbertTheHamster

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Apr 6, 2009
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HankMan said:
Someone get up to Mir right away and make the that reclusive bastard S.R. Hadden write out a check.
Considering MIR doesn't exist anymore, that could be quite a hassle.

E.T. really hasn't picked up the phone in the last 30 years. Carl Sagan would be sad.
 

John Funk

U.N. Owen Was Him?
Dec 20, 2005
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HerbertTheHamster said:
HankMan said:
Someone get up to Mir right away and make the that reclusive bastard S.R. Hadden write out a check.
Considering MIR doesn't exist anymore, that could be quite a hassle.

E.T. really hasn't picked up the phone in the last 30 years. Carl Sagan would be sad.
"First rule in government spending: why build one when you can have two at twice the price?"
 

Hero in a half shell

It's not easy being green
Dec 30, 2009
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I'm in favour of this, although if the senators really wanted to cut funding the place the they should start is their own cushioned backsides.
 

Ironic Pirate

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May 21, 2009
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Zolthrax will be pleased, I should notify the mothership...

I mean, oh no. How awful. I am crying tears, as that is what a human such as myself would do in a situation like this. Sniffle.
 

FFHAuthor

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Aug 1, 2010
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Rather ludicrous question of course...but why is the Federal Government even funding a research program into looking for Extraterrestrial Life when for the past 40 odd years it has loudly and vehemently stated that there's no truth in the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis of UFOs?
 

sgtshock

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Feb 11, 2009
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Considering SETI is basically looking for a needle that we don't even know exists in the unfathomably huge haystack that is the universe, and the ridiculous deficit we're in, I'm not terribly upset about this. Besides, a hyper-advanced alien civilization would probably have an easier time finding us than we would have finding them.
 

killamanhunter

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Mar 24, 2009
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Raiyan 1.0 said:
John Funk said:
Hey SETI, if you're in desperate need of some money, why don't you track down whoever hacked PSN [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/109568-Sony-Admits-Private-PSN-Info-Has-Been-Stolen-All-Of-It]? I hear they have some credit cards they could lend you...
*Cue in Sony customer rage about how this is no laughing matter*
This is no laughing matter!

OT: really? When we're finally getting something good, now we cut it?
 

Imperioratorex Caprae

Henchgoat Emperor
May 15, 2010
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As much as I respect SETI in some regards, I don't think its worth its weight as more than likely any Intelligent Life we could encounter in the universe would think us primitive and either easily conquerable or not worth their time and thus either we'd know already or will never know.
Thus is a waste of public money, esp. when only 3% of the actual Fed. Budget goes to education.
Top 3 US Budget Areas:
1. DoD (25%)
2. Health Care (23%)
3. Pensions (20%)