Professor Ian Morison describes our attempts to detect the presence of other advanced civilizations, explains why we should not be too disheartened by our failure so far and how a giant radio telescope, due for completion in 2020, would give us a realistic chance of searching the whole Galaxy- Gresham College
Gresham Professor of Astronomy Ian Morison made his first telescope at the age of 12 with lenses given to him by his optician. Having studied Physics, Maths and Astronomy at Oxford, he became a radio astronomer at the Jodrell Bank Observatory and teaches Astronomy and Cosmology at the University of Manchester.
Over 25 years he has also taught Observational Astronomy to many hundreds of adult students in the North West of England. An active amateur optical astronomer, he is a council member and past president of the Society for Popular Astronomy in the United Kingdom.
At Jodrell Bank he was a designer of the 217 KM MERLIN array and has coordinated the Project Phoenix SETI Observations using the Lovell Radio Telescope. He contributes astronomy articles and reviews for New Scientist and Astronomy Now, and produces a monthly sky guide on the Observatory's website.
I think we are searching for everything but for other life.
If it would be about life, then the search would end right here on earth.
I think its about the human soul that cries out for answers.
Imagine we would find a civilization and even communicate and find out that their knowledge is lower than ours. So the results would be: We cannot benefit from that species, so leave them be.
There are a lot of people that are plugging in numbers into the Drake equation and giving there reasons why and it is little but a exercise in theory but never the less it is interesting and does render some insight as we gain more and more knowledge of the universe we live in.
I to was surprised that the current estimation of new star births in the Milky Way is only about seven. I don't think that it is totally invalid to plug in reflections of our own experience and thought, like is it likely that a technologically advanced society would destroy it's self or be subject to natural disasters like colliding with foreign objects and how long would it take for life to develop and how long would it take to develop intelligence and then develop the curiosity, technology and the will to want to communicate with intelligence outside of it's own world. Would they be asking the same questions we do, do we want to communicate, can we afford it and what are the rewards.
Its a thought experiment almost. Nothing from drakes equation is considered fact. Its just a rough number by tweeking variables. In fact the only number that is actual fact in the whole equation is the number of stars born per year
Although it's all very interesting and entertaining to talk about this, how can you possibly calculate anything that has to do with the chances of life arising (let alone intelligent life) on another planet? Considering we've very little idea of how many or what kind of variables exist in any given circumstance in any place in our galaxy.