Where in the Worlds has SETI Institute Been? - Feb 19 - 25, 2018

SignalSeth Shostak's Take on Hackers from Space

There's a lot of media buzz about malicious hackers here on Earth, but we don't  often consider the possibility of an extraterrestrial cyberattack. Yet a recent paper by astrophysicists Michael Hippke and John Learned argues that receiving a message from an alien civilization poses an existential threat, as such communication could be a vehicle for threats, coercion, or even computer viruses. Seth Shostak, the SETI Institute's Senior Astronomer, tempers concerns about malware in a piece he wrote for NBC Mach:           

"That's about as realistic as sabotaging your neighbor's new laptop by feeding it programs written for the Commodore 64."

Furthermore, Dr. Shostak is skeptical that a technologically advanced race capable of contacting us across vast distances would bother to threaten humanity into abetting in our own destruction:

"Imagine modern humans threatening Neanderthals with nuclear war unless they washed our cars. Would that make any sense?"

Between the vastness of the cosmos and software compatibility obstacles, it seems you are still much more likely to get suspicious emails and malware from human miscreants than from ET.

UFOThe Big Picture View on the Pentagon's UFO Study is Stranger Than Fiction

The public remains fascinated with a story, made public in late 2017, detailing a secret program the Department of Defense launched to investigate unidentified flying objects. Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer at the SETI Institute, has since written and spoken widely on the matter. The Daily Express recently reviewed an episode of Big Picture Science – a weekly science radio show and podcast produced here at the SETI Institute by Dr. Shostak and Executive Producer Molly Bentley – in which a panel of experts discuss the claim that mysterious metals recovered at a UFO crash site are being stored privately at Bigelow Aerospace. Dr. Shostak wants more details:

"Why would the government give the material to business entrepreneur Robert Bigelow, why not to science experts in atmospheric physics or even aviation?
"Look people have been clamoring for physical evidence for decades. If that  evidence is stacked up in some buildings in Las Vegas, let's open the doors.
 "At the moment the promise of exotic artefacts [sic] in storage is nothing more  than that."

Big Picture Science devotes one episode a month, called ‘Skeptic Check', to critical thinking and a thorough examination of extraordinary claims through the lens of science.             

SETI Pioneer Jill Tarter Shares Her ‘Cosmic Perspective'

Jill Tarter, co-founder and Bernard Oliver Chair of the SETI Institute, presented a public lecture at the third annual Women in Physics this past October. An edited snippet of the lecture titled, 'A Cosmic Perspective: Searching for Aliens, Finding Ourselves' is featured in The Pennsylvania Gazette, in which Dr. Tarter reflects on what makes the work of SETI so important:

"If we can get the planet working together on the SETI project, cooperating in a    way that is absolutely going to be necessary in order to solve all these other     frightening technological challenges—food security, water security, climate            change—if SETI becomes the model for thinking of ourselves as Earthlings, then       maybe we can solve these other problems and challenges."

The Pennsylvania Gazette: Alien Archaeology

Big Picture Science:

Last week's encore presentation of Quantum: Why We Want 'Em examined the impact quantum mechanics has on our everyday lives. This week in Meet Your Robot Baristawe take a look at robots and AI.

Facebook Live

Last week SETI Institute President and CEO Bill Diamond sat down with members of the Fully Integrated Lifecycle Mission Support Services (FILMSS) team to discuss their work.
All past Facebook Live videos can be seen on the SETI Institute's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SETIInstitute/.


  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology: March 10, Cambridge, MA SETI Institute Senior Scientist Franck Marchis will participate in Beyond the Cradle 2018: Envisioning a New Space Age
  • World's Fair Nano: March 10-11, San Francisco, CA Seth Shostak will be a featured speaker
  • National Science Teachers Association: March 15-18, Atlanta, GA SETI Institute Acting Director of Communication Pamela Harman will lead a workshop
  • Lunar and Planetary Science Conference: March 19-23, The Woodlands, TX SETI Institute scientists whose work will presented include Ross Beyer, Janice Bishop, Nathalie Cabrol, Matija Cuk, Cristina Dalle Ore, Virginia Gulick, Peter Jenniskens, Driss Takir, Matthew Tiscareno
  • City College of San Francisco: March 21, San Francisco, CA SETI Institute senior scientist Franck Marchis will participate in a star party
  • European Week of Astronomy and Space Science, April 3-5, Liverpool, UK Franck Marchis will participate
  • Contact Conference: April 6-8, Sunnyvale, CA Seth Shostak and Nathalie Cabrol will be speaking
  • California Academy of Sciences: April 12, 2018 Seth Shostak to participate in the monthly Nightlife talk
  • Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series: April 18, Los Altos Hills, CA SETI Institute scientists Michael Busch will speak
  • Palo Alto Jewish Community Center, May 2, Palo Alto, CA Seth Shostak to of offer SETI Talk presentation
  • Association of Computer Professionals in Education: May 4, Welches OR Seth Shostak to participate in annual conference
  • The Villages: May 8, San Jose, CA Seth Shostak to offer talk about SETI