Funding Cuts Take Alien-Hunting Observatory Offline

Funding Cuts Take Alien-Hunting Observatory Offline

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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, 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 SETI Institute website, the Institute is currently exploring options to bring the ATA back online as soon as possible. One option is to lease the Observatory out to the United States Air Force to search the skies and map out the location of space junk, and perhaps keep looking for alien life in the meantime. Another option, however, is to seek money help from science-loving private citizens.

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 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).

Hey SETI, if you're in desperate need of some money, why don't you track down whoever hacked PSN? I hear they have some credit cards they could lend you...

(SETI.org)

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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...

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.

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.

*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.

John Funk:

Hey SETI, if you're in desperate need of some money, why don't you track down whoever hacked PSN? I hear they have some credit cards they could lend you...

*Cue in Sony customer rage about how this is no laughing matter*

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.

Someone get up to Mir right away and make the that reclusive bastard S.R. Hadden write out a check.

Imagine if Bill Gates had an account........nearly 60,000,000,000$ at ur disposal :D :D

HankMan:
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.

HerbertTheHamster:

HankMan:
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?"

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.

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.

Isn't that a kick in the teeth.

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?

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.

Raiyan 1.0:

John Funk:

Hey SETI, if you're in desperate need of some money, why don't you track down whoever hacked PSN? 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?

Should use Hubble anyway

thethingthatlurks:
([email protected], please help), gimme me back some reason to hope plz.

I just set up [email protected] on my laptop last week it allready sent some completed work back to them and is more than half way through another set.

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%)

ryo02:

thethingthatlurks:
([email protected], please help), gimme me back some reason to hope plz.

I just set up [email protected] on my laptop last week it allready sent some completed work back to them and is more than half way through another set.

Thank you! :)
There are other applications as well if you are interested, and any amount of processing power you would be willing to contribute is greatly appreciated. Soo...yeah. Science and distributed computing accelerating the advancement thereof ftw! :D

The phrase "penny wise, pound foolish" always comes to mind when I hear about these types of budget cuts.

I am very sad that this is happening. It is a VERY small amount of money they are putting into it (SETI gets funding privately too)and for, just the aspect of their mission POSSIBLY working, is TOTALLY worth it

sgtshock:
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.

And it's more like trying to find a specific needle in a stack identical needles...

How else are we going to find Prothean technology and join the our galaxy's galactic civilization?

As much as it sucks to be done. It kind of has to. Its alot of money just to say, ok yep there are aliens, and realistically its not the only mission looking for alien life. Its just one type.

I think Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Gabe Newell should just donate 10 million each.

This makes me both sad and angry. We can spend money by the truckload fighting starting pointless wars, give a fortune in handouts to bankers who just lost a fortune through greed and short-sightedness, but we can't come up with a bit of comparative loose change to fund important, potentially world-altering science. Our priorities, as a species, are a bit out of whack.

EDIT: I just saw their donation page. I'm chipping in, anyone else?

Finding out if life exists on other planets seems like the most frivolous thing to be honest.
We couldn't even get to another planet that had life even if there was. The closest we'll get is "oh! Hey there IS life on other planets, well what do you know about that..." then billions more gets spent on finding ways to contact another species that will not understand us/we won't understand them because there will be NOTHING in common between us so any communication between us would fail.

If people are genuinely that interested in this stuff, rather them making other people spend their money on it (other people pay taxes, but then their tax money goes to something that's a complete waste in their opinion) if YOU are interested in this stuff, then YOU donate to them.

Ah, that sucks that SETI's going into hibernation.

John Funk:

Hey SETI, if you're in desperate need of some money, why don't you track down whoever hacked PSN? I hear they have some credit cards they could lend you...

(SETI.org)

Permalink

Dude, not funny.

Irridium:
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.

Uh, we've been spending less money per GDP on the military since the JFK Administration. Why don't we cut funding to programs that are actually increasing in cost per GDP, like Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid instead of decreasing, like Defense?

Because as far as I know, the Pentagon isn't threatening to utterly backrupt America in the next 20-30 years like SS and MC.

TornadoADV:

Irridium:
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.

Uh, we've been spending less money per GDP on the military since the JFK Administration. Why don't we cut funding to programs that are actually increasing in cost per GDP, like Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid instead of decreasing, like Defense?

Because as far as I know, the Pentagon isn't threatening to utterly backrupt America in the next 20-30 years like SS and MC.

That would also be a good idea. But it would also most likely be political suicide, so I doubt either side will propose it. Even if its better for people in the long run.

Irridium:
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.

They will. They'll put it toward educating soldiers on how to use the latest in weaponry that the other part of the money went towards.

TornadoADV:

Irridium:
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.

Uh, we've been spending less money per GDP on the military since the JFK Administration. Why don't we cut funding to programs that are actually increasing in cost per GDP, like Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid instead of decreasing, like Defense?

Because as far as I know, the Pentagon isn't threatening to utterly backrupt America in the next 20-30 years like SS and MC.

These social programs are not naturally all consuming. It is how they have changed since their inception (albeit I don't believe either was intended to stick around). MC has gone up in part because of the wildly corrupt medical market in the US.

SS can thank in part it's problems to synthetic nitrogen. Our population wouldn't be nearly as large as it is without that.

But regardless I'd need to see some evidence beyond guessing that the Pentagon isn't wasting money.

http://articles.latimes.com/2009/jan/12/opinion/oe-schwartz12 - 29 Billion dollars a year just to maintain far more nuclear weapons than is necessary to keep. Reduce the amount of nukes down to just full extermination of surface life and leave it at that. The moment you are killing 1.1x all life on Earth you are overspending into Nuclear arms (well it's overspending if you have any nukes but American's are paranoid...at least rich ones).

"Our report, the first public examination of open-source data, shows that the U.S. spent at least $52.4 billion on nuclear weapons and programs in fiscal 2008. This budget, which spans many agencies, not just the Defense Department, does not count related costs for air defense, anti-submarine warfare, classified programs or most nuclear weapons-related intelligence programs."

How much was Seti? I'm going to assume a small fraction of that cost? Since the best I can find at the moment (I gotta get to work) are numbers in the millions.

Basically we are trying REALLY hard to cut tons of programs that help people in order to fund programs that help companies (which I guess are considered people now). It's maddening.

Irridium:

TornadoADV:

Irridium:
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.

Uh, we've been spending less money per GDP on the military since the JFK Administration. Why don't we cut funding to programs that are actually increasing in cost per GDP, like Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid instead of decreasing, like Defense?

Because as far as I know, the Pentagon isn't threatening to utterly backrupt America in the next 20-30 years like SS and MC.

That would also be a good idea. But it would also most likely be political suicide, so I doubt either side will propose it. Even if its better for people in the long run.

Someone is going to need to fall on their sword for this.

This is a good thing to cut. It doesn't have any practical purpose and in the end could do more harm than good.

Stephen Hawking famously said that "If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn't turn out very well for the Native Americans."

I think we should shut our big yaps until we get our own stuff together, then we can worry about inflicting our presence on the rest of the universe.

 

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