Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence: The Quest for Finding Life Among the Stars

One of the greatest questions in science is this simple notion..are we alone in the universe? For billions of years, Earth has been blessed with the ability to host life and allow the human race to prosper. Now that mankind has explored space, one has to wonder if there are signs of life outside the solar system. To explore this question, several organizations have been created to search for extraterrestrial life. Organizations such as Berkley SETI, and the SETI Institute, are the major U.S. institutions that conduct the search for extraterrestrial life.

The history for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) began with two notable physicists, Giuseppe Cocconi and Philip Morrison, published an article in Nature discussing the notion of using radio waves to communicate across the galaxy.

Right around the same time, Frank Drake, an astronomer, used a telescope aimed at two nearby stars to search for extraterrestrial life. This experiment, known as Project Ozma, became the first instance of a formal SETI search for life. While the experiment did not yield any results, the initiative served as catalyst for future endeavors.

Project Ozma Telescope
Frank Drake’s satellite used in Project Ozma. Source: Sky & Telescope

Currently, the two U.S. institutions that conduct SETI research are the Berkley SETI Research Center and the SETI Institute. With billions, upon billions, of other solar systems in the Milky Way galaxy, it is hard to imagine that life is restricted to just this solar system. One major contributor to the search, Yuri Milner, decided to make a major contribution to the field by investing $100 million into the Breakthrough Listen Initiative. With this investment, the search for SETI can expand to explore potential signals that could yield promising results. To wrap up, the SETI search is a noble endeavor and one where our quest to find other life could be finally be solved. Perhaps one day, we will finally make a breakthrough to connect with a civilization different from our solar system.

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