Essay on The Existence of Intelligent Life

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The Existence of Intelligent Life

Bertrand Russell wrote, "There are two possibilities. Maybe we are alone. Maybe we are not. Both are equally frightening (Jakosky 1)." The question of life in the universe is one that leaves many in a state of bewilderment. It becomes even more interesting when it leads to another question -- that of intelligent life in the universe. Finding other intelligent civilizations among the interstellar space would greatly affect every aspect of our existence. Conversely, not finding such a civilization would force us to examine the purpose of our own existence. To help answer the question, astronomers and scientists set up a program in search for extraterrestrial intelligence. This program, or
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For two tedious months, Drake pointed an eighty-five foot antenna in the direction of two starts the same age as our sun, Tau Ceti and Epsil. A single 100Hz-channel receiver scanned nearly 400kHz of bandwidth, for a repeated series of patterned pulses that would indicate an intelligent message (Heidmann 113-144). Unfortunately, the only sound that came from the speaker was static. Though no intelligent life was found and project Ozma proved to be nothing but a disappointment, it actually spurred the interest of others who created a feasible scientific objective ("Project Ozma"). In the 1960's the Soviet Union dominated much of the SETI program. However in the 1970's NASA's Ames Research center, located in California began to take over. After nearly a decade of study and preliminary research, the NASA headquarters fully funded and adopted the SETI program. However, five years later Congress ruled the program a foolish unnecessary scientific endeavor that wasted valuable funding. Congress then decided to not allow NASA to support SETI and terminated the funding ("History of SETI"). Despite the obstacle, the SETI program was reborn, forming the SETI Institute. It's first privately funded project, Project Phoenix, is the world's most sensitive and comprehensive search for extraterrestrial intelligence that listens to radio signals being transmitted our way. The project focuses on Northern Stars by scanning only those
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