Are we alone in the universe?


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The SETI Institute’s Jill Tarter wants to accelerate our search for cosmic company. Using a growing array of radio telescopes, she and her team listen for patterns that may be a sign of intelligence elsewhere in the universe.

Are we alone in the universe?
NGC 7331, 50 million light-years distant in the northern constellation Pegasus, is often touted

as a twin spiral analog to our Galaxy [Credit: Vicent Peris (OAUV/CAHA/PTeam)]

About Jill Tarter

SETI’s Jill Tarter has devoted her career to hunting for signs of sentient beings elsewhere, and almost all aspects of this field have been affected by her work. Astronomer Jill Tarter was the long-time director of the (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute’s Center for SETI Research, and also holder of the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI. She led Project Phoenix, a decade-long SETI scrutiny of about 750 nearby star systems, using telescopes in Australia, West Virginia and Puerto Rico. While no clearly extraterrestrial signal was found, this project was the most comprehensive targeted search for artificially generated cosmic signals ever undertaken.

Tarter serves on the management board for the Allen Telescope Array, a massive new instrument that will eventually include 350 antennas, each 6 meters in diameter. This telescope will increase the speed and the spectral range of the hunt for signals from other distant technologies by orders of magnitude.

In 2009, Tarter won the TED Prize, a $100,000 reward. The funds went towards her project which Tarter says will hopefully “empower Earthlings everywhere to become active participants in the ultimate search for cosmic company.”

Source: NPR [April 15, 2013]


  1. I suspect that life is probably common in the universe, but advanced, machine building civilisations are highly unusual and vanishingly rare.

    Until evidence emerges to the contrary, in this galaxy, we're probably it.

    Regardless, SETI's work is worthy of support and should continue. I'd love to be proved wrong.

  2. "Tarter serves on the management board for the , a massive new instrument that will eventually include 350 antennas, each 6 meters in diameter."

    I think we are missing a noun here. . .

  3. @Razorfly101 I think advanced machine civilizations if they exist will find our organic life equally confusing and improvable….we live in this small space and in our commmon sense we tend to believe in things that our common sense allows us to believe in…. but do we really know everything there is to know about physics, chemistry, reactions, biology…i doubt it. Within such a short time i.e just within couple hundred years we humans have progressed and created such complex technologies and tools now think about what if life started somewhere else much earlier than here like a difference of about million of years then is it even possible for us to comprehend those advanced civilization… there is a quote that says… any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

  4. It is just so clear as day, to me that we cannot possibly be alone and any other thought is just nonsensical.
    NASA is discovering and publishing NEW extra-solar planets by the month literally.

    Right now, the confirmed tally is about 2000+ and they just started with the Keplar program only 2 years ago.

    Factually, if you go strictly by the scientific method of Hypothesis -> Testing -> Theory -> Repeatability, then we already have very good & credible candidates, check out this link:
    The DNA testing was a double-blind test but so far not many scientist are willing to openly accept the findings, even though this is clearly going by evidence. Any lab can take a sample and do DNA testing for themselves, but sadly even scientist being human are apt to practice the worst form of bias.

    If you go by the Math, we humans are just dust motes appearing for a short while on a planet size speck of dust. There are a 100 billion stars in our galaxy alone and there are many billions of other galaxies that we can detect so far, in a Universe that is unimaginable in terms of time and space. So thinking that we're the only sentient creatures that have somehow stumbled into a technological civilization or is the pinnacle of all Creation thus far, is really laughable.

    Most humans can't handle the Truth the same way an Ant will probably either weep with boundless joy or die immediately of despair, if it could somehow contemplate and realize the enormity and eternity of all that its short lifespan is missing out on.

  5. Are we alone in the universe, probably not. Are we alone in our galaxy is the real question, since communication with other life forms would be impossible if they didn’t live in our galaxy. The Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy is 25,000 light years from the Sun, so even if we could communicate at the speed of light it would take 50,000 years for them to receive a reply. We may be alone in our galaxy. Hope not.



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