Philosopher Clive Goodall will rebut Frank Tipler's arguments, and Noted philosopher Professor Neil Tennant will present his view of why there could be major problems in actually decoding the message on an ETI signal. This may be the first time that philosophers have presented papers at a "technical" meeting on SETI, particularly one organized by SPIE. Dr. Guillermo Lemarchand will describe both radio and optical SETI activities in Argentina and give an account of the MANIA optical SETI project devised by the late Professor Shvartsman of the former Soviet Union. Drs. John Rather and Monte Ross (conference co-chairman) will give accounts of their approaches to interstellar laser communications, while this author will present a review paper and describe the amateur approach to optical SETI. There will be a discussion at the end of the conference, moderated by Charles Townes, who earlier will talk about his CO2 optical SETI laser work, and the CO2 OSETI observations being conducted by Dr. Albert Betz on Mount Wilson.
Note that as with previous SETI publications, the latest book by SETI pioneer Professor Frank Drake and Dava Sobel IS ANYONE OUT THERE? hardly mentions the optical approach. This conference intends to redress that omission. This "controversial" OSETI conference should be a "fun" event but you do not need to be a laser communications engineer or SETI scientist to attend - you only need a curiosity about "our" place in the grand scheme of things.
With large telescopes, Optical SETI is the one branch of visible astronomy, save for solar astronomy, that can be done during the day under a clear blue sky!
Last October, we saw the celebration of the Quincentennial of Christopher Columbus's voyage to the Americas and the official start of NASA's Microwave Observing Project (MOP), recently renamed the High Resolution Microwave Survey (HRMS). Numerous articles on SETI have appeared in recent magazine publications, including the September 1992 issue of LIFE, the October issue of ASTRONOMY, and the November/December issue of SMITHSONIAN AIR & SPACE. See also recent issues of TIME and NEWSWEEK. The November issue of SKY & TELESCOPE has a long article about microwave SETI and mentions the optical approach. This is probably the first published popular account of modern OSETI in the printed media. See the bibliography at the end of this article.
I have also begun the construction of what I believe to be the world's first amateur optical SETI (AMOSETI) Observatory. This will be based around the Meade 10-inch LX200 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, and i one of the most advanced on the market today for use under computer and CCD control. In the last paper of the conference, I will be reporting on the amateur approach to Optical SETI and any work done to date on my observatory system. In many respects, the approach adopted by the author for AMOSETI is similar to that employed by Shvartsman and Beskin in the MANIA project, i.e., looking for very short pulses rather than CW beacon signals. It is possible that AMOSETI will lead to a renaissance in amateur astronomy, where light pollution - the bane of astronomers - has no effect on ETI detection sensitivity!
At this time during the sharp decline in the industrial-military complex, can there be a more ennobling way for defense conversion - to turn laser swords into SETI or CETI plowshares and help discover that we are not alone within the Milky Way galaxy? Monte and I look forward to seeing you at this conference at the rebirth of a new branch of science.
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