Monday, January 13, 2014

Extraterrestrial First Contact: Science Pushes Us Forward

The primary difference between speculation and science is that the scientific process is systematic. Science requires research, experimentation, analysis and communication. The communication part is critical, because it is the step that allows others to review the findings and attempt to replicate the results. In a nutshell- speculation is easy and science is not.

This blog is entirely speculation. I may refer to scientific research, but in the end it is just ideas and ideas are only a starting place. Science pushes and pulls us forward as a species. And it is science that is driving the study of possible extraterrestrial life and intelligence.
It is a much slower process than many of us would hope. The funding is tough to come by, often requiring private donations to sustain the work. Still, brave astrophysicists, astronomers and astrobiologists are getting the work done. They risk professional ridicule and the constant threat of de-funding.

Recently, astrobiologists testified before the U.S House Science Committee. They included Mary Voytek, the NASA Senior Scientist for Astrobiology, Sara Seager, professor of physics and planetary science at M.I.T., and Steven J. Dick,  from the Library of Congress. They agreed on one important point: that life does exist elsewhere in the universe. News that members of Congress are at least willing to hear from scientists about the possibilities of extraterrestrial life is refreshing. Scientists at the SETI Institute in California are carrying out the search for possible intelligent life in the universe. Their work has encountered a number of funding issues over the years. It is Congress that cut the most significant funding in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. It does not seem likely that Congress will restore that government funding any time soon.

Speculation and science fiction are important for engaging our imaginations. But it is science that will move us forward. If you believe in this effort, please support the scientists doing this work. Encourage proper funding for the important work of NASA. Consider a donation to the SETI Institute.

Join me on the Alien FirstContact Facebook page for more links and discussion.

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