Several members of the SETI community have recently proposed that we develop means to search for intelligent interstellar nanoprobes. This research is certainly unconventional (in fact, that is its very appeal to many of us!) Prof. Ron Bracewell's similar suggestions of 25 years or more ago were also considered by many to be outside of the scientific mainstream. In fact, for many years that description fit what we now think of as "conventional" microwave SETI. The nature of breakthrough thinking is that it challenges the dominant paradigm.
One possible reaction to such novel proposals is to dismiss them as impossible, beyond the laws of physics, or outside the realm of engineering feasibility. This is the classic reaction of those with limited vision. Instead of expending energy on dismissing the unconventional, true visionaries embrace the very real challenge of overcoming its difficulties.
I'm pleased to note that most SETI League members fall into the category of visionaries. Otherwise, we would have long ago abandoned our foolish quest of SETI. Let us then remember that what we scoff at today may tomorrow gain respectability, and next year enter the realm of the scientific mainstream. It is not the laws of nature which change over time, but rather our perspective, and our understanding of them.
I salute those of our colleagues who dare to propose the impossible. They have challenged the rest of us to expand our minds. Let's not disappoint them by dwelling on the negative, or rejecting the unknown out of hand.
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this page last updated 4 January 2003
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