LITTLE FERRY, NJ.., 15 October 2005 -- Although The SETI League, Inc., leader in the privatized Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, has long boasted members in 66 countries on six continents, activity on Earth's most remote continent has long eluded us. All that is about to change. Yesterday, SETI League member Robert Melville departed for a one-year research assignment in Antarctica, bringing closer to reality the organization's goal of total global participation in its grassroots science mission.
A longtime radio amateur (callsign WB3EFT) originally from Los Angeles, Melville has spent most of his life in Maryland and New Jersey. He received his Extra-class amateur radio license while still in high school in 1969, worked at Bell Labs from 1985 to 2002 doing numerical simulation and integrated circuit design, and spent the past two years teaching electronic engineering at Columbia University. He will now be working for a full year as a science technician at the South Pole. When asked if he would be willing to serve as The SETI League's volunteer Regional Coordinator for Antarctica, teaching SETI science to the penguins, he indicated he would rather wait until he gets there and assesses his work situation, citing an old Russian proverb: "do not divide up the pelt until you have killed the bear."
Melville allows as how poetry and SETI will sustain him through the long polar night. A big fan of the late poet Robert W. Service, he paraphrases: "There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for signals!" SETI League executive director H. Paul Shuch couldn't resist continuing the rhyme: "The Southern dark has strewn such sparks as would make your insides wiggle." Melville then completed the stanza with: "Antarctic lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see / Was the night on the freq of fourteen twenty we finally heard ET!" The two hope that intelligent extraterrestrials will prove better poets than they.
Largely using radio telescopes and optical telescopes, SETI scientists seek to determine whether humankind is alone in the universe. Since Congress terminated NASA's SETI funding in 1993, The SETI League and other scientific groups have privatized the research. Amateur and professional scientists interested in participating in the search for intelligent alien life, and citizens wishing to help support it, should email join_at_setileague_dot_org, check the SETI League Web site at http://www.setileague.org/, send a fax to +1 (201) 641-1771, or contact The SETI League, Inc. membership hotline at +1 (800) TAU-SETI. Be sure to provide us with a postal address to which we will mail further information. The SETI League, Inc. is a membership-supported, non-profit [501(c)(3)], educational and scientific corporation dedicated to the scientific Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence.
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this page last updated 15 October 2005
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