LITTLE FERRY, NJ.., January 6, 1997 -- Scientists involved in a privatized Search for Extra- Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) are calling 1997 "the year we might make contact." Dr. H. Paul Shuch, executive director of the membership-supported, non-profit SETI League, is quick to point out "we have no guarantees, and there's no reason why 1997 should be any better, or worse, than any other year." But this year, he emphasizes, his educational and scientific organization actually has an active search program underway. "In years past," states Shuch, "the best we could do was eye the points of light in the night sky and wonder, 'am I alone?' Today we have a growing network of experimenters mounting a scientifically credible effort to answer that question with solid evidence."
Twenty-four observing stations, run by amateur radio experimenters around the world, currently comprise The SETI League's Project Argus search effort. Plans call for increasing that number to 5,000 volunteer participants within the next decade. At that level, the League's antennas will be able to monitor the full sky in real time, improving the chances for detecting highly intermittent radio signals which might be emanating from other technological civilizations in the Galaxy. "When we reach full strength," says Shuch, "we will have achieved a long-term goal: that no direction in the sky shall evade our gaze."
"Some, even within the scientific community, place our chances for success at zero," admits Shuch. "Events of the last year or so have led us to believe otherwise. In 1995, for instance, we could only speculate about the possible existence of planets around other Sun-like stars. Today, astronomers have shown us that they are commonplace. Before last August, we could only guess that life might exist elsewhere in space. Today, we have highly compelling fossil evidence, in the form of probable micro-organisms in three different meteorites. The odds for SETI success have never looked better."
SETI scientists seek to determine through microwave and optical measurements whether humankind is alone in the universe. Since Congress terminated NASA's SETI funding in 1993, The SETI League and other scientific groups have been attempting to privatize the research. Experimenters interested in participating in the search for intelligent alien life, or citizens wishing to help support it, should email to 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 electromagnetic Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence.
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