by Dennis Yang
Thu, Oct 11th 2007 11:42pm
The initial portion of the Allen Telescope Array, a vast new array of radio telescopes, recently went live in Hat Creek, California. This array, funded in part by Paul Allen, is designed to scan the sky for any sign of extraterrestrial radio signals. The array is unique not only in the fact that it is the only array specifically designed to look for extraterrestrial life, but also in the fact that the many telescopes are designed using cheap, off-the-shelf components. By not using custom, one-off telescopes, the costs to construct the array of 350 telescopes was minimized greatly. Furthermore, in contrast to large single dish radio telescopes, like the 1,000-foot-diameter radio telescope in Puerto Rico, this array is faster and much cheaper to run. As a result, when completed, this array will be able to search for life at a million stars. Considering that the NASA's SETI project, Project Phoenix, searched 800 stars, this is a huge leap. That said, it is still a search for a needle in a haystack. Perhaps wiser-than-his-years Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes said it best when he proposed, "I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us."
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