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The Search for E.T. Goes on Hold, for Now

The National Radio Astronomy Observatorys Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in rural West Virginia.

On March 31, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) will stop sending out data and go into "hibernation."

Credit: Jim West/Alamy

One of the great science fiction fantasies of all time — that you might discover aliens texting you from outer space on your computer — is about to take a breather.

For the last 21 years ordinary people, armchair astronomers, citizen scientists, sitting at home or in their offices, were able to participate in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence — SETI — thanks to a screen saver called seti@home. Once installed, the program would periodically download data from the University of California, Berkeley, process it while the computer was idle, and then send it back.

On March 2, the ringleaders of the seti@home effort, a beleaguered and somewhat diminished band of Berkeley astronomers, announced on their website that they were taking a break. On March 31 the program will stop sending out data and go into "hibernation." The team, they explained, needs time to digest its decades of findings.


From The New York Times
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