posted on Dec, 7 2005 @ 05:51 PM
The call that is important to us all
Leigh Dayton, Science Writer
December 08, 2005
EARTHLINGS haven't yet heard from ET, but leading questers for cosmic company are getting ready to take the call ... just in case.
They've established an international committee to set the etiquette for inter-galactic contact. And Sydney-based cosmologist Paul Davies just took on
the top job.
"We need to get the protocol correct and clarified," noted Professor Davies, with Macquarie University's Australian Centre for Astrobiology.
"If ET called tonight we'd be in a bit of a muddle about it all," he added, speaking prior to his first meeting as head of the Post-Detection
Science and Technology Taskgroup.
The body is part of the International Academy of Astronautics and was founded by radio-astronomer Jill Tarter of the Search for Extraterrestrial
Intelligence (SETI) Institute in California.
"We want the correct details about the discovery event and any interpretation made about it to get out there," commented Dr Tarter, in Australia for
a lecture tour supported by Sydney University's Centre for Human Aspects of Science and Technology.
According to Dr Tarter - whose SETI exploits were portrayed by Jodie Foster in the 1997 film Contact - if a signal from ET is detected it must be
verified quickly and the news spread widely to ensure it's not "co-opted" by interest groups or politicians.
"Another caveat is that (scientists) will not transmit a reply until there's a global consensus about whether to reply and what should be said," Dr
And as Professor Davies noted, that's a contentious matter: "People have Hollywood movie fears that ET will come here, take over, eat us, turn us
into pets or eliminate us".
Further, it's not clear who speaks for Planet Earth.
Dr Tarter failed to persuade the United Nations to take on the responsibility, so Professor Davies has another plan.
"At some stage we'll have to deal with governments," he acknowledged. "That's why I'm toying with the idea of including (on the taskforce) an
elder statesman - Gorbechov or possibly Clinton - sombody with no (current) political agenda, but who knows the political process." Both Dr Tarter
and professor Davies are confident that they and their colleagues can find answers and create guidelines. They're not so sure they'll need to use
them. What are the odds of finding ET? "I don't know the answer," replied Dr Tarter. "But if we never search the chance is zero."
My apologies for not providing a link to source, hence I pasted the entire article.