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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1999 > Apr > Apr 24

Berkeley Professor First Academic Chair Of E.T.

From: Stig Agermose <stig.agermose@get2net.dk>
Date: Sat, 24 Apr 1999 05:41:47 GMT
Fwd Date: Sat, 24 Apr 1999 11:05:22 -0400
Subject: Berkeley Professor First Academic Chair Of E.T.

Source: The New York Times News Service via the Deseret News,




Tuesday, April 20, 1999

Berkeley professor is first academic chairman of E.T. hunt

By Evelyn Nieves
New York Times News Service

HAT CREEK, Calif. - The uninitiated crack jokes. They mention
"The X-Files" and little green men. They wonder if he attends
alien-abductee conventions. They have a good old time.

William Welch just shrugs. It is not his job to convince
skeptics of the possibility of intelligent life beyond this
planet. As the first professor to hold the University of
California at Berkeley's Watson and Marilyn Alberts Chair for
the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence - the first
academic chair of its kind anywhere - Welch has the job of
scouring the universe to find humanity's neighbors out there,
somewhere, light-years away.

Standing in front of an array of 10 radiotelescopes at the
university's Hat Creek Observatory near Mount Lassen here in
Northern California, Welch neither looked nor sounded like a
starry-eyed optimist.

"Will we find intelligent life in space in my lifetime?" he
said. "It's a very remote possibility."

Still, exciting discoveries of the existence of planets around
other stars continually kindle hopes among scientists of one day
finding advanced civilizations in the dark recesses of the

Indeed, Welch is far from alone: A growing community of
scientists is devoting time and energy to the search for
extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI (pronounced SET-ee), as
the field is commonly called.

But while those committed to the endeavor include some of the
world's leading astronomers, working at universities like
Berkeley, Harvard and Cornell, the new SETI chair, endowed with
$500,000 from two Berkeley alumni, is giving the field new
public notice.

To Frank Drake, president of the SETI Institute in Mountain
View, Calif., who is the pioneer in the field, the SETI chair at
Berkeley is proof positive that the search for extraterrestrial
life has entered the mainstream.

"Back in 1960, SETI was way out there. Things have gotten a lot
better," Drake said. "The attitude in the scientific community
is that yes, there's life in space. There is a general belief
that it is out there and that while it is a difficult pursuit,
this is so important that it is worth the time."

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