From: Stig Agermose <firstname.lastname@example.org> 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, http://www.deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,75004861,00.html? Stig *** 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 cosmos. 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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