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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1999 > Feb > Feb 1

Ohio Engineer Pioneered SETI Search For Laser

From: Stig Agermose <stig.agermose@get2net.dk>
Date: Sun, 31 Jan 1999 17:34:41 +0100 (MET)
Fwd Date: Mon, 01 Feb 1999 09:49:21 -0500
Subject: Ohio Engineer Pioneered SETI Search For Laser

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Source: The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio),




Space enthusiasts use eyes, ears in search for alien

January 31, 1999


The "Big Ear" radio telescope which, in the 1970s pioneered the
search for alien civilizations, was demolished last year and
replaced by a golf course.

But that doesn't mean central Ohio's extraterrestrial
entrepreneurs have stopped wondering what's out there.

Stuart Kingsley of Bexley, a 50-year-old electrical engineer,
has since 1994 been one of the few people on the planet
searching the heavens for laser-pulse signals that might be a
greeting from another world.

Kingsley's strategy has been controversial since, over the past
three decades, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence
program (known as SETI) has been dominated by radio astronomers.

Now, however, the California-based SETI Institute and the
Planetary Society have both endorsed Kingsley's crusade for an
optical SETI. Earlier this month, the Planetary Society credited
Kingsley's pioneering efforts while announcing the formation of
new optical SETI programs at Harvard University and the
University of California.

"It's been an eight-year battle to bring them to that point,"
said Kingsley, who began his own optical signal search using a
backyard telescope.

A laser specialist and long-time SETI enthusiast, Kingsley said
he began thinking about lasers as an intergalactic signal device
after being laid off by the Battelle Memorial Institute in 1987.

SETI specialists at the Planetary Society and the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration didn't share his
enthusiasm. They thought laser pulses would be too expensive for
an alien society to transmit, too narrow in their reach and too
likely to be blocked by interstellar dust.

Kingsley, however, has argued that an advanced alien
civilization would recognize that laser beacons are more
efficient than radio ones, because of their intensity and the
amount of information they could convey.

"For brightness and radiance, it's hard to beat a laser," he
said. "They can be 10 million times more intense than a star
during a one nanosecond pulse."

Kingsley's program, called COSETI for Columbus Optical SETI, is
a targeted search of star systems within 80 to 100 light years
of Earth. Details can be found at the COSETI Web site:

Meanwhile, those volunteers who for decades ran the "Big Ear"
radio telescope SETI program south of Delaware say they will
have a prototype instrument of a different design up and running
on OSU's West Campus by the middle of next year.

The new system, called Argus, is a computer- coordinated array
of 64 small dipole antennas, each only a few inches long.

Such arrays could consist of thousands or even millions of
separate antennas and be far more sensitive than today's largest
radio telescopes, said project director Bob Dixon.

"Whereas traditional radio telescopes use large parabolic dishes
to capture weak, astronomical signals from a tiny section of the
sky, Argus will use a planar array of antennas to observe the
entire sky continuously," he said.

The SETI Institute, which provided $30,000 last year for early
tests of the system, has approved $150,000 for construction of
the prototype. Details can be found at the OSU Radio Observatory
Web site: www.bigear.org

David Lore, science reporter for The Dispatch, can be reached at:


Copyright =A9 1999, The Columbus Dispatch

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