Astronomer Dr. Jill Tarter, a founder of the SETI Institute, is one of the leading researchers into the question of whether there is intelligent life in the universe beyond the Earth.
Dr. Tarter’s search for extraterrestrial signals is often taken as the role model for Jodi Foster’s portrayal in the film “Contact”.
After 25 years of study, Dr. Tarter is convinced that we are not alone in part because life has now been shown to exist in even the most extreme and supposedly uninhabitable environments.
Dr. Tarter has just been named one of “The Most Influential Women in Technology” by Fast Company magazine. This week, she is set to receive the coveted TED (Technology Entertainment & Design) Prize, which will grant her “One Wish to Change the World.” Tarter’s wish will be unveiled at TED2009 on February 5, 2009.
To hear Dr. Tarter’s fascinating discussion, please click above.
Tarter is Director of the Institute’s Center for SETI Research, and also holder of the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI. She is one of the few researchers to have devoted her career to hunting for signs of sentient beings elsewhere, and there are few aspects of this field that have not been affected by her work. Tarter was the lead for Project Phoenix, a decade-long SETI scrutiny of about 750 nearby star systems, using telescopes in Australia, West Virginia and Puerto Rico. While no clearly extraterrestrial signal was found, this was the most comprehensive targeted search for artificially generated cosmic signals ever undertaken. Now Tarter heads up the Institute’s efforts, in partnership with the University of California, Berkeley, to build and operate the Allen Telescope Array, a massive new instrument that will eventually comprise 350 antennas, each 6 meters in diameter. This telescope will be able to enormously increase the speed, and the spectral search range, of the Institute’s hunt for signals. A subset of the full array began operations in the Fall of 2007.
The SETI Institute is a unique team of world class scientists dedicated to understanding the origin and nature of life on Earth and its possible existence throughout the universe. The Institute accomplishes this via: Research – Fundamental and significant investigations into the workings of life, and how and where it might have arisen. Exploration – Examining life in its most extreme forms and locations on Earth, exploring our solar system for evidence of microbial life, and searching the cosmos for indications of distant life, especially intelligent life. Education – Education and Outreach programs inviting students to participate in our search for life in the universe, and sharing the wonder of our science with the public. The SETI Institute is bringing together some of the best and brightest minds in science today to unlock the mysteries of the cosmos.