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The CraveCast gets serious about contacting aliens, Ep. 22Douglas Vakoch, president of METI International (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence), stops by the studio to talk about making first contact.
[MUSIC] Welcome to the Crave Cast. I am your host Eric Mack live from CNET's always busy Taos, New Mexico Bureau. And joining me live in the CNET studio there in San Francisco are Kelsey Adams, Jeff Berkman and behind the controls today as always Steven Beecham. And we also have a very special guest there in the studio today as well. If you don't know his name, you probably should because he's the man who is helping to shape the voice of our species if not our entire planet. Among many other titles, he's the president of METI International, which stands for Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence Which is what we'll be talking about with him today. Please welcome doctor Douglas Vakoch. Welcome. [APPLAUSE] THank you very much. So, for the next thirty minutes or so we're going to be talking about the search for alien intelligence and what do we do beyond just looking. For ET. You can be a part of the conversation in our YouTube and livestream chatrooms, and you can also tweet at us @Crave and @EricCMack. If you have any questions or comments, we'll be monitoring those. To start Doug, a lot of people I think probably know what SETI is, the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence. But you've started a new organization just in the last couple of months here, called a messaging extraterrestrial intelligence. What is that exactly? What's METI? You say SETI is well understood. The search for extra terrestrial intelligence using big radio telescopes to look for signals from alien civilizations at distance stars. And so SETI has been going on for over 55 years now and it's getting bigger and badder and more powerful every year. But many looks at the flip side so at many international were asking me questions what happens if everyone out there in the cosmos is doing exactly what we're doing everyone's listening but no one is taking the emission of to make contact. And so Our core mission is to create messages that would be representative of human kind and send them out into the Cosmos. And you know, messaging is also a bit broader. We have to grab of how they actually create a message And how do you understand communication and intelligence here on our own world. But there's an interrelated suite of research and educational projects we have. They're all related to this idea of innovative ways to make contact with extraterrestrial intelligence And so I guess the first question a lot of people would ask, and some of the folks there in the room, we've had conversations about why is this something we would want to do? I mean why is it a good idea? I mean some might say it's potentially a dangerous idea. Depending on who hears the message or reads the message, right? Right. Well, I think the short answer is throughout human history we have learned a lot when we encountered new cultures. And so in countering a radically alien culture gives us the opportunity to get a completely new perspective on ourselves. But, Eric you asked this great question. It might be interesting, but is it safe? And no less a brilliant person than Steven Hawkins has said whatever you do do not transmit our location to the earth. The extraterrestrials they may come and strip mine our planet and who knows what would happen so we should shut up I guess my response to Stephen Hawking is two-fold. First of all, when he said that, when he gave that warning back in 2009, he had no idea that planets like Earth are plentiful. Look, the man is undisputedly a genius, but he can't predict the future. Now we know that there are Earth like planets everywhere The other point, maybe even more important, is that if there's a civilization that has the ability to travel between the stars and do whatever they went through us here they can pick up. I love Lucy, Howard Stern and stinat transmissions they're gone out. So we've already exposed ourselves the idea of being intentional about our messaging the same Let's not just let accidental leakage be our ambassadors. Let's decide what we want to say to another world. Now my response to that, I'm the designated pessimist. Yeah, yeah, yeah. By the way, so let's say that- So you're not honestly pessimistic, but you have to play that role. No, I'm very pessimistic. You are, okay, good, good, excellent, good. No, because It's one thing to say, yes they already know we're here, but that doesn't necessarily mean that we are actively pestering them and trying to get their attention. We need to get prioritized. Or, well they're clearly challenging us, let's go stop them. Or, well they're clearly pacifist and weak, let's go take them. And so what we need to do is to look at the motivations that they might have. But if we look at human history we see that attempts to isolate ourselves from other civilizations. Typically hasn't turned out well. And so that, if in fact they do know that we're here already, my stance is that it's best to take that message and control. If they're actually going to come and arrive here, then let's have an encounter with them and let's let them know that we want to engage. But isn't it actually, I don't mean actually, isn't it. Maybe suddenly more likely that our relationship when we meet them will be, that great cultural insight we get is more like, could it be the small pox equivalent that we'll likely be on the wiped out end of that scale? Well, we're likely- If they get here first. If the extraterrestrials get here, they are technologically superior to us. That's what I meant. So the reality is they could do whatever they want. My position is if they are going to come here I don't want to just wait and cower in the corner and let them do whatever. But, let them know that there is more that they can benefit from from having us as intelligent interlocutors than simply to wipe us out. That I think one of the challenges that people often have, and one of the reasons people have been opposed to METI in the past is the whole idea of what in the world do we have to say? If they have the ability to travel between the stars, or even if they're staying at home But they're a million years longer-lived than we are. What do we have to say that is of value? In a sense I think it's almost a cosmic inferiority complex that we have. But I would say, look, there may be wiser aliens out there, more technologically powerful aliens. There's never going to be a more human alien though. So I think there's something unique about us that they can't create in a test tube. That's a very classic sci-fi perspective. Well I think it's a classic sci-fi I don't mean that in a bad way. I mean that in a good way. No, and I think that's true because you know this isn't just about technology. This is about What do we care about? And so I think that's the other flip side of the benefit of doing this. It's not even if we make contact but in the process of crafting the messages that we stand out, we need to think about what do we care about? How do we want to represent ourselves? Let me hold [UNKNOWN] questions, and give this to Ben. Yeah, so you guys created a website called Earth Speaks. Which allows people to upload their messages to the aliens. And a lot of the people were talking about, you found it interesting that a lot of people were talking about that we don't think of ourselves as alone in the universe, right? And that's an important station for aliens to know we're not that We don't think that we're so amazing. We don't think that we're so amazing. One of the things steady scientists have often speculated about is if we actually do make contact, then the differences between cultures here on earth are going to seem miniscule in comparison to the differences between us and extraterrestrials. So the idea is if we make contact, it'll be sort of a unifying nature. We won't think of ourselves as Coming from different nations or religions. Yeah. Turns out that actually thinking about the messages we want to send start that process. So one of the themes we saw in that Earth Speaks messages are, it's not like, I come from California, or I'm a Buddhist, or I'm a Christian, but I'm a member of Planet Earth and we want to make contact. That's cool, very interesting. What sorts of messages, have you guys sent out any messages now? I mean, I know Voyager sent out things a long time ago. But are you guys actively sending messages now, and what types of messages are you sending? Our organization isn't sending messages, but there have been, over the last Couple of decades, a number of messages that have gone out, as you mentioned, the Voyager spacecraft went out with a metal recording images, sounds of earth, readings in 55 languages. There has been the pioneer plaque on a couple of pioneer spacecrafts that NASA has launched. And there have been demonstrations of our ability to transmit. So from the world's largest radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico theres a powerful transmission in 1974 and a couple of follow up ones. So we are very interested and if you go to our website and look at our strategic plan. This outlines what our goals are over the next three years. And our goal is to have Messages go out. But we want to really engage in a conversation about what should be in those messages. And are there risks? I mean, you've raised questions, Kelsey, about is it dangerous to do that? We want to have that very transparent discussion. What I hear when SETI scientists talk about this is that people are getting worried about this for no reason. Again, if the aliens can do us any harm, it's too late, and so let's take the message into our own hands. Gotcha. So when I knew you were coming in, Doug. I actually dug up some reporting I did like maybe a decade ago when I was a public radio reporter. And I went down to a place in southern New Mexico, where they're basically burying low level nuclear waste about a half mile underground. And so I talked to the people who are trying to come up with what kind of finds, what we put at this site so that ten thousand years down the road, people know not to dig and to keep out, how do you design a sign for a culture that's probably going to be very different than ours, if there is one and it strikes me as very similar to the kind of thing that your working on, only what your working on is cosmically harder And what they came up with was almost cartoonish and so basic, yeah that's it right there. It's great if the extra terrestrials have a face like we do, but yeah, you're right. So they wanted to communicate And I suspect the folks who put that together were not very sanguine with the English text being intelligible. Right. [LAUGH] And the challenge of marking these nuclear waste sites. So again, the goal is make something that's going to be meaningful 10,000 years from now, after languages have changed radically, but make this also something that's not so intriguing That the aliens are going to take it as a challenge. So one idea was to put up something kind of dangerous and spiky, and make it look like, there's something hazardous here. Or you might leave a message. But you can't construct it out of materials that are valuable. If it's a valuable metal, people are gonna strip it away, and the message won't remain. So one of the recommendations that a A semiotician, a scholar who focuses on the theory of science, Thomas Sebeok had said, is that you actually have to have what he calls a nuclear priesthood, a priesthood in which you actually Carry on from generation to generation the message so that that message can be adapted to changing language and changing cultures and so that you don't leave the message to an artifact but you leave it to a community that has As its goal communicating that warning. So considering an oral tradition is actually being more lasting than data recording in this case? An oral tradition is being more reliable and, you know, we tend to think that the written word is the sacrosanct way of communicating. But, you know, if you look at how some texts, sacred texts have been communicated. Early Buddhist writings Were, well, writings. There was a strong oral tradition long before a written tradition. That doesn't mean it was inaccurate. It's just they made a commitment to communicate orally. Yeah that's really interesting. And so have there been any real specific strategies that have been developed yet for devising messages or how we think about these messages that we could possibly send out? There have been. And the key is to try to figure out what is universal. So Aliens are not going to speak English, or Swahili or French. They're not going to speak any of our natural languages so what language do we have in common with an alien? Well, if we're sending a radio signal to another world and they can build a radio telescope, we know that we have one thing in common with them; engineering. And it seems likely that if you're going to be a savvy engineer, you've gotta know the basics of math. At least 2 plus 2 equals 4. And so that's the basic idea of starting with a language that builds on fundamental, mathematical, and scientific Concepts and use that as a foundation. But then the challenge, of course, is if we only say, yeah, we know about the periodic table of elements as well, what's the point of this whole thing? And so what we want to do is leverage one of those possibly universal languages to talk about something that is unique about ourselves. So Steve mentioned the Voyager recording. That has music from around Earth. Well, if you think about it, music is really kind of beautiful because, in many ways, the basic structure of music can be described in terms of mathematics and physics, the things that an astronomer on another world should know about, as well. And yet, it conveys something about our emotionality. So those music, Steve is playing now, the sounds of a baby from the golden record, and that's part of humanity. What about, so youre talking about music. What about Close Encounters of the Third Kind, they have that musical piece? [MUSIC] Do you think there's any relevance in that? I think that's Jeopardy. It's. [LAUGH] That's what I meant. That's right. You meant there is. I wish, I wish that the mothership would come to Earth and we could actually have this jam session. We could talk directly to it, yeah. But I'm not counting on that. [LAUGH] But. I do think the idea of communicating in a musical way really frees us up from this hegemony that math and science have had. So you know folks who are most interested in SETI are mathematicians and computer scientists and astronomers. An so they tend to think about, ya know, this is what I wanna know about.>> Yeah.>> But, I think we also need to get out of that mind set. So, think about alternative ways of communicating as well.>> I see. So now, when you say, I know you're joking, but when you say you'd be excited if the mother ship came down. Ya know, so I wonder what your first response is Emotionally when you hear stories like, did you hear the story over the weekend that there were some tapes released by NASA that proved that Apollo 10 astronauts heard alien music? Did you see that going on on the Internet? I didn't see it. But we're contacted all the time by people who said, I've had an encounter And my response is, excellent. Show me something physical. Because I'm a scientist, I need evidence. Its the same standard we use when we're looking for a signal from another star. We get a signal on a radio telescope, it looks good, but now we have to follow up, to make sure its not a glitch, make sure its not some Smart graduate students at MIT perpetuating the hoax, but we want to know if it's a real signal. So if someone has evidence of an extraterrestrial having come here, bring it to me and show it to me and I'd love to see it. Cool, actually we do have a video that we produced for CNET. It is of the, The sound that they heard on Apollo 10. So I'll just play that real quick for you. It's only like 40 seconds. Okay. Very good. [MUSIC] And it [UNKNOWN] sounds outer spacy doesn't it?. [MUSIC] You hear that? That whistling sound?>> [NOISE] Yeah. Whoo. [NOISE] [UNKNOWN] [INAUDIBLE] Yeah. It sounds like, you know, outer-space type music. [INAUDIBLE] [NOISE] Okay, stand by that's one in three high baller job reset. That's one, [SOUND] two. Boy that sure is weird music. [INAUDIBLE] No, it's a whistling you know, like an outer space type thing. So is that sort of like what you guys hear all the time? I agree, that sounds like weird music from here. It sounds like radio interference. And so the question is if you really think that's an indication of another intelligence Where's the evidence of that? So we use a basic philosophical principle that is hundreds of years old, Occam's razor, which is the simplest explanation. And I'm hearing the audio recording of a technologically very sophisticated and yet a little bit bumpy and kind of seat-of-the-pants operation, the early space mission My natural explanation is sounds like something kicking in on the radio. Yeah. I don't hear anything and I wish I did. I wish I heard something. The other things to keep in mind and this is true too, when people see things in the sky that they can't explain. I don't doubt people are seeing things and making sense out of it, the most reasonable explanation I can come up with is it must be an alien. Well, human beings evolved to make sense out of a chaotic and unpredictable world. We're very good at that. And if we don't know what something is, we'll come up with an explanation. The question is, is that initial explanation that we come up with The actual true explanation. That's where we need to maintain skepticism. In ways I'm glad to hear the X-Files is coming on. Yeah. Because I feel like I'm sort of a cross between Mulder and Sculley. I wanna believe but I need the evidence. [MUSIC] [LAUGH] There we go. Eric's had a very personal experience along these lines. I don't know if you wanna talk about that. You've had a close encounter? Yeah, when I was in college I did see a UFO, the one that you hear reports of with the three red lights in a huge triangle. And I did write a story for CNET last year kind of finally, I found some evidence that finally debunks that experience. But it was a real experience. Yeah. You had the experience, it was You saw what couldn't otherwise be explained and it was years ago that you saw it and it takes awhile to come up with, how do you explain this? And again, this is the problem that we have in SETI as well. For people who've followed SETI fairly closely, you've heard about the wow signal. Yeah. So 1970s, there's this There's a huge signal that was detected at Ohio State University Observatory, the big ear. And it looks like exactly what you would want to see. But there's only one problem, it's never replicated. And so we require replication. Not only does it have to look good but the problem is we're looking for things like our own radio and TV signals all the time. So we need something that can be independently replicated. As proof of an extraterrestrial. Well, over the last six months, I mean there has been a pretty interesting lead and you and I have corresponded about it in the past which is Tabby's star which is best star that has some crazy stuff orbiting it. And it could be a swarm of comets or perhaps alien megastructures. So, what was your Initial reaction. No matter what your emotional reaction was when you first heard the details of it. You were excited or you were like you got to be skeptical? Well it can be both. I'm excited because there is a specific target, so again a little bit of the history. The full name of the star is KIC8462852. My own preference is, and it's called Tabby star all over the place. Honestly, I think it's a bit sexist. So it was identified by an astronomer named [UNKNOWN], let's call [UNKNOWN] star. There is one of the early stars that we discovered, very near earth, is Bernard star we don't call it Ed star. So [UNKNOWN] star, beautiful star because it was identified as By the capillary mission, NASA's capillary mission which looks for a slight dimming of a planet as it travels between the star and us here on earth. So when that pass by go happens, there's this minute dimming. So an Earth size planet It dims by maybe a million. The wonderous thing about Boyajian star is that dimming happened by up to 20%. And when you and I talked back in November or December, Eric, the hope was that there's this natural explanation. Maybe just at the right time Kepler was looking at this star, there's a swarm of. Comets that went by, and that's what accounted for it. And it would be a freaky accident, so why was Kepler looking at just the right time? Freaky things happen when you're looking at 150,000 stars. So it could have been the case, and so for several months, the cometary explanation was the best explanation. But now, Looks like that's off the table and over the last couple of weeks, an astronomer has pointed out who's gone back to the records over the last century and seen that there's actually been a low level dimming over the course a hundred years. So that would require a huge flock of comets The commentary explanation doesn't seem to be any good. It was one possibility that was suggested. Maybe it's this huge mega structure that was created extraterrestrial engineers put in orbit. Sometimes people talk about it as a Dyson swarm, named after the physicist Freeman Dyson So it's something in orbit maybe to capture the sunlight of that star. And that's what's occluding us. And so our question was, if in fact there is an alien megastructure, might there be aliens who are signaling to us? So there's observations at the SETI Institute's Allen Telescope Array. [UNKNOWN] International is collaborating with an observatory in [UNKNOWN] Panama to look for brief laser pulses. Bad news is, we haven't seen any, we didn't expect to. And so that's the skepticism part of my reaction, the initial reaction is What's great, this is the kind of thing that we would want to look at, but then we have to actually look there and see if we see any evidence. And so far no evidence of an alien civilization at least sending intentional signals. Right, the way you're looking as I understand it, it would have to be really intentional. You can't see their TV signals. If their TV signals, the I was making the case earlier that if you're an alien civilization that has the ability to travel to Earth and do us any harm, you can pick up our leakage signals. That's not true for us. I mean, humans, we, our Our technology cannot pick up our leakage radiation even at the distance of the nearest star. So for us to succeed in our contemporary SETI projects, we need to have a directly transmitted signal. Now we have the technology to do that. You go to the world's largest radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, this huge dish carved into the side of the earth, that can transmit powerful signals Used in asteroid studies. It's mapping these earth threatening asteroids that come swooping by earth periodically. And that can also be used and has been used to transmit messages. So, you know, on a galactic scale, if there are civilizations out there, I'm guessing we're pretty rudimentary. But even a young civilization like ours has the ability to send a message that another comparably young civilization can pick up. That's what Medi International was interested in. Using that capacity. We're not going to let anything from any of the [UNKNOWN] alien movies that could come to do us harm know about us, but if there's another twin of Earth with a comparable technology to ours, That could be a message that really does provide the first indication that we're here. So is there a list of likely targets right now? If there was a message that was ready and we were ready to send it out, what would we We aim it at, like Proxima Centauri, or the [UNKNOWN] star, or what? I'd certainly send one to [UNKNOWN] star. Why not? The only downside is it takes close to 1400 years to get there, So a reply wouldn't be for another 3000 years. That light that we're seeing from [UNKNOWN] star right now Left shortly after the fall of the Roman Empire. So, for anyone who actually has any concerns about what's going to happen on earth, actually picking a target far away that has nice element. My preference would actually be to target stars that are closer to earth. So, you know, one way to think about it is how many stars are there that are even close to earth? So if you go out to 25 parsecs, that's an astronomical unit, it's a little over 80 light years, the distance light can travel in 80 years. There are about 2,800 stars and from Arecibo you could target about 800 or so of those stars. And I would sample those stars that could be targeted from [UNKNOWN] that we already know have planets around them. There are 27 of those targets. But on the other hand, what we're learning everyday is that almost every star has planets around them. There are a lot stars that we haven't detected their planets but just On statistical rounds we've done enough of the sampling to know that planets are everywhere. So there are a lot of advantages to targeting nearby stars, and the advantage there is, at its best, METI is a long-term project. But potentially success could come in decades. Maybe centuries, rather than millenia, if we focus on relatively nearby stars. So, there's this concept called the Fermi Paradox, and I'm sure you're familiar with, which basically says Well, space is so huge and gigantic that there should be aliens out there, but then where are they? So I wonder what's your answer? Are they dead? Are they really far away, yet to evolve? What's most likely do you think? Well, there are a lot of explanations consistent with the fact that they are not here. Some people would say that the aliens are here, there are U F O's. But again, I haven't seen evidence that convinces me. And so then The general argument of Fermi's paradox is that if they've been around for millions of years, even if space travel is kind of slow, then why haven't they come here? Well, one possibility is that they do have an ability. Maybe in fact the nearby stars are populated, but they're simply waiting for us to take the initiative. You know, if you use the Star Trek analogy maybe they have a prime directive. But we all know, in Star Trek, once that less advantaged civilization says hello, then the flood gates are opened and you can communicate whatever you want. So, that's what I would like to test. I would like to test the zoo hypothesis of actually target all of the nearby star's And see whether we can invoke a response. I think one reasonable explanation for the Fermi paradox is that there's no paradox at all. It's potentially possible, it's conceivable to travel between the stars. It takes a long time, and anything you'd really want, you can get by sending an interstellar email. So It, You can travel at the speed of light. It's a lot cheaper to communicate by radio signals, laser pulses than it is to physically move yourself. And so that's what SETI and METI are We are based on the idea that we can get most, if not all, of what we want to know about another civilization a lot cheaper by sending and receiving electromagnetic signals. Hey, Douglas. I have a couple questions from our chatroom. Yeah. Some asked, Garreth Glover asked, he's making a big fit about no having his question asked right away. Okay. Derek Glover. Does the United Nations have a protocol in place for first contact? The United Nations does not but if Gareth has an in-road to the secretary general of the United Nations send the contact information because I would love it if the United Nation's made this their top priority. The reality is they haven't, in fact There is an international study group called the International Academy of Astronautics that has a group of ongoing study people who've been working 40 or more years and they've developed the protocols. The protocols that guide what happens if we make contact have been developed by the scientists who are actually doing the study. And so Those protocols say, if we detect a signal, first of all confirm it and then transmit. And those protocols also say that in the event of detecting a signal, there should be no reply until there has been international consultation. But one of the big debates of that Steady group within the International Academy of Astronautics over the course of several years was, should that protocol apply before we've made contact? And the majority, a strong majority, said repeatedly that we're not even going to touch that issue because the situation is quite different. You know if we actually make contact, you can bet the United Nations will take this up. But in the meantime your hands are tied if you're waiting to get permission from the United Nations. If you look at International Space Law to give you guidelines about what to do, one of the basic principles of international law is that if something isn't prohibited, It's allowed and we've kind to get space lawyers involved and what they point out is that the legal framework isn't easy to apply to extra terrestrials because the laws are ment to regulate the interactions between human beings. They're not even constructed to regulate what we do with other beings. So the basic restrictions on communicating are at this point Regulatory. You need a license from your home country to be able to transmit. And so those are the ways that there are some restrictions on communication. Does anyone know when the Space Lawyers reality show goes into production? [LAUGH] [CROSSTALK] I think they have an opening. I'm gonna start working on that. [LAUGH] Good, good. That's right, I know some great people who could be guests for you. I have a couple more. There's a lot of people in our livestream chat that are saying, can the aliens please take Donald Trump with them when they come? Jesus. [LAUGH] But also, there's someone, WeaponAx in our YouTube chat is asking, do you believe that aliens are already here and live amongst us? I don't because I've had no one come up to me and introduce him, or her, or itself. So, it is easy to create a conspiracy theory about there being hidden information. Honestly, I don't know that the US government or any other major government is able to keep a secret like that. I mean, they can barely deliver the mail. [LAUGH] So, I don't hold out a lot But what do you do with a conspiracy theory, saying the aliens are here but they're keeping it a secret? I don't know what to do with that, so, I haven't seen the evidence. Again, if there is some concrete physical evidence that you can share with me, I want to see it. I heard some news story that Hilary Clinton said that she would release all of these documents about aliens if she was president, but it probably was a joke. Jimmy Carter when he became president said, I want to know and release the information, and I don't know if he got follow through or not. That's funny. But we don't know anything since then. That's cool. I wonder taking kind of the long view of things, I imagine with the work you do, you probably end up thinking a lot about the human race as much as you think about alien races. I wonder if overall, you would consider yourself pessimistic or optimistic about our long term future, and let me frame this kind of in terms of The way the new space industry is very often framed, people like Elon Musk say we need to get to Mars to become a multi-planetary species because we're ruining the Earth. And so there's this very pessimistic view. But I've been to a few space conferences. One guy at a space conference started talking about, I don't care what happens on Earth, we need to colonize You know Mars and asteroid belt because image what a hundred quadrillion humans, like the potential of that. Which is not a view that you hear very often. I wonder which one resonates more with you. I think it's a cop out to say that we can't control our own fate and so we need a back up plan. I think it's good to explore. I think its sort of in our genes, we're an exploratory species. So let's go out there. But I sometimes hear people say, if we discover aliens out there, if we actually pick up a signal from an extra terrestrial, Finally, we'll have vindication. We can do it, we can last that long. We don't need to look outside to get that vindication. Even if no one else has done it, humankind should do it. And the big opposition within [UNKNOWN] circles to sustain METi Project is not any concerns about aliens It's a concern that we're not mature enough to be able to sustain a project that's going to last over the course of centuries and millenia. My view is, we have nothing to loose. Ya know, i think having the imagine of humans as a species that can look to the future, make plans for the future. And hope and act as if we will be around to get a reply back can do nothing but good. And so, in a subtle way I think that the actions of preparing for contact, and preparing to be around, can have a saliatory impact on how we view ourselves as a species. And it is As much an act of hope as it is an act of scientific exploration. I'm curious if you are aware of or your thoughts on the organizations Long Now, which is also based in San Francisco and has a great bar by the way the Interval, check it out. The Long Now, I agree, go to the Interval. The Long Now was exactly the mindset. That we need because they are building a clock that will last on the time scale of 10,000 years and you know scientific research is not funded on 10,000 year time scales. Hm. We're looking you know when scientific research is funded by congress you've got Representatives that were elected after two years and senators every six years. Everyone is speaking in such short time scales. Or it can you, I mean it's something gets popular instantly. The president suddenly says, we're going to Mars. We're going to Mars and even if you give and individual president who's committed to go into Mars That president has eight years, and a new president comes in and upends the agenda, and says, sorry, not Mars, asteroids. So the mindset of the long now is the perfect mindset of saying, We humans at the beginning of the 21st century are used to instant gratification. We want everything in this now. But if we're going to survive as a species we need to extend that now and so that it lasts until the end of the day, the end of the week, and the year, and the decade, and the century. And the millennium, and maybe even 10,000 years.>>But then funding, and even political support can change on a dime. How do you in practical terms for the long hour, or a similar concept? Well I think you have to, first of all, look for some funding that can sustain a long term project like an endowment. And you identify models that aren't as resource intensive. So for example SEDI is typically operated by big projects. A big project that takes millions of dollars per year. It's great, you build it up, you have that money for a decade. If the money disappears, then the project disappears. And even if you get more funding a few years later, you have to build the group from scratch. So the approach we're using at METI International is a different model where we're using more modest telescopes, like the one Ben Schutes is operating Go to OpticalSeti.org, and you'll see his observatory in Panama. Yeah. And that is, it's not just a run-of-the-mill backyard astronomer's telescope, but it's It is technically sophisticated. He is a retired engineer. He's put his heart and soul in this but it is operated by someone who's doing it out of love. I mean the true meaning of being an amateur. So that is sustainable. That he has the resources on his own to make his contributions. So you combine that with other smaller scale observatory And we can really have an ongoing effort that isn't reliant on these massive influxes of money that can sustain itself over the course of decades. So it's citizen science on an organized scale. Citizen science on an organized scale. And, you know, the beauty of that, and one of the things that we encountered when we were using that telescope to observe [UNKNOWN] star. Is it was visible from Panama. At the worst possible time in Panama, because it was the rainy season. So out of the course of about four weeks of observing we only had about half a dozen clear nights. So you want other observatories where it's a good observing And you can coordinate the activity. So, there's a modest amount you can do at one location, but if you multiply that by ten or by 100, you can get a lot done. And, if you actually do detect a signal. So, we're looking at [INAUDIBLE] star, we see exactly what we want, we want to make sure that someone else can track that star when it sets in Panama and is invisible somewhere else. So, the most important question before we wrap up is, are you a sci-fi fan? And if so which franchises? [LAUGH] I have to say that Close Encounters is the one, it had special meaning because I was a kid, I was about sixteen when this thing came out. And the aliens come and you're actually able to make contact. So, that would have to be toward the top of the list. If you're looking at franchises, I would say Star Trek, and from the perspective of creating an interstellar message or really trying to understand aliens I'm gonna give the first half a dozen episodes or so of Enterprise. When their linguist was really grappling with trying to understand. You know, it's endlessly fascinating, I could have taken five seasons of that grappling, myself. [LAUGH] But in sci fi you have to make concessions and actually let everyone speak English pretty soon. But I'll give those first few episodes of the Enterprise relaunch. Alright, great. Well, before we wrap things up, anything else you want people to know about [UNKNOWN]? Yeah. Check out our website. It's [UNKNOWN] .org. Come to our Facebook page. We are always updating the materials. And keep on the lookout for what we'll be doing in the coming months. We'll be doing more to really grapple with the whole question of what is intelligence here on earth and what does that mean beyond? And so I look forward to letting people know about that as well. That's a whole can of worms right there. [LAUGH] It is that indeed. [LAUGH] All right, well Douglas Vacos, thank you very much for joining us on the Crave cast, and we'll be sure to keep in touch and keep people informed on your work here on Crave on CNet. And I wanna thank everyone else. Steven Beecham, thank you so much for helping us set this up. And of course, Kelsey Adams and Jeff Sparkman. Bonnie Barton is sick today. We hope you are feeling better. And we'll see you on the next CraveCast. Thanks for tuning in, see you next time. [MUSIC]