This week Russian scientists have been meeting to figure out how to get in touch with the extraterrestrial civilizations they believe are out there. The Russian Institute of Applied Astronomy in St. Petersburg is hosting the third symposium on Searching for Life Signatures. The conference started June 27 and runs until the 30th.
The welcome speech has already made worldwide headlines. Director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Applied Astronomy Institute, Dr. Andrey Finkelstein, stated that aliens could possibly look like us, with two arms, two legs and a head, and that we will probably come into contact with them within the next 20 years. Most of the news reports tend to include the perspective that Dr. Finklstein may be a little too optimistic.
The symposium isn’t just about making bold statements, but also coming up with more aggressive tactics to help Dr. Finklestein’s theory come true. The second welcome address was by Dr. Claudio Maccone of Italy. He is the International Academy of Astronautics’ director of scientific space exploration and in 2002 was awarded the Giordano Bruno Award by the SETI League for his efforts to establish a radio observatory on the far side of the moon. The efforts for such a project are still underway. In fact Maccone also gave a speech the next day on the importance of the United Nations protecting the far side of the moon, securing it for scientific purposes.
Another tactic outlined in the “conference rationale” is what they refer to as “active” SETI. SETI stands for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. The SETI organization we hear about in the United States is typically focused on what is called “passive” SETI. This is the act of listening for extraterrestrial signals. Active SETI, also called METI for Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence, is actually sending signals to planets we believe may be inhabited. To support their argument that “active” SETI efforts should be increased, they state “the discovery since 1995 of more than 500 extrasolar planets makes it clear that both Passive and Active SETI may now be ‘targeted’ towards exoplanets that are situated within habitable zones, further increasing the probability of a SETI success.”
While SETI conferences in the United States are typically very conservative, the Russian Symposium seems to be much more open minded. Some of the talks include titles such as:
- Red dwarves’ planetary systems and their civilizations
- The possibility of an interstellar empire
- What Are The Similarities and Differences Between Civilizations in The Universe?
- Stars — Planets — Life — Civilization
- Statistics for Exoplanets and ET Civilizations
However it is not all fun and games. Dr. Lev Gindilis, of the Sternberg State Astronomical Institute of Lomonosov Moscow State University, seems to have heeded the words of fellow astrophysicist Dr. Stephen Hawking, as his lecture explores whether or not it is dangerous to transmit signals. Active SETI signals could reach some cosmic bad guys, bringing unwanted guests. Interestingly, this same Dr. Gindilis once conducted an analysis of UFO sightings in the USSR in which they concluded many were not manmade or natural phenomena. Incidentally, we have a story from a Russian Ufologist on this analysis and other USSR UFO research in the next issue of Open Minds Magazine.
While western media seems to be portraying Dr. Finkelstein as a rogue scientist with wild ideas about extraterrestrials, they fail to realize that much of the world is more open to the idea that visitation may be underway and that open communication could be on the horizon. Perhaps we will see more western scientists open themselves to this possibility as the discovery of planets capable of hosting life continues to increase, even in our own solar system.