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Confessions of an Alien Hunter,
This review is from: Confessions of an Alien Hunter: A Scientist's Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (Hardcover)
Confessions of an Alien Hunter
By Seth Shostak
Chapter One of Seth Shostak's new book about SETI begins by recounting a signal, of clearly artificial origin, picked up at the Green Bank Radio Telescope on June 24, 1997. This incident introduces Jill Tarter and some description of the history, culture, and technology of SETI today.
The book is a wide-ranging description of the whole SETI field, updated by the roughly 300 extra-solar planets now known, the new Allen Telescope, and by new technology ideas that have appeared in recent years. The book was written by a man who has an enviable position at the center of SETI. Readers who enjoyed Bill Bryson's popular books will enjoy Confessions.
In 1971, NASA's Project Cyclops set the scientific and technological stage for subsequent developments. For all the good reasons analyzed in that report, radio became the primary communication mode investigated for ET signals, with optical SETI as secondary. Since then, as Shostak recounts, many new ideas, which go beyond the technology analyzed by Cyclops, have emerged. One example is a proposal by physicist John Learned to modulate Cephied variable stars as very long range signaling devices.
I always enjoy hearing Seth Shostak on the radio; this book is an opportunity to spend some time exploring SETI with him. [Full disclosure: some of our physics research at the University of Hawaii is mentioned.] Reviewer prejudice aside, I enjoyed this book and recommend it highly.