The Allen Telescope Array (ATA) has come online with its initial configuration of 42 antennas. The project, led by the SETI Institute, is a non-governmental project funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in which eventually 350 small radio antennas will scan the sky for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence. Senior SETI scientist Seth Shostak said that the array could become strong enough by 2025 to look deep enough into space to find extraterrestrial signals. “We’ll find E.T. within two dozen years,” he said. That’s, of course, assuming the distance we can look into space will be increased with new instruments yet to be built, and that the projected computing power under Moore’s Law actually happens. Shostak estimated that if the assumptions about computing power and the strength of forthcoming research instruments are correct, we should be able to search as far out as 500 light years into space by 2025, a distance he predicted would be enough–based on scientist Frank Drake’s estimate of there being 10,000 civilizations in our galaxy alone capable of creating radio transmitters–to find evidence of intelligent life that is broadcasting its existence.
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