Can Alien Life Survive Earthly Budget Cuts?

In what should be a boom time for alien-oriented astronomers, given NASA's recent discovery of an abundance of exoplanets, budget crises are holding back new projects that hold promise.

What's the Latest Development?


In December, the world's most advanced search for extraterrestrial intelligence, called SETI, resumed scanning the skies for alien signals. SETI currently utilizes an array of 42 radio telescopes, located at the Hat Creek observatory in California, built for a price tag of $25 million. The original plan, a much larger array of 350 antennas, still needs $55 million to get off the ground. But this remains a distant vision as the SETI group has struggled just keeping the doors open, needing about $100,000 a month in operating costs.

What's the Big Idea?

The 42 telescopes currently in use were built by Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft. And while it should be a boom time for alien-oriented astronomers given NASA's recent discovery of some 1,235 exoplanet candidates, budget cuts at the University of California, which operates the observatory at Hat Creek, have put the skids on even modest attempts to find E.T. One promising source of funds, however, is the Air Force which is willing to buy part of the Hat Creek operations to track satellites and space junk. Negotiations are underway.

Photo credit: shutterstock.com

Big Think Edge
  • The meaning of the word 'confidence' seems obvious. But it's not the same as self-esteem.
  • Confidence isn't just a feeling on your inside. It comes from taking action in the world.
  • Join Big Think Edge today and learn how to achieve more confidence when and where it really matters.
Big Think Edge
  • Economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett breaks down what qualities will inspire others to believe in you.
  • Here's how 300 leaders and 4,000 mid-level managers described someone with executive presence.
  • Get more deep insights like these to power your career forward. Join Big Think Edge.

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
Keep reading Show less

In U.S. first, drug company faces criminal charges for distributing opioids

It marks a major shift in the government's battle against the opioid crisis.

George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The nation's sixth-largest drug distributor is facing criminal charges related to failing to report suspicious drug orders, among other things.
  • It marks the first time a drug company has faced criminal charges for distributing opioids.
  • Since 1997, nearly 222,000 Americans have died from prescription opioids, partly thanks to unethical doctors who abuse the system.
Keep reading Show less