What the Planetary Society Does

Bill Nye: The Planetary Society is the world’s largest non-governmental space interest organization, and for many years—over 30, 31 years—we’ve supported the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.  The Planetary Society is the only organization now that does optical searches, so we have a telescope that looks, if you will, for laser signals from other civilizations, and you might say that sounds crazy.  We support various radio telescopes including the only one in the southern hemisphere that listens for radio signals from other civilizations.  And you say, well, you haven’t heard one.  That’s right.  But if we did, it would change the world.  

So it’s a very, very high risk thing.  There’s no guarantee, absolutely no guarantee of success, but I can assure you that we will never hear a signal if we don’t listen.  So that’s why we pursue this kooky thing.  So there’s people—35,000 people around the world—that think this is cool, and they send us a little bit of money, and we keep working.  So you don’t do the Apollo Moon Program on this thing.  You don’t fight another cold war and spend four percent of the gross national product.  It’s just something you keep going all the time. 

As a society, a developed society with the intellectual capacity and treasure to do a search, you’ve just got to search.  I mean, you got to keep it going in the background in the hopes that one day you will make contact with something, you will get a signal.  You know, we inadvertently broadcast our television signals into space all day, all night, all the time.  Perhaps there is another civilization doing the same thing, not intentionally trying to get hold of us but sending out signals.  It’s not crazy.  

When are we going to receive the signal?  It could be right now.  It could be . . . an Arecibo telescope could be receiving it right now, and here we are squandering our time doing this idle chat.  No.  But it may be years, it could be any moment we detect the signal.  So it is reasonable that if there is another society that has this capability and is broadcasting all the time in the same way we are, we just have to show up at the right moment.  The signal is out there, we just have to be ready for it. 

Directed / Produced by 
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd

The Planetary Society is the only organization now that does optical searches, so we have a telescope that looks, if you will, for laser signals from other civilizations.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

This prophetic 1997 Jeff Bezos interview explains the genius behind Amazon

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, explains his plan for success.

Technology & Innovation
  • Jeff Bezos had a clear vision for Amazon.com from the start.
  • He saw the innovative potential of the online marketplace.
  • Bezos explains why books, in particular, make for a perfect item to sell on the internet.
Keep reading Show less
Promotional photo of Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones
Surprising Science
  • It's commonly thought that the suppression of female sexuality is perpetuated by either men or women.
  • In a new study, researchers used economics games to observe how both genders treat sexually-available women.
  • The results suggests that both sexes punish female promiscuity, though for different reasons and different levels of intensity.
Keep reading Show less

TESS telescope has found eight new planets, six supernovae

It has found several bizarre planets outside of our solar system.

NASA/Kim Shiflett
Surprising Science
  • The Kepler program closed down in August, 2018, after nine and a half years of observing the universe.
  • Picking up where it left off, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has already found eight planets, three of which scientists are very excited about, and six supernovae.
  • In many ways, TESS is already outperforming Kepler, and researchers expect it to find more than 20,000 exoplanets over its lifespan.
Keep reading Show less