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The search for alien intelligence

The Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence  Institute’s research director — and the inspiration for Jodie Foster’s character in Contact – Dr Jill Tarter will visit the University of St Andrews this week (Thursday May 19, 2011) to deliver a public lecture on the quest to find alien technology.

The lecture will be held at 1715 hours in Physics Theatre A, Physics and Astronomy Building, North Haugh, St Andrews and is free to attend.

Tarter has devoted her life to the science of detecting intelligent, technological civilizations through searches of the electromagnetic (radio and now optical) spectrum, a discipline within the growing field of astrobiology.

A former Project Scientist for NASA’s Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program, the High Resolution Microwave Survey, today Tarter holds the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI and is Director of the Centre for SETI Research at the SETI Institute.

Tarter’s work has brought her wide recognition in the scientific community, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from Women in Aerospace, two Public Service Medals from NASA, Chabot Observatory’s Person of the Year award (1997), Women of Achievement Award in the Science and Technology category by the Women’s Fund and the San Jose Mercury News (1998), and the Tesla Award of Technology at the Telluride Tech Festival (2001). In 2004 Time Magazine named her one of the Time 100 most influential people in the world. She has also received the Carl Sagan Prize for Science Popularization in 2005 and a 2009 TED Prize.

Searching an infinite and ever-expanding universe for other civilisations is a challenging task, but one that Jill Tarter will explain has the potential to change the world. By educating the best scientists of the future, the University of St Andrews might help to realise that potential.

The visit is a great boost for the University of St Andrews’ 600th Anniversary Campaign, which seeks to raise funds for projects including an Other Worlds Think-Tank and Observatory;  to provide a new creative environment for problem-focused research, education, and public engagement, adding new dimensions to both the University’s expertise on extra-solar planets and excellence in teaching.


Issued by the University of St Andrews

Contact: Emma Shea, Communications Manager, on 01334 462 109 or email Emma.Shea@st-andrews.ac.uk

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