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Civilized Life in the UniverseScientists on Intelligent Extraterrestrials$
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George Basalla

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195171815

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195171815.001.0001

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The Trajectory

The Trajectory


(p.151) CHAPTER NINE The Trajectory
Civilized Life in the Universe

George Basalla

Oxford University Press

Communication with extraterrestrial intelligence (CETI) was first discussed at a 1964 Soviet-sponsored conference held at Byurakan (Armenia). At the second Byurakan conference (1971), co-sponsored by the US and USSR, American historian William H. McNeil criticized the assumptions made by attending scientists who accepted the idea of advanced extraterrestrial civilizations and believed we might profit by contacting one. CETI, with its emphasis on communication, gave way to SETI, with the neutral word search, as NASA funded projects aimed at searching for advanced extraterrestrial life. In the funding process, SETI became HRMS (High Resolution Microwave Survey), but the name change did not stop Congress from deleting SETI/HRMS monies from the NASA budget in 1993 on the grounds that it was a useless exercise to seek out alien civilizations. SETI researchers, cutoff from NASA grants, were forced to rely upon private funding for the operation and maintenance of a network of radio telescopes dedicated to receiving the first message from intelligent extraterrestrials.

Keywords:   Byurakan, communication, Congress, William H. McNeil, NASA, USSR

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