Seth Shostak Quotes - KeepQuoting

Seth Shostak

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Many people suggest using mathematics to talk to the aliens, and Dutch computer scientist Alexander Ollongren has developed an entire language (Lincos) based on this idea. But my personal opinion is that mathematics may be a hard way to describe ideas like love or democracy.

Seth Shostak

Seth Shostak

   Love
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Certainly the history of astronomy shows that every time we thought we were special, we were wrong.

Seth Shostak

Seth Shostak

   Time
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Five centuries ago, Copernicus upset humanity's applecart with the news that the Earth is not the center of the cosmos. It could be that, before you've paid off your house, we'll learn that the universe is not the center of the universe, either!

Seth Shostak

Seth Shostak

   Humanity
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Sending greeting cards to aliens is hardly a new idea. In 2005, Craigslist solicited messages for broadcast to space by a transmitter in Florida, and in 2008, NASA beamed a Beatles song to the North Star (Polaris), on the assumption that any putative Polarians would appreciate the Fab Four's 1960s-genre compositions.

Seth Shostak

Seth Shostak

   Space
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'Eternal inflation,' as it's called - the endless generation of new universes - may be a hyper-cosmic imperative. It seems that it must happen.

Seth Shostak

Seth Shostak

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We can no better imagine what will be happening on the moon 500 years from now than Columbus could imagine contemporary Manhattan. Except to say that it will be a place familiar to billions of people.

Seth Shostak

Seth Shostak

   People
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If gravity were somewhat stronger or weaker, stars wouldn't exist, and neither would you. And the same can be said of other constants of physics. Several have to be 'just right.'

Seth Shostak

Seth Shostak

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Neil Armstrong was no Christopher Columbus. In most respects, he was better. Unlike the famous fifteenth century seafarer, Armstrong knew where he landed. He also spent his time in public service, not in jail, and his passing was marked by world-wide encomiums. He ended his days as a celebrated explorer rather than a royal inconvenience.

Seth Shostak

Seth Shostak

   Time
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Five centuries from now - barring unimaginable catastrophe - the moon will be developed real estate. There's economic incentive to exploit the moon - the helium-3 will be useful in powering fusion reactors, and the rare earth elements could supplant the limited terrestrial supply of these materials.

Seth Shostak

Seth Shostak

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I think a lot of kids are interested in two science subjects: dinosaurs and aliens. The reason is almost genetic; we're hard-wired to be interested in things that might be a little dangerous.

Seth Shostak

Seth Shostak

   Science
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The total number of people that do a job that has the same description as mine in the entire world is fewer than 10. There's a lot of effort looking for life in space - that's a lot of what NASA does, but they're not necessarily looking for the kind of life that can hold up its side of a conversation.

Seth Shostak

Seth Shostak

   Life
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I got interested in astronomy at the age of 8 because I was looking at an atlas of the planets in my parents' apartment in Arlington, where I grew up. I got a telescope at age 10, which is pretty normal, and by the time I was in eighth grade, I had already seen a lot of cheesy sci-fi films.

Seth Shostak

Seth Shostak

   Time
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The central region of the Milky Way, known as the bulge, is stuffed with literally tens of billions of stars. And most of these are old - considerably older than our Sun or its neighbors - because this part of the galaxy formed first. Consequently, bulge stars are generally deficient in heavy elements.

Seth Shostak

Seth Shostak

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Consider: Life arose on Earth close to four billion years ago. Four billion years of slithering, swimming, and soaring life forms. But only in the last 200 thousand years has a species arisen that can fathom the laws of nature and build hardware able to signal its presence.

Seth Shostak

Seth Shostak

   Life
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Clearly, enriching the cosmos with heavy elements takes a while. So there's inevitably an interval between the sterile aftermath of the Big Bang and a time when the cosmic chemistry set had enough ingredients to make rocky planets (and squishy biology).

Seth Shostak

Seth Shostak

   Time
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In archaeology, context is the basis of many discoveries that are imputed to the deliberate workings of intelligence. If I find a rock chipped in such a way as to give it a sharp edge, and the discovery is made in a cave, I am seduced into ascribing this to tool use by distant, fetid and furry ancestors.

Seth Shostak

Seth Shostak

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We're not just any star stuff, most of which is humdrum hydrogen and listless helium. Our bodies include fancier ingredients like carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorous, and a few other herbs and spices.

Seth Shostak

Seth Shostak

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I actually think the chances that we'll find E.T. are pretty good.

Seth Shostak

Seth Shostak

   Good
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Junk, redundancy, and inefficiency characterize astrophysical signals. It seems they characterize cells and sea lions, too. These biological constructions have lots of superfluous and redundant parts, and are a long way from being optimally built or operated.

Seth Shostak

Seth Shostak

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Our retinas and brains have been wired by a hundred million years of evolution to find outlines in a visually complex landscape. This helps us to recognize prey and predators.

Seth Shostak

Seth Shostak