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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - June 26, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta Wednesday, June LETHBRIDGE Astronomers search stars for signals By ROBERT COWEN Christian Science Monitor Once again radio astronomers are trying to tune in messages from the stars. It is an act of faith that just might tap alien knowledge that could transform earth's civilization As an individual effort, no expert puts much hope in the search being made by Ontario radio astronomers P. Feldman of York University and B. Bridle of Queen's University, Kingston. Even the most optimistic rough guess scientists now can make suggests astronomers may have to search to 200.000 stars to find paydirt. The Canadians will stop far short of that But many scientists believe intelligent life does exist widely in our galaxy. And some of them further believe that sooner or later, we will pick up signals from an alien civilization on a planet orbiting a distant star. The Canadians are furthering a growing world tradition to listen for this message It began in 1960. when Frank Drake at the U.S. National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) listened to two stars for a couple of weeks with no result. Since then, V. S. Troitskn and others at Gorki University in the Soviet Union have listened to a dozen stars for slightly longer times. A more recent, but still limited, search at NRAO found no signals coming from about a dozen stars. CANADIANS TUNE IN Now the Canadians are trying. They will use a 150-foot radio telescope to listen intensively to six likely stars for occasional periods, the first lasting five days Some 300 to 500 other stars will be sampled briefly over the next two years By choosing average sorts of stars likely to have planets and which are middle-aged like our sun, the observers are going after targets where experts think intelligence has had an opportunity to emerge. By tuning" their receivers to the frequencies of natural radio emissions of cosmic water molecules, they hope to pick radio channels alien broadcasters would use. Aliens might use such naturally occurring frequencies because any civilization studying the stars by radio would be listening to them While'no one knows what such an alien message would be like. Prof Philip Morrison of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who has studied ways of coding knowledge, has summed up the faith of a number of scientists by saying, "When we do acquire this message, it will be He adds that "it will be an elaborately planned, very great social effort on the part of some distant society'' to share its knowledge. There will be no question of two-way conversation. Signal exchanges would take centuries over the distances likely to be involved But if you wonder if a one-way communication could have much impact, Prof. Morrison points to the post Renaissance influence of rediscovered Greek thought. Material that can be summed up in a mere 10.000 books has fundamentally shaped today's Western 'outlook. The message from space could reshape the thought patterns of the world This is the prize that makes the search worthwhile, however long it takes, however great the odds against success for any one project seem to be. ;r y i "f i ;4 Charge it to your Sears All Purpose Account Smallpox blossom The marks of smallpox blossom on the skin of a small child in the village of Hakegora in Bihar State in India. The area and Uttar Pradesh have suffered some cases of the disease this year, an estimated one-third fatal Montana crops suffer from hot weather HELENA, Mori