Sunday, August 30, 2009

SETI Institute's Earth Speaks project asks: What should we say when we make contact?

As a next step on its mission to "explore, understand and explain the origin, nature and prevalence of life in the universe," California's non-profit SETI Institute is conducting a project called Earth Speaks — gathering ideas from around the world about what we should say when we make first contact. Although the question has often been debated by scholars, this is the first time SETI has asked the question of the global community at large (it is generally agreed that humankind should send one unified message). SETI will also tag and sort the messages by theme. Douglas A. Vakoch, Ph.D., prinicpal investigator for Earth Speaks, explains the project:

As the SETI Institute’s Allen Telescope Array (ATA) begins a new phase of research with its galactic plane survey, the chances of detecting a signal from an extraterrestrial civilization increases considerably. If we do detect an extraterrestrial civilization, one of the most pressing issues facing humankind will be “Should we reply, and if so, what should we say?”
The messages submitted to Earth Speaks so far make for some interesting reading. They range from serious to sarcastic to silly. Here's a sample:
• "Random Hardworking community without existential knowledge is greeting you."
• "Could you please tell God we could use some help down here? Thanks!"
• "Math is what we all have in common. Let's start there friends."
• "All your base are belong to us."
• "We'll make great pets! Some of us are already house trained."
• "Hello my friends. Please, come back and pick me up. I'm alone in this world."
• "We come in peace."

Popular tags include love, greetings, peace, hope, math, friendship and help.

You can submit messages, and weigh in on how appropriate you feel the other messages are to transmit to an extraterrestrial civilization, at Earth Speaks.

Dr. Jill Tarter, director of the SETI Institute’s Center for SETI Research, recently spoke at a discussion on The Search for Extraterrestrial Life: Is Anything or Anybody Out There? at Seattle's Science Fiction Museum.

Did anyone out there get a chance to hear the latest on SETI Research? And what do you think we should say to the E.T.s?

Boxcar Astronaut for 08/30/09

Boxcar Astronaut

Boxcar Astronaut - Boxcar Astronaut #129: The Long Drool
Greetings, Fellow Astronauts! In a scene inspired by Ray Bradbury's short story 'The Long Rain', our hero is seemingly trapped on a rainy jungle planet with no shelter from the relentless rain. A constant, driving rain continuously hammers away at poor Ben as he struggles to find shelter. Will he ever find peace and warmth in this harsh environment, or is everything not as it seems? Find out in this week's All New, All Wet, Boxcar Astronaut!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Repost: [nwsfs-announcements] NWSFS Alaska Cruise

Posted on behalf of Shawn Marier - NWSFS Vice Chair

Just a reminder we have a separate google group which we are using to plan the NWSFS 2010 Summer Alaska Cruise.

We are getting close to
finalizing on the date of the cruise (It is starting to look like mid to late July). So if you are interested in going, and are not already on the mailing list please sign up soon.

Repost: [nwsfs-announcements] Special Evening Presentation at The Museum of Flight Tuesday, August 25 at 7 p.m

Posted on behalf of Michael Citrak - NWSFS Chair:

The Museum of Flight sent us the following notice:

Join us for a special evening presentation with round-the-world record pilot CarolAnn Garratt, who along with Carol Foy flew a small, single engine airplane around the world in a record time of eight and a half days. It was the second global trip for Garratt, who flew around the world in 2003 to raise awareness and donations for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis--ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease--after her mother suffered and died from ALS. The 2008 flight was also for ALS awareness. The presentation is Tuesday, August 25 at 7 p.m. in the William M. Allen Theater. Admission for the program is $5 for Museum Members and $10 for non-members.

For more information on the presentation, see:

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Boxcar Astronaut for 08/23/09

Boxcar Astronaut

Boxcar Astronaut - Boxcar Astronaut #128: It's finally time for the boys to get some sleep... sort of.
Greetings, Fellow Astronauts! Space. It's a mysterious place populated by stars, comets, satellites, and anything a little boy's imagination can conjure. In this week's strip you, dear reader, can experience the wonder of space through the eyes of our wide eyed hero, Ben. You may also bear witness as Ben's trusty cohort in adventure tries desperately to bring Ben back to earth just long enough to get some sleep! Catch all the awe inspiring majesty and the teeth clenching frustration in this week's All New Boxcar Astronaut!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Repost: [nwsfs-announcements] NWSFS: Special Event Notice: Thursday, August 27, 2009

Posted on behalf of Michael Citrak - NWSFS Chair:

Michael Bradbury, a board member of the Northwest Science Writers Association wants to make sure we know about: The Search for Extraterrestrial Life: Is Anything or Anybody Out There?

A conversation featuring:
  • Dr. Jill Tarter, director of the Institute’s Center for SETI Research, Bernard M. Oliver Chair, SETI Institute
  • Dr. Don Brownlee, Department of Astronomy, University of Washington
  • Moderator: Keith Seinfeld, health and science reporter, KPLU 88.5
Are we just searching for stardust, or are intelligent beings out there somewhere? Dr. Tarter, on whom the Jodie Foster character in the movie “Contact” is largely based, is a 2009 TED Award recipient. The TED Prize goes to thought-provoking, action-oriented individuals who have a good chance to change the world as we know it, and each winner is encouraged to "make a wish" for the change they want to see. Jill Tarter wished to "empower Earthlings everywhere to become active participants in the ultimate search for cosmic company.” Dr. Brownlee is PI of the NASA's Stardust comet sample return mission and works on cosmic dust, comets, astrobiology and STARDUST - a NASA Discovery mission to collect samples from a comet and bring them back to Earth. Dr. Brownlee co-authored a book titled "Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe".

Given their different stances, how are each conducting their research, and what sorts of specialized instruments are being used? If life does exist, where do they think it will be found and in what form? Should we bring back soil samples from Mars to test for life? What kind of funding is being allocated to the search, and what have they discovered to date or on the horizon that we might not know about? Join us for dessert, coffee* and thought provoking conversation. And don't forget your own questions for these experts as we discuss the possibility of life existing in our Solar System or beyond!

Thanks to:
  • Event Chair: Dennis Schatz
  • Supporting Sponsor: Experience Music Project | Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame
  • Co-presenting Organization: Boeing Employees' Astronomical Society, Northwest Science Writers Association, Pacific Science Center, and Washington NASA Space Grant A no host bar will be available.
Registration: 6:00 - 6:30 p.m. | Reception: 6:30 - 7:00 p.m. | Program 7:00 - 8:00 Date: Thursday, August 27, 2009 Time: 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm Ticket Info

Tickets are $25 and include a coffee and dessert reception for Seattle City Club members, guests and the general public. Register by calling 206-682-7395 or by visiting Seattle City Club online:

325 5th Avenue North
Seattle, WA 98109

Thursday, August 20, 2009


In honor of the recent Muppet Exhibition at the EMP|SFM NWSFS presents: Mahnahmahnah!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Boxcar Astronaut for 08/16/09

Boxcar Astronaut

Boxcar Astronaut - Boxcar Astronaut #127: Scary Stories!
Greetings, Fellow Astronauts! It’s time for the inevitable round of scary stories in the back yard, as the camp out adventure continues. While Ben is weaving his tale of horrible slime oozing extra terrestrial monsters, Devin’s fear is starting to get the better of him. What was that noise he just heard? Could it be a real live hostile alien? Is certain doom looming over our heroes? For the shocking answers, be sure to read this week’s All New, All Spine-Tingling Boxcar Astronaut!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Boxcar Astronaut for 08/09/09

Boxcar Astronaut

Boxcar Astronaut - Boxcar Astronaut #126: Oh, so THAT’S where they sleep…
Greetings, Fellow Astronauts! At last, the tent is set up and the boys can finally get some shut eye. Now some of you astute Boxcar fans may wonder, "Didn't the boys recently build their own tree house? Why not just sleep up there?" Well, true believers, wonder no more! The answer lies in the final surprising panel in this week's All New Boxcar Astronaut!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Boxcar Astronaut for 08/02/09

Boxcar Astronaut

Boxcar Astronaut - Boxcar Astronaut #125: Meteor shower is over, let the camp out begin!
Greetings, Fellow Astronauts! The meteor shower has past and it is now way past bedtime for the boys. Before they can shuffle off to dreamland, there's one more thing they have to do... set up the tent! Sure, it sounds like a simple enough task, but as we all know, nothing is a simple as it seems in the backyard. What could possibly go wrong, you ask? Check out this week's All New Boxcar Astronaut to find out!