Things got pretty hairy for alien civilisations hunters after the US government shut down SETI last April. But thanks to the donations of many people, the search is back on. One of those donors is the lovely Jodie Foster.
Foster starred as Dr Ellie Arroway in Robert Zemeckis’s Contact, a 1997 film based on a novel by Carl Sagan. Dr Arroway was the stubborn SETI scientist who detected the first signal after many years of frustation, suffering the mocking of other scientists and multiple political ambushes. Arroway’s character was modelled after SETI’s Jill Cornell Tarter and two of the first radio astronomers, Grote Reber and John Kraus, who were radio operators when they were kids.
The actress has donated an undetermined amount to the SETI program, which needed $US200,000 to continue operations of the 42 dishes of the Allen Telescope Array. But while the program is back on its feet, the measure is only temporary. The array needs $US5 million per year to operate normally.
What I can’t understand is why nerds richer than God — like Sergey Brin or Larry Page or Zuck — don’t contribute to the program. Especially now when we are discovering so many new solar systems with habitable planets.