August 21, 2013 - Concentrated laser light in the universe may singal the presence of a technological civilizations that might be living on distant planets or in a spacecraft nearby. “Think about humanity 300 hundred years from now,” he said. “Suppose we set up a colony on another planet … the most likely way we will communicate with (humans on those planets) is with radio signals or light beams.” Marcy believes that there may be other civilizations in the universe that are years ahead of human society and might currently be communicating with radio signals in a network he calls a “galactic Internet.”
Marcy uses advanced telescopes to detect concentrated signals in space. He believes these signals may indicate the existence of another advanced civilization, because nothing in the universe is known to emit such signals. The Templeton Foundation recently granted him $200,000 for his proposal. Marcy leads a team that specializes in searching for laser light for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or SETI, program at UC Berkeley, a program that uses advanced telescopes to detect strong signals in an attempt to find technological civilizations in the universe.
His work is only a section of the collective effort of the organization. UC Berkeley has established a reputation as the world’s largest organization — since NASA’s 1993 SETI program — for exploring advanced life in the universe.
As more and more Earthlike planets are being discovered, some scientists feel that there is no longer anything “particularly special about Earth” that makes it uniquely conducive to life, according to Andrew Siemion, a project scientist in the UC Berkeley SETI group.
Every year, the program gathers approximately $1 million in funding, which is spread over 10 unique projects, according to Dan Werthimer, director of the UC Berkeley group. Distinct categories each concern a certain range of the electromagnetic wave spectrum, because the researchers cannot be sure at which wavelength other civilizations may be emitting their signals.
Werthimer says that the research is significant whether or not signs of extraterrestrial life are found.
“If we do not find life elsewhere in the universe, then that means we are one in trillions and should take incredibly good care of life on this planet,” Werthimer said.