Van Allen Array Shutdown Scientists forget to budget for salaries


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Message boards : Science (non-SETI) : Van Allen Array Shutdown Scientists forget to budget for salaries

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Profile edjcox
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Message 1100877 - Posted: 26 Apr 2011, 22:31:33 UTC

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — In the mountains of Northern California, a field of radio dishes that look like giant dinner plates waited for years for the first call from intelligent life among the stars.

But they're not listening anymore.

Cash-strapped governments, it seems, can no longer pay the interstellar phone bill.

Astronomers at the SETI Institute said a steep drop in state and federal funds has forced the shutdown of the Allen Telescope Array, a powerful tool in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, an effort scientists refer to as "SETI."

The 42 radio dishes had scanned deep space since 2007 for signals from alien civilizations while also conducting hard scientific research into the structure and origin of the universe.

SETI chief executive Tom Pierson said in an email to donors last week that the University of California, Berkeley, has run out of money for day-to-day operation of the dishes.

"Unfortunately, today's government budgetary environment is very difficult, and new solutions must be found," Pierson wrote.

The $50 million array was built by SETI and UC Berkeley with the help of a $30 million donation from Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen. Operating the dishes costs about $1.5 million a year, mostly to pay for the staff of eight to 10 researchers and technicians to operate the facility.

The shutdown came just as researchers were preparing to point the radio dishes at more than 1,200 potential new planets identified by NASA's Kepler Mission.

Leo Blitz, a professor of astronomy at UC Berkeley and former director of the observatory that includes the Allen Telescope Array, says the dishes are unique in their ability to probe for signals from extraterrestrial civilizations while gathering more general scientific data at the same time.

"That made the telescope a double-barreled threat," Blitz said. He said he knew of no other facility in the country that was undertaking this kind of search for extraterrestrial life.

The SETI Institute was founded in 1984 and has received funding from NASA, the National Science Foundation and several other federal programs. Other projects that will continue include the development of software and tools to be used in the search for extraterrestrial life.


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Profile William Rothamel
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Message 1100902 - Posted: 27 Apr 2011, 0:38:16 UTC

The array was supposed to be expanded. Perhaps their data should be crunched by Boinc. Perhaps the Seti/Boinc people should take over the Allen Array and then Berkley wont have to support two competing efforts.

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Message 1100970 - Posted: 27 Apr 2011, 6:26:20 UTC - in response to Message 1100877.


"That made the telescope a double-barreled threat," Blitz said. He said he knew of no other facility in the country that was undertaking this kind of search for extraterrestrial life.

The SETI Institute was founded in 1984 and has received funding from NASA, the National Science Foundation and several other federal programs. Other projects that will continue include the development of software and tools to be used in the search for extraterrestrial life.


Everybody seems to ignore the existence of Arecibo and SETI@home, including Scientific American and the San Jose Mercury News. Why?
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Profile Chris S
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Message 1100992 - Posted: 27 Apr 2011, 9:33:40 UTC
Last modified: 27 Apr 2011, 10:29:57 UTC

Everybody seems to ignore the existence of Arecibo and SETI@home, including Scientific American and the San Jose Mercury News. Why?


Could it possibly be that in the general view (wrongly) is that people think that any project involving the general public is not as scientific as one run solely by scientists and Universities?

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Message 1100995 - Posted: 27 Apr 2011, 9:57:49 UTC - in response to Message 1100992.
Last modified: 27 Apr 2011, 10:24:08 UTC

Very likely. But some results of climateprediction.net, Einstein@home and QMC@home have been published in referred scientific journals and I am (with other 100 odd alpha testers) crunching data coming from the LHC Atlas experiment.This is called citizen science and has been illustrated in recent meetings in Taipei, Peking and soon in Brasil. Dave Anderson is taking part and speaking also of SETI@home.
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Profile Chris S
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Message 1100997 - Posted: 27 Apr 2011, 10:19:26 UTC
Last modified: 27 Apr 2011, 10:27:21 UTC

This is called citizen science

Now that phrase has a good ring to it!

The problem is that the whole Extraterrestrial thing is not taken as seriously as other Boinc projects like searching for gravity waves, or cures for Malaria and cancer. When I tell people I'm part of Seti, they say "Oh THAT lot, looking for little green men, ho ho!"

However, this is drifting off topic, from the Allen Array subject.

the dishes are unique in their ability to probe for signals from extraterrestrial civilizations while gathering more general scientific data at the same time

Other projects that will continue include the development of software and tools to be used in the search for extraterrestrial life.

It's just being mothballed at the moment and other work will continue. We have the same thing with a number of UK Navy ships, that are not being used operationally but are being kept in "extended readiness".

SETI chief executive Tom Pierson said in an email to donors last week that the University of California, Berkeley, has run out of money for day-to-day operation of the dishes.

They didn't forget to budget for salaries, they just didn't have enough to pay for them!

In any case the It is the Allen Telescope Array, funded by Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft. The Van Allen are two radiation belts above the earth. Van Allen

Message boards : Science (non-SETI) : Van Allen Array Shutdown Scientists forget to budget for salaries

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