I am the retired Oregon State Archaeologist and archaeologist for the State Historic Preservation Office. I have done field work for the Smithsonian River basin surveys in North and South Dakota excavating housepit villages; surveyed in the Fremont culture area of Utah including excavation of rockshelters and villages; done historic archaeology for the Tucson Urban Renewal Project; tested Mayan preclassic sites in Guatemala; surveyed and excavated prehistoric and historic sites in Maryland and Oregon.
I have a PhD from the University of Arizona in archaeology and cultural/social anthropology. I have a web site on Oregon Prehistory: http://www.oregon-archaeology.com
I make replica artifacts from the NW Coast, Columbia Plateau, Inter-Mountain, Great Basin and California (acorn based) cultures for a traveling museum.
Thoughts about SETI and SETI@home
Other life? Based on current cosmology, systems theory, information theory, and fuzzy theory... I am convinced that life (a chemical hardware and software system) is an outcome (we exist), but I do not know how to measure the probability that life will develop from the mere presence of complex organic compounds.
The data and the nature of the mechanics of the universe certainly indicates that organic compounds are common results. The universe sets the stage, but it is hard to know how often a set on intracting chemicals will find conditions that will allow the complex feedback systems of life to come together and survive as a living entity. Life, even at its simplest known levels is a complex set of non-linear mutual causal chemical compounds in a protective shell and which require chemical aids to process energy. That software system is the barrier... not the presence of oganic chemistry.
Danger? Life is dangerous. Nobody gets out alive. Life itself cannot exist unless the life form "maps" its environment and adapts to its environmental resources and constraints. Life is a matter, energy and information processing machine... so seeking information is basic to life.
We have the power, energy and resources at this time to look, and who knows if we will have that in the future... so lets play the game and search now.