Profile: Jim McDonald


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Personal background
Electronics engineer, semiconductor manufacturing, test system designer in Seattle... previously Spokane, Washington; Spirit Lake Idaho; Seattle again; Monterey, Big Sur and San Francisco, California (back and forth to those places 3-4 times); Cocoa Beach, Florida (technician working for RCA at Kennedy Space Center); Oklahoma City, Seminole and Konawa, Oklahoma (photo is in Konawa); born in Dallas, Texas.

Life partner and 3 cats. Easily lost and prone to wandering.
Thoughts about SETI and SETI@home
Besides the slim chance of finding a signal, SETI generates the urgently needed interest in extraterrestrial life, space travel and human migration away from Earth that is the only opportunity our species has for long term survival.

I think life is ubiquitious. I also think that of all the trillions of its probable homes in the galaxy, it's extremely rare for life to fit all the parameters of the Drake equation and be discoverable by us. The major problem is that once a technological civilization like ours becomes able to communicate, it (like ours) is unlikely to survive its own technology for more than a century or two.

My predictions:

1. We're most likely to first find life, fossilized or living, when there's a human presence on Mars. Other possibilities include finding more Martian metorites on Earth, robotic visits to comets and asteroids, and in lunar ices. But it will be bacterial life.

2. If and when we do find higher life forms, the vast majority will be creatures like sharks and cetaceans that are too well adapted to their environments to progress much further. They might not be as readily edible as we are, so they might not need to use their intelligence to develop the artifices that lead to technology and radio communication. Most will be in water oceans under ice so thick they can never be aware of the universe outside.

That said, I can still hope.
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