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Scientists Begin Preparing for Alien Contact

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Given the search for extraterrestrial life has never been more prominent, a group of scientists has formed a center to serve as a headquarters should humanity need to contact alien life at some point in the future. Based at the Scotlands’ University of St Andrews, the SETI Post-Detection Hub aims to bring together the world’s leading experts to plan and strategize communications efforts should we ever reach the point of detection.

“It was increasingly evident that we needed a center (home) to coordinate our efforts for an integrated provision to deal with such an event,” John Elliott, research fellow at St Andrews, said in a recent interview with VICE. “So, with the encouragement of colleagues, I took the initiative and began developing the hub, to where it is now.”

He added, “This has been with the assistance of a few colleagues in the UK SETI Network (UKSRN), to formulate a draft strategic plan and supporting document.”

The Hub involves people from all walks of life, rather than just researchers and astronomers. Included on the team’s roster are sociologists, lawyers, and UFO enthusiasts, amongst plenty of others.

“The main issues are around bringing detail and agreement, as well as possible legal implications, to anything past the initial phase of detection, where the signal/discovery is confirmed as not human-made and from a credible extraterrestrial source, which focuses on receiving a signal,” Elliott added. “All other foci in the current protocol are on general behavior (transparency of discovery and information), as well as initial indicators of the discovery’s significance.” 

Elliott adds the Hub is aiming to explore all communication options should detection take place, so humanity is able to react to contact.

“Given this, the possibility for other intelligent life being out there and us discovering it (as out technology improves) has grown considerably,” he concluded. “Of course, there still may be none (alien civilisations may have already been and gone: the galaxy is 13.6 billion years old, our planet is only 4.5 billion years old), but I am optimistic that there is.”

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