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Lecture, "The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligent Life," Scheduled for 14 July at Penn State

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2 July 2001--A free public lecture titled "The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligent Life" will be presented at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, 14 July, in 100 Thomas Building on the Penn State University Park campus by Frank Drake, chairman of the board of directors of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute.

Drake's talk is the culmination of the 2000-2001 Friedman Lecture Series, which focuses on "Origins in Astronomy." His lecture is intended for members of the general public and there is no admission charge. Patrons of all ages from the concurrent Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts are welcome.

A professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California at Santa Cruz and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, Drake is known as the "Father of SETI," having conducted the first microwave radio search for signals from other solar systems in 1960.

While many wonder whether humans are alone in the universe, whether other civilizations exist on planets orbiting other stars in our galaxy, and even whether we may one day be contacted by another such civilization, Drake believes that such life forms do exist. As a result, he has devoted his career to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

In his lecture, Drake will discuss the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe and describe efforts to detect radio signals from extraterrestrial intelligence. In addition, Drake will speak about the great potential of the Allen Telescope Array, which has a greater than 10,000-square-meter collecting area using the combined power of 350 six-meter-diameter antennas.

"Today's searches are more than 100 trillion times more powerful than the first search four decades ago," Drake says. "Planets are known to exist around many other stars, and life is known to form in pretty inhospitable environments. I find it hard to believe that we are alone. This project will allow the search to proceed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and therefore to search for life around 100 thousand or even one million nearby stars."

The SETI Institute, a non-profit research and education organization, was founded in 1984 and presently employs about 130 people.

The "Origins in Astronomy" series is hosted by the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Penn State and is largely funded by the Ronald M. and Susan J. Friedman Outreach Fund in Astronomy. Drake's lecture is co-sponsored by NASA's Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium and by the Penn State Astrobiology Research Center.

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