archive: Fwd: FW: SETI Fwd: Scientist: Reason for Optimism in ET Search

Fwd: FW: SETI Fwd: Scientist: Reason for Optimism in ET Search
Mon, 24 Aug 1998 15:15:13 EDT

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Subject: Re: FW: SETI Fwd: Scientist: Reason for Optimism in ET Search
Date: Mon, 24 Aug 1998 15:10:18 EDT
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In a message dated 8/24/98 8:15:23 AM Pacific Daylight Time, Paul writes:

<< s the 1980s! Late in his life (and with his help and
encouragement), some of Barney's younger colleagues began to surpass him,
which is how it should be.

*Who, in particular,are you referring to? I don't think anyone surpassed him.

At any rate, toward the end Barney also
reversed his prior opposition to Project Argus, wrote that "perhaps there's
something which amateurs can contribute after all," and served on our
advisory board.

*How is this a reversal of position? This is not the same as saying that small
apertures aren't feasible--which is Barney's position. Who said amateurs can't
contribute? Its the method of contribution which is the issue.

The last correspondence I received from Barney, just a
week before his death, proposed some very controversial and unconventional
search strategies.

*Which are....

The man was apparently more open to change than his
disciple N1IR is.

*I am amused to have you think I am narrow minded. And I am not Barney's

And BTW, I too am saying we need a large aperture. I'm just saying it can
be composed of thousands of smaller ones.

*Excuse me; in IAU #161 (beginning on page 693) you outline 'Project Argus'
(shall I assume this is not Bob Doxin's radio camera project?) which says
quite the opposite. Indeed, you atttempt to make a case for using 5,000 SMALL
apertures, each independent but "coordinated" to have them looking at
different parts of the sky. These do not synthesize to comprise a large
aperture, despite your claim above. Indeed, you make no such claim in the
article. Each one has a profound lack of sensitivity which forms an extremely
shallow spatial range-cone. The alleged virtue is an enhanced spatial figure
of merit, not aperture. In fact, this does not enhance the figure of merit for
anything resembling a non-uniform space density of stars.

Isn't this exactly what Barney
said in the Cyclops study?

*No; Barney 'said' you need large apertures--not zillions of disconnected
small ones-- to assure --deep-- and sensitive surveys FROM EACH, which overall
make an excellent stab at the phase space. And Barney didn't 'say it'; the
report represents a large number of workshop participants.

Where I diverge is in suggesting that the
individual elements can be even smaller than 100 meters diameter, can cost
somewhat less than $100 Million apiece (I've adjusted here for inflation
since 1971), and can be built and operated by amateurs. Heretical, I know.

*Not heretical, but useless. You have failed to model the figure of merit to
see, if in fact, such an approach is feasible. Instead your approach has been
to say--hey; a LARGE dish is deeper but it has a much SMALLER solid angle.
Need to observe many times to fill up a defined solid angle. Gee; can't we
reverse the argument and use MUCH SMALLER dishes with LARGER solid angles?
Maybe observe LONGER? (Although I see the longest integration time quoted as
10 seconds in your article... a profoundly unacceptable integration time. Much
too short.).

*The two are most certainly not equivalent, despite what a naive sense tells

*By not addressing a figure of merit you have failed to show any advantage.
Indeed, when the FOM is plotted by others compared to other Projects the
'Argus' approach doesn't even show up on the plot. Perhaps you should ask
Frank Drake about that one Paul. In fact, why not put that plot up so the
value of such an approach can be realistically and objectively assessed by

* I think all this wonderful talent needs to be channeled towards an amateur
system with a higher figure of merit. If that means that you can't use the ol'
dish next to the barbeque, then that's how it is.

* 73, Chip Cohen

H. Paul Shuch, Ph.D. -- Executive Director, The SETI League, Inc.
433 Liberty Street, PO Box 555, Little Ferry NJ 07643 USA
voice (201) 641-1770; fax (201) 641-1771; URL
email work:; home:
Project Argus Observatory FN11lh

"We Know We're Not Alone!"

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From: Larry Klaes <>
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Subject: FW: SETI Fwd: Scientist: Reason for Optimism in ET Search
Date: Mon, 24 Aug 1998 11:13:00 -0400
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