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

Re: FW: SETI Fwd: Scientist: Reason for Optimism in ET Search
Tue, 25 Aug 1998 00:05:16 EDT

In a message dated 8/24/98 8:00:44 PM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

<< Subj: Re: Fwd: FW: SETI Fwd: Scientist: Reason for Optimism in ET Search
Date: 8/24/98 8:00:44 PM Pacific Daylight Time
From: (Dr. H. Paul Shuch)

At 15:15 08/24/1998 EDT, wrote:

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

We're talking personal opinions here, which are not subject to debate --
but I for one think Kent Cullers has bettered the master in several
important respects, and Bob Dixon in others. I was not including myself,
or even (sorry, Chip) you in that assessment, but I'll admit I could be
wrong in either case!

* Since I know you are unfamiliar with my work, I couldn't imagine you having
a different opinion. Perhaps you might ask Frank Drake about his former
student. You may then wish to modify your list:-)

>Who said amateurs can't

Actually, Barney did, to me, at a dinner we shared with Nick Marshall
(W6OLO) in 1976. Fortunately, he did not cling to that opinion, and was
quite willing to be proven wrong.

* ...and SetiLeague was founded in what year? (Keep in mind that this was
probably a universal truth in 1976 based upon available hardware to the

> search strategies.

>Which are....

Active SETI, for one thing.

* BTW I am not unwilling to think from the ET the aperture engine
release obviously points out:-)

OSETI, for another. I won't belabor this,
since it flies in the face of international agreement and the position of
the organization he long headed.


> And I am not Barney's

It was meant as a compliment, although if you had taken that post-doc with
him, it would have been a more accurate label.

* Probably not. Frankly, if Barney hadn't snored during my 1984 colloquium I
probably would have:-) Of course, Barney snored through everyone's colloquiums
but I didn't know that at the time:-) And once you got passed those rough
edges...what a mind! The Chudnovksy's are smarter. But Barney's #3 on my

>*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?)

No, Bob's is an "Argus Telescope", not a search strategy. Several others
have used the name as well, always in slightly different contexts.

* But I believe he refers to it as 'Project Argus'....yep. That's what it says
circa 1993.

>which says
>quite the opposite. Indeed, you atttempt to make a case for using 5,000
>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

True. But read my later papers. The one you cite is over 2 years old, and
describes the first, feeble steps of getting a lot of people interested,
active, and on the air. The second step (in the literature) is to team
many groups of these observers into true interferometers -- our "Project
ELBA" (extremly long baseline array) global interferometer project will be
discussed in greater detail at the 1999 BioAstronomy Conference in Hawaii.
I hope to see you there.

*Obviously I am impressed that you are willing to re-assess this matter and
even recant your inaccurate wording.Could you cite a later paper please? That
would be quite helpful. Since IAU 161 was published 19 months ago I presume
you have something more recent?
BTW I will not be attending this conference, thanks. I'm conferenced out. The
last one I attended was an antenna conference at a hotel attached to a
shopping mall. Made me realize that there's life beyond conferences. ACC has
the right idea! Stay put:-)

>The alleged virtue is an enhanced spatial figure
>of merit, not aperture. In fact, this does not enhance the figure of merit
>anything resembling a non-uniform space density of stars.

True. But reread Drake's and Dreher's FOM's. They are for different

*I have found John's FOM truly naive.

Drake's FOM is appropriate for short-range all-sky surveys (like
Project ARGUS) where stellar density is relatively uniform, and gives us
numbers of quite a few Ozmas -- only an order of magnitude below the
professional sky surveys. Dreher's FOM is most appropriate for targeted
searches, and gives us a low score in that context (not at all surprising).

* Drake's FOM?

>And Barney didn't 'say it'; the
>report represents a large number of workshop participants.

True, Barney would have insisted in sharing the credit. But in fact, he
was the lead author of Cyclops (as JB often points out) and its most ardent

>You have failed to model the figure of merit to
>see, if in fact, such an approach is feasible.

No, Cullers and Dreher modeled it for us, and gave us low (but not
impossibly low) numbers -- see page 715 of IAU 161 -- we come out much
less than an order of magnitude below BETA.

* Comparison to something that is already poor is not a virtue Paul:-) The
Cullers/Dreher FOM is profoundly lacking BTW.

>Maybe observe LONGER? (Although I see the longest integration time quoted as
>10 seconds in your article... a profoundly unacceptable integration time.
>too short.).

Reread my article. Table II (with 10 seconds integration) was the first
prototype. Table III shows an integration time of 120 seconds (chirping
the LO for Doppler correction, as Big Ear did).

* Thanks. Certainly approaching something useful. Has this integration been
realized? Perhaps you could teach BETA a thing or two...

>Indeed, when the FOM is plotted by others compared to other Projects the
>'Argus' approach doesn't even show up on the plot.

Funny, it shows up on my copy of Cullers and Dreher. Maybe your photocopy
was faulty.

*No; their FOM is...

>* I think all this wonderful talent needs to be channeled towards an amateur
>system with a higher figure of merit.

We welcome your specific suggestions on how to accomplish that.

* An excellent suggestion but one I cannot realize in the short term. Not for
lack of interest but lack of time.


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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Subject: Re: Fwd: FW: SETI Fwd: Scientist: Reason for Optimism in ET
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