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Today's colloquium: Searches for Exotic Radio Sources and Intelligent Life on Other Worlds

Submitter: Andrew Siemion (UC Berkeley)
Description: I will describe several experiments that explore some of the rarest and most intriguing phenomena in the sky: short duration radio transients and possible electromagnetic emission from advanced extraterrestrial technology. Motivated by new discoveries and new technologies, we have performed, and are performing, some of the most thorough searches for these sources ever attempted.

Our experiments include a ``fly's eye'' search for bright radio pulses at the Allen Telescope Array, commensal searches for extraterrestrial intelligence at the Arecibo Observatory, a targeted search of extrasolar planets for narrow-band radio emission using the Green Bank Telescope and an ongoing effort to discover pulsars in orbit around SgrA*.

Although our experiments explore very different physics, they share common tools and techniques, notably a need for high performance digital signal processing. By taking advantage of a reusable design paradigm in which instruments can be built incrementally using commodity components, we have been able to develop new instruments quickly, efficiently and economically. Our experiments are exploring wavelengths and signal types never before searched with high sensitivity, presenting the exciting chance for serendipitous discovery of unexpected phenomena as well.
Copyright: A. Siemion
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