Astronomer Jill Tarter to Speak at Brookhaven Lab on 'The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence: Fact, Not Fiction,' March 11

Jill Tarter enlarge

Jill Tarter

UPTON, NY — Jill Tarter, director of the Center for SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Research, will give a talk, titled “The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence: Fact, Not Fiction,” in Berkner Hall at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, March 11. Sponsored by Brookhaven Women in Science, the lecture is free and open to the public. Visitors to the Laboratory age 16 and over must bring a photo ID.

For 40 years, the SETI community has had a pragmatic definition of intelligence — the ability to build large transmitters. Almost all SETI searches have looked for radio signals coming from distant civilizations. Recently, SETI has been searching for optical pulses as well. In her talk, Tarter will discuss the new Allen Telescope Array being developed for SETI that will provide the first systematic look at the transient radio universe.

Tarter earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics from Cornell University, and a master’s degree and Ph.D., both in astronomy, from the University of California at Berkeley (UC-Berkeley). As a graduate student, she worked on the radio-search SERENDIP project at Hat Creek Observatory, and she did postdoctoral work at the NASA Ames Research Center. From 1977 to 1993, she was a research astronomer at UC-Berkeley. She also became project scientist for the NASA SETI Microwave Observing Project and High Resolution Microwave Survey in 1989, and then director of Project Phoenix for the SETI Institute in 1993. In 1997, she became Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, a position she still holds, and in 2000, she became director of the Center for SETI Research.

The character that Jodi Foster plays in the 1997 movie “Contact” is based on Tarter. In real life, Tarter is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and she has published dozens of scientific papers. Tarter has received numerous awards for her work, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from Women in Aerospace in 1989, two public service medals from NASA, and the 2009 TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Prize, which recognizes the “world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers.”

Call 631 344-2345 for more information about the lecture. The Laboratory is located on William Floyd Parkway (County Road 46), one-and-a-half miles north of Exit 68 of the Long Island Expressway.

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2009-10912  |  INT/EXT  |  Newsroom