As far as I know, I have never used this website as a political platform. I have weakly festered under the steely gaze of a particularly anti-science American administration without uttering much of a peep, but this, however, I cannot let stand.
The Arecibo telescope is the world’s largest radio telescope and currently the source of all the data processed and used by various (and already much-maligned) SETI projects, particularly SETI@home. Currently, it’s facing massive budget cuts that will effectively end its ability to continue the search for life beyond Earth. The decision to ensure full funding currently rests upon votes in Congress on Senate Bill S.2862 and House Resolution H.R. 3737. These bills, understandably ignored in the midst of pressing social issues and an upcoming election, desperately need more support.
Arecibo is, for all intents and purposes, our eyes and ears to the cosmos. The data it provides is enormously important in all kinds of astronomical science, and to the search for intelligent life in the Universe, which in my opinion is the most significant and noble of the scientific quests, and has far-reaching ramifications for all of humanity. To give up on Arecibo because of benign funding issues is to swaddle our entire race in a cloak of anthropomorphic narcissism, to cease to care if there is anyone else out there, to be so content in our self-serving and destructive worldview as to stop looking for other answers. This is such a huge issue that should never be in the half-assed hands of the U.S. Congress. It’s insane.
Please spend ten minutes visiting the SETI@Home site, printing out a letter, and posting it. It’s a ridiculously mild expenditure of your time considering the issue at hand. This isn’t even politics! It’s the HUMAN RACE and our place in the COSMOS we are talking about.
Without the error-correcting machinery of science, we are lost to our subjectivity, to our chauvinism, to our longing to be central to the purpose of the universe. One of science’s alleged crimes is revealing that our favorite, most reassuring stories about our place in the universe and how we came to be are delusional.
– Carl Sagan
More information about SETI (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence):