Airdate: Feb 09, 2009
Scientist: Frank Drake
Kids' Science Challenge: Drake - Why We Search
For decades we've been searching for extraterrestrials, but why?
â€œWe may learn very useful information, for instance, how to produce power through controlled nuclear fusion in a clean way and solve our energy crisis. It would be nice if somebody said, send us a handbook for how to do it.â€™â€
Well, if our own scientists on earth havenâ€™t mastered clean energy technologies, then whoâ€™d write the handbook? Itâ€™s time to think out of the box. Iâ€™m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
â€œItâ€™s the last great adventure open to us. Weâ€™ve explored every place on Earth. It would be even more exciting to explore another world with intelligent creatures, perhaps who have lived millions of years longer than ourselves and are much more advanced than we are.â€
Ah, yes. Extraterrestrials. Aliens. Well, Frank Drakeâ€™s been looking for life in outer space since he helped found SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, in 1960. Heâ€™s a pioneer in the field, and he now collaborates with a team of astrobiologists at the SETI Institute, in Mountain View, California. Well, itâ€™s clear to Frank Drake and others at SETI that sharing spec sheets on clean energy would be reason enough to befriend an alien, but why else do we search?
â€œWe do have a hunger to know what the meaning of life is. We have learned enough about biology and evolution to know that we are not necessarily the optimum intelligent species in the universe, that evolution could surely lead to other forms than ourselves, and we hunger to know what these are like.â€
Kids intuitively think outside the box, and if you know of any 3rd to 6th graders with ideas about searching for life in outer space, have them check out the Kidsâ€™ Science Challenge. Thatâ€™s a nationwide competition where kids get to see their science ideas turned into realities. Thatâ€™s at kidsciencechallenge.com.
Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. Iâ€™m Jim Metzner.