Airdate: Apr 10, 2000
Scientist: Kent Cullers
Listening to the Universe: Intro
Scientists at the SETI Institute listen to the "sounds" of outer space, searching for intelligent life.
For the past few decades, scientists have been engaged in the search for intelligent life on other planets. Part of this quest involves monitoring signals from outer space. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont.
"There are no sounds in space but there are a vast plethora of electromagnetic energies in space. Those often get shifted down to frequencies to where the ear can listen to them and so we hear sounds from space both to diagnose our instruments and to give us an idea about how to design new equipment to understand the universe around us."
Kent Cullers is a physicist with the SETI Institute. SETI stands for the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence.
"Electromagnetic energy is the energy of the universe that surrounds us. It's the light from stars. It's the cooling big bang and it's the roar of electrons orbiting in the magnetic field of the galaxy. It's all of those things and many more."
The different kinds of electromagnetic energy are categorized according to their rates of vibration. We can see light energy with the human eye, and other forms of energy, such as radio waves, can be detected with a radio telescope. Space probes, such as the Voyager, can also pick up and relay electromagnetic signals to earth, such as the ones that we're listening to right now.
"The sound that you're listening to is the sound of electrons spiraling in Jupiter's magnetic field. The electrons are captured and they move in circles and this is a kind of acceleration and any accelerating charge makes radio waves and what you're hearing is the roaring of those electrons which are trapped in the magnetic field of Jupiter."
Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.