Astronomers around the world have searched the skies for ET using data from radio telescopes, looking for signals from another civilization. Now Nobel laureate Charles Townes thinks we should return to the old-fashioned method of looking through telescopes because bright bursts of laser light would indicate intelligent life is out there.

He says, “A civilization out there could be a thousand years ahead of us. It seems possible that some being on a planet orbiting a nearby star could send a bright enough beam that we could see it blinking.” Townes believes skeptics who don?t believe in the possibility of extraterrestrial life are a vanishing species.

The SETI Institute has conducted a huge radio astronomy search, using the huge radio telescopes at Arecibo, Puerto Rico, but has gotten no results so far. Townes thinks a civilization as advanced as ours would use a compact laser beam as a signal, because radio waves spread out, but laser beams stay compact and focused. Seth Shostak of SETI says, “Charlie pointed out to us that if an advanced civilization wanted to get in touch with Earth, why not ping us with a laser. Pulses as short as a nanosecond?one billionth of a second?would do it. For $10,000 or less, you can build an instrument to look for beacons. Now it’s being done.?

While some people are looking for ET through telescopes, others, like Lisette Larkins, are talking to them personally in Talking to Extraterrestrials.

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