This is the stuff of many a students and even an adult’s imagination. As mentioned at the beginning of this paper, there are many science fiction shows on television. Also, there have been books, movies, video games and the now infamous radio show, “War of the Worlds.” Science fiction both fascinates and terrifies people at the same time.
Students love to talk about this topic as much as possible and it helps to further their interest and enthusiasm for science. Thus I always have a couple of activities pertaining to alien possibilities, as well as a discussion. Due to student interest in this topic, as well as the other ones I have covered, I teach Astronomy at the end of the school year, when minds may not be so focused on schoolwork. This keeps students more focused.
The Drake Equation estimates that there is 10,000 light years distance between intelligent life. In other words, there should be 100,000 intelligent life forms in the Milky Way Galaxy. NASA hopes and believes that evidence of alien life will be found within ten years. (Brown, 1996)
Planets have now been discovered orbiting three stars similar to our own Sun. (Angel, Woolf, 1996)
In the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, scientist began to direct radio signals at Mars and listen for return signals. We have also been unintentionally sending out signals for years—Star Trek, I Love Lucy, MASH, etc. The SETI program was begun in 1978. It’s purpose was to listen for alien signals. It was dropped in 1988 and picked up by private companies. It is now called MEGA. Since we’ve been listening, there have been eleven signals that can’t be decoded. If these or other strange signals get decoded, MEGA has two and a half weeks to notify the general public. Some Third World countries have requested that their public not be notified. (Brown, 1996)
There are seven different centers listening for signals. The largest, with seventeen miles of antenna is in New Mexico. (Brown, 1996)