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Why Not Fund SETI With a Lottery Bond?

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the voluntary-incremental-fun dept.

Space 191

KentuckyFC writes "The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence or SETI is one of the highest profile projects in science. And yet its biggest challenge is in generating the funds required to scour the skies for signs of intelligent life. Government funding agencies generally ignore SETI so most funding comes from wealthy patrons such as Paul Allen who has donated $30 million for the construction of a radio interferometer designed to scour the skies for signs of ET. But the lack of other donors means this facility is still incomplete and only partially operational. But one astrobiologist has a solution. Why not create a lottery bond that allows investors to buy shares that yield a fixed rate of interest but also generates enough cash to fund ongoing SETI projects? To add an element of spice, this bond is also a lottery: when the search finally succeeds, a subset of the shareholders will receive a payout from the kitty. This is a fund that is likely to have global appeal but will need a financial institution willing and capable of taking it on. Any suggestions?"

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191 comments

Well (3, Interesting)

Chrisq (894406) | about 5 months ago | (#45462935)

SETI is a lottery already!

Re:Well (3, Funny)

ddtmm (549094) | about 5 months ago | (#45462983)

Probably better odds of finding ET than winning the lottery

Re:Well (4, Interesting)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 5 months ago | (#45463031)

I would disagree. The idea that aliens are nearby, using the same freq we are, are transmitting something we will picky, and that we are looking in the right place in the sky... The odds are so very long...

I am reminded of an episode of ST Voyager when they found evidence of an older civilization and someone finally figured to check the RF bands, which hadn't been used for centuries.

I would suggest that such aliens have something better than radio to use. Yes, they might have used it for a few hundred years, but that is a thin slice of time to catch it, without being ahead of or behind the transmissions in space.

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45463323)

ST Voyager when they found evidence of an older civilization and someone finally figured to check the RF bands, which hadn't been used for centuries.

It was Earth circa 1997. They came back in time because some time cop in the future wanted to erase them from history. The disrupted his attempt. They went back to Earth and were shocked by the lack of space traffic.

Re:Well (1)

pr0fessor (1940368) | about 5 months ago | (#45463361)

SETI has always kind of baffled me. If they were to advance the technology they use in order to further their goals by widening the search they may have something to monetize.

Re:Well (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#45464075)

Why does everything need to have something to monetize?

Re:Well (2)

minstrelmike (1602771) | about 5 months ago | (#45464143)

Why does everything need to have something to monetize?

Because _biology_ requires the use of resources and resources require energy.
Humans are biological; global civilization is a biological process that depends on resource use.
We have figured out ways to use 'money' to pay for moving resources around, but we haven't yet figured out ways to use resources for free.

Re:Well (1)

green is the enemy (3021751) | about 5 months ago | (#45463485)

I would suggest that such aliens have something better than radio to use.

I'm curious what can we imagine the aliens could use to communicate. I found this bit [physicsworld.com] on neutrino communication. It also mentions axions (which might not even exist). Gravitational waves are suggested in the comments. Are there any other potential communication technologies we can read about?

Re:Well (1)

Ost99 (101831) | about 5 months ago | (#45463599)

We've more or less stopped using detectable radio signals ourselves. Most communication is now carried in fiber optics, and the radio we use is either satellite or many small low power transmitters transmitting encrypted traffic.

Give it another 20-30 years, and we would not be transmitting anything by radio that could be picked outside our solar system.

Re:Well (1)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 5 months ago | (#45463637)

Are there any other potential communication technologies we can read about?

Quantum entanglement used to be a popular possibility for FTL communication, but most physicists today dismiss it as a form of communication.

Re:Well (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#45464101)

What do you mean today? any experts has known it wouldn't be useful.

Don't confuse pop culture headline and sci - fi fir actual experts.
.

Re:Well (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#45463725)

"Gravitational waves are suggested in the comments."
becasue they would use something they would be incredible energy intensive for no gain over RF?

Re:Well (1)

gravis777 (123605) | about 5 months ago | (#45463495)

So let's fund SETI to research and develop a subspace radio array. The payoff from that would be substantial! :-)

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45463543)

Yeah cause the aliens have a different EM spectrum to work with.... ST Voyager not picking up the RF signal was ridiculous and only there as a plot device.

Re:Well (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 5 months ago | (#45463857)

I can't imagine a space exploration vessel just ignoring radio, it's such an interesting and useful EM range in astronomy. A starship that didn't routlnely check the visible band would be more plausible.

Agreed! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45463793)

I would suggest that such aliens have something better than radio to use. Yes, they might have used it for a few hundred years, but that is a thin slice of time to catch it

You nailed it. Not many people stop to consider this. It might be in the back of their minds, but they ignore it because the goal of SETI is just so exciting.

1. If the alien civilization is advanced enough to truly travel the galaxy (exceeding the speed of light), you can bet your house they already know about us -- and that they've decided to leave us alone, same as we've decided to create nature preserves and leave the gorillas alone. We are talking about technology we can't even imagine yet, and probably couldn't comprehend with our brains even if we had the blueprints. They can probably just "push a button" from clear across the galaxy and instantly know everything about us. They don't need or want to communicate with us, and won't for thousands of years (assuming we haven't gone extinct by then). They are probably waiting to see if we do in fact blow ourselves up.

2. If they can't yet exceed the speed of light, then (as you said) we are searching for a signal from that tiny sliver of technological evolution where they sent radio waves into space (as we do now). By the time the signal reaches us, they are either indistinguishable from gods (not wanting or needing to communicate with us), or extinct. Granted, receiving such a signal would still confirm that somebody was out there, at some time in the past.

I personally think this is something that has to be stumbled upon, rather than sought out. It will be something like one day noticing that an entire solar system has mysteriously relocated itself.

Re:Well (1)

guttentag (313541) | about 5 months ago | (#45463797)

I would suggest that such aliens have something better than radio to use.

Like the Internet. Or call centers. Possibly call centers which are connected to the Internet for cost-efficiency. Next time you're talking to "Bob" while trying to troubleshoot your cable modem, ask him if he's an alien, and tell him you'll keep his secret in exchange for some small compensation, such as a couple of Higgs bosons (one to lose and the other to not show to Stephen Hawking [theguardian.com])... or the secret to consistent and reliable cold fusion.

Re:Well (3, Informative)

xetovss (17621) | about 5 months ago | (#45463949)

That was in the "The '37's" episode of the 2nd season of Voyager if I am not mistaken. What they found was evidence of rust in space (which by ST logic should not exist) and when they tracked it down they came across an old 1930's Ford pickup truck floating in space. After they pull the truck onto the ship they start messing around with it, get it started (though I doubt it wold have started the gas would have long evaporated through the fuel system especially in the vacuum of space, or if it was somehow hermetically sealed inside the gas tank would have gone bad and had terrible varnish issues if it wouldn't have been frozen solid by the cold of space) then turn the radio on and find a signal on the AM band and trace it to a nearby planet and find a 1930's era plane sending out a SOS signal (though with a "modern" power source powering it).

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45464123)

What are you, some kind of jock? Go back to the ESPN forums.

Re:Well (2)

Princeofcups (150855) | about 5 months ago | (#45464025)

I would disagree. The idea that aliens are nearby, using the same freq we are, are transmitting something we will picky, and that we are looking in the right place in the sky... The odds are so very long...

So it's good that that's not what SETI is looking for. They are not expecting to find alien I Love Lucy reruns. It's any EM pattern that is not otherwise explainable. Many such patterns have been discovered, but were later explained away by the astrophysicists as spinning neutron stars, etc. Natural phenomenon. Likely signs of life would be something like EM leakage from artificial generators, not necessarily some form of communication broadcast.

Re:Well (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45463079)

Astronomically low odds * astronomically low odds = 0 (within round off error)

OR

A tax on local stupid to try and find distant smarts

BUT

I think both ideas are a waste of time.

Re:Well (1, Flamebait)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 5 months ago | (#45463345)

I do kind of like the idea of supporting the search for intelligent life out there by exploiting unintelligent life here. There's a poetic beauty in that, methinks.

Any questions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45462957)

Why not sell stock instead and then I can short it all the way to the bottom?

Realistically we probably will not find anything unless they happen to be close *and* using tech we use. Our local sun and local planet gives off quite a large amount of spectral noise. In addition to our local galaxy giving off quite a large amount of noise too.

Right now not very practical.

But sure I like your financial ideas. I am sure someone will mange to screw you.

Won't fly. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45463003)

It won't fly - everyone wants to start a lottery. It's gambling - it's a money faucet.

Right now lotteries seem like such great moneymakers, so exceptionally high in value, because they are so controlled and there aren't so many of them.

Also - gambling fuels gambling addicts - and the people who can least afford it tend to be the ones who spend the most on this. It's bad.

Re:Won't fly. (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 5 months ago | (#45463309)

... and the people who can least afford it tend to be the ones who spend the most on this. It's bad.

I'm sure that there are Casino owners who would disagree

Why not fund Ultimate Frisbee with a Lottery Bond? (1)

vingilot (218702) | about 5 months ago | (#45463023)

EOM

Re:Why not fund Ultimate Frisbee with a Lottery Bo (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 5 months ago | (#45463075)

The odds of winning an Ultimate Frisbee Tournament > odds of winning lottery > odds of getting approval for lottery > odds of finding ETI

Why make it that complicated? (3, Interesting)

argStyopa (232550) | about 5 months ago | (#45463045)

Why not just a SETI lottery?

I'm absolutely serious - I've bought precisely ONE lottery ticket my whole life (knowing statistically that my likelihood of winning is the maximum at that point*). So I'm not really a "lottery player".

But I'd cheerfully buy SETI lottery tickets - one-third of the gross goes to a the pot-winner, 2/3 goes to SETI funding. Hell, it's better return-odds than many Kickstarters.

*I didn't win.

Re:Why make it that complicated? (1)

Typical Slashdotter (2848579) | about 5 months ago | (#45463093)

Private lotteries are illegal in (almost?) all US states.

Re:Why make it that complicated? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45463799)

Either they aren't in my state of Michigan, or we just call them "50-50" raffles and pretend that they aren't lotteries.

Re:Why make it that complicated? (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 5 months ago | (#45463101)

I've bought precisely ONE lottery ticket my whole life (knowing statistically that my likelihood of winning is the maximum at that point*).

How do you figure? Each ticket has the same chance of winning, the more you buy the more likely you are to win. But the odds are such that the expected return over the long run is less than what you would pay in.

Re:Why make it that complicated? (3, Funny)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | about 5 months ago | (#45463237)

How do you figure? Each ticket has the same chance of winning, the more you buy the more likely you are to win. But the odds are such that the expected return over the long run is less than what you would pay in.

That's why smart gamblers buy multiple tickets. Buy two tickets - double your chances? Buy ten tickets and you're ten times more likely to win! How could you lose?

Re:Why make it that complicated? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#45464117)

IF you buy all the ticket, you will win, 100% of the time.
Will you profit? depends on the lottery and the lottery amount.

Re:Why make it that complicated? (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 5 months ago | (#45463291)

Each ticket has the same chance of winning

Depending on the lottery, this may or may not be true. Some lotteries let people pick the numbers, so sequences like "1 2 3 4 5 6" will be selected by many people and the pot will be split. The same applies for sequences that could represent a date, such as a birthday or anniversary. More "random" sequences will have a higher payout per ticket.

Re:Why make it that complicated? (3, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#45463775)

Don't confuse winning with highest payout.

If maximizing payout is your goal* the yes pick all you numbers over 31.

*cause winning 100 million is worth my time, but splitting 100 million? bah

Re:Why make it that complicated? (3, Insightful)

grimJester (890090) | about 5 months ago | (#45464129)

I've bought precisely ONE lottery ticket my whole life (knowing statistically that my likelihood of winning is the maximum at that point*).

How do you figure? Each ticket has the same chance of winning, the more you buy the more likely you are to win. But the odds are such that the expected return over the long run is less than what you would pay in.

I find it pretty funny that people who never gamble are completely clueless when it comes to statistics and probabilities, while those who waste loads of money gambling know exactly what they're doing.

Re:Why make it that complicated? (2)

canadian_right (410687) | about 5 months ago | (#45463265)

Why not just donate?

I'm pretty sure the people who might be interested in the overly complex bond lottery are the same people who would just donate money to seti. A Donation gives seti all your money with very little overhead compared to a bond or lottery.

The main problem in this plan... (2)

ZeroPly (881915) | about 5 months ago | (#45463053)

... is the phrase "WHEN the search finally succeeds" (emphasis added). There is not a single good explanation of why it has not succeeded already, which is a red flag that we are missing something fundamental about the nature of extraterrestrial intelligence.

Re:The main problem in this plan... (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#45463811)

" There is not a single good explanation of why it has not succeeded already, "
actually, there are two:
The universe is Really, Really Big.
The universe is Very, Very Old.

There are several smaller reason, antenna size and location for example.
Also Data processing. We may have evidence on tape somewhere.

Did you know, if we would built an array if micro antenna in space the size of Rhode Island (1,212 sq miles) we would be able to detect any radio coming from within 100LY with the power of a TV broadcast.

Re:The main problem in this plan... (1)

ZeroPly (881915) | about 5 months ago | (#45463985)

The math does not work out in your argument. The universe being old should make the search easier - there are planets much older than Earth, so why would we be the first in the galaxy to become intelligent? And our radio telescopes are already reaching out across a sphere billions of light years in diameter - out of all that space, why is there not one single clear signal? SETI has been searching for 46 years now, with nothing to show.

At this point in the search, it makes more sense to assume that there is something else going on that we're not aware of. Maybe there's a periodic galaxy wide event that destroys consciousness, so civilizations never get beyond a certain technological level, and we just popped up between clean slate events. Maybe we're in quarantine, and no one is allowed to talk to us until we develop a world government that can speak for us with one voice. Whatever the case, it's starting to look like listening for radio is a dead end.

Re:The main problem in this plan... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45464119)

The main problem is this statement: "SETI is one of the highest profile projects in science." This is not even close to reality. It might be important to a subset of geeks and nerds, but for the majority of the population it's nothing more than a novelty item. CERN, cancer research, fusion, exploration of Mars, climate research, renewable energy, electric cars, the search for Atlantis, all are much much higher profile.

SETI's not even a blip in most people's minds. They should just keep a low profile and wait for better technology and new discoveries before resuming their novelty search.

Mars life sciences payload (3, Interesting)

Latent Heat (558884) | about 5 months ago | (#45463055)

My plan is to buy lottery chances for a mega Powerball drawing.

In the off chance that I win, my first phone call will be to Gilbert Levin, the Principal Investigator on the Viking Labeled Release (LR) experiment that gave ambiguous results.

LR was developed by Levin as a way to assay sewage treatment plant effluent without having to wait days for streaked culture plates to show anything. By using a radioactive tracer, organisms can be detected at exceedingly low levels and very quickly by the radio-traced metabolism products.

Levin has been claiming that the Viking LR indeed detected life on Mars, and he has been pleading and scheming to get a "Chiral LR" life-sciences payload onto the surface of Mars to follow up. With NASA, it is nothing doing on this score since the Viking controversy -- they simply don't want to touch another life detection experiment for some reason. I thought the largely British Polar Lander was supposed to have a Levin experiment on it, but it crashed.

On the off chance that I win at Powerball, on the chance that this is enough money to fund a Mars mission, especially after the gummint gets its tax payments, and the chance the rocket works and the payload lands softly on Mars and everything else, and maybe on the remote chance that there is life on Mars and that Gil Levin's improved Labeled LR convinces people, Gilbert Levin will be awarded a Nobel Prize and become and immortal historical figure.

As for me, maybe I will go down in history as the chump who gave up his Powerball winnings?

Re: Mars life sciences payload (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45463207)

dude, youre already a legend in your own mind.

Re:Mars life sciences payload (2)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | about 5 months ago | (#45463719)

Sorry, but you'll need billions for a Mars lander. Powerball might get you an orbiter from India.

SETI makes several assumptions . . . (2)

Salgak1 (20136) | about 5 months ago | (#45463069)

1. That planets with intelligent life are RF emitters.

2. That planets with intelligent life will remain planets with intelligent life,

3. That as tech advances, intelligent life will continue to emit sufficient RF to be detectable at interstellar distances.

We don't have real numbers for ANY of those values, making any calculation of odds unworkable. Me. . . I'll play the PowerBall: at least those odds are calculatable. . . (grin)

Re:SETI makes several assumptions . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45463175)

I'll play the PowerBall: at least those odds are calculatable

3% chance to win something. Your odds go down from there for the prize. Those are not even vegas odds :)

Re: SETI makes several assumptions . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45463215)

SETI doesn't assume that's the case. They just work with the best they currently have. Low odd but you can't prove that it's 0.

Re:SETI makes several assumptions . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45463559)

4. That intelligent life exists outside of Earth.

Re:SETI makes several assumptions . . . (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#45463895)

That planets with intelligent life are RF emitters.

if they get to the point where electronics are invented, then it's a very safe assumption.

"That planets with intelligent life will remain planets with intelligent life,"
they make no such assumption. They are well aware they could find a signal where the originating species doesn't exist anymore.
The life the broadcast the signal doesn't need to exist anymore for there to be a world impact.

"That as tech advances, intelligent life will continue to emit sufficient RF to be detectable at interstellar distances."
A) ALL RF the escapes an atmosphere is detectable, you just need a big enough antenna.
B) We just need to get there bubble of radio to show other intelligent life exists.

Bad idea, I think (4, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | about 5 months ago | (#45463081)

If you make a payout if SETI finds alien life, you suddenly give a financial motive to finding it. It could taint the results. Next Wow Signal [wikipedia.org] we find and suddenly you'll have people who paid into it saying it's proof, and scientists saying it isn't. Lawyers will become involved.

Too messy if you ask me.

Re:Bad idea, I think (1)

jafiwam (310805) | about 5 months ago | (#45463547)

If you make a payout if SETI finds alien life, you suddenly give a financial motive to finding it. It could taint the results. Next Wow Signal [wikipedia.org] we find and suddenly you'll have people who paid into it saying it's proof, and scientists saying it isn't. Lawyers will become involved.

Too messy if you ask me.

OR, more likely, the guy in the government who won't leak stuff for political reasons will leak that aliens have been here for half a century or more already and that our government covered it up.

Re:Bad idea, I think (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#45463947)

There is no logical reason the Government wouldn't tell us. IT would get more money to various organization and dramatically increase are global prestige.
You don't think people like MacArthy wouldn't use it as a reason to create fear and an even larger military budget?

Lets talk agencies:
NASA: Budget would increase. No reason to hide info
DOD: Money for alien defense
And so on. Every Agency ah a interest in NOT hiding anything like that.

Plus have alien evidence would have been a great piece of leverage over the Russians.

Where does the interest come from... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45463099)

If SETI doesn't make money, aside from donations, where does the cash to pay the bond interest come from? If it comes from other people buying bonds, then that's a pyramid/ponzi scheme.

Re:Where does the interest come from... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45463423)

Pyramid /sarc I have no idea how "bond lotteries" work.

Re:Where does the interest come from... (1)

mlk (18543) | about 5 months ago | (#45463677)

The money invested in SETI is then invested in other companies.
The returns from this then pays for SETI and the people who owns the bonds (this would have to be a tiny return for the bond owners).

Once the SETI program finishes the investments in other companies is closed and the amount left over is given back to the bond owners.

I've got a better proposal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45463107)

1 - Point out to the military that, now that Kepler has discovered lots of new planets, any aliens living there almost certainly hate us because of out freedoms.
2 - Suggest that they budget for a top-secret signals intelligence gathering exercise designed to eavesdrop on these alien e-mails, TV stations and mobile phone chatter
3 - ?
4 - Profit!

Setites = low profile slabbering hucksters (1)

noshellswill (598066) | about 5 months ago | (#45463117)

SETI  ... a masturbation fantasy for snot-nosed byte-boyz. Why waste a nickel ( $0.05) on this POS?  REAL men  don't whimper and drool facing an infinite void.   There ain't nothing out there. No Princess Leia, no cheWbakka no Nexus-7. No life at all, actually except  for that on earth. You are alone bytch! We  were and are and will-be utterly  as sentient creatures completely without companions, forever,  foreverywhere till quarks evaporate. Just us. 

Re: Setites = low profile slabbering hucksters (1)

mnemotronic (586021) | about 5 months ago | (#45463251)

+1 for challenging widely accepted beliefs.
-2 for not doing the math.

Re: Setites = low profile slabbering hucksters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45463829)

So he's ahead by 1! /joke

No government funding for ANYTHING (1, Insightful)

mi (197448) | about 5 months ago | (#45463125)

Government funding agencies generally ignore SETI so most funding comes from wealthy patrons

And that's how things ought to stand for everything — except the handful of things the government is explicitly charged with under the Constitution: defense and law-enforcement.

If it is a good idea, you'll have no problems finding "wealthy patrons". On the other hand, a bad idea is likely to find sponsors among law-makers, or the government bureaucrats in those "funding agencies", to whom the said law-makers have delegated their funding decisions. Not spending their own money, they'll find an excuse. Heck, some of them are under pressure to fund something — or risk being suspected of loafing...

Taxes are collected at the gun-point (implicit in all tax-collection). Spending them on anything not explicitly provided for by the Constitution — be it SETI or school-lunches or corn-subsidies — is a travesty.

Re:No government funding for ANYTHING (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45463339)

Taxes are collected at the gun-point (implicit in all tax-collection). Spending them on anything not explicitly provided for by the Constitution - be it SETI or school-lunches or corn-subsidies - is a travesty.

Says the guy using an international network that, if not for government funding, would have at best ended up a bunch of disparate AOL and Compuserve-like services - each country having it's own providers with no affordable or standardised way to interoperate.

Re:No government funding for ANYTHING (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45463531)

exacto

Re:No government funding for ANYTHING (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45463821)

each country having it's own providers with no affordable or standardised way to interoperate.
We *had* that. I remember the late 80s/ early 90s.

Each one was on an island. Until they decided to start hooking to each other. They happened to pick a military project. It could have just as easy have been IBM or compuserve. The reason IBM did not succeed was they priced it too high for anyone but the most monied of players. As they wanted sweet multi million dollar contracts.

I remember when AOL decided to hook up to usenet. It was not pretty.

You are confusing gov spending with free stuff. The low cost of the internet is why many chose it. That is the market in action. Such as the US being able to lower its CO2 production yoy for the past 5 years. Not because of gov intervention but because the gov got out of the way and let people drill for natural gas.

Give this a read http://steshaw.org/economics-in-one-lesson/ You will see the gov is distorting everything. In many ways you probably did not think of. In fact I would go as far as to say in many cases they are inflicting harm upon the very people they seek to help.

Gov does have some uses. However, to pretend the internet as it stands today is because of the gov is silly. They bent over backwards to NOT do anything. These companies all wanted to hookup to it because the other big players were as well. To not have internet access was to loose your customers to other providers who did.

Re:No government funding for ANYTHING (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#45463979)

Do you really think the Constitution only allows for defense and law enforcement?

You should actually read it.

WHY ?? BECAUSE A LIOTTRY HAS WINNERS !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45463129)

And SETI is and will forever be a LOSER !! Never will there be anything heard !!

Why not a lottery bond for (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about 5 months ago | (#45463151)

Your base premise that it's high profile science might be a bit off. It takes some astounding leaps of faith to believe we will catch aliens in that period of high power but simple RF emissions. Or that they would be sending some form of beacon.

Granted if I were able to direct all basic science R&D budget it would be toward dirt cheap safe industrial scale fusion power generation.

misplaced resources (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45463155)

I believe we should fund STI (Search for Terrestrial Intelligence) first! Especially in our country, the USA!

AKA Ponzi scheme (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45463205)

This is a just a Ponzi scheme. Interest payments are paid out of new investments since no cash is being generated. At time of maturity, where are the payouts supposed to come from?

Finance professor at major research institution

You need to generate publicity (1)

TwineLogic (1679802) | about 5 months ago | (#45463217)

I recommend you post a faux question to slashdot, and reveal your plan to collect contributions in what will appear to be a casual aside.

Hey Halberstram (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45463231)

Yes, Allen?

Re:Hey Halberstram (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45463283)

Is that raincoat?

crowdfunding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45463241)

Aside from the task at hand I'm sure there is a plethora of other information that SETI yields. It would be nice if all data was published in an easily consumable format. The resulting data could be a nice carrot to entice people to help crowdfund the effort.

Put It On Plastic (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | about 5 months ago | (#45463249)

>> So investors purchase shares that the yield a fixed rate of interest until SETI succeeds.

So basically, they want to buy something they can't afford by borrowing on the hopes of being able to afford it later. Dumb.

I like the lottery part of the idea better (if it's legal). Spend 90% of the lottery proceeds and invest 10% for the future winner or to pay of dinner at Milliways, whichever comes first.

Re:Put It On Plastic (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 months ago | (#45464009)

What? no. Just do it like a normal lottery. A drawing every week, winner gets 20%
I could see PR value in doing a singe annual drawing, that would be interesting experiment.

SETI is basically a military satellite hunt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45463271)

So maybe it deserves to be funded by lottery! (Hint: Those super-sensitive radar or radio receivers make excellent satellite spotters)

Re:SETI is basically a military satellite hunt (1)

Deadstick (535032) | about 5 months ago | (#45463671)

Those super-sensitive radar or radio receivers make excellent satellite spotters

With all due respect, horse hockey. Artificial satellites are quite easy to find with much cheaper equipment.

Return of principal (1)

jamesl (106902) | about 5 months ago | (#45463287)

Where will the money come from to make interest payments to the bondholders? Where will the money come from to return the principal to the bondholders at maturity?

If this is an example of the brilliance of the people at the Blue Marble Institute for Space Science in Seattle, they should not be funded for anything. Nothing. Nohow.

People can donate at will...what more do you want? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45463289)

People have always been free to donate to SETI either financially or with compute time. The fact that the project can't self-fund means that people have voted with their dollars.

Why are we even talking about this?

[I'm not arguing the merits of the program, I used to donate compute time]

Re:People can donate at will...what more do you wa (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | about 5 months ago | (#45463375)

Why are we even talking about this?

Their parents *finally* kicked them out of the basement; they need to raise cash to find a new place to live.

Is hearing transmissions actually feasible? (3, Insightful)

Marrow (195242) | about 5 months ago | (#45463395)

We use radio telescopes to listen for stars and other celestial objects. One would assume these produce massive rf emissions. Has anyone done the math and determined if the transmitters currently used on this planet could be heard in other solar systems? Would our equipment detect them if installed there? Are our transmissions able to overcome the radio interference that would be common out there? Is there even a point to SETI?
Are we expecting alien races to use transmitters as powerful or more powerful than our own? And what subset of known space is actually a viable source at the power levels we use for communication?

Re:Is hearing transmissions actually feasible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45463923)

Yes, people have done the math --- and no, we wouldn't be particularly visible. In fact, the more advanced a society becomes, the *less* visible they'll be --- excess signal distinguishable from noise indicates wasted energy and bandwidth (and Earth's societies are now on the declining edge of visibility, with the rise of digital communications replacing blasting out global RF signals). Efficient bandwidth use involves data compression (and/or encryption) to eliminate "obvious" simple and repetitive signals. Unless a distant alien civilization both is able to achieve immensely higher technology levels (which may actually be limited by laws of physics, despite what techno-optimists dogmatically believe) --- the ability to harness energy output of entire stars --- and is using it to deliberately blast transmissions (at "whole star's output focused at you" levels) towards us, it'll be hard to hear much. But, hey, maybe someone out there is doing that (after identifying a potentially biologically active planet based on size, location, and atmospheric absorption spectra, orbiting our sun).

Um, are we doing that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45464007)

Are we intentionally sending out radio traffic in a tight beam that could be heard by others. Are we expecting them to do what we wont do?

Re:Um, are we doing that? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 5 months ago | (#45464055)

Unfortunately "Active SETI" as it is known is untenable on SETI's budget. The best they can do is a bit of timeshare on radio telescopes. Nobody else is interested.

Re:Is hearing transmissions actually feasible? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 5 months ago | (#45463941)

Artificial transmissions are assumed to be structured in some way that presently-known celestial emissions aren't - some sort of time structure, having a narrow bandwidth, etc. etc. - which will make them stand out. Our own certainly are. This led to a memorable false alarm in the case of pulsars but the gist is that if you see something very structured, it's going to be worth investigating whatever it turns out to be.

Do these idiots not know what a bond is? (4, Insightful)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 5 months ago | (#45463477)

Did they forget the part where they have to pay out those interest payments, and the principal, and the stupid lottery at the end too?

What revenue are they planning to pay those payments with? More bonds? Do they think they are the US government or Madoff?

Re:Do these idiots not know what a bond is? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 5 months ago | (#45464083)

Lottery-based bonds are an uncontroversial and well-established savings instrument (e.g. the UK's "Premium Bonds") so I don't see what your problem is. The money is invested, and the gains are used to pay the interest, principal, and lottery prizes.

Maybe it's you who doesn't know what a bond is?

Why fund it at all? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45463487)

It won't find anything, it's as simple as that.
I also wouldn't consider it one of the highest profile projects in science. Maybe I wouldn't even consider it science ;-)

Better invest the money into important earth-related projects.

crowdfunding (1)

Stephenson Ohimor (2883579) | about 5 months ago | (#45463987)

Aside from the actual task at hand, SETI may produce a plethora of other helpful information as a byproduct. Perhaps the folks at SETI should look into crowdfunding their efforts and in exchange they could provide scientific data an easily consumable formats. They could also take a look at crowdfunding under the Jobs Act (title III).

End of the world lottery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45464093)

When we discover solid evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence, winning a lottery might not be the most important thing on our minds.

I glad they aren't funded by government (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#45464113)

Much better to spend money to create better technology than to pour it into the current scheme to find extraterrestrial life.

If you want to play a lottery with the lowest odds by far, SETI is your "best bet"

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