Calling ET, with Dr. FunkySpoon – StarTalk All-Stars

Goldstone Deep Space Communication Complex in the Mojave Desert in California. Credit: NASA.

You Can Also Listen On

About This Episode

Should we be revealing ourselves to the cosmos? What if the first aliens to discover us do so thanks to our own transmissions, and, more disturbingly, what if those aliens are less than benevolent? We’ve covered the SETI program on StarTalk before, but on this week’s StarTalk All-Stars, astrobiologist and host David Grinspoon also tackles METI, or “Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence.” To discuss the subject and answer fan submitted Cosmic Queries chosen by co-host Chuck Nice, Dr. FunkySpoon has invited David Brin, the Hugo Award-winning science fiction author, scientist and NASA consultant who was on the committee that drew up the protocols for what to do if we do make contact with aliens. You’ll learn why the “barn door excuse” – that we’ve already sent out radio and television transmissions that may have sealed our fate – is scientifically incorrect, but why new plans to use planetary radar like Goldstone (pictured above) to send focused beams into space would pump up the volume and increase the likelihood of being found. You’ll hear about the growing global discussion of whether the general public has the right to determine whether we broadcast our presence to the universe, or whether the “scientific elite” gets to decide humanity’s fate. Plus, play along with David Grinspoon as he plays Chuck’s new game, “Brain of Brin or Dump of Trump,” and tries to guess whether a statement was first uttered by David Brin or Donald Trump.

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch the “Brain of Brin or the Dump of Trumphere, or watch/listen to the entire episode ad-free here.

In This Episode

Music in This Episode

Episode Topics

  • MizzouCogNeuro

    To David Grinspoon’s question to the aliens, which was also Carl Sagan’s question in Contact, I think the secret is to actually come to an understanding of who we are and where we came from without shying away from the ugly parts.

    (1) Humans are inherently primal animals through our limbic system. Fear, aggression. (2) Then we developed the ‘human’ part of the brain, the pre-frontal cortex (PFC), which is mainly inhibitory of these primal things. (3) Then we have psychopaths and sociopaths who realize they are being deceived by their PFC and act primally with the addition of malice and forethought. (4) Then we have our ‘intelligent’ people who reject that primal nature. This is where the idea of Intelligence vs. Happiness, or ‘depressive realism’ appears. (5) Finally, we reject that rejection and accept our nature. We simply choose to move beyond it while not ignoring the fact that it is always lurking there.

    Woo, that 4th year of grad school is a doozy!

  • Jim

    “we really ought to have a dialogue with all of the people before, if we are to..” *giant green laser beam lights up the sky in the background*

You Can Also Listen On

Music in This Episode