UPDATED 03/01/12 6:02 a.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — A team at the Adler Planetarium helped create a new Web tool, which allows the public to keep track of efforts to find out if there is intelligent life anywhere else in this vast universe.
SETI Live is a project of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. It allows the everyday Web user to look at data being collected in space by radio telescopes, and assist in the search for intelligent life beyond the earth.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports
SETI Live was created in collaboration with the Zooniverse citizen science team at the Alder. The project was made possible with the TED Prize, an annual $100,000 award for an exceptional person with “one wish to change the world.”
With SETI Live, anyone can assist in the search for intelligent life on other planets. Earthlings the world over, from professional researchers to junior high school students, can look through the data being received by the Allen Telescope Array in Hat Creek, Calif., which is being made public for the first time.
Speaking from Oxford University, where he has a joint appointment, Adler Planetarium citizen science director Dr. Chris Lintott says the SETI live program sees real value is using humans to screen the hours of radio signals to hunting faint patterns that might indicate another civilization on another planet.
“The thing about computers is that they’re very fast, but they’re very stupid,” Lintott said, “and so we knew what kind of signal we were looking for – we just feed the data in to a computer, get the computer to sort through it and spit out an answer. But we don’t know what form the signal will take.”
Dr. Lintott says anyone with patience, curiosity and a computer is welcome to join the search for extraterrestrial intelligence on SETI Live.
Lintott holds joint appointments at the Adler Planetarium and Oxford University. He has co-written several papers with rock musician and Ph.D. astrophysicist Brian May from the group Queen.