'Father' of SETI Search Honored

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Aug. 17 (UPI) — A U.S. scientist said to be the father of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence was honored at a convention of like-minded researchers, observers say.

In 1960 while at Cornell University, astronomer Frank Drake started the first experiment — Project Ozma — to search for evidence of alien life, SPACE.com reported Sunday.

At a banquet at the SETI convention in Santa Clara, Calif., over the weekend, Drake, 80, was honored by attendees.

Though Drake’s initial experiment did not succeed in discovering any cosmic neighbors, it began the search that is still ongoing today.

Drake and others at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif. believe the search will succeed one day.

“We are fully aware of the great importance of our enterprise,” Drake said. “That discovery will be one of the most important to occur for any civilization.”

Drake is still active in SETI, participating in optical and radio searches for signs of life.

“Frank is not only a pioneer but he continues to bubble up new ideas for SETI,” Institute senior astronomer Seth Shostak said.

If and when humanity does receive a signal from aliens, Drake said, it will transform society.

“All of history has been just prologue,” he said. “There is a new history about to come to us.”

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