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Still no aliens: Lessons learned from SETI signal

Image: Green Bank Telescope
The Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia is tracking a faraway sunlike star known as HD 164595 for the Breakthrough Listen Initiative. No alien blips have been received so far. (Credit: NRAO)

Fifteen months after an intriguing radio signal was picked up from a sunlike star in the constellation Hercules, follow-up observations over the past couple of days have so far yielded nothing notable.

That shouldn’t be too surprising. It’s the way things have always turned out so far in the 56-year history of the radio search for extraterrestrial intelligence, known as SETI.

Nevertheless, the focus on a star called HD 164595 has served as a teachable moment for those interested in the search.

“Our follow-up observations of HD 164595 remind us of the importance of developing the organizational infrastructure that will let SETI research groups around the world communicate easily with one another, so interesting signals can get a fast follow-up observation from an independent site,” Doug Vakoch, president of METI International, told GeekWire in an email.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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