Are we alone in the universe? This affirmative is designed to answer that exact question. Until recently, there were programs in the status quo funded by the government that used radio telescopes located on the Earth to listen for signals emitted by possible alien cultures. Recently however, due to the economic recession, the government has cancelled the funding for the Allen Telescope Array, the first set of radio telescopes created entirely for the purpose of searching for alien life. The ATA has been put into hibernation because of the funding cut and no other sources of funding seem apparent.
This affirmative has two advantages. The first argues that not only does alien life exist, but it is likely to be biologically similar to ours, allowing for the possibility of communication. Ecology suggests that any civilization that would be able to survive long enough to broadcast a signal into space has likely evolved to be peaceful and altruistic. If we made contact with aliens, the end result would likely be an exchange of technology, where we would inherit the benefit of centuries of research that would likely revolutionize our society and help solve the problems of overpopulation and environmental degradation.
However, even if we were unable to make contact, continuing search for extraterrestrial life forces us to re-evaluate how we look at humanity. Acknowledging that we may not be alone in the universe makes it more likely that we will begin to see ourselves less as members of a specific country or nation but instead citizens of earth. This broad and inclusive view of humanity as a whole will allow for greater cooperation on important issues and lessen the likelihood of conflict.
Finally, the affirmative argues that searching for life with radio telescopes is the most effective means of trying to contact extraterrestrials. Radio telescopes can search a much broader area at any given time, which is important to maximize the possibility that we will find pick up a foreign signal.
Radio telescope – a telescope that searches for radio waves, as opposed to traditional telescope that look at visible light
Galaxy – the system of millions of stars that contains the solar system
Encephelization – referring to an animal’s large brain in relation to its size
Omniscient – all knowing
Propagate – reproduce and spread
ATA – Allen Telescope Array
ET - Extraterrestrial
ETI – Extraterrestrial intelligence
AF – Air Force SSN – Space Surveillance Network
AFSPC – Air Force Space Command
ASAT – Anti Satellit
Contention 1: Inherency The federal government has cut the funding of the Allen Telescope Array, a cluster of radio telescopes attempting to find life in other parts of the galaxy. This has caused the operation to shut down. Associated Press, 4/27/2011, “Shrinking Funds Pull Plug on Alien Search Devices,” http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/04/27/shrinking-funds-pull-plug-alien-search-devices/ In the mountains of Northern California, a field of radio dishes that look like giant dinner plates waited for years for the first call from intelligent life among the stars. But they're not listening anymore. Cash-strapped governments, it seems, can no longer pay the interstellar phone bill. Astronomers at the SETI Institute said a steep drop in state and federal funds has forced the shutdown of the Allen Telescope Array, a powerful tool in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, an effort scientists refer to as SETI. "There's plenty of cosmic real estate that looks promising," Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the institute, said Tuesday. "We've lost the instrument that's best for zeroing in on these better targets." The shutdown came just as researchers were preparing to point the radio dishes at a batch of new planets. About 50 or 60 of those planets appear to be about the right distance from stars to have temperatures that could make them habitable, Shostak said. The 42 radio dishes had scanned deep space since 2007 for signals from alien civilizations while also conducting research into the structure and origin of the universe. SETI Institute chief executive Tom Pierson said in an email to donors recently that the University of California, Berkeley, has run out of money for day-to-day operation of the dishes. "Unfortunately, today's government budgetary environment is very difficult, and new solutions must be found," Pierson wrote. The $50 million array was built by SETI and UC Berkeley with the help of a $30 million donation from Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen. Operating the dishes cost about $1.5 million a year, mostly to pay for the staff of eight to 10 researchers and technicians to operate the facility. An additional $1 million a year was needed to collect and sift the data from the dishes. The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, the billionaire's philanthropic venture, had no immediate plans to provide more funding to the facility, said David Postman, a foundation spokesman. The institute, however, was hopeful the U.S. Air Force might find the dishes useful as part of its mission to track space debris and provide funding to keep the equipment operating. The SETI Institute was founded in 1984 and has received funding from NASA, the National Science Foundation and several other federal programs and private foundations. Other projects that will continue include the development of software and tools to be used in the search for extraterrestrial life.