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April 23, 2009

Search for extraterrestrial intelligence is keynote talk for UW astronomy open house

Frank Drake, a world leader in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), will speak at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 2, in 120 Kane. Drake is famous for formulating an equation which estimates the number of civilizations in the Milky Way Galaxy that would be in a position to communicate with the Earth. He’ll be talking about the “Drake Equation” and about recent developments in SETI. The lecture is free, but tickets should be requested in advance. Click here to request tickets. The UW Astronomy Department and Astrobiology Program are the sponsors of Drake’s lecture.

Drake has made many important contributions to astronomy over his distinguished career at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Cornell University and the University of California Santa Cruz. He was director of the 1000-foot diameter radio telescope at Arecibo Puerto Rico, where segments of the movie Contact were filmed. Drake and Carl Sagan designed the plaque sent on the Pioneer spacecraft to describe our civilization and its location to whomever may find it. Drake remains an active member of the scientific staff at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, CA. The Institute is building the world’s largest search engine for “intentional” radio signals, the Paul G. Allen Telescope Array. Drake was a part of the team which conceived this state-of-the-art instrument.

Drake’s keynote talk is a part of the UW Astronomy Open House, which goes from 4 to 10 p.m. on May 2. The theme for the open house is the International Year of Astronomy 2009, which celebrates the 400th anniversary of Galileo using the telescope for astronomical discoveries. Planetarium shows, family activities, talks and demonstrations will be held in the UW Physics and Astronomy Auditorium Building from 4 to 7 p.m. After the SETI talk, an observing party will be held right outside of Kane Hall, weather permitting. These events are free. Tickets are required only for the SETI talk.

For further information contact Julie Lutz, 206-685-7856, or Sarah Garner, 206-543-9590,