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Review: ‘Communications from superior galactic communities’ by Ronald Bracewell

[This post is the second in a series exploring major works in the field of space archaeology. Read the first part here.] In 1959, Giuseppe Cocconi and Philip Morrison proposed what would become the mainstream strategy of the modern search for extraterrestrial intelligence: scanning for interstellar radio signals intentionally beamed towards the Solar system by advanced civilisations. Ronald Bracewell of Stanford University, however, questioned some of the assumptions on which the nascent SETI program was founded: that interstellar communication was only practical using electromagnetic waves; that civilisations would transmit ‘on spec’ over geological timespans; and that a civilisation would be close enough that we would be among its targets. In late May, 1960, Nature published his response, ‘Communications from Superior Galactic Communities‘ (paywalled). In it, he suggested that a civilisation might ‘spray some number of suitable … Read entire article »

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