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British scientists renew focus on alien research with formation of UK SETI Research Network

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Quasar (Nasa)
Quasar (Nasa)

UK scientists are attempting to make a more concerted effort in researching extraterrestrial life. Academics in a number of British institutions have banded together to form the UK SETI Research Network. "There is a small but active group of SETI researchers in the UK, who need a forum to discuss their work," reads the group's recently launched website. "Further, we hope that the existence of the sessions will excite interest in people in the UK astronomical community."

The initiative is young; the (esteemed) involved academics admit they're just now "turning our informal grouping into a proper 'network.'" Per BBC News, its first proper meeting took place at last week's National Astronomy Meeting. Patroned by English Astronomer Royal Sir Martin Rees and coordinated by Alan Penny, the group aims to raise $1 million annually from companies funding their research. That research will involve listening over high-powered radio telescopes for possible hints of alien life and developing new strategies that will be employed in the hunt for life elsewhere.

"If we had one part in 200 — half a percent of the money that goes into astronomy at the moment — we could make an amazing difference. We would become comparable with the American effort," Alan Penny recently told BBC News. UK scientists have made numerous contributions to SETI projects previously, but are anxious to bring together a more cohesive initiative. Whether they'll be able to receive council funding remains in question, but researchers are confident they can piggyback on other experiments for their research without disturbing the work of fellow scientists.