© 2011

Searching for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

SETI Past, Present, and Future


  • The only book that brings together seminal papers on SETI science, each authored by the pre-eminent authority on the topic

  • Reviews the technical aspects of this highly interdisciplinary intellectual pursuit

  • Covers the past, present and future of SETI science

  • Demonstrates why new scientific knowledge, coupled with emerging technologies, promise a positive result within the next half-century


Part of the The Frontiers Collection book series (FRONTCOLL)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxi
  2. The spirit of SETI Past

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. H. Paul Shuch
      Pages 3-11
    3. Jerry R. Ehman
      Pages 47-63
    4. John Billingham
      Pages 65-85
    5. Peter Backus
      Pages 87-98
    6. Stuart Bowyer
      Pages 99-105
    7. Darren Leigh, Paul Horowitz
      Pages 107-127
  3. The spirit of SETI Present

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 129-129
    2. Jill Tarter
      Pages 131-145
    3. Monte Ross, Stuart Kingsley
      Pages 147-182
    4. Eric Korpela
      Pages 183-199
    5. H. Paul Shuch
      Pages 201-225
    6. Richard Factor
      Pages 227-237
    7. Claudio Maccone
      Pages 239-273
    8. Stelio Montebugnoli
      Pages 275-284
    9. Robert Dixon
      Pages 285-304
    10. Stephen Webb
      Pages 305-321

About this book


This book is a collection of essays written by the very scientists and engineers who have led, and continue to lead, the scientific quest known as SETI, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Divided into three parts, the first section, ‘The Spirit of SETI Past’, written by the surviving pioneers of this then emerging discipline, reviews the major projects undertaken during the first 50 years of SETI science and the results of that research.

In the second section, ‘The Spirit of SETI Present’, the present-day science and technology is discussed in detail, providing the technical background to contemporary SETI instruments, experiments, and analytical techniques, including the processing of the received signals to extract potential alien communications.

In the third and final section, ‘The Spirit of SETI Future’, the book looks ahead to the possible directions that SETI will take in the next 50 years, addressing such important topics as interstellar message construction, the risks and assumptions of interstellar communications, when we might make contact, what aliens might look like and what is likely to happen in the aftermath of such a contact.


Astrobiology Interstellar Messages Radio Astronomy SETI anniversary SETI essays Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Search for Extraterrestrials Search for Life in Space Space Exploration

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Little FerryUSA

About the authors

Dr. H. Paul Shuch is Executive Director Emeritus of the SETI League, an international educational and scientific non-profit corporation involved in and promoting all aspects of SETI research. He designed and served as principal investigator for the Project Argus all-sky survey, he is Principal Investigator for the Invitation to ETI initiative and he is best known for having developed and produced the world’s first commercial home satellite TV receiver.    

Bibliographic information

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From the reviews:

“This book gives an in-depth overview of the history of SETI … . if you’re interested in Extraterrestrial Intelligence, though not necessarily in radio-astronomy and the specific SETI projects, this book is a good encyclopedia type of book. If you manage to read it all from cover to cover, you’ll be certainly able to impress anyone coming to ask you whether you’ve seen little green men while observing Mars or anyone trying to corner you with questions about aliens.” (Kadri Tinn,, September, 2013)

“From October 30 to November 3, 1961, a small group of experts from a wide range of disciplines met in an attempt to estimate the number of technological civilizations in the galaxy. This book is a celebration of that meeting, and it is fitting that its 30 articles are written by experts from diverse fields. … the material is accessible to a lay audience, and the writing is generally clear and engaging. … Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels.” (T. Barker, Choice, Vol. 49 (4), December, 2011)

“It is fascinating to see how much has changed, and how much hasn’t changed, with the arrival of this hefty tome nearly half a century later. … if you have a serious interest in SETI, this book provides the wide, eye-opening overview that other book lack. A must buy.” (Keith Cooper, Astronomy Now, June, 2011)