The Papers

These are the papers we read and/or discussed in the class.  Some are classics and could be considered part of the SETI “canon”, some are latest research that may enter the canon someday, and a few are well known but actually assigned as cautionary tales. Also included are many tangents that follow discussions that came up in class, and were not assigned but are included for additional reading and/or amusement by interested students.

Not all of these papers are publicly available, but most are available through a university library subscription to major journals.  Some are hard to find at all, even with a library as extensive as Penn State’s (we found ILIAD very useful for digging up rare titles).

Those that we assigned in class are in bold.  Some important papers were added to the list after class ended for completeness.

Beneath the titles are a brief description of why that particular entry is relevant to this course, followed by a public link to the citation. Beneath those are links to select blog entries by the 2018 SETI course students that summarize/describe/critique those papers. (You can read all of the entries here.)

These are not presented in the order we followed in class; they are in a more natural order that will be approximated in the 2020 instance of the course.

The instructor thanks Jill Tarter, Shelley Wright, Andrew Howard, Paul Horowitz, Andrew Howard, and the students in the class for helping identify the papers in this list.  If you have big papers that are missed, please email your suggestions to us at astrowright@gmail.com and copy Alan Reyes at areyes@psu.edu, who is compiling a comprehensive bibliography of SETI and put much of this page together.

For those of the following articles that have a presence on the NASA ADS, you can find a publicly accessible library put together by Alan Reyes here for ease of viewing and manipulation:

http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/nph-abs_connect?library&libname=SETI+Canon&libid=593abab028


Origins

Cocconi & Morrison (1959)
– The birth of Radio SETI.
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1959Natur.184..844C

Bracewell (1960)
– The birth of Artifact SETI.
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1960Natur.186..670B
Cañas

Drake (1961)
– The first Radio SETI Experiment.
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1961PhT….14…40D
– Kanodia
– Sheihk 


SETI Pessimism

Hart (1975)
– The first sharpening and an early formal statement of the Fermi paradox.
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1975QJRAS..16..128H
Jiyu

Tipler (1980)
– Arguments against there being ETI. An argument against the plurality of inhabited worlds.
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1980QJRAS..21..267T

Brin (1983)
– A trenchant articulation of the Fermi Paradox
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1983QJRAS..24..283B

Ball (1973)
– An early attempt to resolve the Fermi Paradox: The Zoo Hypothesis
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1973Icar…19..347B

Tipler (1981b)
– A brief history of SETI.
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1981QJRAS..22..133T

Tipler (1981c)
– Additional remarks on SETI.
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1981QJRAS..22..279T

Tipler (1993)
– Is SETI a waste of effort?
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1993SPIE.1867…28T


SETI Optimism & politics

Sagan Petition
– A call for an international observational effort to conduct radio SETI experiments.
– http://science.sciencemag.org/content/218/4571/426.2
Kanodia

Tarter (1985)
– Rebuttal to pessimists, “why radio?”, and the Cosmic Haystack
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1985imhe.book…..F

Ćirković (2018)
– A rebuttal to “intelligence is rare” arguments.
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2018AsBio..18..491C

Gray (2015)
– The Fermi Paradox is falsely attributed and isn’t really a formal paradox.
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2015AsBio..15..195G
MacDonald
Gilbertson

Sagan & Newman (1982)
– A critique of “solipsist” approaches to the ETI question and an analysis of galactic diffusion.
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1983QJRAS..24..113S
Cañas

Garber (1999)
– A historical review of the cancellation of SETI funding by NASA.
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1999JBIS…52….3G
– https://history.nasa.gov/garber.pdf
Kanodia

Wright (2018)
– Argument to the National Academies of Science that SETI is part of Astrobiology and should be funded by NASA
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/arXiv:1801.04868


Radio SETI

Bell and Little Green Men
– The discovery of pulsars (which were originally codenamed Little Green Men based on their regular pulsation and potentially artificial origin). Also, an anecdote on the challenges of being a female scientist in a male-dominated Academia.
 http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2006/07/jocelyn-bell-burnell-reflects-discovery-pulsars

Oliver (1979)
– The suggestion of a communal “water hole” frequency range that all water-based life would recognize.
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1979AcAau…6…71O
Cañas

Kraus (1979)
– The Wow! Signal.
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1979CosSe…1…31K
Gilbertson

Tarter (2001)
– A review of field of SETI from its context in the astronomical and greater scientific landscape, with a look at what has been accomplished and what still needs to be done in Radio SETI.
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2001ARA%26A..39..511T
Sheikh

Purcell (1960)
– A nice summary of the early justification for radio SETI.
https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015086583039;view=1up;seq=3

Oliver (1974)
– A nice summary of how radio SETI works.
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1973Mercu…2…11O

Drake (1965)
– The proper citation to the Drake Equation
– F. Drake, “The Radio Search for Intelligent Extraterrestrial Life.” In Current Aspects of Exobiology, ed. G. Mamikunian and M. H. Briggs, 323-45. Oxford University Press

Sullivan, Brown and Weatherill (1978)
–  “Eavesdropping – The radio signature of the earth”
– A discussion on how obvious Earth is in radio and of what we can infer about a planet from an “eavesdropping” detection without any decoding of information content.
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1978Sci…199..377S


More on Wow!

Gray (1994)
– Searching for the Wow! locale.
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1994Icar..112..485G

Gray (2001)
– A later search for Wow! using the VLA.
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2001ApJ…546.1171G

Gray (2002)
– A search for periodic emissions near the Wow! locale.
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2002ApJ…578..967G

Gray (2011)
– Supplemental reading for Wow!
https://www.amazon.com/Elusive-Wow-Searching-Extraterrestrial-Intelligence/dp/0983958440/


Schelling Points and beacons

Dixon (1973)
– “Beacons” and “anti-cryptography” in SETI
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1973Icar…20..187D

In-class activity
An exercise to get students thinking about Schelling points.

Schelling (1960) The Strategy of Conflict, Chapter 4
– On the theory of cooperation and the the introduction of Schelling points, common places or times of opportunity recognized by both parties in their pursuit of finding one another.
– https://books.google.com/books?id=7RkL4Z8Yg5AC&printsec=frontcover&dq=the+strategy+of+conflict+cooperation&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiBhoTmj-HbAhWOpFkKHTRuB3oQ6AEIKTAA#v=onepage&q=Cocconi&f=false

Alexander (2012)
– A nice popular description of Schelling points.
https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/yJfBzcDL9fBHJfZ6P/nash-equilibria-and-schelling-points

Dixit (2012)
– The Art of Strategy, Chapter 4: A Beautiful Equilibrium, p. 110: Lost in New York
– https://books.google.com/books?id=KKwBZ0PYPXQC&q=New+York#v=snippet&q=New%20York&f=false

ABC Primetime
– A video of the Schelling Experiment in NYC.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uESGjRQNEYk

Wright et al. (2016) (section 5)
– Analysis of how to distinguish beacons from other signals in SETI
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2016ApJ…816…17W

Wright (2017; Web)
– Popular description of Schelling Points

Wright (2017)
– Schelling points in SETI
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/arXiv:1707.02175


METI

The Arecibo Message
– The first METI message, sent from Arecibo in 1974.
– https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0019103575901165
Kanodia

METI Letter
– A statement encouraging international discussion on METI.
https://setiathome.berkeley.edu/meti_statement_0.html
Gilbertson

Gertz (2016)
– A condemnation of the activity and proponents of METI.
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/arXiv:1605.05663
Reyes

Wright (2017)
–  An ethical consideration of METI
http://rockethics.psu.edu/everyday-ethics/is-it-ethical-to-transmit-powerful-radio-signals-1 -Sheikh

Oman-Reagan
– An anthropologist considers how humanity looks from the outside
– https://www.sapiens.org/column/wanderers/messaging-to-extraterrestrial-intelligence/

Shostak (2015)
– METI is not Dangerous
– https://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/28/opinion/sunday/messaging-the-stars.html?_r=0

WETI
– Waiting for Extraterrestrial Intelligence?
– http://weti-institute.org

JBIS Volume 67, especially Shostak pp 41-42
– Shostak responds to Brin and other METI opponents

Denning (2010)
Unpacking the great transmission debate


NIR SETI

Schwartz & Townes (1961)
– The suggestion that stimulated emission in the optical and NIR may be a viable platform to conduct SETI searches.
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1961Natur.190..205S
Gilbertson

Wright (2014)
– The instrument design and search strategy of SETI search using pulsed laser signals at NIR wavelength
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/arXiv:1407.2617
Gilbertson


Optical SETI

Howard et al. (2004)
– An optical SETI search done right.
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2004ApJ…613.1270H
– Reyes

Kipping & Teachey (2016)
– The proposal that ETIs may seek to cloak the presence of their planet’s transit with deliberate laser emission. Perhaps more importantly: a new Schelling point in SETI.
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/arXiv:1603.08928
Cañas
MacDonald


What frequencies?

Townes (1983)
– A suggestion that searches shouldn’t be limited to radio and microwave and that other wavelength ranges, such as the IR, should be tried.
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1983PNAS…80.1147T
Gilbertson

Hippke & Forgan (2017)
– An analysis of the physical optimum of interstellar communcation.
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/arXiv:1711.05761
Sheikh


Other carriers

Harwit (2003)
– The suggestion that photon orbital angular momentum can be a communication way for SETI.
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/arXiv:astro-ph/0307430
MacDonald

Hippke (2017) – The consideration of alternative carriers to photons, such as subatomic particles and bosons.
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/arXiv:1711.07962
Sheikh

Benford (2010) – The consideration of a gravitational wave based SETI message.
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2010Natur.466..406B
Gilbertson

Dyson (1963) “Gravitational Machines” in Interstellar Communication: The Search for Extraterrestrial Life; A Collection of Reprints and Original Contributions ed. A.G.W. Cameron
– Gravitational wave detectors should look for evidence of ETIs
– https://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/~barnes/ast242_s14/Dyson_Machines.pdf

Jackson & Benford (2018) — A Gravitational Wave Transmitter
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2018arXiv180602334J


SS artifacts

Freitas (1983)
– The case is made for a search program for extratterestrial messenger probes in the vicinity of the Earth-Moon system.
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1983Icar…55..337F
Gilbertson

Carlotto (1988)
– A digital analysis of the “Face” on Mars. A case of SETI done wrong.
– https://www.osapublishing.org/ao/abstract.cfm?uri=ao-27-10-1926
Kanodia
MacDonald

Carlotto (1997)
– More face-on-Mars from Carlotto
– https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/e726/4ab2cb9284c4e090d0eec5439383bc508d0e.pdf

Freitas (1980)
– A rare search for free-floating Solar System artifacts
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1980Icar…42..442F

Haqq-Misra & Kopparapu (2012)
– An examination of the likelihood of non-terrestrial artifacts in the Solar System.
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/arXiv:1111.1212

Davies & Wagner (2013)
– An overview of the strategies used to determine whether the moon had been occupied in the remote past by an ETI.
– https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0094576511003249
– Cañas

Rein (2018)
– Analysis of the lifetime of an artificial object in the Solar System: a Tesla Roadster
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/arXiv:1802.04718

Kaku (2017)
– Example of radar used to detect (natural) subsurface cavities on other words.
– https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/2017GL074998

Carter (2009)
– More examples of radar detection of (natural) subsurface structure
– https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0019103508003709


Lighting, PITS

Loeb & Turner (2012)
– A search for artificially illuminated solar system objects using LSST.
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/arXiv:1110.6181
Kanodia

Wright (2017)
– An examination of the possibility that the solar system could have been occupied in the remote past by a prior indigenous intelligence.
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/arXiv:1704.07263
Cañas


Atmospheres and Surfaces

Lin (2014)
– On the use of anthropogenic pollution as a novel biosignature for intelligent life in the planetary atmospheres.
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2014ApJ…792L…7L
Gilbertson

Lingham & Loeb (2017)
– Artificial reflections from exoplanetary surfaces
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2017MNRAS.470L..82L


Waste Heat / Dyson / Kardashev

Dyson (1960)
– The origin of the idea of Dyson Spheres.
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1960Sci…131.1667D

Follow up letters to/from Dyson
– Dialogues on the topic of Dyson Spheres.
– https://www.jstor.org/stable/1705166
MacDonald

Kardashev (1964)
– The original classification of ETI civilizations based on energy consumption into Types I, II, and III.
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1964SvA…..8..217K
Sheikh

The Byrds: CTA-120
– It’s successful METI! Also, SETI in pop culture: the forgotten false positive of CTA-102
– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1mXIiM9QjA


Dyson spheres and Megastructures

Wright et al. (2014)
– The first paper in the Ĝ series, which motivated a search for KII and KIII civilizations based on waste heat.
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2014ApJ…792…26W
Cañas

Carrigan (2009)
– A search for Dyson spheres using archival IRAS all-sky infrared survey data.
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/arXiv:0811.2376

Annis (1999)
– An assessment of whether observed galaxies exhibit evidence of KIII civilizations based on their properties.
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1999JBIS…52…33A
Cañas

Arnold (2005)
– The presentation of the idea of transiting semaphores, megastructures in orbit whose aspect would be distinguishable by transit photometers.
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2005ApJ…627..534A
Cañas

Wright et al. (2016)
– The fourth installment in the Ĝ paper series and first mention of Tabby’s Star in a SETI context.
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2016ApJ…816…17W
Sheikh

Badescu (1995)
– Thermodynamics of Dyson Spheres
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1995AcAau..36..135B

Badescu & Cathcart (2000)
– “Stellar Engines”
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2000JBIS…53..297B

Badescu & Cathcart (2006a)
– Dyson Spheres as “stellar engines”
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2006AcAau..58..119B

Judson (2017)
– Energy trajectories of planetary life
– https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-017-0138

Forgan (2013)
– Dyson spheres detected in transit
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2013JBIS…66..144F

Bradbury (2001a)
– Limits of technology
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2001SPIE.4273…56B

Bradbury (2001b)
– Dyson sphere discussion
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2001SPIE.4273…63B

Jugaku, Noguchi, & Nishimura (1995)
– An early Dyson Sphere search
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1995ASPC…74..381J

Jugaku & Nishimura (2004)
– Results of the early Dyson sphere search
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2004IAUS..213..437J

Bursa (2017)
– A possible use for Solar-system scale engineering
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/arXiv:1704.04469


“Nature Plus”

Davies (2010)
– Chapter from “The Eerie Silence”
– The idea is presented that sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from nature, or “Nature Plus.”
– Under construction…
Cañas
Reyes

Villarroel et al. (2016)
– A search for disappearing stars.
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2016AJ….152…76V
Sheikh


Research Portfolios and “Fringe” Ideas

Loeb (2008)
– Research Portfolios
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/arXiv:1008.1586

Wright (2018)
– Jill Tarter Biography Review
https://physicstoday.scitation.org/doi/pdf/10.1063/PT.3.3847

Stevenson (2017)
– On Outré Ideas
https://physicstoday.scitation.org/doi/full/10.1063/PT.3.3507

Kuhn & Berdyugina (2015)
– SETI with a colossal telescope
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2015IJAsB..14..401K


SETI Synthesis

Bradbury (2011)
– “Dysonian” SETI
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2011JBIS…64..156B
– MacDonald

Wright (2018)
– A call on the SETI community to adopt a comprehensive and definitive lexicon for the field.
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2018arXiv180104868W
Kanodia


Culture & Anthropology

Oman-Reagan (2017)
– The idea that in a first encounter with ETI, the differences between cultures and biology inhibit success.
– https://www.sapiens.org/column/wanderers/extraterrestrial-hospitality/
MacDonald

Wright & Oman-Reagan (2017)
– On the public perception of SETI, the “giggle factor,” and the legacy of colonialism.
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2018IJAsB..17..177W
Kanodia

Dick (2006)
– Anthropology of SETI
– http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-8322.2006.00421.x/abstract

Denning (2013)
– An anthropologist looks at SETI
– http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-3-642-35983-5_16


Intelligence

Davies (2010)
– The Eerie Silence, Chapter 4: How Much Intelligence is Out There?
– Under construction…

Amazing Octopus
– An alien intelligence on Earth
– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZU_2CzHnbdg

Birds Using Fire
– Intelligent non-human use of fire
– https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/01/wildfires-birds-animals-australia/#close


SETI in the Media

Andersen (2015)
– The first article on Tabby’s Star.
– https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2015/10/the-most-interesting-star-in-our-galaxy/410023/
Cañas
Reyes

Late Night with Tyson
– Pop culture reaction to Tabby’s Star mania.
– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UDNOOJ3sr0
Gilbertson

Grush (2015)
– A meta-article on the misrepresentation of scientific ideas in popular science articles.
– https://www.theverge.com/2015/10/16/9553033/kepler-alien-megastructure-dyson-sphere-kic-8462852

Billings (2018)
– A look at the the reasoning behind scientific skepticism, especially when dealing with the ETI question.
– https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/its-never-aliens-until-it-is/
Cañas

Forgan (2016)
– A call to establish a post-detection protocol for SETI which reflects the modern pace of communication.
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/arXiv:1605.02947
Sheikh


SETI protocols

IAA (2010)
– A formal document which outlines the protocols of conduct in a positive SETI detection scenario.
– http://avsport.org/IAA/protocols_rev2010.pdf
Cañas

Gertz (2017)
– A fervent detestation of METI practices and its adherents.
– http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/arXiv:1701.08422
MacDonald

Forgan (2018)
– A reformulation of the Rio scale.
– Under construction…
Kanodia