Congress Dedicates Two Hours To Discuss The Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence
Congress probably isn't particularly popular in many circles right now, least of all in the scientific community. The recent government shutdown saw almost 18,000 NASA workers forced away from their jobs, delaying numerous scientific projects, including the launch of MAVEN which was almost delayed by up to 2 and a half years. But could this political collective be working their way back into the hearts of scientists and space lovers? Well, it certainly seems like they are trying. Yesterday Congress dedicated 2 hours to discuss the search for extraterrestrial intelligence with some of the nation's brightest minds.
The event has been ridiculed by many corners of the media, with some suggesting this was a meeting with conspiracy theorists and tin foil hats. Shame on them. This is a bold move by Congress to hear the opinions of respected individuals about an important area of research that will ultimately be responsible for the greatest discovery in human history. Think about it. The day that scientists are able to make the announcement that they have confirmed the existence of intelligent alien life will eclipse the moment that Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. It will answer the age old question of "Are we alone". It will put our existence into perspective. But that's only if agencies like SETI get the funding they need.
Titled 'Astrobiology: The Search for Biosignatures in Our Solar System and Beyond', the hearing saw testimony given by astrobiologists from NASA, MIT and the Library of Congress. Listening to them was the Republican dominated House Committee on Science and, while their questions weren't particularly probing, the committee's members all seemed to be in approval of increasing the budget for such a cause. Rep. Bill Posey said to the panel "You've pretty much indicated life on other planets is inevitable. It's just a matter of time and funding."
Following the hearing, many people have said that Government should be spending money on fixing the country, not dedicating resources to scientific speculation. But why should scientific endeavours grind to a halt because of political inefficiencies? I'm sure that time and resources dedicated to agencies such as NASA and SETI will yield far more rewarding results than areas like 'Is my Healthcare.gov secure?' and 'EPA Powerplant regulations: Is the Technology ready?', which are the topics of 2 recent congressional hearings similar to this one.
More information on the hearing can be found here: