Past Event

Radio Astronomy, SETI, and the Specter of the Cold War

November 30, 2022
4:05 PM - 5:05 PM
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Pupin 1402

Colloquium by Rebecca Charbonneau, NRAO

When discussing Cold War science, Space Age aerospace engineering and Atomic Era nuclear physics often take center stage. This talk will argue that another science, a subfield of radio astronomy known as the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), should be seen as the quintessential Cold War science. Despite appearing esoteric and perhaps even pseudoscientific at first glance, this talk will show how SETI reflected many of the major characteristics of the Cold War, especially in its connections to military infrastructure, facilitation of communication between the US and USSR, and in its existential philosophies. In learning this history, we uncover how astronomers cooperated with each other in times of war, a history that has become increasingly significant to understand as astronomy grows ever more global and as war once again rocks Europe.

Followed by wine and cheese.

Host: David Kipping