Radio astronomer Jill Tarter has her ear at the keyhole of the cosmos, listening for a signal from life beyond Earth. For decades, she and her colleagues have surveyed the sky in vain. The recent discovery of so many worlds around other suns, though, has renewed her resolve -- and so has the prospect of greater public support.
In a display of private sector science, her cause -- the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) -- has been embraced by a geek-chic collective of technocrats, info-moguls, activists and wishful thinkers, from Bill Gates to Cameron Diaz, who gathered in Long Beach, Calif., last week at the conclave of an influential enterprise called TED. The acronym stands for "Technology, Entertainment, Design."
Earthlings Try Eavesdropping on a Cosmic Party Line