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Seticon poster.jpg
Promotional poster designed by Paul Duffield
Status Active
Genre Astronomy
Science Fiction
Venue Hyatt Regency
Location(s) Santa Clara, CA
Country USA
Inaugurated 2010
Attendance About 600 in 2012
Organized by SETI Institute

SETIcon is a public convention organized by the SETI Institute and periodically held in Santa Clara, California. It is an interdisciplinary conference, with talks focusing on a wide range of issues related to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). The program includes panels with prominent scientists from NASA and SETI; talks by science fiction writers, artists, and actors; and panels to explore controversial issues and compare perspectives.[1] The sessions are non-technical and are meant to increase awareness, interest, and funding for the SETI Institute. The convention attracts professional scientists, educators, space enthusiasts, and science fiction fans. Astronomical tattoos are not uncommon among attendees.[2]

The first SETIcon took place on 13–15 August 2010 and drew about 1,000 people.[3][4] It commemorated the 25th anniversary of the SETI Institute, the 50th anniversary of SETI, and the 80th birthday of Frank Drake, the radio astronomer who started Project Ozma and pioneered the SETI program.[3][5] Speakers included scientists Frank Drake, Alex Filippenko, Seth Shostak, Andrew Fraknoi, David Morrison and Jill Tarter; author Robert J. Sawyer; professional skeptic Phil Plait; graphic artist Paul Duffield; actor Tim Russ; and musician Mickey Hart.[5][6] During one of the panels, Seth Shostak said he expected proof of extraterrestrial life to be found within 25 years. "Young people in the audience, I think there's a really good chance you're going to see this happen."[7]

SETIcon II was held on 22–24 June 2012 and drew about 600 people and 60 speakers, including Bill Nye.[2][8][9] Recent findings from NASA's Kepler mission fueled much of the discussion—between 2009 and 2012 the experiment detected about 2,300 new exoplanets, making the discovery of intelligent extraterrestrial life increasingly plausible.[10] Among the returning speakers was Alex Filippenko, who during a panel called "Did the Big Bang Require a Divine Spark?" argued against the necessity of God as the first cause of the Big Bang.[11] He and Seth Shostak said that the laws of physics, specifically quantum fluctuations, can enable the universe to come into being spontaneously.[12] The "divine spark", Filippenko said, is whatever created the laws of physics; since science can't tell us what caused the divine spark, it's best to save a step and leave it at the laws of physics.[12] Shostak added: "So, it could be that this universe is merely the science fair project of a kid in another universe. I don't know how that affects your theological leanings, but it is something to consider."[13]

On 13 February 2015, scientists (including Geoffrey Marcy, Seth Shostak, Frank Drake, Elon Musk and David Brin) at a convention of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, discussed Active SETI and whether transmitting a message to possible intelligent extraterrestrials in the Cosmos was a good idea;[14][15] one result was a statement, signed by many, that a "worldwide scientific, political and humanitarian discussion must occur before any message is sent".[16] On 28 March 2015, a related essay was written by Seth Shostak and published in the New York Times.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "SETIcon conference in Santa Clara, CA". NASA. 2010-08-13. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  2. ^ a b Boyle, Rebecca (2012-06-25). "At SETIcon 2012: Planetary Spit-Swapping, Dark Energy As a Singularity and Other Bizarro Space Science". Popular Science. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  3. ^ a b Tarter, Jill (2010-08-30). "SETIcon – An Idea Worth Spreading". TED Prize. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  4. ^ "SetIcon 2010 - Part 1: Search for extraterrestrial life close Yahoo". The Silicon Valley experiment. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  5. ^ a b Perlman, David (2010-08-07). "Seekers of alien life gather for SETIcon". SFGate. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  6. ^ "Get set for SETIcon". Astronomy Magazine. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  7. ^ Moskowitz, Clara (2010-08-16). "Proof of aliens could come within 25 years". MSNBC. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  8. ^ "SETIcon II report". setiQuest. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  9. ^ Sterling, Bruce (22 June 2012). "SETIcon". Wired. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  10. ^ Yirka, Bob (25 June 2012). "Alien life searchers conference SETICon 2 held in Santa Clara". Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  11. ^ "The Big Bang Didn't Need God to Start Universe, Researchers Say". Fox News. 25 June 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  12. ^ a b O'Neill, Ian (2012-06-26). "The Universe: No God Required". Discovery News. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  13. ^ "A Law Unto Itself". The Economic Times. 2012-07-03. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  14. ^ Borenstein, Seth (of AP News) (13 February 2015). "Should We Call the Cosmos Seeking ET? Or Is That Risky?". New York Times. Retrieved 14 February 2015. 
  15. ^ Ghosh, Pallab (12 February 2015). "Scientist: 'Try to contact aliens'". BBC News. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  16. ^ Various (13 February 2015). "Statement - Regarding Messaging To Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) / Active Searches For Extraterrestrial Intelligence (Active SETI)". University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 14 February 2015. 
  17. ^ Shostak, Seth (28 March 2015). "Should We Keep a Low Profile in Space?". New York Times. Retrieved 29 March 2015. 

External links[edit]