IAN KIRKWOOD: Search for intelligence life

CRITICS of the national broadband network are sometimes heard to say that we don’t need all of that expensive technology just so people can look at movies of things that earlier generations bought in brown paper bags from under the newsagent’s counter.

This, of course, is an outrageous simplification.

Much of the internet is a porn-free zone.

This is the area given over to aliens and conspiracy theories about JFK, Roswell and Pine Gap, and why climate change has more to do with the shifting of the earth’s magnetic poles and tiny pin-prick holes in the atmosphere than with the combustion of vast amounts of fossil fuels.

I was moved to think about this after reading the obituary of NASA scientist John Billingham, who has died at the age of 83 in California. Dr Billingham, an Englishman with an Oxford medical degree, was one of the people in the 1970s who helped convince the United States government to spend money on scouring the universe for signs of intelligent Dr Billingham‘s quest – the “search for extraterrestrial intelligence” or

To believe in UFOs – or to claim to have seen one, as I believe I have done – is to invite ridicule. To say I have seen four – one as a child, three as an adult – is to invite the nodding smiles and the knowing winks.

Sure you have, Ian.

Yet despite this public turning away from UFOs as a topic of polite conversation, the internet is very much alive with UFOlogy, showing that plenty of people remain interested in the skies around them, regardless of the lack of mainstream recognition.

But back to Dr Billingham in the SETI

Ian Kirkwood - The Herald