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  • Dirk Schulze-Makuch

News from The German SETI Workshop

Be Prepared for Alien Contact


Searching the skies for alien life. (Image from Donald Giannatti on Unsplash.com)

At a one-day workshop held at the Interdisciplinary Research Center for Extraterrestrial Studies (IFEX) in Germany last week, the search for extraterrestrial life and its possible consequences was center-stage. The meeting featured several members of the Research Network Extraterrestrial Intelligence.


I started the meeting with an update on where we are with the search for extraterrestrial life. The other science-focused talk was by Hakan Kayal from the University of Würzburg, who showcased his efforts to detect anomalies within imagery related to SETI and UAP research. Any unidentified objects remaining from the anomaly investigations will later be the focus of future analytical efforts.


The other talks emphasized the consequences of possible contact with an alien species. Andreas Schwarz from the Technical University Ilmenau suggested that the effect of alien contact on humanity would depend on whether the contact would be in the form of (radio) communication, a recovered artifact, or a visitation. The strongest impact on us would no doubt be the visitation scenario.


Andreas Schwarz’s analysis assumed that if contact occurred, the general scientific community would be aware of it. Andreas Anton from IGPP in Freiburg made the valid point that this would not necessarily be so. He suggested that multiple contacts might have occurred in the past without the general scientific community even noticing. This could easily be the case if a technologically advanced alien species had decided not to reveal itself.

Perhaps, they think we are not ready for contact yet? And if so, we probably shouldn´t fault them, given the latest war in Europe. Rüdiger Vaas made the interesting suggestion to search for alien life by looking for the tell-tale signatures of a nuclear war. The idea of searching for signatures from civilizations that destroyed themselves was detailed a few years ago in a paper by Adam Stevens and his colleagues.


I found it refreshing that the discussion did not shy away from observations of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) – which is in stark contrast to how the SETI Institute in the U.S. deals with them. Many participants felt that the release of UAP data by the Pentagon last year was a game-changer. Based on this development, IFEX now includes research on UAP in its list of objectives, which is a big step for Germany because the country is usually rather conservative when conducting scientific investigations. IFEX could be on the way to eventually developing into a German-type SETI Institute.


Whether (some) UAP sightings are evidence of an alien presence or not, and whether aliens exist or not, the broad consensus of the IFEX workshop was that we should be prepared for alien contact. Too many catastrophes have occurred in humanity’s past because we were unprepared.

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