Aug 11, 2011

Life Imitates Art: Jodie Foster Saves SETI

Contact is one of my favorite books of all time, and upon reflection I'm actually astounded that I don't own a copy.  (As I recall, I first read a library copy.)  Ellie Arroway is a fantastic protagonist, one with whom I've always felt a certain ideological kinship.  While the movie falls a bit short of Carl Sagan's original brilliance, Zemeckis hits all the major beats and Jodie Foster gives an adorably bullheaded performance.  Moreover, I love the way the film paints SETI as a scrappy group of misfits in search of the ultimate discovery, almost reveling in the fact that no one takes them seriously.

Thus I'm overjoyed to hear that SETI recently hit their goal of raising $200,000 in order to keep the Allen Telescope Array operating through the end of this year.  One of their major contributors?  None other than Miss Jodie Foster, who sent a corresponding note saying that SETI was "good to go."

The Allen array, founded by and named after Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, was forced to shut down this past April due to lack of funds.  Over 2,000 individual donors answered the call to arms, including Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders, who also included a note with possibly my favorite line in the history of SETI:
"It is absolutely irresponsible of the human race not to be searching for evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence."  
I love it!  He's like a space drill instructor.  How's that for a slice of fried gold?

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