The Cyclops Report, otherwise known as "The SETI Bible", is the document that
has been mainly responsible for the distortion of this planet's SETI activities over
nearly three decades. Even though Dr. Robert Dixon, the leader of the Ohio State
SETI Group had participated in the writing of this report (see above), Bob did not bring
the Cyclops Report to my attention during that first summer of my OSETI activities as a
new "volunteer" with his Big Ear SETI Group. I actually got to see the
Cyclops Report for the first time when I received a copy of this report in November 1990,
from the great man himself, Dr. Barney Oliver. Barney was the principal author of
the report. Only then was the mystery solved as to the reason that American SETI had
so ignored the optical approach to the subject. Paradoxically, just when the Cyclops
Report was making the case that the immerging technology of photonics had no place in
SETI, other than as a means to convey radio signals from microwave dishes to the control
room, this author was deciding to embark on a career in photonics.
For it was clear to me that "optoelectronics" was the wave of the future.
It's a great pity that others hadn't seen the light then. Of course, earlier
on, I could have made other choices for a career and gone into astrophysics directly,
rather than taking up electronics which was my main hobby as a kid.
It is unfortunate that "scientific knowledge" and "logic" did not
win out sooner and only now has it become publicly apparent that "the emperor had no
clothes". Out of respect and influence as "the official NASA voice of
SETI", even many of the big names in SETI and astronomy did not want to upset Barney.
He who is not human may be without error but there is no shame for us humans to be
in error. What is understandable but less excusable is for others to have covered up
this error for so long. I leave it as an exercise for those who write popular books
on SETI and the History of Electromagnetic SETI, to discover who they were. Since
the turn-around of the mainstream SETI community last summer, there have been some attempts at revisionist history - if only to hide their
embarrassment. My reaction has been to beef up this Web site with materials from
the COSETI archives, to ensure that the historical record is not distorted and that
pioneers, like Monte Ross, get due recognition for their
contributions to the debate. Frankly, too much time was spent piddling around the
so-called "waterhole" and it's long past time to get out a bit. Still, in
the great scheme of things, although 30 years is a substantial fraction of the working
life of a SETI researcher, it is but a drop in the bucket along the scientific road.
It is nice to be vindicated, but real vindication will have to
await the first confirmed discovery of an optical ETI signal. Of course, this is
vindication for Charles Townes too. If I have done
something to hasten the day when it is discovered that "we are not alone", then
this nine year voyage has been worthwhile. Along the way, this sometimes lonely road
has been enlightened by moral support from the likes of, Sir Arthur
C.Clarke and Professor John Kraus (featured in the June 1999 issue of Astronomy Magazine).
Anyway, this is not the end of my voyage of discovery -- it's just the beginning. .
. . So join the OSETI bandwagon and see you at SPIE's OSETI
III Conference in February 2001 on the 40th anniversary of Optical SETI.
May 1, 1999