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Are we alone?

Are we alone? The search for extra-terrestrial intelligence is coming to Dunedin.

A world leading expert on the search for extra-terrestrial life, Dr Jill Tarter of the SETI Institute (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) will be the first keynote guest for the 2006 New Zealand International Science Festival.

Dr Jill Tarter leads the Centre for SETI Research at the SETI Institute, a private nonprofit organization based in California, USA, whose mission is to explore, understand and explain the origin, nature and prevalence of life in the universe.

Dr Tarter says she is looking forward to the chance to visit New Zealand and talk about her work with great expectation and excitement.

She is currently working on the Allen Telescope Array, a major joint project between the SETI Institute and the University of California Berkeley Radio Astronomy Laboratory. The project is named for a major donor, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

"The Allen Telescope Array will be carrying out cutting edge radioastronomy and SETI work 24/7, with 350 antennas, each 6 metres across."

Dr Tarter is committed to inspiring young people about science.

"We've taken on an enormous project, and I may not finish it in my lifetime, so we need to encourage those who are going to do the work in the future."

She says that young girls especially need encouragement in the sciences, to offset cultural negatives.

In 2004 Time Magazine named Jill Tarter as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, and in 2005 she was awarded the Carl Sagan Prize for Science Popularization at Wonderfest, the biannual San Francisco Bay Area Festival of Science.

Jill Tarter's keynote address takes place on Saturday 1 July, St David Street Lecture Theatre, University of Otago starting at 7.30pm.

For movie buffs, the film "Contact" will be screened before her keynote address. The film "Contact" was inspired by the work of SETI.

On Sunday 2 July, the New Zealand International Science Festival brings Dr Tarter to Gore for a one-off visit to talk about her role at SETI and
what she has discovered.

SETI is beamed "live" to Central Otago on Monday 3 July at 1pm when the public can talk with Dr Tarter via a video-conference to various Central
Otago locations.

Dr Jill Tarter is brought to New Zealand in conjunction with the United States Embassy in Wellington.

Tickets for the festival are now on sale from the New Zealand International Science Festival office.

For tickets or a copy of the programme contact the festival office, telephone 0800 SCIFEST or go to the website

To find out more about SETI go to


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