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Another look at "WOW"

Bio-astronomy 2002 Hamilton Island Queensland Australia

Bio-Astronomy Conference  2002

July 8 ~ 12, 2002 was the month for the IAU Symposium 213 Bio-astronomy "Life Among The Stars" held on Hamilton Island Great Barrier Reef Australia. The attendees list reads like a "whose who" of the scientific community. Several of our members attended the five day conference and mixed with some of the most respected scientists that are recognized leaders in planetary science research.

The subjects discussed at the symposium include Astronomy, Biology, Geology, Sociology and even archaeology. For a full list of the topics covered at the conference you can click here for more details. Harrison Schmidt, famous Apollo 17 Geologist, opened the conference with a talk about the moon and his experiences there. This picture at right is sunrise Hamilton Island on the morning of the first day.

Noel Welstead managed to get a photo with Harrison and was able to ask some questions about the moon that he had saved up for such an occasion. Here Harrison and Noel pose together in front of a moon (golf) Buggy.

Hamilton Island Is a beautiful resort located on the coast of Northern Queensland Australia. The island is part of the Whitsunday group that is just an hours boat ride from the Great Barrier Reef one of the great natural wonders of the world.

Two Bruno Award winners compare notes on their respective Seti roles, Kent a signal processing expert and Noel, a computer hardware expert. Kent Cullers from the Seti Institute in California (at left) was the first recipient of the Seti Leagues Bruno Award. He is also the real living person portrayed in the Film CONTACT which stared Jodie Foster.

David Brodrick (left) from the CSIRO's Narrabri radio observatory (ATNF) shows his 20mhz radio interferometer to two very interested attendees after the conference gala banquet. The computer is displaying the signals received from the 4 antennas mounted above the beach a few metres away.

Geoff Marcy, planet hunter extraordinaire, shows off one of his portable diffraction gratings. He carries a bag of these around everywhere he goes just in case he gets a clear night and needs to find some more planets. Geoff and his team of astronomers, although not the first to discover an extra solar planet, are credited to have discovered more than anybody else. An announcement was made at the conference of a Jupiter size planet orbiting in a Jupiter like orbit around the star 55 Cancri.

Professor John Caldwell tries his hand at driving the Lunar Buggy when no one was looking. John hung out with us Seti guys after hours and managed to understand the Ozzie accent well enough to understand our humour. Even though John is originally from Canada, he still sounds a bit like he's American. John is credited with discovering the processes that predicts the way the atmosphere on Saturn's moon Titan behaves.

Three Seti League members take time out for a photograph. At left is Allen Tough who actively advocated the search for interstellar probes in our own solar system. Allen also has a web page that invites E.T. to make contact. Also at centre is Noel Welstead and Mario Zadnik to the right. Allen also chaired a discussion group that included Paul Davies, Ray Norris, Seth Shostak and Carol Oliver.

A table of heavy weights. These seven individuals represent the cross symposia panel discussion held the first night of the conference. Starting from the left is Everett Gibson, Paul Davies, Jill Tarter, Ray Norris, Chris Chyba, Baruch Blumberg, Harrison Schmidt. The discussion was lively and very interesting.

Dr Wayne Thresher from New Zealand poses on the hill overlooking the resort after a strenuous hike up the mountain. The view was worth the trouble as you can see. Wayne is on our scientific advisory panel and is interested in how life got started. He presented a poster at the conference titled "Life Surfaces" that attracted the attention of other like minded scientists who also presented their works at the poster session.  


Professor Geoff Barnes who shared a room with Wayne and Noel surveys the four antenna array erected by David Broderick and Tim Kennedy on the beach. Geoff is interested in doing a similar experiment at Massey University in New Zealand where he works.

One of the very interesting papers presented at the conference came from Martin Van Kranendonk who is from the Western Australian Geophysical Survey Dept. This talk was about the fossil life that has been found at the Warrawoona Group formations that have been dated between 3.43 and 3.49 Billion years ago. These formations clearly show that Stromatolites existed at that time and appear to have been well developed at this stage of the evolution of life on planet Earth. The picture at right is some of these fossils and the interest that the conference attendees had in looking at them.

After hours the conference attendees spent time relaxing and discussing the days work. Some of the wife's and partners also came along to enjoy the wonderful surroundings and atmosphere provided at the resort. This snap shows an impromptu meeting in the lounge bar where we could all relax. From left to right are Erkki Helo (Uni of Helsinki), Rose Roach (Uni NSW/ CSIRO), David Brodrick (CSIRO ATNF), Tim Kennedy (CSIRO ATNF), Prof Geoff Barnes (Massey University N.Z), Tim's partner Sue. The discussions were as hard as the Drinks and much science was postulated at these sessions.

The Seti Institute was well represented at the conference. Starting from left is Kent Cullers, Dr John Dreher and Doug Vakoch (right). Doug Vakoch specializes in the sociological effects of communicating with another civilization and it's effects on humanity and Dr John Dreher is project scientist for the Allen Telescope Array. All three members of the Seti Institutes team who attended the conference gave very informative lectures.


Lots More Pix to come so please look back from time to time as we will do regular updates on this page.