Read this article and then, from the list A-G below, choose the most appropriate heading to summarise each of the five paragraphs. Two of the suggested paragraph headings will not apply.
A Success guaranteed?
B Positive signals already
C Are We more intelligent than Them?
D Constellation Orion most likely
E A $100 million gamble?
F Data constantly to be analysed
G A historic day
Earth Calling Space: 'Is There Anyone Out There?'
October 12, 1992 might turn out to be one of the great days in the history of mankind. If the search begun on that day is successful, it could herald a new era — or it could be the beginning of the end for the earth and its inhabitants.
That was the day on which the US space agency NASA launched a major new search for alien civilisations in space by aiming two powerful radio telescopes towards a small star in the constellation of Ophiuchus. It is a search which is planned to last thirty years at a total cost of $100 million.
This is not the first time astronomers have searched the skies for signs of intelligent life, but it is certainly the most ambitious. Using two telescopes, NASA scientists are planning to scan the skies for any signs of life `out there'. While one enormous telescope at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico will be trained on 1,000 nearby stars, another will search the rest of the sky. Data gathered from both sources will then be collected and analysed, and scientists will monitor the whole experiment as it progresses.
Scientists have high hopes of succeeding. The telescopes they are using will apparently only detect signals deliberately broadcast by alien intelligence. Our own galaxy alone, the Milky Way, contains 10 billion stars which might support habitable planets. And if life has evolved on only one in a thousand of these, there would be, according to scientists, 10 million civilisations within 130,000 light years.
That seems an enormous number, so if that is the case, why is it that we haven't picked up any 'Is there anyone out there?' messages ourselves from one of those 10 million civilisations? Science-fiction writers through the ages have nearly always assumed that extra-terrestrial civilisations would be more intelligent than our own. But if they're out there, are they?
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