London: Macmillan. 1st Edition. TWO BOUND VOLUMES. FIRST EDITIONS OF BOTH THE SEMINAL 1959 SETI PAPER (the SEARCH FOR EXTRATERRESTRIAL INTELLIGENCE) ADVOCATING THE USE OF MICROWAVE COMMUNICATION (radio signals) FOR INTERSTELLAR COMMUNICATION & the 1961 PAPER SUGGESTING THE USE OF PULSED OPTICAL LASER SIGNALS AS A MEANS OF COMMUNICATION ACROSS INTERSTELLAR DISTANCES. Together “these papers transformed the search for other civilizations from a fantastical, entrepreneurial activity into a branch of mainstream science” (McConnell, Beyond Contact, 11).
The modern SETI era began in 1959 with the publication of the first paper, ’Searching for Interstellar Communications’. “This landmark paper, authored by physicist Philip Morrison and astrophysicist Giuseppe Cocconi, describes the idea of using radio-telescopes to detect weak radio signals from other civilizations. The paper “summarized the technical requirements for transmitting and receiving interstellar radio signals, and remains the blueprint from which most of today’s SETI projects derive” (McConnell, 75).
“The problem of communicating with extraterrestrials is that first there has to be an agreement on a medium, which in the 1950s was radio, and then agreement on a frequency. If it is assumed that Its want to communicate by radio, then the problem of which noise-free frequency out of millions has to be considered. “Cocconi and Morrison proposed a frequency which was based on the rate at which hydrogen atoms emit radiation when the spin axis of the electron orbiting the nucleus flips over from being parallel to the nucleus’s spin to being opposite to it. They argued that the hydrogen frequency ‘has a universal uniqueness, not set by anthropocentric considerations, that fits it as the outstanding choice for potential communicators who have not had the opportunity to reach agreement on a frequency’ (Cocconi and Morrison, 1959, 844 and Lamb, The Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence, 16). Cocconi and Morrison believed that first efforts should be devoted to examining the closest likely stars. Specifically, they proposed a search be made of some of the nearest sun-like stars for signals at or near the 21, -centimeter wavelength of neutral hydrogen.
Two years after Cocconi and Morrison’s paper on microwave communication, American physicists Charles Townes and Robert Schwartz suggest, in the 1961 second paper offered, an alternative method of communication using lasers. Their paper, ’Interstellar and Interplanetary Communication by Optical Masers’, “suggested that an advanced civilization might have become very sophisticated in the use of optical masers rather than in the techniques of short radio waves” (Lamb, 28). Put another way, they argued that alien civilizations could conceivably by using lasers for interstellar communications at optical wavelengths rather than microwaves. At the time, our use of lasers was in its infancy “as opposed to the relative ‘maturity’ of microwave communication, so the area remained unexplored” (Taylor, Explaining SETI, 24 August 2004). Townes and Schwartz’s paper provided a blueprint for optical (laser) communication across interstellar distances. Item #859
CONDITION & DETAILS: Two volumes. London: Macmillan and Co. 4to. 10.5 by 7.5 inches (263 x 188mm). Volume 184: , 1004, . Volume 190: , cvii, , 4. In-text illustrations throughout. Volume 184 has no library markings; Volume 190 has a small stamp on the title page. Uniformly and handsomely rebound in half-calf, gilt-lettered at the spine; tightly and very solidly bound. Five gilt-ruled raised bands at the spine; each compartment gilt tooled. Bright and clean throughout. Near fine condition in every way.