Bob McDonald, the science guy at Canada’s government broadcaster, CBC, critiques (April 28, 2011) the spending on the Royal Wedding, contrasting it with the small amount required to keep the recently defunded, 50-year-old Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program going:
… Until recently, their efforts had been hampered by the fact that they had to beg for borrowed time on telescopes, when they weren’t being used for other research. But thanks, in part, to the generosity of Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, the Institute finally got its own instrument — an array of 40 telescopes, each six metres in diameter, set in the desert 300 kilometres north of San Francisco. But building a telescope is only the first part of the story; it takes funds to operate it every year, and that’s where they’ve come up short.According to the organizers, the array needs $2 to $3 million US a year to operate continuously, and they would need an additional sum to analyze the mountains of data streaming down from the Kepler Telescope, which has found more than a thousand candidates for worlds orbiting other stars. That’s about $5 million in total, which works out to just 1.6 cents per person in the United States.
Comments especially solicited from American readers: Is SETI worth it?
Meanwhile, rube shouts in: If SETI is so important, why don’t volunteers keep it going?