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Remembering Michael Papagiannis
by Dr. Peter Schenkel (schenkel @

Dr. Michael Papagiannis, one of the great pioneering minds of SETI, is no longer with us. He recently passed away after a prolonged illness.

Michael was a brilliant astronomer, but I remember him mainly as an enthusiastic researcher and supporter of SETI, to which he made many outstanding contributions. He believed that the existence of advanced ETI was very probable and that some day we would achieve contact for the benefit of Mankind. In his many publications on the subject he speculated on their nature and how eventual contact would change our anthropocentric views. He coined the term "bioastronomy" and was the meritorious first editor of Bioastronomy News.

What I most admired in in Michael is that in spite of his high standing in the scientific community he was modest and unpretentious and so humane. He would go out of his ways to understand and help others. I will never forget his kind support in promoting my book ETI: A Challenge for Change. And I know from his wife Elisabeth that he would have loved to write the foreword for The Message from Yon, but had to pass because of his advanced illness.

With his prestigious work, Michael Papagiannis surely left an indelible mark in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. He had a generous open mind and he speculated about the mysteries which the universe still has in store for us and about our ultimate destiny with a passion, vision and magnanimity rare in the field. Though the deplorable Cold-War period dampened his outlook, he was optimistic about the ultimate triumph of reason to vanquish our destructive tendencies and our capability to spread consciousness beyond our solar system.

I am sure that all those, who were lucky to have known Michael Papagiannis closer, will feel sad that he is gone. We will all miss him. But he left a lot behind him, something to keep working on. He will not be forgotten.

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