small logo Editorial

QST Award Bodes Well for SETI
by Dr. H. Paul Shuch, Executive Director

I have just learned that my article 2001: A Moonbounce Odyssey, which appeared in the November issue of QST magazine, has been awarded that journal's Cover Plaque award as the most popular article of the month. The Cover Plaque award is voted monthly by members of the American Radio Relay League, as a way of honoring the best article in each issue of QST, the ARRL's monthly journal. Although I am gratified by the favorable response to my article, this honor says far more about public acceptance of SETI than it does about my literary talents.

Up until the formation of The SETI League in 1994, SETI was generally believed to be too costly, too complex, and too challenging for amateurs. In the past seven years, we have showed the world that this is no longer the case. In fact, most amateur SETIzens contend, the search is just too important to be left to the professionals!

But acceptance of our mission by the world's radio amateurs has been slow in coming. My 1995 QST article, "SETI Made Simple," was met with healthy skepticism. Just a year ago, we saw a letter in QST titled "SETI is not Amateur Radio." (We SETI league members are indebted to Richard W. Wilson, W5ETI, for his eloquent editorial rebuttal, "SETI Is Amateur Radio.") And, to this day, I receive letters from radio amateurs and professional astronomers alike, belittling our "toy" telescopes and calling our search a "waste of time and money."

For most of us in The SETI League, our SETI activities are a hobby. Isn't "waste of time and money" the very definition of a hobby? I am proud to call myself an amateur, because the root of the word is the Latin for love. Does the fact we do something for love, rather than for financial gain, mean we do it any less professionally than the professionals? I think not.

And, apparently, other amateurs agree with me. In November 2001, the readers of QST (amateurs all) voted a SETI article the best of the month. Now, even if all 1288 SETI League members worldwide were ARRL members (they certainly are not), and even if they all voted for my article in the Cover Plaque competition (they certainly did not), there would not have been enough votes to confer the present honor upon us. Thus, I conclude that a sizeable number of radio amateurs, most of whom are not SETI League members, consider our efforts credible, laudable, and worthwhile . That is the message which this honor conveys, and one of which all SETI League members can be justifiably proud.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in editorials are those of the individual authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of The SETI League, Inc., its Trustees, officers, Advisory Board, members, donors, or commercial sponsors.

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