alienBay seniors who suspect that “Closer Encounters of the Third Kind” was not a piece of fiction will find like-minded comrades at the SETI (Search for Extraterrestiral Intelligence) Institute in Mountain View. Founded in 1984, the scientists here use both radio and optical telescopes to investigate any signs of habitability in distant galaxies. There is nothing crackpot about their research, having involved cosmic luminaries such as Carl Sagan and a number of Nobel laureates and funded by folks like Paul Allen and Nathan Myhrvold. For $20 a month you can become a member and attend various lectures and demonstrations. Visitors are also welcome at their AllenTelescope Array in Shasta County.

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