Posts by Category


ETI does not exist

9 minute read

In a paper in 1980 [1], mathematical physicist Frank Tipler presented his argument that if extraterrestrial intelligent beings exist they would already be in...

Technosignatures literature roundup

5 minute read

Reviewing the literature is an important part of the research process. It gives you a deeper knowledge of the field and prevents you re-inventing the wheel. ...

Rationale for the water hole

6 minute read

Searching the ‘water hole’ for extraterrestrial signals had already been proposed nearly a decade earlier as a result of the 1971 Cyclops Project [1] but in ...

The Arecibo message of November, 1974

4 minute read

In 1974, the Arecibo Observatory became capable of transmitting radio signals at a maximum effective power that was twenty times the combined power of all po...

Why are extraterrestrials not on Earth?

5 minute read

After a series of papers on searching for communication signals from extraterrestrial civilisations [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9], Michael Hart at NCAR in Boulder, Col...

Project Cyclops - Part II

17 minute read

This is my second post on Project Cyclops, a NASA study from 1971 that proposed a system for detecting extraterrestrial intelligence. These are my notes from...

Project Cyclops - Part I

25 minute read

The Cyclops study was a 1971 Summer Faulty Fellowship Program in Engineering Systems Design, funded by NASA in cooperation with the American Society for Engi...

Waiting times and longevity

6 minute read

Around the same time as several other papers proposing how best to conduct a search for extraterrrestrial intelligence [1,2,3,4,5], Sebastian von Hoerner pub...

The Drake equation

9 minute read

Following the first formal proposal in 1959 by Cocconi and Morrison [1] that humanity was capable of detecting interstellar communications from other intelli...

Interstellar communications by optical masers

3 minute read

In 1961, a paper published in Nature by Schwartz and Townes [1] was the first to propose that extraterrestrial intelligence may use an optical beam for commu...

Dyson spheres

4 minute read

I am currently reading the earliest SETI papers to get a better understanding of the core ideas in the field and how these have evolved. These are my notes o...

Project Ozma

3 minute read

In 1960, Frank Drake carried out the first experiment to detect radio signals from from an extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) based on a strategy proposed b...

The search for interstellar communications

4 minute read

One of the first papers on the search for exoplanet technosignatures was published in Nature in 1959 by Cocconi and Morrison [1]. The authors assume that the...

Back to Top ↑


How to use jekyll-scholar with GitHub Pages

4 minute read

Jekyll-scholar is a plugin that generates bibliographies and in-text citations, formatted according to any one of hundreds of citation styles. Getting it to ...

How to set up a GitHub pages website on a Mac

3 minute read

First things first. Getting started with open research involves choosing and setting up a way to share your work. I have previously created several websites...

Back to Top ↑


AI misuse: pathogenic DNA

1 minute read

Biotechnology has now advanced to the stage where it is not only possible to synthesise a DNA sequence of your choice in the lab, but to mail-order it from c...

Exoplanet biosignatures

6 minute read

In the last few decades we have discovered that Earth-like planets are common around other stars and many of these planets are likely to be habitable, i.e. o...

Recognising AI sentience

6 minute read

Right now the most advanced artificial intelligence is unaware of its existence and has no capacity to feel anything. It is based purely on a series of matri...


6 minute read

Technosignatures are signals that indicate the existence of technology (i.e. artifacts created from the practical application of scientific knowledge) – eith...

AI for decoding non-human languages

5 minute read

A.I. has become incredibly powerful for translating human languages. Could it be used to glean information from non-human languages? The impact of understand...

Back to Top ↑


How to choose a research topic

13 minute read

For most of my academic career, my choice of research topic was driven by curiosity, some sort of “gut feeling”, and a desire to make a difference, discover ...

Back to Top ↑


Welcome to my open research site!

3 minute read

Welcome to my open research site! My name is Gemma Danks and I have a background in academic research (13 yrs) and tech consulting (5 yrs and counting). Th...

Back to Top ↑