On The Subject Of The Next Album

jansky_single template cover

No rest for the wicked.

Today I’m pleased to announce that I’ve begun work on my second album hot on the heels of my first which was released on October 29th and is available on iTunes.

About this new album:

This is a concept album project that I’ve had in mind to do for a number of years and it’s about SETI – the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence and the work they do is exactly what their name implies: they use radio telescopes to scan the skies for evidence of alien radio/television broadcasts floating around the galaxy, much like our own radio/television broadcasts have been leaking out into space for the last 70 years that any alien civilization (within the 70 light-year bubble of radio signals originating from our planet) with the right receiver technology can pick up.

The concept is as old as radio itself when in 1896 Nikolai Tesla suggested that radio could be used to talk to intelligent extraterrestrial civilizations in our galaxy – and he was quite correct.

The United States government was so enamored with the idea of receiving radio transmissions from space that on August 21–23, 1924, Mars entered an opposition closer to Earth than any time in a century before or since. A “National Radio Silence Day” was promoted in the US during a 36-hour period from the 21–23, with all radios quiet for five minutes on the hour, every hour.

At the United States Naval Observatory, a radio receiver was lifted 3 kilometers above the ground in a dirigible tuned to a wavelength between 8 and 9 kilometers, using a “radio-camera” developed by Amherst College and Charles Francis Jenkins.

The program was led by David Peck Todd with the military assistance of Admiral Edward W. Eberle (Chief of Naval Operations), with William F. Friedman (chief cryptographer of the US Army), assigned to translate any potential Martian messages.

A 1959 paper by Philip Morrison and Giuseppe Cocconi first pointed out the possibility of searching the microwave spectrum, and proposed frequencies and a set of initial targets.

n 1960, Cornell University astronomer Frank Drake performed the first modern SETI experiment, named “Project Ozma”, after the Queen of Oz in L. Frank Baum’s fantasy books.  Drake used a radio telescope 26 meters in diameter at Green Bank, West Virginia, to examine the stars Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani near the 1.420 gigahertz marker frequency, a region of the radio spectrum dubbed the “water hole” due to its proximity to the hydrogen and hydroxyl radical spectral lines. A 400 kilohertz band was scanned around the marker frequency, using a single-channel receiver with a bandwidth of 100 hertz. The information was stored on tape for off-line analysis. He found nothing of great interest, but has continued a pro-active involvement in the search for life beyond Earth for 50 years.

In those 50 years, however, no signs of alien broadcasts have been found and not for lack of trying. Technological and budgetary constraints have plagued SETI for years as the experiments they’ve tried to do were hampered by both a lack of time on radio telescopes and money to fund the project.

There are 400 billion stars in the galaxy and literally billions of radio frequencies in the spectrum that have to be listened to in order to achieve any degree of success finding an intelligent, radio-capable civilization. So far SETI has only been able to listen on a very narrow slice of the radio band in an even narrower slice of the sky with the existing equipment they do have.

Congress did agree to fund the project for 10 years in 1992 but the program was defunded and switched off a year later. Since then, SETI has had to survive on private donations.

And that’s where I’d like to help.

I often wish I could just back up a dump truck to SETI’s front porch and unload a pile of cash that could enable them to do the experiment properly for as long as they need to do it but, unfortunately, I don’t have that kind of money.

I can, however, do the next best thing.

For every dollar I make off this album I will donate half the proceeds of the sale to SETI and thanks to you, the listeners, you’ll be both supporting an independent artist and contributing to the advancement of humanity’s understanding of the universe.

On an interesting side note, part of my wish list in completing this album is to actually get the key scientists at SETI to make an appearance on this album, including the Grand Poobah himself – Frank Drake.

The idea is to have them speak on various aspects of SETI throughout the album to tell the story of SETI. No, guys, you won’t have to take any crash music lessons for this one (unless you can actually play a musical instrument, in which case I’m certainly open to the idea of having any of you contribute music to the work).

Well, SETI, if you’re interested – drop me a line here.

In the meantime, I leave you all with the first single off the new album “Jansky”.

PS The title of the new album will be “SETI – The Great Day”.

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