The Seti Institute How the group try to imagine the unimaginable

Cover Image - The Seti Institute

Once described as the "Willy Wonka of science," Nelly Ben Hayoun is a force of nature. Whether she's creating dark matter in her kitchen sink, or organizing NASA employees into an orchestra, she doesn't let anything get in her way.

To mark her We Can Do It Campaign, Nelly introduced us to a set of creatives who reflect her can-do attitude.

The Creative Class #8 - Jill Tarter

Nelly Ben Hayoun’s We Can Do It campaign is about going above and beyond, and the SETI Institute is a perfect reflection of those ambitious values. Dedicated to the “Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence” (hence the name), SETI’s teams focus on education, public programmes and actually searching for signs of life beyond our planet.

So whether it’s exploring under an Arctic glacier, or studying highly detailed models of the surface of Mars, its researchers are engaged in trying to answer some of humanity’s most fundamental questions.

Last year, we spoke to SETI’s Jill Tarter as part of our Creative Class video series, and she explained how the institute’s work combines creative technological and existential questions. “How do you imagine the unimaginable?” she asked. How do we think in terms of technologies that we haven’t invented but that other intelligent life forms might be using?

Above all, SETI, just like the We Can Do It campaign, is about working together towards a greater goal. As Jill put it: “If we could change the way people around the world thought about who they are and how they fit in… we could do a lot of creative things in terms of solving the problems and reducing the tensions among nations and among individuals.”

And right now, we can all contribute directly to this mission, as SETI is bidding to raise $50,000 to help fund its work, and continue its life-affirming (in every way) work.