Why There’s No Place Like Home Dad pulls a scroll of paper from one of the dozens of crumpling boxes stacked in a chilly warehouse near Santa Cruz, Calif. He gently unrolls it, and a familiar reddish ink pattern appears on the delicate grid. “Ah,” he says. “This is Ozma.” The scroll my father, Frank Drake, is holding is more than a half-century old. It’s part of the data he collected during an experiment known as Project Ozma. Named after a character in L. Frank Baum’s Oz series, the project was the first scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligent life. From April to July, 1960, astronomers in Green Bank, West Virginia monitored two nearby, sun-like stars for artificial radio signals—signs that an interstellar intelligence inhabited Earth’s starry skies, that humans were not adrift in an incessantly quiet cosmic ocean. The entire endeavor cost $2,000.
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