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Where Are the Extraterrestrials? A Question That Requires Cannabis

February 24, 2017
The mood in the Melrose Market was tentative and excited. The atmosphere in the high ceilinged room was underpinned by space-age sounds that radiated from a synthesizer just out of view. Here, at Higher Education, the Who’s Who of the cannabis industry gathered, sitting or standing amongst an enclave of friends and associates, eager to indulge in a collective sense of mystery and wonderment congregated under a single roof.

Higher Education, for those who don’t know, is a lecture series designed around commonly held curiosities and subjects of interest. These talks are hosted by The Goodship Company, a Seattle-based cannabis-infused edible producer, and they seek to change the way we think about what we do when we consume cannabis. This elevation of cannabis culture was accessible, digestible (rim shot), and designed so anyone can explore a heightened state of mind with the aid of fascinating speakers, writing materials, and quality libations.


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This lecture was the first of 2017, entitled Seth Shostak on “Where Are the Extraterrestrials?”

Wondering about life is part of the human condition. Whether exemplified by our inclination to empathize with animals or in the casual search for aliens while stargazing, man has sought and continues to seek an understanding of life beyond himself. SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, is one of the few agencies combing the sky for signs of life beyond Earth. To some, this subject is taboo or nonsense, like ghosts and Sasquatch, but to others, the search for extraterrestrial life is the search for the most important human discovery conceivable.

Where Are the Extraterrestrials?

Mt Hamilton Observatory

SETI’s Senior Astronomer Seth Shostak strode eagerly across the floor as he debunked the Roswell alien crash site. Imagine driving your car across the country and crashing into your garage door. A roar of laugher erupted from the crowd. This Higher Education lecture was turning out to be exuberant and comical while revealing some of the core beliefs behind a deftly pragmatic search for life beyond our solar system.

For instance, Shostak believes that if life is reaching out to us, the likelihood is that it will do so in the form of artificial intelligence, i.e. a robotic probe. This supposition was based on the problems we “squishy humans” contend with when considering the habitability challenges of long distance space travel. Naturally, a lifeless, intelligent machine broadcasting a jolly ol’ howdy-do would go faster and further toward touching parts of space beyond the reach of organic life.


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That is why SETI and other SETI-focused radio telescope arrays have been constructed in the last half-century. Coincidently, Seattle’s own Paul Allen helped fund the One Hectare Telescope (1HT), currently known as the Allan Telescope Array. This telescope array is under construction and consists of 42 dishes arranged at the Hat Creek Radio Observatory in California. This is only one of several radio arrays around the world, including the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) in the Netherlands, the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) in Australia, and the Lovell Telescope in the United Kingdom.

Questions from the Crowd

Hands Up

Dr. Shostak took questions from members of the audience (some more stoned than others) at the end of the lecture.

One attendee asked, “If the SETI Institute received NASAs funding, how would the search for extraterrestrial intelligence be improved?” Seth quickly retorted with something like, “Well, first, building a radio telescope array on the moon would solve a lot of our problems. But more dishes is the more reasonable answer.” Apparently, Earth emits a great deal of noise and radio interference, e.g. placing an array in space would decrease interference while optimizing the computational power of the existing technological infrastructure.

So, where are they? The short answer is really, really, really, really, really far away, if they are out there. But Shostak believes that the rise of AI and machine learning with accelerate their search by an order of magnitude, hopefully leading to a profound discovery within our lifetime.


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Shostak’s animated persona and collection of slick scientific one-liners made him a truly entertaining speaker and an intellectual of the grandest caliber. Stuffy subjects like astronomy and architecture can feel rigid and algebraic, but Higher Education and its formal informality transmits these heady frequencies through a medium of inclusive curiosity and discovery.

This lecture, if anything, was an embodiment of that sentiment, echoing ever so slightly the sense of heady wonder inherent to cannabis, too. And with seven new, possibility habitable Earth-sized planets discovered only 40 lightyears away (approximately 235 trillion miles from Earth), which in relationship to the size of our galaxy, is in our backyard; who knows, intelligent life could be out there, puffing on space cannabis, gazing up into the sparkling, inky cosmos, wondering, like we wonder, is anyone out there?

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Jeremiah Wilhelm

Jeremiah Wilhelm is a former strain researcher at Leafly.

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  • Mark

    This will sound crazy, I know. Every time I go outside to have a smoke I look up at the sky. You dont have to go to the cosmos to see UFO’s. In the Buffalo, New York suburbs, you can look up and see them all the time at sundown and later. I got the neighbors where I live seeing them too. They call them “Cloud Dancers”. There will b a slightly yellowish color disk shaped star like object and a tiny one nearby always. Those tiny ones we call student drivers learning. Thats just what it looks like. You need to WATCH FOR AWHILE and they’ll move in all different directions- move like lightning! They stay within a perimeter, I think b cause they dont want the attention. If its densely cloudy, you wont see them, if its slightly cloudy, all you’ll see is pretty much them moving around(I say them because there’s multiples at a time to see), if its REAL clear its hard to distinguish because Of all the other REAL stars. I have been thinking of calling one of our TV stations to come and record them. A little hesatant b cause they’ll think i’m crazy. If I could get a good camera that is real light sensative, I could do it. Unfortunately I don’t have 1. This is no shit people! Its 4 real!! Also- i’m NOT crazy or high. I would like to know if anyone else has seen these. Most people don’t want to take the time to look. But I have quite a few that saw them with me. Anybody???

  • Mark

    I tryed to b 1st! What happened to it??

  • Mark

    My UFO Discussion I mean.

  • Che Bene’

    As Earth humanoids we have no idea what we might be dealing with concerning ETs but considering human history, every meeting between more technologically advanced races and peoples with lesser technology has resulted in the total conquest (and often extinction) of the lesser advanced races.

    I consider those who are involved with SETI to be suicidally naive and as such, a danger to the human race as a whole. Although, looking at the human record, the cosmos may well be better off without us anyway.

  • Mark

    Che Bene’- I wrote about my own experiance but it was deleted. Anyway Your right on with your synopses on the subject except the suicidal thing. I see these UFO’s almost daily. No i’m not a nut job! I just wish I could get someone over here with a camera that see’s dim light. I cant explain. It’s a “have to see for yourself” thing. They are real and I believe our governments know about and “talk” to them regularly. Our technology is growing leaps all of a sudden. You or anyone would love to see these UFO’s. I had around $4000.00 worth of telescopic equipment and sold it because it was worthless to try and capture these on camera. They’re VERY quick. On a slightly cloudy night is best to see the “Cloud Dancers” in action. Especially when an airplane goes by them. They react like lightning. Anyway you need o see them. Stare at the “stars” and focus on them for awhile. You’ll b suprised when you see one move around. I can see a dozen at a time. You just have to focus on them for awhile~

    • Che Bene’

      Hello Mark,
      In 70+ years of extensive travel around this earth, I have seen exactly one flying object that was unidentifiable. I’ve been looking for ’em all my life.
      Actually I didn’t “see” it at all. One evening in the early sixties the White Alice Radar System (NORAD) in the Canadian and Alaskan Arctic came alive with a fast moving, high altitude, unidentified “something” entering the atmosphere in very far Northeast Canada heading West.
      Fighter aircraft were scrambled from bases in Alaska but the “object” had already passed into Eastern Siberia where Soviet Union radars picked it up and also scrambled fighters far too late all the way down the center of the USSR..
      Whatever it was – our US Air Force consensus opinion it was a large rock on tour – hauled ass lengthwise right down the center of USSR and left Earth airspace North of Iceland not so far from where the radars first started tracking it.
      Its altitude ranged from approximately 160,000 to 180,000 feet.
      Nobody saw it ‘cept the radars of at least 4 countries. It took about an hour to “slingshot” around Earth – it was movin’!
      I feel pretty certain whatever it was had nothing to do with ET ’cause they didn’t even wave or blink their lights at us.
      It never made any news because none of the countries that saw it wanted any others to know their radars could see that well (or that their fighter defenses were that slow!)
      Good luck, Mark

  • Mark

    This is for Josh 135- Hey. Your following me since I wrote the UFO thing. I dont know if your interested in the subject or watching me to see if i’m leget. I have NO connection with any law enforcement at all! I’m 62 and a head since around 17. I have cronic Crohns disease(thus my searching on here). Also its pretty hard to find someone these days willing to sell to a 62 year old man. They think your a narc or something. But anyway i’m an old guy /hippie. You can see my facebook page if u like. Got some great stuff on there. Check it out. It speaks for itself of my frame of mind. 62 and still immature, Heh,heh,he! see it soon bro cause I switch it up with new stuff all the time. You’ll enjoy it. So what about u? I’d like to hear your story. Se anything good in the sky? Or you just want to follow me? Whatever you want man. I dont mind. – Thanks. Mark