ISME: Interactive SETI Museum Exhibit

(based on the UCB SERENDIP project)

Click here to go to the exhibit. But please read the following first. And as you look at the exhibit, please follow along in the content notes.


If you have problems with the exhibit, please contact David Anderson at the address below.


This is an interactive museum exhibit about SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence). The exhibit is called ISME (interactive SETI museum exhibit).

SETI (not to be confused with UFO-hunting) is a topic of scientific study that seeks to detect life outside the Earth. One subfield of SETI, radio SETI, involves the analysis of radio waves received from outside the solar system. Signals that have narrow frequency bandwidth (like our own television and radar emissions, but unlike the waves emanating from stars and other natural sources) are possible evidence of technology, and therefore life.

SERENDIP is a radio SETI project based at the University of California at Berkeley. SERENDIP uses the radio telescope at Arecibo (Puerto Rico). At 1000' diameter, Arecibo is the largest and the most sensitive radio telescope in the world. SERENDIP processes the telescope signal with a custom supercomputer that breaks down the radio signal into its component frequencies and identifies the spikes (narrow-bandwidth signals) in this spectrum. Further processing (done "off-line", weeks or months later) and reexamination of sources is needed to distinguish possible alien sources from man-made radio interference.

ISME is intended to teach about RADIO SETI. Its shows the radio signal from Arecibo, which is sent, in digital form, through the Internet to the exhibit site. The signal is rendered graphically, as both spectrum and waveform, and as sound. The data is shown in real time, with only a few seconds delay from Arecibo to the exhibit, so the user has the possibility of getting the first glimpse of a signal from other intelligent life.

The technology behind ISME

ISME is based on a PC. It requires a high-resolution monitor and speakers for output, and a pointing device and button for input. A track-ball and button, or mouse, or touchscreen might be used for input. Typically these would be mounted in a kiosk.

ISME has been developed using Web technology. Its static graphics and overall structure are defined in HTML. Its fancier features (sound, animation, network communication) are done using Java.

PC System requirements

Contact Info

For more information about ISME, contact

David Anderson
Blake Systems, Inc.
(510) 649-4708

ISME is a joint project of SERENDIP and Blake Systems Inc., and it may not be used without the agreement of both. Please do not disseminate or link to this URL.