photo of the month
from randy kato


This has been a month full of circles, both literal and figurative - from hoops and wheels to community and continuity. So when I was searching for an image to feature this month, these "circles" seemed most fitting.

Like eyes gazing skyward, peering to the heavens and beyond, these radio telescopes are searching. They are looking to expand our circle beyond this sphere called Earth. These are just a few of the telescopes in a massive array which is part of the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) program.

What makes this even more interesting is the circle behind the radio telescopes in the desert. The circle you don't see in the photo is the vast community of people just like you and me (perhaps you are/were one of them, I was) who worked together to analyze the enormous amount of data collected by these telescopes. In one of the largest distributed computing efforts ever, SETI allowed anybody to run a free screensaver that would utilize their computer's otherwise idle processor to analyze chunks of raw data and send back the results. Brilliant.

A little background on the photo... it was taken in New Mexico - y'know, home to Roswell and Area 51, and the most alien-obsessed place on the planet. It wasn't until later when I researched it that I realized they were searching for extra-terrestrial intelligence, but then it all made eerie sense.

I was driving through the desert and I saw these shapes in the distance (they're huge and visible from miles away). It took me several minutes to get to them and it wasn't until I was there that I knew what I was seeing, and even then I was still trying to figure it out.


Photo of the Month archive