An Out of this World Evening in New York

On November 13, 2018, AAA President Peter Tagatac and Board member Stanley Fertig attended a SETI Institute event hosted by the New York Explorers Club.  For those of you not familiar with it, the Explorers Club ( is a professional society founded in NYC in 1905 with the goal of promoting scientific exploration and field research.  The club has a long list of achievements by its members, who include Robert Peary, Roald Amundsen, Charles Lindbergh, Sir Edmond Hilary, Tenzing Norgay, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin and a host of others.  Its headquarters are on East 70th Street in Manhattan.

Photo by: Stanley Fertig

The SETI Institute, based in Mountain View, CA was founded in 1984 as a nonprofit organization with the mission to “explore, understand and explain the origin and nature of life in the universe and the evolution of intelligence.”  The most well-known Institute member is astronomer and co-founder Jill Tartar, who served as the model for Jody Foster’s character in the film Contact.  Today the Institute employs over 130 researchers, scientists and staff, and is a key contractor to NASA and the National Science Foundation.  Their research goes beyond the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (“SETI”) to encompass research in astrobiology, astronomy, astrophysics, climate science, exoplanets and planetary exploration.

Photo by: Stanley Fertig

The evening’s festivities included a presentation by graduate student Akshay Khotakonda of a new Bio-Suit developed for future space exploration at MIT by professor and SETI Institute trustee Dava Newman, followed by an introduction to the Institute’s work by President and CEO Bill Diamond.

The purpose of the event was to announce the opening of a NYC SETI Institute Ambassadors program.  The Institute is looking for individuals willing to serve as local representatives, who would provide input on opportunities in the NY metropolitan area which could advance its mission, attend and invite others to local events, and generally participate in the goals, values and mission of the Institute.  SETI NYC ambassadors would also have the opportunity to communicate directly with SETI researchers and scientists, and join a variety of the organization’s expeditions and experiences.  Those interested can find more information on the organization’s website: