Paul Horowitz

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Paul Horowitz
Paul Horowitz (1986)
Born1942 (age 7677)
Alma mater Harvard University
Known forAuthor, Electrical Engineer, Physicist, SETI
Website Faculty webpage

Paul Horowitz (born 1942) is an American physicist and electrical engineer, known primarily for his work in electronics design, as well as for his role in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (see SETI).

Physics Study of the fundamental properties of matter and energy

Physics is the natural science that studies matter and its motion and behavior through space and time and that studies the related entities of energy and force. Physics is one of the most fundamental scientific disciplines, and its main goal is to understand how the universe behaves.

Electrical engineering field of engineering that deals with electricity

Electrical engineering is a professional engineering discipline that generally deals with the study and application of electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism. This field first became an identifiable occupation in the later half of the 19th century after commercialization of the electric telegraph, the telephone, and electric power distribution and use. Subsequently, broadcasting and recording media made electronics part of daily life. The invention of the transistor, and later the integrated circuit, brought down the cost of electronics to the point they can be used in almost any household object.

Electronics physics, engineering, technology and applications that deal with the emission, flow and control of electrons in vacuum and matter

Electronics comprises the physics, engineering, technology and applications that deal with the emission, flow and control of electrons in vacuum and matter. The identification of the electron in 1897, along with the invention of the vacuum tube, which could amplify and rectify small electrical signals, inaugurated the field of electronics and the electron age.



At age 8, Horowitz achieved distinction as the world's youngest amateur radio operator. He went on to study physics at Harvard University (B.A., 1965; M.A., 1967; Ph.D., 1970), where he has also spent all of his subsequent career. His early work was on scanning microscopy (using both protons and X-rays). Horowitz has also conducted astrophysical research on pulsars and investigations in biophysics. His interest in practical electronics has led to a handful of inventions, including an automated voting machine and an acoustic mechanism for landmine detection. Since 1974 he has taught a practical course in electronics whose lecture notes became one of the best known textbooks in the field: The Art of Electronics (coauthored with Winfield Hill).

Amateur radio operator

An amateur radio operator is someone who uses equipment at an amateur radio station to engage in two-way personal communications with other amateur operators on radio frequencies assigned to the amateur radio service. Amateur radio operators have been granted an amateur radio license by a governmental regulatory authority after passing an examination on applicable regulations, electronics, radio theory, and radio operation. As a component of their license, amateur radio operators are assigned a call sign that they use to identify themselves during communication. There are about three million amateur radio operators worldwide.

Harvard University private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with about 6,700 undergraduate students and about 15,250 post graduate students. Established in 1636 and named for its first benefactor, clergyman John Harvard, Harvard is the United States' oldest institution of higher learning, and its history, influence, and wealth have made it one of the world's most prestigious universities.

A Bachelor of Arts is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, sciences, or both. Bachelor of Arts programs generally take three to four years depending on the country, institution, and specific specializations, majors, or minors. The word baccalaureus should not be confused with baccalaureatus, which refers to the one- to two-year postgraduate Bachelor of Arts with Honors degree in some countries.

Horowitz was one of the pioneers of the search of intelligent life beyond the Earth, and one of the leaders behind SETI. This work has attracted both admiration and criticism. Harvard biologist Ernst Mayr has sharply criticized Horowitz for wasting the resources of the university and the efforts of graduate students on such an endeavour. Carl Sagan provided a strong rebuttal to Mayr's criticism, [1] and pointed out that many eminent biologists and biochemists had endorsed SETI with the statement:

Earth Third planet from the Sun in the Solar System

Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. According to radiometric dating and other sources of evidence, Earth formed over 4.5 billion years ago. Earth's gravity interacts with other objects in space, especially the Sun and the Moon, Earth's only natural satellite. Earth revolves around the Sun in 365.26 days, a period known as an Earth year. During this time, Earth rotates about its axis about 366.26 times.

Ernst Mayr German-American evolutionary biologist

Ernst Walter Mayr was one of the 20th century's leading evolutionary biologists. He was also a renowned taxonomist, tropical explorer, ornithologist, philosopher of biology, and historian of science. His work contributed to the conceptual revolution that led to the modern evolutionary synthesis of Mendelian genetics, systematics, and Darwinian evolution, and to the development of the biological species concept.

Carl Sagan American astrophysicist, cosmologist, author and science educator

Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, author, science popularizer, and science communicator in astronomy and other natural sciences. He is best known for his work as a science popularizer and communicator. His best known scientific contribution is research on extraterrestrial life, including experimental demonstration of the production of amino acids from basic chemicals by radiation. Sagan assembled the first physical messages sent into space: the Pioneer plaque and the Voyager Golden Record, universal messages that could potentially be understood by any extraterrestrial intelligence that might find them. Sagan argued the now accepted hypothesis that the high surface temperatures of Venus can be attributed to and calculated using the greenhouse effect.

We are unanimous in our conviction that the only significant test of the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence is an experimental one. No a priori arguments on this subject can be compelling or should be used as a substitute for an observational program. We urge the organization of a coordinated, worldwide, and systematic search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

Sagan was believed to have based the main character in his novel Contact partly on Horowitz. [3]

<i>Contact</i> (novel) novel by Carl Sagan

Contact is a 1985 science fiction novel by American scientist Carl Sagan. It deals with the theme of contact between humanity and a more technologically advanced, extraterrestrial life form. It ranked No. 7 on the 1985 U.S. bestseller list. The novel originated as a screenplay by Sagan and Ann Druyan in 1979; when development of the film stalled, Sagan decided to convert the stalled film into a novel. The film concept was subsequently revived and eventually released in 1997 as the film Contact starring Jodie Foster.

Horowitz led the META and BETA SETI projects. Horowitz and Sagan reported that, in the course of project META, they had detected 37 signals "which survived all our cuts" and cannot be positively identified. [4] On September 10, 1988 the university's 84-foot radio dish detected "an enormous spike which was 750 times noise. If you converted the radio signal into audio it would sound just like a tone. It would sound like a flute." All 37 signals, however, have been single events which have never been heard again. The software company 37signals has been named after these signals. [5]

Horowitz holds professorial appointments at Harvard in both physics and electrical engineering. He has also served as a member of the JASON Defense Advisory Group. One of his doctoral students, John A. Howell, is now Emeritus Professor of Physics at Earlham College.

Professor academic rank at universities and other post-secondary education and research institutions in most countries

Professor is an academic rank at universities and other post-secondary education and research institutions in most countries. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences, a teacher of the highest rank.

Earlham College

Earlham College is a private liberal arts college in Richmond, Indiana. The college was established in 1847 by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and has a strong focus on Quaker values such as integrity, a commitment to peace and social justice, mutual respect, and community decision-making. It is primarily a residential undergraduate college but it offers a Master of Arts in Teaching and has an affiliated graduate seminary, the Earlham School of Religion, which offers three master's degrees: a Master of Divinity, Master of Ministry, and Master of Arts in Religion.


Horowitz, Paul; Hill, Winfield (1989). The Art of Electronics . Cambridge University Press. ISBN   0-521-37095-7.
Horowitz, Paul; Hill, Winfield (2015). The Art of Electronics (3 ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN   978-0521809269.

Related Research Articles

The Fermi paradox, or Fermi's paradox, named after physicist Enrico Fermi, is the apparent contradiction between the lack of evidence and high probability estimates for the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations. The basic points of the argument, made by physicists Enrico Fermi (1901–1954) and Michael H. Hart, are:

Search for extraterrestrial intelligence effort to find civilizations not from Earth

The search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) is a collective term for scientific searches for intelligent extraterrestrial life, for example, monitoring electromagnetic radiation for signs of transmissions from civilizations on other planets.

Frank Drake American astronomer and astrophysicist

Frank Donald Drake is an American astronomer and astrophysicist. He is involved in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, including the founding of SETI, mounting the first observational attempts at detecting extraterrestrial communications in 1960 in Project Ozma, developing the Drake equation, and as the creator of the Arecibo Message, a digital encoding of an astronomical and biological description of the Earth and its lifeforms for transmission into the cosmos.

The Planetary Society nonprofit organization

The Planetary Society is an American internationally active, non-governmental, nonprofit foundation. It is involved in research, public outreach, and political advocacy for engineering projects related to astronomy, planetary science, and space exploration. It was founded in 1980 by Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray, and Louis Friedman, and has over 50,000 members from more than 100 countries around the world.

Extraterrestrial intelligence refers to hypothetical intelligent extraterrestrial life. The question of whether other inhabited worlds might exist has been debated since ancient times. The modern form of the concept emerged when the Copernican Revolution demonstrated that the Earth was a planet revolving around the Sun, and other planets were conversely, other worlds. The question of whether other inhabited planets or moons exist was a natural consequence of this new understanding. It has become one of the most speculative questions in science and is a central theme of science fiction and popular culture.

Jill Tarter American astronomer

Jill Cornell Tarter is an American astronomer best known for her work on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). Tarter is the former director of the Center for SETI Research, holding the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI at the SETI Institute.

SETI Institute not-for-profit research organization

The SETI Institute is a not-for-profit research organization whose mission is to explore, understand, and explain the origin and nature of life in the universe, and to apply the knowledge gained to inspire and guide present and future generations. It aims for discovery and for sharing knowledge as scientific ambassadors to the public, the press, and the government. SETI stands for the "search for extraterrestrial intelligence". The Institute consists of three primary centers: The Carl Sagan Center, devoted to the study of life in the universe, the Center for Education, focused on astronomy, astrobiology and space science for students and educators, and the Center for Public Outreach, producing "Big Picture Science," the Institute's general science radio show and podcast, and "SETI Talks" weekly colloquium series.

Wow! signal 1977 narrowband radio signal from SETI

The Wow! signal was a strong narrowband radio signal received on August 15, 1977, by Ohio State University's Big Ear radio telescope in the United States, then used to support the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. The signal appeared to come from the constellation Sagittarius and bore the expected hallmarks of extraterrestrial origin.

Ohio State University Radio Observatory

The Ohio State University Radio Observatory was a Kraus-type radio telescope located on the grounds of the Perkins Observatory at Ohio Wesleyan University from 1963 to 1998. Known as Big Ear, the observatory was part of The Ohio State University's Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project. Construction of the Big Ear began in 1956 and was completed in 1961, and it was finally turned on for the first time in 1963.

Communication with extraterrestrial intelligence

Communication with extraterrestrial intelligence or CETI is a branch of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence that focuses on composing and deciphering interstellar messages that theoretically, could be understood by another technological civilization. This field of study once was known as exosemiotics. The best-known CETI experiment of its kind was the 1974 Arecibo message composed by Frank Drake.

Astropulse citizen science project

Astropulse is a distributed computing project that uses volunteers around the globe to lend their unused computing power to search for primordial black holes, pulsars, and extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI). Volunteer resources are harnessed through Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) platform. In 1999, the Space Sciences Laboratory launched SETI@home, which would rely on massively parallel computation on desktop computers scattered around the world. SETI@home utilizes recorded data from the Arecibo radio telescope and searches for narrow-bandwidth radio signals from space, signifying the presence of extraterrestrial technology. It was soon recognized that this same data might be scoured for other signals of value to the astronomy and physics community.

Water hole (radio) quiet band of the electromagnetic spectrum

The waterhole, or water hole, is an especially quiet band of the electromagnetic spectrum between 1.42 and 1.67 gigahertz, corresponding to wavelengths of 21 and 18 centimeters respectively. It is a popular observing frequency used by radio telescopes in radio astronomy. The term was coined by Bernard Oliver in 1971. The strongest hydroxyl radical spectral line radiates at 18 centimeters, and hydrogen at 21 centimeters. These two molecules, which combined form water, are widespread in interstellar gas, and their presence absorbs radio noise at these frequencies. Therefore, the spectrum between these frequencies form a "quiet" channel in the interstellar radio noise background. Bernard M. Oliver theorized that the waterhole would be an obvious band for communication with extraterrestrial intelligence, hence the name, which is a form of pun: in English, a watering hole is a vernacular reference to a common place to meet and talk. Several programs involved in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, including SETI@home, search in the waterhole radio frequencies.

Active SETI is the attempt to send messages to intelligent extraterrestrial life. Active SETI messages are usually sent in the form of radio signals. Physical messages like that of the Pioneer plaque may also be considered an active SETI message. Active SETI is also known as METI. The term METI was coined by Russian scientist Alexander Zaitsev, who denoted the clear-cut distinction between Active SETI and METI:

The science known as SETI deals with searching for messages from aliens. METI deals with the creation and transmission of messages to aliens. Thus, SETI and METI proponents have quite different perspectives. SETI scientists are in a position to address only the local question “does Active SETI make sense?” In other words, would it be reasonable, for SETI success, to transmit with the object of attracting ETI’s attention? In contrast to Active SETI, METI pursues not a local and lucrative impulse, but a more global and unselfish one – to overcome the Great Silence in the Universe, bringing to our extraterrestrial neighbors the long-expected annunciation “You are not alone!”

Robert H. Gray American astronomer

Robert H. Gray is an American data analyst, author, and astronomer, and author of The Elusive Wow: Searching for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.

The cultural impact of extraterrestrial contact is the corpus of changes to terrestrial science, technology, religion, politics, and ecosystems resulting from contact with an extraterrestrial civilization. This concept is closely related to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), which attempts to locate intelligent life as opposed to analyzing the implications of contact with that life.

For other uses, see Message from Space (disambiguation).

Berkeley SETI Research Center

The Berkeley SETI Research Center (BSRC) conducts experiments searching for optical and electromagnetic transmissions from intelligent extraterrestrial civilizations. The center is based at the University of California, Berkeley.


  1. Sagan, Carl (1995). "The Abundance of Life-Bearing Planets". Bioastronomy News. 7 (4).
  2. Sagan, Carl (1982). "Extraterrestrial Intelligence: An International Petition". Science. 218 (4571): 426–426. Bibcode:1982Sci...218..426S. doi:10.1126/science.218.4571.426-a. ISSN   0036-8075. PMID   17808525.
  3. "Science on Screen Presents CONTACT with Paul Horowitz". Archived from the original on March 18, 2012. Retrieved 2010-10-29.
  4. Horowitz, Paul; Sagan, Carl (1993). "Five years of Project META - an all-sky narrow-band radio search for extraterrestrial signals". The Astrophysical Journal. 415: 218. Bibcode:1993ApJ...415..218H. doi:10.1086/173157. ISSN   0004-637X.
  5. " What's in a Name?". 37signals. Retrieved 2007-04-01.