Nautilus

Dolphins Are Helping Us Hunt for Aliens

SETI Institute astronomer Laurance Doyle proposed using information theory to analyze animal communication systems, particularly the whistle repertoire of bottlenose dolphins.Illustration by Victor Habbick Visions

When 12 men gathered at the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia to discuss the art and science of alien hunting in 1961, the Order of the Dolphin was born. A number of the brightest minds from a range of scientific disciplines, including three Nobel laureates, a young Carl Sagan, and an eccentric neuroscientist named John Lilly—who was best known for trying to talk to dolphins—were in attendance.

It was Lilly’s research that inspired the group’s name: If humans couldn’t even communicate with animals

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Nautilus

Nautilus12 min read
The Dreams of the Man Who Discovered Neurons: Santiago Ramón y Cajal recorded his dreams to prove Freud wrong.
Santiago Ramón y Cajal, a Spanish histologist and anatomist known today as the father of modern neuroscience, was also a committed psychologist who believed psychoanalysis and Freudian dream theory were “collective lies.” When Freud published The Int
Nautilus3 min read
Nautilus To Be Acquired By Ownership Group Of Super-Fans
From the newswire: Award-winning magazine and fast-growing science brand poised for growth An investor group of super-fans has banded together as a single ownership group to acquire Nautilus, the literary science magazine with more than 10 thousand m
Nautilus6 min readScience
As Winters Shrink, Our Discontent Grows: Our sense of order is disappearing with the snow packs.
Winter is changing its character. Since the beginning of the 21st century, glaciers have been melting at record speed. In Central Asia, they’ve lost approximately one quarter of their volume over the past 50 years. An ice grotto in Switzerland that i