When Jill Tarter was a little girl, she was fascinated with the vastness of the universe and the stars and planets in it. She declared she was going to be an engineer when she grew up, in the days when people laughed at such ambitions in a little girl. Tarter was stubborn, and earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics from Cornell, then a master’s and PhD from Berkeley, where she got in on the ground floor in computer programming by neccesity. That skill helped her become involved in the search for extraterrestrial life. Tarter eventually worked for 35 years in the field, and worked her way up to director of the Center for SETI Research. In 1985, Carl Sagan wrote a novel named Contact in which the protagonist, Ellie Arroway, was based on Tarter. Here we meet the real Arroway as Tarter tells us a bit about her life and inspirations.
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