Marco Larsen

Marco Larsen

Marco Larsen is the CEO and Principal for PUBLIC, NYC; a strategic communications firm in New York City. PUBLIC works with many of the world’s intriguing brands like Qatar Airways, Petrossian, Zurich and Todd English​ Enterprises. Mr. Larsen is also the creator of PANIC, Brand Metrics - a system that measures abstract perceptions to improve and impact brand strengths. PANIC is currently taught at Georgetown University’s McDonough School where Mr. Larsen serves as a guest lecturer. Both PUBLIC and PANIC are recipients of multiple industry awards including Brand Platform of the Year and Best Media Campaign.

The Biography of SETI Pioneer Jill Tarter, Making Contact: Jill Tarter and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, is Released

July 5, 2017, Mountain View, CA -- Jill Tarter is the subject of a new book by Sarah Scoles, Making Contact: Jill Tarter and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, which was released yesterday. Jill is a pioneer in SETI research and currently holds the Bernard M. Oliver Chair at the SETI Institute. Making Contact is not just for scientists and SETI enthusiasts, but truly is the story of Jill’s life and her life’s work.

"This is one woman's view of the roller coaster history of SETI explorations,” said Jill. “Sarah has told it with a fresh voice that makes me grin."

In Making Contact, Scoles examines the science behind the work that tries to answer the question, “Are we alone?” Jill was the inspiration for the character of Ellie Arroway in Carl Sagan’s Contact, a role played by Jodie Foster in the film, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this month. Scoles tells Jill’s story, and also begins to wonder how a new generation of SETI research will look.

"A fictional story about SETI, partly inspired by Tarter, has spurred so many people's interests in astronomy and life in the universe,” said Scoles. “I hope the nonfictional tale of the actual search and the actual Tarter can do something similar."

Scoles suggests that without Jill, SETI programs, including the SETI Institute’s Allen Telescope Array (ATA) and Breakthrough Listen might not exist. Additionally, funding for SETI research has always been a challenge to obtain. Indeed, the SETI Institute’s own SETI program is funded entirely through private donations and receives no government support. Jill’s ongoing efforts continue to make groundbreaking SETI research possible.

“Jill is not only a SETI pioneer, and world-class astronomer, her life and work have served as inspiration for an entire new generation of women in science, including many here at the SETI Institute” said Institute CEO, Bill Diamond.  “Her toughness, tenacity and perseverance in a male-dominated field of enquiry are fully explored in this captivating biography of a scientist possessed by what is perhaps humankind’s greatest quest – answering that singular question – Are we alone?”

Jill and Sarah will appear together on July 12 at the Cubberley Community Center in Mountain View, CA to discuss the book and new directions in SETI research. The presentation is part of the SETI Institute’s SETI Talks series and will also feature SETI Institute scientists Eliot Gillum and Seth Shostak. Tickets are available here.

NASA FDL Developing New Approaches to Asteroid, Comet and Solar Threats Using AI

Mountain View, CA - Asteroid Day, June 30th - What do astrophysicist Steven Hawking, Queen guitarist Brian May and the country of Luxembourg have in common? They’re all key figures in Asteroid Day - a UN sanctioned day of education to raise awareness about protecting our planet from dangerous impacts from space. 

Asteroid Day is June 30th, the anniversary of the 1908 Tunguska impact, when a space rock, approximately 120 ft wide detonated in the sky, the largest impact in recent history. Asteroids and comets remain a threat to Earth.

To assist in NASA’s efforts to tackle the challenge of understanding space hazards and knowing what to do about them, the Frontier Development Lab (FDL) has brought together a team of expert researchers and invited them to apply artificial intelligence to develop techniques to help protect our planet from space threats such as asteroids, comets and solar storms.

fdl logos

FDL is an applied artificial intelligence research accelerator and public / private partnership between NASA Ames Research Center and the SETI Institute. The program tackles knowledge gaps in space science by pairing machine learning and deep learning expertise with planetary scientists and heliophysicists at the PhD level.  Interdisciplinary teams address tightly defined problems and through rapid iteration and prototyping create outputs with meaningful application to the space program.

FDL features partnerships with Luxembourg Space Resources and technology leaders in artificial intelligence from the private sector and academia including IBM, Nvidia, Lockheed Martin, USC Mascale, Kx Systems, Miso Technologies and Intel. Partners bring advanced GPU hardware, software and cloud-based resources, and provide coaching and support on cutting edge approaches.   

Entering its second year, FDL strives to create research outcomes that support NASA goals, while simultaneously showcasing cutting-edge partner capabilities in deep learning and other artificial intelligence techniques. 

“Grand challenges like planetary defense require ingenious new approaches. We wanted to create a platform that industrializes breakthrough work useful to the space program and the task of protecting our planet” says FDL Director, James Parr.


To this end, exemplary PhD researchers from around the world are gathered at FDL to tackle planetary defense and space weather challenges such as (1) using machine vision and deep learning to locate and model the orbits of long-period comets (2) automate the translation of 2D sparse radar images of asteroids into accurate 3D models to help determine shape and spin (3) use massive data mining techniques to look for new, yet unidentified space weather relationships between our star and Earth (4) use machine intelligence to detect early warning indicators of detrimental solar storms. The FDL team is also (5) apply machine vision and other data fusion techniques to look for landing sites on the Moon for obtaining lunar water.

“We are delighted to be hosting the FDL research accelerator and providing mentor support in the space sciences,” notes Bill Diamond, SETI Institute President and CEO.  “This program, which brings together top postdoctoral researchers in machine learning and the physical sciences, has the potential to deliver groundbreaking results, and serve as a model for demonstrating the power of public/private partnerships and machine intelligence to tackle problems that affect everyone.”


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