Laurance R. Doyle (born 1953) is a scientist who received his Ph.D. from the Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg. He has worked at the SETI Institute since 1987 where he is a principal investigator and astrophysicist. His main area of study has been the formation and detection of extrasolar planets, but he has also worked on communications theory. In particular he has written on how patterns in animal communication relate to humans with an emphasis on cetaceans.
He grew up on a dairy farm in Cambria, California and therefore didn't have much access to information about stars. But by reading books at the local library, Doyle was able to develop his knowledge in astronomy, and eventually obtain his 7Bachelor's and Master's of Science degrees in astronomy from San Diego State University.
His first job was at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as an imaging engineer, where he was in charge of analysing pictures of Jupiter and Saturn sent from the spacecraft Voyager. He moved to Heidelberg, Germany, to help analyse images of Halley's Comet. He got his doctorate in Astrophysics at the University of Heidelberg.
In May 2005 he appeared on a National Geographic Channel special titled Extraterrestrial. He also appeared in the episode "Will We Survive First Contact", of the The Science Channel series titled Morgan Freeman's Through the Wormhole.
Doyle is currently seeking to compare dolphin whistles and baby babble in an attempt to make predictions about extraterrestrial communications. He believes that by measuring the complexity of communications for different species on earth, we could get a good indication of how advanced an extraterrestrial signal is. His study determined that babies babble over 800 different sounds with the same amount of frequency as dolphins. As they grow older, those sounds decrease to around 50 and become more repetitious. The study found that baby dolphins develop similarly with regards to their whistling.
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“A trusty comrade is always of use; and a chronicler still more so.”
—Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (18591930)