Senior astronomer from the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute Seth Shostak says he is confident humans will find evidence of intelligent alien life within two decades.
Humans have long struggled to find signs of alien intelligence in outer space. First we launched missions to different parts of the solar system. Then in 1977, NASA attempted to introduce Earth to extraterrestrials by sending into the universe the Golden Record aboard the Voyager deep space probes, containing a collection of sounds and images representing our civilization and instructions on how to find us. Last year, the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope FAST, located in the mountainous region of Guizhou Province, China, began searching for signals from outside of our galaxy.
So far, all the efforts have been vain, with not even a primitive, microbial form of life discovered as of yet. But scientists from the SETI Institute, established in the mid-1980s and dedicated specifically to exploring the universe in hopes of finding intelligent life there, remain optimistic.
In an interview with Futurism at this year’s two-day future festival World’s Fair Nano in New York, Shostak said he would “bet everybody a cup of coffee” aliens will somehow make their presence felt within the next 20 years.
He made it clear that the evidence soon to come might not mean we will actually meet or communicate with an alien civilization.
“I don’t know about contact,” he said. “I mean if they’re 500 light years away, you’ll hear a signal that’ll be 500 years old, and if you broadcast back ‘Hi we’re the Earthlings, how’re you doing?’ it’ll be 1,000 years before you hear back from them. If you ever hear back from them. So, it’s not exactly contact, but at least you know they’re there.”
In 2014, Shostak told Popular Mechanics that humans hadn’t heard from aliens due to limitations on equipment and money.
“You probably have to look at a few million star systems at very high sensitivity before you score a success,” he explained, adding that the equipment is getting better, which means that eventually we will succeed.