February 10, 2014
The first detection of intelligent extraterrestrial life will likely come within the next quarter-century, a prominent alien hunter predicts.
By 2040 or so, astronomers will have scanned enough star systems to give themselves a great shot of discovering alien-produced electromagnetic signals, said Seth Shostak of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in Mountain View, Calif.
“I think we’ll find E.T. within two dozen years using these sorts of experiments,” Shostak said here Thursday (Feb. 6) during a talk at the 2014 NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) symposium at Stanford University. [13 Ways to Hunt Intelligent Alien Life]
“Instead of looking at a few thousand star systems, which is the tally so far, we will have looked at maybe a million star systems” 24 years from now, Shostak said. “A million might be the right number to find something.”
Many potentially habitable worlds
Shostak’s optimism is based partly on observations by NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler space telescope, which has shown that the Milky Way galaxy likely teems with worlds capable of supporting life as we know it.
“The bottom line is, like one in five stars has at least one planet where life might spring up,” Shostak said. “That’s a fantastically large percentage. That means in our galaxy, there’s on the order of tens of billions of Earth-like worlds.”
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