SETI Astronomer Believes We'll Find E.T In 25 Years
Seth Shostack is the highly decorated senior astronomer at SETI and he believes that we are within 25 years of discovering extraterrestrial life. In this thoroughly entertaining talk he gave just last month, Shostack explains how and why this incredible goal is a realistic one. Put simply, Shostack believes our discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence is a mathematical inevitability, but it's his thoughts on what these lifeforms will look like that are really shocking.
Before we get onto appearances, let's cover off why Shostack believes we'll discover E.T by the year 2037. Shostack explains this theory using some pretty mind-boggling numbers that you may well have heard before. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is estimated to have approximately 1 trillion stars while other galaxies in our universe are estimated to average around 1 billion each. That's a lot of stars just in one galaxy, but the numbers get really crazy when you consider that there are thought to be over 1 billion galaxies, which gives us an approximate star count so large that I don't even know how to put it down on paper.
It's these numbers that have stiffened the resolve of those looking for both habitable planets and intelligent life. If there was to be no intelligent life other than us in the universe, we would be the most inconceivable miracle ever imagined. The Drake equation goes some way to simplifying this notion, breaking down these staggering numbers into a more maneagable filters. So for those whose careers are dedicated to looking for extraterrestrial intelligence, the fact that it exists, is not up for debate.
But what would alien life look like? Well, according to Shostack, E.T's are unlikely to look like little green humans, far from it in fact. If the human race is anything to go by, this extraterrestrial life might not actually be organic at all. You see, we as a civilization are already on our way to creating an intelligence that far outstrips our own. It's a tale that has been told through the ages in science fiction novels and movies. Man creates artificial intelligence, artificial intelligence outlasts or outguns Man. By this notion, Shostack believes that we are more likely to discover an artificial intelligence created by aliens than the aliens themselves.
And so we come to the question of when we will discover them. Shostack and his peers state that our search for E.T is rising exponentially and our technological evolution has reached a point where our discovery of this intelligent life has become a question of when, not if.
Shostack concludes with this. Just when we will find intelligent life is directly correlated to how many intelligent civilizations currently exist, a number we already have a few estimates for. Carl Sagan was the most optimistic fellow, estimating that there are anything upwards of 1 million intelligent civilizations in our universe. If Sagan is correct, Shostack theorizes that we would discover one of these civilizations before the turn of the next decade. Isaac Asimov proposed around 200,000 intelligent civilizations, which would mean a discovery date of sometime in the 2020's. Finally, SETI legend Frank Drake estimates there are around 10,000 which gives us our magic date of 2037.
So if you believe Shostack after this incredibly convincing argument, there is an excellent chance that we will be able to confirm the existence of extraterrestrial life within your lifetime. That means you will be alive for the single greatest discovery in the history of the human race. Excited? You should be!