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When Will We Find E.T. and What Happens If We Do?

Press Release From: Langley Research Center
Posted: Monday, August 7, 2017

Are we alone in the universe? The scientific hunt for extraterrestrial intelligence is now well into its fifth decade, and we still haven’t discovered any cosmic company. Could all this mean that finding biology beyond Earth, even if it exists, is a project for the ages – one that might take centuries or longer?

The question will be addressed Tuesday, Aug. 8, as part of the Colloquium Series at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Media interested in attending should contact Michael Finneran in the Office of Communications at 757-864-6100 or at michael.p.finneran@nasa.gov for access to Langley.

Searching for Evidence

New approaches and new technology for detecting sentient beings elsewhere suggest that there is good reason to expect that we could uncover evidence of sophisticated civilizations – the type of aliens we see in the movies and on TV – within a few decades.

But why now, and what sort of evidence can we expect? Also, if we do find E.T., what would be the societal impact of learning that something, or someone, is out there?

Seth Shostak developed an interest in extraterrestrial life at the age of 10, when he first picked up a book about the solar system. This led to a degree in radio astronomy, and current he is senior astronomer at the SETI Institute, in Mountain View, California. He also heads the International Academy of Astronautics’ SETI Permanent Study Group.

In addition, Shostak has co-authored a college textbook on astrobiology, and writes trade books on SETI. He’s also published nearly 300 popular articles on science, gives dozens of talks annually, and is the host of the SETI Institute’s weekly science radio show, “Big Picture Science.” He is also editor of the institute’s Explorer magazine.

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