This is an out-of-this-world topic that I don’t think I have written about before…ALIENS–no seriously!
MSNBC ran an interview with Seth Shostak, the chairman of the International Academy of Astronautics’ SETI Permanent Study Group (27 June 2012).
SETI is the well-known orgnaization that conducts the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence–they employ 150 scientists, educators and support staff, and their projects have been sponsored by NASA, Department of Energy, U.S. Geological Survey, and many technology companies like HP, Sun, and more.
At SETI, they monitor radio transmissions and telescope observations for signals that “cannot be ascribed to noise.”
According to Shostak, he believes that we will detect alien signals by between 2025 and 2030, although he acknowledges that searching for alien life in the cosmos in like looking for a needle in a haystack, and it “never occurs when you expect them.”
However with advances in technology (specifically computer processing), we will get closer to be able to monitor “all-sky, all the time, all frequencies,” rather than searching a specific star system, for a specific time, at specific frequencies.
The really interesting question posed though is what happens if we actually detect an alien signal?
Apparently, most of the planning, according to Shostak is for the initial protocols for alerting everyone and even then “it takes something on the order of five days” to assess whether it is real or not.
The big concern is that “nobody is in charge” for handling such a global…no, intergalactic event.
And, he says “I don’t think there’s any large-scale effort to prepare humanity.”
Maybe, it’s that we don’t believe or want to believe that this eventuality will ever really occur.
Perhaps, it’s too frightening to think of ourselves as the native Americans being invaded by colonials with superior technology and firepower.
Yet according to a National Geographic survey, more than a third (36%) of people surveyed think aliens exist. And how many more people are afraid to admit it?
Aliens could be a good thing–coming here benevolently to share with us or they could act alien and try to take from us. From our own Earthly experiences, it seems the latter is far more likely.
We have a lot of fingers and weapons pointed at each other all time, I wonder whether we need to spend more time and effort thinking, planning, and preparing for something much more scary and threatening than each other.
(Source Photo: here with attribution to Chris at Oblong Pictures)