Senior Astronomer Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute believes that intelligent alien life may be found by 2040.
The SETI Institute has been searching for extraterrestrial intelligence for decades, and the organization's Senior Astronomer Dr. Seth Shostak believes the search may yield results in a couple more. Speaking at a talk at the 2014 NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) symposium at Stanford University, Shostak explained that the odds are good that alien life will be found in the next 20 years.
"I think we'll find E.T. within two dozen years using these sorts of experiments," said Shostak. SETI has thus far scanned a few thousand star systems in search of signs of intelligent life, but in another 24 years, that number will rise to approximately one million. "A million might be the right number to find something."
"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."
The SETI Institute seeks to detect alien civilizations that have developed to the point of being technologically capable of sending electromagnetic signals out into space. But Shostak views the hunt for alien life as a three-way race: his own team seeks intelligent life, other scientists search our solar system for simple organisms, and other researchers focus on finding signs of microbial life on planets in nearby solar systems.
"I think any of these horses has a pretty good chance of succeeding - just my opinion - a pretty good chance of succeeding in the next 20 years, say," Shostak said during the NIAC talk.