Are we alone in the universe? The SETI Institute has spent over three decades exploring the cold and vast universe in search of signs of any radio signals that might have been deliberately sent or accidently leaked into space. Our estimate suggests there should be hundreds of thousands of intelligent civilisations and with more time to evolve they could be millions of years ahead of us, so shouldn’t the numerous satellite dishes all around the world pick something up? But they haven’t. Not one. Ever.

So where is everybody?

Seth Shostak believes that we are on the verge of finding out.

In a recent interview with Futurism, the senior astronomer at the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) Institute, discussed our progress in the search for an answer to one of the most significant questions ever asked. The interview began with Shostak confidently stating that he “bet everybody a cup of coffee that we’ll find intelligent life within 20 years.” He then went on to say that “while we may not have found evidence confirming extraterrestrial life yet, what we have discovered about our universe, say, over the last 20 years, has not been insignificant.”

Shostak is confident that we’ll relatively soon find “microbial life — the kind you’d find in the corners of your bathtub. We may find that a lot sooner, but that remains to be seen.”  Shostak went on to discuss the existence of extraterrestrial intelligent life. He said that making “contact” may not be as we might imagine it to be. “I don’t know about contact,” Shostak said. In reality, it will be nothing like science fiction makes us believe it will be. 

“I mean if they’re 500 light years away. . .you’ll hear a signal that’ll be 500 years old, and if you broadcast back ‘Hi we’re the Earthlings, how’re you doing?’ — it’ll be 1,000 years before you hear back from them. If you ever hear back from them. So, it’s not exactly contact, but at least you know they’re there.”

The only thing we can really do now is wait and see.


Videos on the Fermi Paradox: