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

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A Frontiers in Science Lecture by Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at SETI Institute

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? (SETI = search for extraterrestrial intelligence.)

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?  And how will that affect humanity?

Also, if we do find E.T., what would be the societal impact of learning that something, or someone, is out there?

About the Speaker
Seth Shostak claims to have developed an interest in extraterrestrial life at the tender age of 10, when he first picked up a book about the Solar System. This innocent beginning led to a degree in radio astronomy. Now as senior astronomer, Shostak is an enthusiastic participant in the SETI Institute’s observing programs. 

In addition, Shostak is keen on outreach activities: interesting the public – and especially young people – in science in general, and astrobiology in particular. He’s co-authored a college textbook on astrobiology and has written three trade books on SETI. In addition, he’s published more than 400 popular articles on science including regular contributions to NBC News MACH, gives many dozens of talks annually, and is the host of the SETI Institute’s weekly science radio show, “Big Picture Science.” 

About Frontiers in Science Lectures 
Lectures in this series are intended to inform, engage, and inspire students, faculty, staff, and the public on developments, breakthroughs, and topics of general interest in the sciences and mathematics. Lecturers tailor their talks for nonexpert audiences.


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    A. Maureen Rouhi
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