back to article ET hunter: We will find SPACE ALIENS in 20 years

First contact between man and extraterrestial life may be imminent and set to take place within the next two decades, according to the top astronomer at the SETI Institute. Testifying before the US House of Representatives committee on science, space, and technology, senior astronomer Seth Shostak predicted that life will soon …


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  1. Zmodem

    i`ve already said they will pull up and do nothing for 24 hours when the next shuttle has electro magnet pulse propulsion and the human race can blip around as they like, and take off ground to orbit with the same propulsion system because it need no air for combustion

    they will be having cup of teas, NASA will be crapping it

  2. Caaaptaaaain kick arse

    Not seeing the big picture.

    When we find them, they'll be able to lend us money....

  3. thomas k.

    Careful what you wish for

    If movies provide any guidance, the vast majority show that in contact between us and extraterrestrials, we humans usually get the short end of the stick.

    Truly intelligent life would view us as disgusting vermin, to be completely exterminated before we despoil the rest of the universe.

    1. Zmodem

      Re: Careful what you wish for

      not if they have really been here for 1000s of years and were part of the ancient culture, they just wont be gods the next time around, they will be more vulcan

  4. Neil B

    For those bemoaning the unlikely result of detecting radio waves in a form we can understand, bear in mind that our methodologies will change as technology and computing power increases. We can now look very specifically at planets we know are there and that we know are in the habitable zone; and we can now start to look for characteristics that demonstrate intelligent life is likely to exist on them. We may one day be able to look for signs of artificial satellites, for example.

  5. Jaybeee

    Deja vu

    "I'm telling my story because I see a pressing need to prepare thinking adults for the outcome of the present search activity - the imminent detection of signals from an extra terrestrial civilization. This detection, which I fully expect to witness before the year 2000, will profoundly change the world."

    Frank Drake, 1993.

    I remembered this from the hilariously hopeful book: Is Anyone out there? which had me rocking in the aisles 21 years ago!

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Deja vu

      "I'm telling my story because I see a pressing need to prepare thinking adults for the outcome of the present search activity - the imminent detection of signals from an extra terrestrial civilization. This detection, which I fully expect to witness before the year 2000, will profoundly change the world."

      Frank Drake, 1993.

      I remembered this from the hilariously hopeful book: Is Anyone out there? which had me rocking in the aisles 21 years ago! ... Jaybeee

      Just to clarify that position, Jaybeee, for it is not perfectly clear and more than a tad ambiguous .... Is that a'rocking in the aisles because you doubt and have missed and are missing the contacts profoundly changing the world, and thus are identifying oneself as currently still residing at a disarmedly low capability level of enlightened and enabling thinking? Or is the world a space place of worlds for you now in which to do as you please without fear of let or hindrance?

      Have you crack hacked the Earthed Human System of Systems and SCADA Executive Administration? Do you Possess and Wield the Master Pass Key that opens All Dark Devilish Trap Doors and Heavenly Bright Portals?

  6. Rol

    It's all quiet

    Too quiet.

    Makes me consider the possibility that aliens who did blurt out to the galaxy got a bit of a shock visit from those who intend to keep it for themselves.

  7. Elmer Phud

    Don't worry, they're here

    I thought we were invaded by alien lifeforms a few billion years back.

    Conversation may be a bit strained but them buggers have really settled in here nicely.

  8. Donkey

    To Serve Man

    In the Damon Knight short story it turned out to be a cookbook.

    With the billions of earth-like worlds in our galaxy alone and the strong likelihood that many millions have developed viable technology based civilisations, we must also look at the time factor. Any civilisation older than our own is bound to have developed technology superior to our present level. Look back at where we were 200 years ago compared to now and then extrapolate the technology expansion for a thousand years. Sir Arthur Clarke's 3rd Law states that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. The technology available on this planet in 100 years could be at that level, in a thousand years it may be as difficult for us to understand as a caveman when we try to explain to him what wifi is. So imagine how a civilisation a million years older than ours would look to us - we would struggle to communicate let alone understand the technology.

    I am certain that given enough time any civilisation will develop faster than light travel be it "warp drive" or something we cannot imagine yet. So the ones that are a few million years ahead of us almost certainly already have it. (to those who say "impossible" I quote Sir Arthur C Clarke's 1st Law "When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.")

    So it is quite possible that sufficiently advanced beings may have already visited us or are about to pop in any minute. It is also very likely that they would be so far ahead of us that they would regard us as we regard animals and consider us not worthy of contact, and it is just possible that they may even have engineered us thousands of year ago as part of a stock breeding program that will result in our demise and appearance on their dinner table. Or perhaps the "Predator" movies were nearer to the mark and we are actually a hunting preserve.

    The seti project when it finally finds the right wave length, or perhaps when we discover telepathy or subspace communications, could be responsible for sending out the message that we have matured enough to be ready for culling. Effectively "Here we are, come and eat us".

    It would be nice to make contact with nice friendly aliens only a little ahead of us along the technology curve who are falling over themselves to give us a cure for cancer, cheap energy, and the secret of immortality, but the odds are against it.

    I have often read SciFi writers describing humanity as being like the Native Americans and the Aliens likened to the Europeans who came and took their lands and gradually wiped them out. I think that is a gross overestimation of our relative importance, we are more likely in the position of the Native American Buffalo.

    BTW Apologies for quoting Sir Arthur C Clarke, but he was the man who invented the communication satellite.

    1. Zmodem

      Re: To Serve Man

      most sci-fi is based on aliens being here for 1000s of years, man started to make boats and navigated the world, so they left us to it, and they put on lame little shows in the sky when nuclear tests happen or war breaks out

    2. JLV

      Re: To Serve Man

      Hmm, let's not forget what Fi stands for in SciFi. I read it, but it is at best speculative in nature. Yes, Clarke was clever but he was also a mathematician. Something most SF authors aren't.

      Truth is, we are at baby steps. Of understanding extremophile biology . Twenty years ago we'd never seen an extra solar planet.

      There is however no reason besides wishful thinking to really call into question the asymptotic mass increase as you near light speed. It seems to just be the way the universe is wired.

      Aliens could launch Von Neumann probes but maybe they have their own Tea Party dimwits to deal with come budget times?

      Or maybe there could be enforced no contact protocols. Besides, for all the crap we did to the Indians, I believe we are slooowly learning to behave in a more ethical fashion and might Not actually repeat those atrocities now.

      Point is, I don't know, you don't know, at this point. I'd like see some more budget headed to Titan or Ganymede life detection missions however. And big space-borne exoplanet telescopes. That and asteroid prospecting gets my rocks off much more than our _current_ manned spaceflight.

  9. Hairy Spod
    Paris Hilton

    A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

  10. paolo1234

    it's like printing too many lottery tickets and the winning one is amonh the unsold ones...

    or that instead of "wireless" comms we had found more convenient to use focused point-to-point laser... some planet using that technology would be barely "visible" in the radio spectrum

    1. Bill Fresher

      There could just be a completely different way to communicate that we haven't discovered yet -- once we do it might be crammed full of spam messages from billions of worlds advertising their wares.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Has anyone considered

    That we are actually not the first "intelligent" species to arise?

    It occurs to me that dinosaurs might have been first to develop intelligence and it is entirely possible that something vaguely humanoid could have evolved, lived for tens of thousands of years and the fossil evidence been totally wiped out by the K-T event.

    I keep seeing evidence of possible ancient technologies such as the infamous "screw embedded in million+ year old coal" and other anomalies, so a possible advanced "dinosauroid" with cognitive abilities that would make our efforts look primitive in comparison is entirely possible.

    If they were indeed land locked due to their physiology being too specific to one region then their technology could have been radically different and as such based on principles foreign to us that would decay into what looks like natural isotopes.

    Upon realizing they were doomed they may have fled to elsewhere in the Universe so it might not be such a good idea to go randomly sending signals just in case..

    "Raptor Sapiens" showing up to reclaim their planet would be bad for any number of reasons.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    SETI was a non-starter. Think about it. Do you think it would be safe to advertise our presence to the entire universe, not knowing what sort of civilizations are out there? Sure, current theory says that it is all but impossible to travel as fast as light. This is not Einstein's equations in the way, but Newton's. Even so, just on the off chance that it might be possible to travel large distances quickly, do you really think it would be safe to signal our presence to every green skinned brown blooded intelligence out there? What if they decide that we are no better than monkies and come here to take over? Do you really think that we could protect ourselves and our home in the face of a civilization that has that technology? Our own tribal natives did not fair so well, did they?

    As for the rest of this highly speculative piece, Earth is the only planet out of eight in the entire Solar system to have a breathable atmosphere where plentiful water is present. All the rest of the planets have a mix of gasses that are inimical to life. Venus; mainly carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid. Mars: mostly carbon dioxide, but just enough of it to be a nuisance. Jupiter? Mostly helium as are all the other gas giants. Some of the moons orbiting the gas giants have a tiny bit of promise, but they are far less than optimal.

    Our only real route off this planet is to establish a base on the moon and then proceed out to the asteroids using the materials we can mine on the moon to build the necessary spacecraft. Personally, I think Gerard K. O'Neill might have been onto something with his powersat and L5 colony ideas, but we will not be doing even that much until we figure out a way to get around the green luddites.

  13. Uffish


    Our stone-age lasted 3.4 million years and started to end about 6000 years ago. What are the chances of finding another civilization that would deign to talk to us ?

  14. SteveBassett


    SETI was set up under the aegis of NASA shortly after NASA was created by the 1958 Aeronautics and Space Act. At the time those in the U. S. government with a need to know where fully aware of an extraterrestrial presence, not "most certainly out there," but certainly right here. The 1958 Act was specifically structured to ensure that NASA could not independently say or do anything related to this extraterrestrial reality having to defer under the law to the Department of Defense.

    SETI was created to help relieve the increasing pressure on the government by a growing citizen awareness of and interest in the extraterrestrial phenomena eleven years after the Roswell events. Since then a number of scientists, most recently Jill Tarter and Seth Shostak, have collected substantial paychecks while manning a scientific propaganda operation looking for ET signals, which would never have been reported (except to the Department of Defense) in the unlikely case they were even found. Particularly disturbing have been those instances when SETI scientists have publicly ridiculed and debunked the work of extraterrestrial phenomena researchers forced to work without funding under a blanket of disdain created by their own government.

    SETI is one of the most egregious corruptions of the scientific process and ethic ever conceived. There have been worse, however, most notably under the German Reich from 1930 to 1944.

    When Disclosure of the extraterrestrial presence is finally announced, it is hoped the American people along with uncorrupted leaders within the scientific community will take the necessary measures to ensure nothing like SETI ever happens again. Further, it would be helpful if those SETI scientists still living would, under some process of truth and reconciliation, apologize to the American people for either their willing participation in the truth embargo or for being so incompetent they either missed or could not comprehend the massive evidence for the extraterrestrial presence parked directly under their uplifted noses for decades.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: SETI

      Hi, SteveBassett,

      Seems like a novel viable option for the smarter discerning extraterrestrialised being would then be to specifically target Defense Departmentalised Forces with a defining array of their systems introducing and highlighting their future weapons which deliver remote proxy virtual control and absolute command.

      The only enigmatic dilemma to trouble puny and punitive humans on Earth would be, I suppose, whether they engage primarily with Exotic Erotic Eastern or Wild Wacky Western Force Systems, and that one imagines will be decided and led by the intrinsic nature and passionate desires of the ... well, Visiting IntelAIgent Pioneers would be with an ET AI, a much better Project and Beta Proposition for Mankind to handle and macro/micromanage, than doing any sort of a battle in vain with their own resources and assets against Invading Stealthy Phantoms and Invisibly Strong Phormations.

      Seems like a Perfect No-Brainer of a Simple Decision to Make and Take to me in such a delicate/sensitive/secret situation, but as Albert Einstein says ...."Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not even sure about the universe." ...... and history is littered with monumental failures proving the lack of intelligence in localised species and native indigenous populations/mass conflicted societies.

    2. JLV

      Re: SETI

      >their willing participation in the truth embargo

      Such a wide choice of icons to comment...

      Black helicopters (paranoia)/Palm on face (strong contender)/Alien (because)/Paris (stupidity).

      I'll go with Fail on the assumption that you'd have used the Joke if your rant wasn't meant to be "serious".

      In advance, apologies if my perhaps lacking sense of humor failed to detect any subtle sarcastic intent in your posting :-) If so, hats off and have a pint on me, you played the part of loony tunes quite well.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE. Re. SETI

    Well, having seen a lot of the recent work with semiconductors and suchlike, building a "coffee can sized" interstellar probe containing Singularity-level technology isn't that hard at all.

    To actually send one of these one way to say the nearest 20 systems from Sol isn't that hard, the mystery now is why we haven't detected one yet.

    It would get here using a variant of the "Alcubierre Drive" but by including only beam powered driver coils on the probe itself and harnessing solar neutrinos to slow down this would ensure that the FTL technology doesen't fall into the wrong hands.

    The actual probe could have essentially an entire digital civilization duplicated back home and on each other probe, with simple dipole phased neutrino beam based comms for both speed and security.

    Synchronizing it with existing stellar phenomena would ensure that their dipole phased neutrino pulse would look like normal background noise to anyone outside the main lobe.

    (dipole phased = sending a digital 1 as a neutrino and digital 0 as an anti-neutrino, trivial with say 2100's technology but not at the moment)

    1. Lord Raa

      Re: RE. Re. SETI

      How does one harness a particle that's famous for not interacting with matter?

      Enquiring minds want to know.

  16. Death Boffin

    The Fermi Paradox still stands

    The Fermi Paradox still presents a big problem here. It appears reasonably easy to colonize the entire visible universe with technology not very far beyond what we have currently. Anti-matter drives may not be possible by the laws of physics, but all the others are engineering problems. See the following PDF file for full details:


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