Welcome to the SETI Blog, the home of rational, considered debate about the possibility of the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) and what might happen on and after that fateful day we first make contact.
My name is Mike Walker, I’m a software developer and writer living in Austin, Texas. Ever since I was a child I have been fascinated by the notion that there are other intelligent beings somewhere out there in the Universe, and quite possibly somewhere within our own galaxy.
What are they like? How do they think? Is their civilization more advance than ours? What could we learn from them? How do we make contact? Could we ever visit them? The questions are endless and, as yet, the answers are few.
But we sometimes forget how far we have come in just a short time. It is still less than 100 years since Sir Edwin Hubble finally presented conclusive evidence that the Universe was far larger our Milky Way, yet today we have cataloged over a billion stars, counted more than a million individual galaxies, and have probed the farthest reaches of our vast Universe, almost back to the time of the Big Bang itself.
And our next great step forward in exploring the Cosmos is already underway. As of today–March 11th, 2012–a mere two decades after the first extrasolar planet was found, we have discovered 709 extrasolar planets, with another 2,321 candidates awaiting confirmation. While it is very unlikely that intelligent life exists on any of the planets we have detected so far, we now know enough to firmly believe that there are billions of planets out there waiting to be discovered. There is every chance that one day, we will detect the unmistakable signature of life on the surface of one of those worlds.
In the meantime, our ability to detect signals from beyond our solar system also increases in leaps and bounds, as does our ability to innovate and come up with ever more ingenious solutions for scanning the heavens for the elusive signal that would prove beyond all reasonable doubt that we are not alone. The SETI program may be the neglected little orphan child of astronomical research, but given the meager resources they have to play with, the payoff from a single positive result would be immense.
It’s hard to think of a discovery more profound for humankind than the discovery of ETI. Yes, finding the cure for cancer or ending world hunger would go down in history as wonderful achievements, but there is unlikely to be a single event in world history that would outshine the moment when we discover, once and for all, that we are not alone. It truly would be a watershed moment.
Mike Walker, November 2014