How great would it be to wake up one morning and find out that Scientists have finally discovered proof of intelligent alien life out beyond our planet? I’ve often wonder if I’d live to see the day when the answer to the question “are we alone in the galaxy” is finally answered. Well, recently at a House Committee on Science, Space and Technology hearing Wednesday (May 21), Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute gave us a timeline for when this question might be answered when he said, “”It’s unproven whether there is any life beyond Earth. I think that situation is going to change within everyone’s lifetime in this room.”
The three methods Scientists use to search for extraterrestrial life are: search for microbial life or remains, examining the atmosphere of the planet for signs of oxygen, and scanning the universe for signals in a variety of spectrums. This third way of searching has been pioneered by SETI. So far SETI has examined less than 1 percent of the few million star systems that are believed to potentially harbor life. But Shostak expects this to improve and pick up in pace as technology increases. “Given predicted advances in technology, looking at a few million star systems can be done in the next 20 years,” Shostak said.
Each of the 4 billion stars in our galaxy has an average of 1.6 planets and one out of five of these planets are thought to be “Earth Cousins.” This means there are tens of billions of potentially habitable worlds in our own galaxy.