There are an awful lot of planets out there, and SETI's willing to bet we're about to hear back from one of them.
At a BoingBoing: Ingenuity event, the SETI Institute's chief astronomer, Seth Shostak, made a pretty bold bet -- we're going to meet some form of alien within the next quarter century. And his theory behind that is pretty interesting. It's founded upon the notion that, if we trust current information, 1 percent of the known universe could potentially support life. Even though that may not sound like much, when we consider the size of the universe, that's a lot of habitable worlds.
Shostak is quick to remind us that the kind of science he's talking about isn't built on the idea of setting up a hypothesis to disprove it, but, to the contrary, is designed as a means to explore the potential for what might be.
Looking at the different ways a world can be considered habitable (remember, they don't have to be just like Earth to be Earth-like) and combining it with the growth rate of a given civilization, it's hard not to see things Shostak's way. Especially when we take into account that what he expects to meet out there in the stars isn't squishy green or gray aliens, but something altogether more mechanical.
Here's the full video. It's definitely worth a watch.
It's funny, I've always felt like our obsession with the Internet pulled us away from dreams of outer space, but in thinking about things from Shostak's perspective, the computer boom might actually end up being the movement that propels us toward meeting life in some way (no matter how minute) like our own somewhere out there.