Extraterrestrial life Intelligent Design

SETI’s Seth Shostak bets you a coffee we’ll find aliens by 2036

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He points to the increase in the number of exoplanets identified and the increase in computing power:

He chose 2036 as a target year because by then “we will have looked at about a million star systems, and it’s my gut that says a million is the right number to find something.”

Shostak was born in 1943 so, if you take the bet, either he gets the signal by the time he is 93 or he buys you a cup of coffee. If he dies hoping in the meantime, you and his successor will presumably meet for coffee…

The discovery of exoplanets has, of course, massively increased interest in the question, “Are we alone?” …

News, “Astronomer bets a cup of coffee that we’ll encounter ET by 2036” at Mind Matters News

Our physics color commentator Rob Sheldon notes that Seth Shostak is relying on Moore’s Law (computer speed doubles every two years or so) and quips, “Because of Moore’s law, you see. Shostak will give you cup in 2036, a teaspoon of coffee in 2030, and one coffee bean in 2026. Now if the aliens don’t show up until 2064, you’ll own Starbucks….”

See also: New sky catalog reveals most likely sites for alien technology. “Exotica” lists phenomena for which conventional natural explanations don’t seem to work well. Advanced extraterrestrials might leave a “technosignature,” visible only as a strange phenomenon in space.

4 Replies to “SETI’s Seth Shostak bets you a coffee we’ll find aliens by 2036

  1. 1
    mahuna says:

    This assumes that Life in the Universe is a random chemical development. But ALL of our experience with the Sun and Earth imply that Life is created, or at least tinkered with, by an Intelligence with all of the attributes that we use to describe God.
    But The Creator is apparently working WITH Nature, and thus entire galaxies are too young to EVER produce Life, and all of the newer galaxies are born with too many “heavy” (i.e., radioactive) elements to allow Life to survive even if 1-celled thingies appeared in a warm tidal pool.
    Earth is located in Milky Way so that we have a great VIEW of the Cosmos. We’re supposed to gaze up in awe and then carry our sleeping children off to bed. I’m guessing that The Deity isn’t looking for a second opinion on the design and construction.

  2. 2
    polistra says:

    This is silly. We don’t need to “identify” any specific exoplanets. The chance of POSSIBLE exoplanets has been known for a long time. If other civilizations were interested in communication by any method we can sense, we would have sensed it by now. We’ve been listening for about 80 years on all the radio frequencies that could make it across such distances. We’ve been listening to light for 400 years.

  3. 3
    Fasteddious says:

    Yes, we have been “advertising” our existence via electromagnetic radiation for a century or so, louder and over a wider frequency range as the years progressed. But that means any “civilization” searching for us more than 100 light years away, will not be able to “see” us. How many of those exoplanets are within that distance? And what fraction of those could actually sustain life as we know (or imagine realistically) it? I suspect that if the “Rare Earth” people took a quick look through the list of exoplanets found so far, they would quickly discount all of them on one or other basis.

    Moreover, signal strength falls off as the square of the distance from the transmitting antenna, the background noise level is well defined, and there is a limit to the antenna gain. It does not take many light years to drop the signal strength below the noise level. One could use a very narrow band, a huge orbital antenna (or a laser, with different constraints), a very cold receiver for low noise, and pulse the signal at high power, but you would have to focus on only one star system, and the inverse square law will limit your prospects before getting 100 light years away. This same physics, of course, also constrains communications with any interstellar probes we may send out in the future.

  4. 4
    Fasteddious says:

    The National Post published a piece about a retired Israel space official, claiming that aliens and humans are living underground on Mars, and Trump and Israel know all about it. Go figure: https://nationalpost.com/news/national/aliens-exist-galactic-federation-israel-trump

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