Then, almost immediately, a backtrack from the title! We are told at Space.com, “Probably not, but there are reasons to be optimistic about our near-future prospects.
Oh dear. If this were private life and not Science (!), it would all sound like that sort of woman, at least one of whom absolutely everyone knows, who wonders if this time her shiftless boyfriend is finally going to keep the job he landed…
No, but seriously:
The search for intelligent beings elsewhere, Shostak said, is largely conducted by checking out nearby star systems for either narrow-band radio signals or brief flashes of laser light. And those might succeed at any time, he told Space.com.
“But one should remember that this type of search is gaining speed in an exponential fashion, and that particular technical fact allows a crude estimate of when SETI might pay off. If we take — for lack of a better estimate — Frank Drake’s opinion that there might be 10,000 broadcasting societies in the Milky Way, then we clearly have to examine at least one [million] – 10 million stellar systems to have a reasonable chance of tripping across one. That goal will be reached in the next two decades, but certainly not in 2020,” Shostak said.Leonard David, “Will 2020 Be the Year We Find Intelligent Alien Life?” at Space.com
It would be marvellous to find aliens out there to talk to, even if they turned to be an awful bore. But there is something suspicious about these statistics. With no single alien ever found, they offer us no history to go by.
See also: Tales of an invented god
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