Why We Should Know if Aliens Exist Within the Next 17 Years

The search for alien technology is about to get much more efficient. I’ve bet a cup of coffee to any and all that by 2035 we’ll have evidence of E.T.

But my hopeful feeling is not wishful thinking; it is firmly grounded in the logic of SETI. Half a century sounds like a long time, but the search is truly in its early days. Given the current state of SETI efforts and abilities, I feel that we’re on the cusp of learning something truly revolutionary.

 

We have been searching for narrow-band signals. “Narrow-band” means that a large fraction of the transmitter power is squeezed into a tiny part of the radio dial, making the transmission easier to find. This is analogous to the way a laser pointer, despite having only a few milliwatts of power, nonetheless looks bright because the energy is concentrated into a narrow wavelength range.

If you subscribe to the conventional view that extraterrestrials will most likely be ensconced on planets or moons, then it’s better to devote precious telescope time to examining nearby star systems.

We are going down a list of 20,000 small stars that are prime candidates for hosting habitable planets. These ruddy runts are both numerous and, on average, old. Most have been around for billions of years, the time it took life on Earth to evolve from microscopic slime to high-tech hominids. Astronomers estimate that roughly one-half of all red dwarfs might have a rocky world in the habitable zone, where temperatures would abide liquid water.

Read the rest on Nautilus:  Why We’ll Have Evidence of Aliens—If They Exist—By 2035