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Is E.T. out there? Well, I work at the SETI Institute. That's almost my name. SETI: Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. In other words, I look for aliens, and when I tell people that at a cocktail party, they usually look at me with a mildly incredulous look on their face. I try to keep my own face somewhat dispassionate.
Clearly, unless thinking beings inevitably wipe themselves out soon after developing technology, extraterrestrial intelligence could often be millions or billions of years in advance of us. We're the galaxy's noodling newbies.
The thing to keep in mind is that we're still in the very early days when it comes to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Saying there's a silence is a bit like if Columbus, looking to discover a new continent, only sailed 10 miles off the coast of Spain before turning back to say, 'Nothing out there!'
Most visions of extraterrestrial life are actually steeped in human hubris. The fictional extraterrestrials of 'Star Trek' or a hundred other space operas are less alien than many of my neighbors. And funny, the ones running the place are mostly WASPish men.
The total funding of SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) in the U.S. is 0.0003 percent of the tax monies spent on health and human services. And it's not even tax money. The SETI Institute's hunt for signals is funded by donations.
You may not see massive UFO exhibits at your local science museum, but there's no dearth of saucer stories infesting my email. Every day, I receive several reports of alien sightings, extraterrestrial plans for Earth, and agitated screeds about the reluctance of scientists to take the whole subject seriously.
For each letter received from a creditor, write fifty lines on an extraterrestrial subject and you will be saved.
Some pundits have proposed that the aliens have come here to breed with us. Apparently, too much bike riding or something similar has rendered them incapable of reproducing within their own species. But do extraterrestrial infants toddle through your neighborhood?
In a movie, it's often important to have aliens whose gestures and facial expressions can be 'read' by humans. And in the days before sophisticated computer animation, most extraterrestrial bit players were guys in rubber suits. Such practical considerations forced Hollywood's hand when it came to aliens - they look like us for good reasons.
I don't believe in a conspiracy to hide the existence of extraterrestrial life.
Maybe it's impossible to spend time with Patrick Stewart and not have the conversation move to the extraterrestrial.
Sci-Fi is the genre that explored both possibilities: the end of our existential crisis and the end of our existence. My novel, 'The 5th Wave,' explores the latter scenario, because, frankly, I believe it represents the likeliest outcome of an extraterrestrial encounter. In short, if they're out there, we better hope they never find us.
The Federal government does not have any information about extraterrestrial life to conceal, and there are no secret projects for me to investigate.
This planet seems to be in such sorry shape. And I can't ever think about the rest of the universe without coming back home and thinking what the implications for life here would be if we were to really have some definitive proof of extraterrestrial life.
Discovering traces of life on Mars would be of tremendous scientific significance: The first time that any signs of extraterrestrial life had ever been detected. Many people would also find it heartening to learn that we're not entirely alone in this vast, cold cosmos.
Each year, thousands of UFOs are sighted and reported, which is an impressive tally of unidentified aerial phenomena. Surveys show that roughly one-third of the populace believes that at least some of this sky show is due to extraterrestrial spacecraft, here to probe our airspace and, when that proves boring, our bodies.
The fancy that extraterrestrial life is by definition of a higher order than our own is one that soothes all children, and many writers.
Another random thing I do is the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI. And you may be familiar with the movie 'Contact,' which sort of popularized that. It turns out there are real people who go out and search for extraterrestrials in a very scientific way.
For many centuries, humans have speculated that there might be planetary systems around other stars and that there could be extraterrestrial life there and even intelligent being. However, those were simply speculations, and now we have evidence for the first part of these ideas.
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