How good are you at holding both flying saucers and the skepticism of a scientist in both hands? Have you noticed that the notion of Life existing elsewhere in the universe is becoming more commonplace?

Have you ever heard of SETI?

Image: Radio Array of Telescopes at SETI

Source:  SETI

If it sounds vaguely familiar that’s because for more than 40 years SETI has been at the scientific forefront of determining if there is anybody else out there, in the vastness of the universe, with the technology to communicate with us.

The scientists there are not chasing flying saucers, but they are open to almost all possibilities, and they’ve got much to teach us about that.

Since the 1970’s SETI programs have been established at NASA’s Ames Research Center and at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. These groups arrived at a dual-mode strategy for surveying 1,000 Sun-like stars in a targeted search with technology capable of detecting weak or sporadic signals that do not represent naturally occurring space signals.

SETI, by the way, stands for Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. So, if you are a skeptic, good!

Here at Ever Widening Circles we like skeptics because they keep everyone asking better and better questions.

That said, it turns out there was a very famous radio astronomer, Frank Drake, who asked something beyond the question “Is there anyone else out there?”

He asked, “What are the mathematical odds that they are not!?”

Here’s a terrific short video about the surprising answer!

Via: TED-Ed 1

Interesting, huh?! So, it’s actually highly probable that there is life elsewhere in the universe!

And for them, like us, our greatest hurdle is surviving the technology that empowers us to reach out and search for other intelligent life. As Carl Sagan, perhaps one of the most renown astronomers in history, once said, “There are one billion planets in our galaxy that might have reached technological proficiency (FL) and then snuffed themselves out in an unforgivable act of neglect.”

It would be a great act of hubris to exclude ourselves from this statement. We are still in our infancy when it comes to utilizing the technologies we have created to the best of our abilities and ensuring the longevity of our planet.

Luckily, we are reaching a point in history where we can become more conscious and right the wrongs of past generations, setting us on a better course.

Carl Sagan once said something I love to think about while gazing at the night sky:

“So, if civilizations do not always destroy themselves shortly after discovering technology, the sky may be softly humming with messages from the stars, with signals from civilizations enormously older and wiser than we.”
– Carl Sagan

This statement not only gives me hope for our own future but for a future where we recognize the vast expanse of knowledge that the cosmos holds.

So, maybe we should understand and appreciate this SETI project much better. Here’s a very interesting and uplifting TED Talk by Seth Shostak, the lead astronomer, and director of SETI

Via: TED-Ed 2

We loved all the questions he raised about how we will react to finding life in the universe some day.

How will our sense of ourselves change? Will we be able to use their knowledge to leap through our own history? Can we use the insights we gain to avoid destroying ourselves? Are we producing enough scientists to take on all the challenges until we do discover we are not alone?

These are just some of the new questions that will need many more scientists answer!

Know any 8 to 11-year-olds who lean toward curiosity and might make a great scientist? You can change their lives. Start sharing content from great YouTube channels we love here at EWC like It’s OK to be Smart,  TED-Ed, Vsauce, Brain Scoop, and The Good Stuff.

In fact, we are creating a long list of fun education pieces here at EWC! Check out our educational enrichment articles for remarkable ways to tap into science in an entertaining way.

Stay open, curious and hopeful!

~ Dr. Lynda

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Notes:

  1. “Calculating The Odds of Intelligent Alien Life – Jill Tarter.” YouTube. TED-Ed, 02 July 2012. Web. 14 June 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AnLznzIjSE>.
  2. “ET Is (probably) out There — Get Ready – Seth Shostak.” YouTube. TED-Ed, 21 Aug. 2013. Web. 14 June 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0m8WdR1FcQ>.

Dr. Lynda is a dentist, artist, global traveler, and philanthropist who looks for potential and shares it with the world.