While popular culture including TV shows like Roswell and the X-Files have us convinced that martians exist in real life, Seth Shostak announced at last week’s European Commission Innovation Convention that we will discover alien life by this century. For more information, Dr. Shostak is not simply a fanatist – he is a senior astronomer from the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence). Instead of focusing on the possibility of finding extraterrestrial life, he focuses on the timing of this discovery.
In the past, there have been claims of flying UFOs in the sky or strange figures resembling the likeness of aliens by fanatics. Some have even gone to the extreme end by believing in alien conspiracy theories or giving personal accounts of being kidnapped by aliens. One of the most popular alien conspiracy theories is the Roswell UFO incident . In 1947, the Roswell Air Force Base issued a press release stating that they had found a mysterious metallic disc nearby. In reality, the strange-looking disc was simply the remaining parts of a weather balloon, but soon the media created a big hype and twisted the story angle into Roswell discovering a crashed alien spaceship. Up until this day, people are still convinced that it was a real alien spaceship and that the government tried to cover up the truth to avoid moral panic.
However, this astronomer is fairly certain that we will find extraterrestrial life in the near future. According to Dr Shostak, humans may not have to wait until the year 2099, as this may occur within the next 25 years. As technology and society progresses in time, this will provide humans developed technology and techniques to look for aliens, such as new techniques to look for microbial life, advanced telescopes and the discovery of evidence of life in habitable planets.
While scientists discover signs of life in other habitable planets, perhaps we need to reassess our definitions of an alien. People tend to have the conception that “aliens” are skinny bug-eyed creatures, but this was simply an image created by the media. When humans eventually discover alien life, perhaps they will look completely different from what we imagined and we may even disregard their existence due to our fixed perception of extraterrestrials.