Astronomer Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute (SETI) in Mountain View, California said on Sunday, August 15, 2010 that he believes the chances are pretty good they will be able to find ET within the next twenty-five years. Shostak made his comments at the SETIcon convention.
Shostak is using the Drake Equation, a formula invented by SETI pioneer Frank Drake that calculates the number of alien civilizations (N) we might be able to communicate with. The equation uses factors like rate of star formation in the galaxy, fraction of stars with planets, fraction of habitable planets, planets that actually develop life and the fraction of civilizations that have a technology that can broadcast into space, among other things.
The late Carl Sagan estimated the Drake Equation amounted to N=1 million. Isaac Asimov estimated N=670,000. Frank Drake estimated N=10,000.
SETI's quest to make ET contact will take a giant step when the Allen Telescope Array becomes fully operational, hopefully by 2015. The ATA is a network of radio dishes that should be able to scan hundreds of thousands of stars for signs of extraterrestrial life and intelligence.
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Source article: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38727371/ns/technology_and_science-space/
SETIcon Convention: http://www.seticon.com/
SETI Institute: http://www.seti.org/Page.aspx?pid=1366