Archive for Monday, May 10, 2010

E.T. expert optimistic that we are not alone

An alien hunter gave a presentation on the Kansas University campus during the weekend about the scientific search for aliens. He believes we will find intelligent life elsewhere in the universe within the next few decades.

May 10, 2010


Have you ever wondered whether there’s intelligent life beyond our planet? A guest speaker who addressed a crowd at Kansas University on Sunday night believes there is.

Seth Shostak is a senior astronomer at the SETI Institute. He also hosts a weekly radio show called “Are We Alone?”

The free event at Alderson Auditorium in the Kansas Union included a slideshow presentation on the astronomer’s theories and findings regarding extraterrestrial life.

When asked how he responds when people suggest he’s joking, he said, “They might think it’s a joke. They could have thought the same thing of Chris Columbus if he walked around the bars of Spain in 1491, and said, ‘You know, I’m going to cross the ocean. Who knows what I’ll find. It might be interesting.’”

Shostak has published approximately 50 research papers in professional journals on the subject of intelligent life in outer space. His most recent publication is a book called “Confessions of an Alien Hunter.”

He said about his work, “That is what this is, it’s exploration. There’s good reason to believe there may be cosmic company. I’m optimistic we will find something within a few decades.”

Shostak recently appeared as a guest on “Larry King Live” and “The Colbert Report.”


Liberty275 8 years, 1 month ago

The odds that we are the only sentient beings in the universe are absurdly(to the nth power) against us. Even a hick like me can understand that. OTOH, it's an admirable thing to devote your life to proving the theory instead of just accepting it like I do. Kudos Mr Shostak. Keep up the good work. One word of advice, don't get the attention of the aliens that want "to serve man".

gr 8 years, 1 month ago

"(to the nth power)"

Isn't that the probability of evolution happening once?

Liberty275 8 years, 1 month ago

It seems it would happen everywhere the building blocks could exist, given enough time. There are lots of places and lots of time.

gr 8 years, 1 month ago

"Shostak has published approximately 50 research papers in professional journals on the subject of intelligent life in outer space."

Easy. Just keep repeating something often enough and it is assumed fact. Just consider global warming. It's an assumed FACT and nothing would stop some from believing it even if glaciers should start damming up the Kaw.

gr 8 years, 1 month ago

So, Pywacket, could you tell us what WOULD stop you from believing and repeating it?

Liberty275 8 years, 1 month ago

We have experts on god called preachers, popes, imams and rabbis and god doesn't exist. I can say con-men.

James Stewart 8 years, 1 month ago

Ummm... I should think that the answer to that is that he is a senior astronomer for the SETI Institute. Considering they are the only organization whose explicit goal is the "Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence" and he not only works there but has been around long enough to be called "senior", I'm willing to concede his expertise.

Your argument would apply equally to a theologian being a con man. We certainly have no knowledge of any deities and they quite possibly don't exist. Despite that, I would still concede that someone who has spent their career in the study of the religions and deities would quality as an expert in theology -- not a con man. That is not to say that an expert can't be a con man too. For instance, there are plenty of scumbags out there who use their religious standing for nefarious/selfish purposes.

Besides, the discussion should not really be about whether or not aliens do exist (the math is undeniable and the only potential explanation for the lack of aliens would have to revert to theological grounds) but, rather, at what point will we obtain evidence of their existence. A few decades does seem a little earlier than I would expect but, hey, I'm not the expert.

RoeDapple 8 years, 1 month ago

easy to do gop! Self declaration! I am an expert on bigfoot. There, I said it so it must be true

inklines 8 years, 1 month ago

If there are aliens out there they are probably avoiding earth. We can't even seem to live peacefully with people from different cultures on our own planet.

whats_going_on 8 years, 1 month ago

you do know that Bush revised that 1878 law in response to Hurricane Katrina, right?

If not, I would advise you to do some reading, outside of Faux.

SLOPOKE 8 years, 1 month ago

I have always wondered why the leaders of all counties,(people of knowledge?) are picking up the pace of the nuclear arms race when we already have enough nuc's to blow this planet back to its birth place..We are already armed well enough to handel any problems of the earthly type. They must know much more than the populas,what is it that is driving our leaders to this madness????

oldtimer39 8 years, 1 month ago

It's a fact that the essential elements and building blocks needed for life to develop on Earth exist outside of Earth. Which means that it's possible the same evolutionary processes that happened on this planet are happening (or have happened) on countless other planets throughout the universe.

Additionally, with as many stars as there are in the universe, I find it incredibly hard to believe that Earth is the only one perfectly suited for the development of intelligent life. But considering what we know about Earth (small rocky planet with water, atmosphere, certain proximity from a certain kind of star) our technology simply isn't advanced enough to detect those kinds of planets yet, and for that I reason I don't think we'll make "contact" with intelligent life within 30 years.

Finally, I imagine these kinds of conversations were fairly commonplace prior to the age of exploration when most folks were certain that if you sailed too close to the horizon, you'd fall off the earth. If history has shown us anything, it's that a closed mind inevitably leads to being remembered as a fool.

beatrice 8 years, 1 month ago

Looks to me like oldtimer39 qualifies as an E.T. expert!

beatrice 8 years, 1 month ago

gop wants to know, how someone can be an expert in something that we have no knowledge of and possibly doesn't exist?

Good question. Ask a priest.

devobrun 8 years, 1 month ago

Nice work, bea. Now expand that to include all things postulated on the basis of evidence, but with no ability to test, and you have the major problem with rational thought in the modern world. Stories are great. Entertaining, but useless. Links to Neanderthals. Climate predictions. Risk assessments of packaged mortgage loans. Shamans of many stripes. There are experts everywhere. Just ask 'em. PhDs all dressed up and nowhere to go. So they create a reality where they are valued and pontificate. And the general public buys it. Oh, BTW, religion is not limited to God.

devobrun 8 years, 1 month ago

You saw a neanderthal mate with a human! Wow, and then did you see the offspring? Cool!

Oh wait, you saw indicators, markers that were shared by humans and neanderthals. Is that the same thing? Hmmm, lets see:

If A implies B, and B implies C, then A implies C. But what if M implies C and X implies B(but only in the presence of A) and what if neither A nor B nor any of it is a dead solid lock for veracity?

Oh, it probably happened. It will never happen again unless Neanderthals can be reconstituted from DNA. OK, when you reformulate a Neanderthal, and it mates with a human and viable offspring happen, then I believe. Otherwise it is just a story.

One of many stories, I might add. Lots of stories to entertain lots of children. Yawn, is it sleepy time yet?

Py, I am an engineer. I can't use the story for anything. Nobody can. It is fruitless. The difference between science that is useful and that which merely yields a story is very important. Science can afford to ignore the question "so what". Engineers, economists, and most of the real world are starting to get uncomfortable with stories that do us no good.

Hold on while I finish my DNA project........ There, fixed the U.S. border problem with a computer model of the DNA project (modern science).

Isn't science great?

oldtimer39 8 years, 1 month ago

But wouldn't that be something if building blocks and elements DO just come together and form intelligent, highly-ordered life forms?

Since no one's been able to prove it one way or the other, I think I'll stick with my "myth" and you can stick with yours.

melott 8 years, 1 month ago

Of course, anyone who had been there would know that the discussion was about the possibility of receiving radio signals.

John Spencer 8 years, 1 month ago

"Have you ever wondered whether there’s intelligent life beyond our planet?"

Reading many of the comments about articles on this web site makes me wonder about intelligent life here on this planet!

beatrice 8 years, 1 month ago

We know you believe in anything, like Republicans in the White House in 2012. You would be better off believing in the E.T. expert.

phoggyjay 8 years, 1 month ago

Anyone know of any good links to see videos of UFO's. Always looking for new ones.

mavrick848 8 years, 1 month ago

This is just my opinion but I believe since we haven't heard or gotten signals the past decades, its a possibility we might be the only intelligent life in the Galaxy not the Universe. if we did gain contact from another civilization why is the government with holding such information? from what i understand this country is based on for the people by the people, the people hold the most power and the government i'm sure knows this so I think we have the right to know whats going on out there instead of covering things up.

anonyname 8 years, 1 month ago

A lack of contact in forms and/or languages we are able to recognize over decades does not make it impossible for there to be one or many life forms elsewhere at some point over the past billions of years - or even since 4004 BC! I'm not saying I have proof there is life elsewhere, though I do think it's likely. I'm just saying 30-50 years of searching, in manners or technologies that may be completely wrong, is not sufficient to rule out the possibility.

BigPrune 8 years, 1 month ago

Is it true this scientist is a devout atheist?

oldtimer39 8 years, 1 month ago

I think it's interesting how the "crazy" people in this discussion are those who believe our lack of understanding about the universe allows for the possibility of intelligent life outside of Earth, and how vehement the self-proclaimed "sane" people are that it's just not possible.

Some would call that a reaction born out of fear. And not fear of "little green men" or anything like that; more so a fear that if we did discover we aren't alone in the universe, it would completely upend certain faith systems that don't recognize the existence of anyone outside of this planet (or the Middle East, depending on your favorite book).

oldtimer39 8 years, 1 month ago

"Would it? Really? Perhaps some, certainly not the one based in reality and truth."

Which one is that?

oldtimer39 8 years, 1 month ago

Sorry for the echo - had the comment window open too long.

phoggyjay 8 years, 1 month ago

Seriously, I'd like to know which "one is based in reality and truth"?

oldtimer39 8 years, 1 month ago

"Modern engineers are easily dumbfounded, as they consistently underestimate the intelligence of their ancient predecessors."

Yet, modern engineers have figured out how to do things their ancient predecessors could only dream of, such as space travel. I imagine there were plenty of cynics in their time who said that would never be possible.

Which is where I guess you fit in to all of this, 75x55. Cynics have a role to play in progress. Their pessimism and "can't do" attitude is what drives more open-minded and optimistic people to meet and overcome a challenge.

oldtimer39 8 years, 1 month ago

We're close to having efficient capability to send astronauts to Mars. Are you opposed to this type of exploration?

And hypothetically speaking, would you reconsider the value of searching for ET if we discovered life or evidence of life on Mars?

oldtimer39 8 years, 1 month ago

"Again, what is the point of sending manned missions anywhere outside of Earth orbit?"

It's the same reason for exploring the oceans (something we apparently, both support) - scientific discovery.

Each space mission teaches us something new about our planet, our universe and ourselves. The more difficult the mission, the more we learn.

Bottom line: - I'm fascinated by the fact that there's so much we don't understand about our planet and our universe. - I'm glad there are people like Seth Shostak devoting there careers to investigating the unknown. - I hope I never reach the point where I give up on curiosity and allow myself to settle into a nice, orderly set of parameters that do the thinking and believing for me.

oldtimer39 8 years, 1 month ago

We could go back and forth like this until we actually DO contact E.T., so I'll leave this conversation with a couple of links that talk about the direct benefits of space exploration.

I also challenge you take a drive out of the city on a clear night, spend some time looking at the sky, and see if you can trick yourself into being at least a little curious about what's going on up there.

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