Humans are pretty arrogant. The assumption that we are the centre of the universe, that nothing else could possibly exist – that’s what you call an ego.
But those people who believe in the singularity of the human race might be in for a shock come the end of the century. According to Dr. Jill Tarter, chair of Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), which was formerly funded by NASA:
In this century we are going to be finding life beyond Earth.
Picture: Dr. Jill Tarter
In a recent talk Dr. Tarter gave at Florida Tech university, entitled 'A Cosmic Perspective: Searching for Aliens, Finding Ourselves', she exclaimed that the limited depths of our search across space are like taking a glass of water out of the ocean.
“We’re out in the boondocks. And our star, the sun, is only one of 400 billion other stars in the Milky Way galaxy," Tarter told the crowd, as reported by Rick Neale in Florida Today. She continued:
And our Milky Way galaxy is only one of about 200 billion other galaxies in the observable universe. We're really working on an ancient human question. And that's very, very rewarding. We might, within the 21st century, have the answer to whether there is life beyond Earth. And we've been asking that question for a very, very long time.
But Dr. Tarter is hopeful, because of a lifetime’s worth of work in the field, which put her on Time’s 100 most influential people in the world list and saw Jodie Foster play her in the film Contact, and also because of new advancements in the way we can monitor the sky. She said:
We can build a series of 96 cameras, spread around 12 sites around the globe, working in the optical and infrared. We will literally be able to look up at all of the sky, all of the time to see if there are any bright flashes.
To see if any other phenomenon, like fast radio bursts, have an optical component. I'm really excited about it.