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Mankind to detect alien life 'by 2025'

SETI astronomer sticks his neck out

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Senior Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) astronomer Seth Shostak last night boldly claimed that mankind would certainly detect intelligent alien life by 2025, assuming the right technology is in place to probe 500 light years into space where there are doubtless thousands of ET radio stations transmitting into the ether.

Speaking at an event in San Francisco, Shostak declared: "We'll find ET within two dozen years."

The prediction does, of course, come with a few caveats. It assumes that "assumptions about computing power and the strength of forthcoming research instruments are correct", as Cnet explains, and that scientist Frank Drake's estimate of 10,000 civilizations in the Milky Way alone capable of putting together radio transmitters is likewise on the money.

The principal tool in tracking down Radio ET may well be the Allen Telescope Array, Shostak said. It's a Paul Allen-funded network of six-metre radio antennae operated by SETI and UC Berkeley radio astronomy lab which "could become strong enough" by 2025 to deliver the goods.

SETI was, of course, a NASA-funded project until the agency pulled the plug on it in the 1990s due to its "lack of success". It has for some time been running its SETI@home project in which volunteers' computers analyse radio telescope data in the hope they might pick up some sign of aliens chewing the fat over the airwaves. To date, extraterrestrial talk show hosts have proved elusive. ®

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