When you look into the night sky and gaze at the stars (if they’re not obscured by clouds or greasy smog), you can’t help but wonder: are we alone?
The loners among us (and probably libertarians) might hope that we are. After all, being conquered by a vastly superior alien race, or alternatively, having to support them like all those illegal aliens on Alien Nation, chills to the bone. But that chill does not deter one intrepid band of nerds:
Operating on money and equipment scrounged from the public and from Silicon Valley millionaires, and on the stubborn strength of their own dreams, a band of astronomers recently restarted one of the iconic quests of modern science, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence — SETI, for short — which had been interrupted last year by a lack of financing.
Calculating that there are roughly 100 billion stars, and at least 10,000 advanced civilizations, scientists at SETI (not to be confused with Ceti Alpha 5–Khaaaaannnnnn!) believe that they must examine at least 1 million stars to get an accurate sense of the extraterrestrial picture. So, what began in the 60s as a fringe project, and expanded through the decades into a bloated corpse of wasteful spending, will continue and hopefully produce results that will either terrify or inspire us.
The scientists had a recent flare-up of excitement when they began receiving transmissions; however, they soon realized they were just receiving transmissions from a European satellite. I suspect that someone cried. But it’s not all bad, you might be saying to yourself: at least they know their equipment works. Well, eternal optimist, temper your tentative glee with the following factoid: After nearly 6 decades, they’ve only looked at 2,000 stars.
I think I just heard the sobs of a million nerds.