What makes you so sure there is extraterrestrial life - that might be a very basic question, but what evidence, to you, is most compelling?"Senior astronomer Seth Shostak on the "Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence" (KALW News, via Daily Grail)
SHOSTAK: Well, there isn't any evidence of extraterrestrial life, compelling evidence, yet; in fact, the bottom line is, there isn't - we haven't found ET and frankly, we haven't found pond scum. We haven't found dead pond scum. But, I think that situation is going to change in the next couple of decades and the reason is that the searches are getting so much better. We're sending space craft, of course, to Mars. There may be life on Mars. What you have to do, probably, to find it, is drill a hole a couple of hundred feet deep and pull up the muck at the bottom of that hole and look at it under a microscope and you might see martian pond scum. You might say, I don't know, do I care about that? Do I want to spend my tax dollars looking for Martian pond scum? Because you know, I've got earthly pond scum in the bathtub at home.
But if you found life on Mars then you would know that life is just some sort of cosmic infection, it's not something miraculous because look, two worlds have it, so there must be many more. All these things are possible but we haven't found them yet and I think that the reason that I remain optimistic that we will, are just developments in mostly astronomy, and the fact that we're learning that planets are just as common as fire hydrants - they're all over place. The best estimates for the number of worlds in our own galaxy, the number of planets - a trillion. A trillion! That's a big number.
David Pescovitz is Boing Boing's co-editor/managing partner. He's also a research director at Institute for the Future. On Instagram, he's @pesco.