Should we look for life?

In Episode 3, we talked briefly about searching for life outside our solar system. Is there much point looking for bacterial on Planet Zork, a thousand light years away? Since we’re not going to be able to get there for thousands of years?

Planets Align Over Australian Radio Telescope Array

Or do you think there are worthwhile scientific and technological advancements to be made doing the research anyway?

Image credit: Graeme L. White & Glen Cozens (James Cook University)
  • Penny


  • Shayne


  • Ed Brown

    Unfortunately, we’re no longer looking for (intelligent) life. The Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute has essentially been shut down due to a lack of money.

    There’s a good run down from SETI astronomer (and fellow podcaster!) Seth Shostak here.

    Sad. 🙁

  • Shayne

    Not just sad. Infuriating. I mean, we all know from Sci Fi that alien races are warlike. WE MUST HAVE SOME WARNING!

    In all seriousness, I understand that these programs are expensive, but I really would’ve thought there would have been money available somewhere to continue this. Hopefully this won’t be a permanent thing.

  • I love to imagine a time where humankind works towards some common goal, not for profits or to amass wealth, but for discovery, exploration and our eventual spread into the galaxy around us.

    The discovery of intelligent life ‘out there’ would have a profound effect upon our species’ goals, whilst providing some valuable perspective on our place in the universe. We’re just animals really – organic life-forms who in all probability share the universe with innumerable other life-forms. Our petty issues are insignificant on the cosmic scale. Whether we finally come together to address problems like climate change, poverty, and the ongoing extinction of species due to human impact upon our planet – they’re local issues.

    Knowing we’re not alone perhaps clarifies and highlights the responsibility we have to our home planet and the species with which we share it. We’re not special – we’re just temporary squatters here, and one day perhaps we’ll have to welcome an alien ambassador, and what will we say of the mess we’ve made of our world? “Sorry about the mess – the cleaner’s sick!”