Adam Frank | NPR: Cosmos & Culture
We’re entering uncharted territory. For more than 2,000 years, we humans have been arguing about life and, in particular, intelligent life in the universe. But arguing was pretty much where it always ended. For all that time, we never had any evidence or any data that could raise the discussion above two people with different opinions yelling at each other.
But this era may well be nearing its end.
The “exoplanet” revolution of the last 20 years has shown us that the universe is awash in alien worlds. More exciting, we now have methods where the atmospheres of those worlds may provide indirect evidence—called “bio-signatures”—for the existence of life. Over the next few decades we may finally have data relevant to the question of other life in the universe.
But what if we want to ask about intelligence? What about alien civilizations — or, as I like to call them, “exo-civilizations”?