A leading UK astrophysicist asserts that intelligent extraterrestrials might be discovered this century.While speaking at the Euroscience Open Forum conference in Dublin, Ireland, Jocelyn Bell Burnell announced, “I do suspect we are going to get signs of life elsewhere, maybe even intelligent life, within the next century.” The Daily Mail jokes that this is “a scientific prediction that will get dollar signs pinging in Steven Spielberg’s eyes.” But Burnell, a professor and astrophysicist at the University of Oxford, proposes that governments, rather than Hollywood filmmakers, should prepare for contact. She poses questions for governments to consider, such as, “How well prepared are we? Have we thought of how we approach them? Should we put them in a zoo, eat them, send in GIs to bring them democracy?”
According to the Daily Mail, Burnell believes “we are most likely to find alien life where we find rocky planets with carbon dioxide and ozone in the atmospheres.” But as the Times of India points out, “Even if we do find signs of alien life, it is likely to take decades to talk to them from Earth through radio or lasers.” Burnell commented on this point, stating, “Nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. So you are probably talking of conversations that could take 50 or 100 years, just one way.”
In conjunction with this story, the Daily Mail referenced a poll conducted by the Royal Society that determined forty-four percent of Britons believe extraterrestrial life exists, and more than a third feel we should be actively searching and trying to make contact with extraterrestrials.