How would the public react if SETI found evidence of alien life?
Interesting interview with Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute:
I’m interested to know how the news of alien life – be it of vast intellect (hopefully not “intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic”) or simply microbial – would be greeted on Earth, and whether this would provoke some great existential change. Seth thinks that unlikely.
“In a sense we’ve run that experiment. In 1996 there was an announcement by Nasa that they had found dead microbes in a meteorite that had come from Mars. No doubt it had come from Mars; the doubt was whether these were really microbes of course but, at least for the couple of days of that story, the assumption was: Nasa is announcing this, these are reputable scientists.”
Of course we know how that turned out, but as Seth points out: “It was the biggest science story of the year – people didn’t riot in the streets. Nor did peace and brotherhood break out.”
Read the whole interview here.