When I was a kid I would travel each summer to southern West Virginia with my family, driving past the giant radio telescopes at Green Bank Observatory. Seven radio telescopes ranging in size up to 100 meters in diameter still stick in my memory as an impressive technological spectacle representative of the emerging space age we lived in during the 1960's. For over 50 years now we have been beaming radio signals into the far reaches of outer space under programs like the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence (SETI). The dream is as much alive today as ever as we await the day when we might establish communication with another life form beyond our blue orb and prove that we are not alone in the universe.
I smile, these days, when I see these technological arrays with their teams of enthusiastic scientists, like the actress Jodie Foster in the movie Contact, still listening, waiting with geeky anxiety for ET's return message. It is not that I have become increasingly skeptical over the years; it's more that I have gained a greater respect for the quarry which they seek to find.
Much of formal orthodox conventional science is in denial about the abundance of life throughout the universe. Our governments and the media continue to have reason to lie to us and hold back our awakening. Most of us accept what we are told about things without much question, satisfied to continue to dream about the future while entertaining ourselves with the distraction of the latest fiction or propaganda presented by modern media. “Is there other intelligent life in the universe?” we continue to ponder. Seriously? I mean, really??? It's more like, “Can you show me evidence of intelligent life on Earth?”
We are not alone in the universe by any stretch of the imagination. There are more life forms than one can imagine – an endless variety of beings, more like us than not who have been coming and going from our planet since long before our history began. Many of them call Earth home. Each of us likely has met or know someone who is alien to this planet, and we don't even realize it. Not only have alien beings been coming here forever, but we've been traveling into space and to their worlds, some beyond our own solar system, since the early 1940's. There is not a major government or major corporation on planet Earth that does not have a space presence with personnel and a vested interest in off-planet trade activities. But that is an entirely different campfire story.
What amuses me with the continued use of radio telescopes is when you consider the many intelligent beings that inhabit our local universe, you must assume that if they can come and go as they please, they must surely be at least a few more years if not a few million years (maybe a few billion) more advanced than us. They are likely to know far more about nearly everything than we do – technology, communication, consciousness, etc. Some may use flying craft more advanced than our technology; some may not need craft at all. If our scientists have begun to manipulate the space-time continuum, it makes sense to image that perhaps some of our space brethren may have gone far beyond our current understanding in manipulating space and time for more efficient travel, at least. While we are generally a warring species on this planet with a savage history and scary advances in weaponry, other beings from far-off worlds probably are not – or they could have wiped us out long ago with little challenge.
I would imagine, for the most part, that any off-world civilizations that have taken an interest in our planet probably observe us with curiosity and likely judge us as rather immature in the larger scheme of things. In fact, they probably view our species with some degree of empathy as rather infantile, spending most of our time sleeping, pooping, and crying. They have probably been very patient, waiting for the day when we are able to reach out telepathically to say hello; waiting for the time when we grow beyond the egotistic individuals we largely perceive ourselves to be, apart from each other and alone in the universe. Why would any consciousness with a galactic perspective have any interest in spending much time or energy to engage with infants?
Using giant radio telescopes in hopes of spotting signals from ET is like trying to talk to star people using smoke signals. Certainly not out of the realm of possibility, but probably not worth the time sitting by the phone anxiously waiting for ET to answer.