Shockingly, there are still people on this planet who don't believe in alien life — something probably all of the aliens are laughing at. But scientist Jill Tarter knows otherwise. In fact, Tarter said we're going to discover alien life this century, while speaking at the Florida Institute of Technology's Cross Cultural Management Summit, reported by Florida Today. Tarter is a former project scientist and now research chair for SETI (the search for extraterrestrial intelligence), a NASA program, and was once named one of TIME's most influential people in the world. If anyone knows about aliens, she does.
So, what's the hold-up? Let's be honest: we all know there are countless different species of aliens roaming the galaxy; why haven't we made contact yet? (Or... have we?) Tarter says it's simply due to the size of the universe and the territory we've covered relative to it, comparing it to looking for fish in the ocean by taking out a glass of water, says Florida Today. "We’re out in the boondocks. And our star, the sun, is only one of 400 billion other stars in the Milky Way galaxy. And our Milky Way galaxy is only one of about 200 billion other galaxies in the observable universe." The universe is so big, in fact, she says there are actually more planets than stars in the Milky Way!
In other words, we have a lot of ground to cover — but Tarter is confident we're closing in on the discovery: "I think that in this century we are going to be finding life beyond Earth," she said during her speech, reports Florida Today. How are we going to find this alien life she mentions? Tarter explained it could come down to biomarkers, artifacts in the solar system, biosignatures in other planets' atmospheres, or technosignatures. That's a whole lot of big words most of us don't understand, but put simply, it means finding evidence of other lifeforms in the universe.
Tarter isn't the only one who thinks we're on the edge of a massive discovery. In an October 2017 Nautilus article, Seth Shostak echoed a similar belief, writing, "For more than a half-century, a small coterie of scientists has been pursuing the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or SETI. And we haven’t found a thing ... Half a century sounds like a long time, but the search is truly in its early days. Given the current state of SETI efforts and abilities, I feel that we’re on the cusp of learning something truly revolutionary." With the way technology is advancing and how science is finding ways to examine more of the universe at a much faster rate, Shostak believes we could find some kind of evidence of alien life within a generation.
Some experts believe discovering alien life is in our future, while others think it's already happened. Such is the case with former Pentagon official Luis Elizondo, says Abc.net.au, who reported on his interview with CNN. From 2007 to 2012, Elizondo led the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program, and suggested it's possible aliens have actually already landed on earth.
It doesn't end there — not nearly. As History.co.uk reminds us, astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Edgar Mitchell, Cady Coleman, and Dr. Brian O'Leary have all made claims of sightings. Evidence might go as far back at the 15th century: consider the painting called, "The Madonna With Saint Giovannino," AKA the UFO painting. It shows the Virgin Mary and in the background, a man and his dog looking up at what appears to be a UFO. Mentions and depictions of aliens and UFOs can be found in cave paintings, Sanskrit Scrolls, and the Bible.
Still not convinced? Don't worry. If Tarter and Shostak are right, you might be seeing the evidence you need in the near future.