There has been important news concerning the search for extraterrestrial intelligence and some silly news that is none the less interesting.
First, congratulations to Dr. David Morrison who is the new Director of the Carl Sagan Center for Study of Life in the Universe at the SETI Institute. Frank Drake has held the position for many years. The Center has many projects, most of which focus on astrobiology issues.
The silly news comes from gamblers, who have decided to chime in on the issue of extraterrestrial intelligence. A company called Entertainment Betting Lines will allow you to wager on the possibility of extraterrestrial life being proven here on Earth by 2013. In our usual American-centric thinking this proof will have to come in the form of an address by the President of the United States.
The best part is the odds they list: 100 to 1. Really, 100 to 1? You can find odds near that at off-track horse betting parlors. Doesn’t that seem a tad low? Considering we have had no evidence of alien contact whatsoever, the wagering company seems to be playing it safe. Perhaps though, it’s truly an indication as to how much the human population believes in extraterrestrial intelligence. And perhaps it’s an indication of the times. Many people believe that we have come to a point in human history in which extraterrestrial contact would make sense. Of course we can go on believing all we want, it won’t change reality. However, if an extraterrestrial civilization was monitoring Earth, all this might just say- “hey, we’re ready.” And if they decide to make contact, maybe a little wager could give them some traveling money.