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NASA chief says get ready to meet alien life in 20 to 30 years

Technically Incorrect: There will, supposedly, be "definite evidence" that we are close to a very close encounter sooner than we might think.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


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Is 2035 the magical date when we'll finally be sure they're out there? Hybrid Librarian/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Which will come first? You turning into a robot? Or you shaking hands with a little green person?

We're in a race, don't you know. And the latter proposition is coming up fast on the rails.

I am moved to this exalted level of excitement by the utterances of NASA's chief scientist Ellen Stofan. She declared Tuesday that we are but a score of years away from making one of humanity's greatest scores -- a close encounter with alien life.

When NPR reported this, my bodily hair began to vibrate like corn in a mistral wind. I was ready to alter my life plans and renounce grenache for the rest of my days in order to be ready for the next great coming.

Then I read that she added: "We are not talking about little green men. We are talking about little microbes."

As my mother often told me, little microbes are better than nothing. It's still a touch disappointing,

However if, as NASA predicts, there will be "definite evidence" of alien life within 20 to 30 years, I may even forsake pierogi (but only the cheese and potato ones) in the hope that I live long enough to see this evidence.

I am, though, suspicious of these 20-year predictions. Only last year, the antenna-headed boffins at the Search For Terrestrial Intelligence declared that they too would find aliens within that period. There was one caveat: they needed vast bank vaults of lucre to secure their promise.

Is this all merely a matter of money? Yesterday, Stofan insisted: "We know where to look. We know how to look." Yes, we have the technology.

So what are we waiting for? Another presidential election where financial promises are made and then delivered into a venal congressperson's offshore account?

It's not as if humanity has made vast progress in other areas. We're frothing at the armpits about watches. We're struggling with the simplest notions such as marriage, war and preventing spaghetti sauce from dripping on our T-shirts. We're quite primitive things, really.

So if these few clever people can really muster concrete evidence of life beyond ours, we should fill their deposit accounts with coffers of cash. Should they indeed find proof, we might at least quit our infernal, socially-networked navel-gazing and gaze instead up to the stars for hope.