If there’s a first person to know about confirmed life elsewhere in the universe in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), it’s Seth Shostak. Shostak is senior astronomer at the SETI Institute and director at Center for SETI Research. He also heads the International Academy of Astronautics SETI permanent committee and hosts the Big Picture Science radio show, which features a broad range of topics in science.
In his hourlong interview with Editor David J. Eicher, Shostak discusses his long fascination with the stars that lead him to a career in radio astronomy and eventual work in the SETI field. He considers all kinds of questions about life in the universe, from what kinds of signals the SETI Institute is looking for [12:55] to why we haven’t found a signal yet [19:00]. Shostak gives a sort of state of the union for the institute [30:25] and explains the wide range of science being done there, especially in astrobiology [35:30]. Reflecting on what science fiction likes to portray, he shares what he thinks life elsewhere in the universe might be like [39:25], why he doesn’t take UFO sightings seriously yet [48:30], and in what ways he believes a successful extraterrestrial signal detection will change humanity [51:30].
**EDITORIAL NOTE: This interview took place before the embargoed announcement of Internet mogul Yuri Milner’s $100 million investment in SETI, Breakthrough Initiatives**