Fast-forward half a century, and you’ll find many teams of scientists trying to detect life — intelligent or otherwise — in the cosmos. In Bruce Dorminey’s June article, “A new way to search for life in the universe,” he describes attempts to detect photosynthesis on other worlds. A key step to life on Earth, photosynthesis converts sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water into chemical energy and molecular oxygen, the latter a necessity for earthly intelligence.
Astronomy magazine has covered many other methods scientists are deploying in the quest for intelligent life. Here we present two recent articles. In “How to find E.T. with infrared light,” scientists Jeff R. Kuhn, Svetlana V. Berdyugina, David Halliday, and Caisey Harlingten explain how they and others are hunting for the heat signatures an advanced civilization would almost certainly emit. And in “The new search for alien intelligence,” science writer David L. Chandler describes how researchers are seeking signs of Dyson spheres and laser communications from beyond the solar system. If humans don’t find E.T.s out there, it certainly won’t be from a lack of trying.