Astronomers have found hundreds of planets around other stars. The question is whether any of them have life. "Within the next 25 to 50 years, we will have the ability to observe essentially the entire radio portion of the electromagnetic spectrum across the entire sky, instantaneously," said Andrew Siemion, an astronomer at the University of California, Berkeley.
"Within the next 150 years (probably within the next 50), we will discover extant or extinct life outside of the Earth," he said. "Most likely this discovery will be made spectroscopically, through analyzing the contents of exoplanet atmospheres, but it may also be made via in-situ measurements on other bodies in our own solar system."
New technology will be a big part of solving the mystery of life on other planets. "Instead of tediously tuning our radio telescopes around tiny bands of frequencies and pointing a telescope at many, many positions, we will cover everything, all at once. If the assumptions that led us to look for narrow-band radio signals in the first place are correct, we will discover intelligent life," said Siemion.
And if we see nothing, it would mean there's something pretty special about us -- or at least, that ET doesn't use a radio to phone home.