Leading alien experts arrived on Capitol Hill on Tuesday donning not tin foil hats but suits and ties, probably ones with little planets and spaceships on them.
The experts -- scientists at the California-based Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute --addressed Congress as part of hearing hosted by the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
Specifically, the experts brought committee members up to speed on the ongoing search for alien life -- not the little green people from the movies, but microbial life within our own solar system and intelligent life beyond.
The experts are optimistic.
"At least a half-dozen other worlds (besides Earth) that might have life are in our solar system," explained Seth Shostak, an astronomer from SETI. "The chances of finding it, I think, are good, and if that happens, it'll happen in the next 20 years, depending on the financing."
"It would be bizarre if we are alone," said Dan Werthimer, director of the SETI Research Center in Berkeley.
Shostak and Werthimer said we will likely discover alien life in one of three ways: by discovering microbial life within our own solar system, by detecting radio signals from distant life forms, or by analyzing the output of methane or oxygen in the atmosphere of exoplanets.
But the scientists likely broke the hearts of several hundred True Believers when they denied aliens had already visited Earth.
"I don't think that that would be something all the governments would have managed to keep a secret," Shostak said. "If they were really here I think everyone would know that."
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