At the SETI Institute—short for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence—scientists have been searching for proof that alien life exists in our galaxy since the early 1980s. Scientists working with the institute use the Allen Telescope Array—satellite dishes used to observe the stars—space-based telescopes like Hubble, and probes like Cassini, which took its final observations of Saturn before crashing into the planet’s atmosphere on September 15, all in an effort to find out if we are indeed alone in the universe. This is no small task, but one scientist named Seth Shostak is so confident that he and his colleagues will find the evidence they’re looking for that he bet "everybody" a cup of coffee that aliens are real.
According to a report from Futurism, Shostak, a senior astronomer working with the SETI Institute, made the bold claim during an interview with the outlet at the recent technology-focused World’s Fair Nano. Although he said that science still doesn’t have much to say about alien life because we haven’t actually met any aliens yet, he did “bet everybody a cup of coffee that we’ll find intelligent life within 20 years.”
By the way, Shostak does clarify that he isn't saying we’ll be introducing ourselves to walking, talking aliens who look like us and have a society of their own in 20 years time.
“We may find microbial life—the kind you’d find in the corners of your bathtub… It’s gonna happen, I think, in your lifetime,” he elaborated. “I mean if they’re 500 light years away, you’ll hear a signal that’ll be 500 years old, and if you broadcast back ‘Hi we’re the Earthlings, how’re you doing?’—it’ll be 1,000 years before you hear back from them. If you ever hear back from them. So, it’s not exactly contact, but at least you know they’re there.”
Start counting down on your calendars—if you turn on the news within the next 20 years, and NASA has announced that some far away planet is home to living creatures we've never seen before, get in touch with Shostak. You owe him a cup of coffee.
This story originally appeared on Foodandwine.com.