Where are they? Enrico Fermi 1901–1954

A millennium ago our ancestors took their first timid steps into the vast, unforgiving seas of space surrounding our fragile homeworld; they found the water cold, but inviting. A century later, they achieved world peace and unification, after they realized that we are all citizens of the same world, members of the same species. And then they collectively turned their attention to the skies.

We have lingered long enough on the shores of the Cosmic Ocean. Carl Sagan 1934–1996

Now our civilization spans our entire home system: from the inner rocky worlds, to the outer gas giants, to the asteroids and comets between and beyond the planets. We know only prosperity; everyone is cared for. We revel in our individuality and yet also in our unity. We are one species, one star system, a hundred billion minds. The darkness between our worlds does not frighten us; on the contrary, we find it comforting, as it is our home. But the vastness between the stars — foreboding and yet enticing — calls to us. With all that we have achieved, we find ourselves wanting. And, too, perhaps, a little lonely.

But who shall dwell in these worlds if they be inhabited? ... Are we or they Lords of the World? ... And how are all things made for man? Johannes Kepler 1571–1630

And today we have completed construction of the first ships which will carry our kind to the stars. What will we find? Some argue that there are many benign, peaceful civilizations throughout our galaxy, and we will be invited to join a galactic confederation based on mutual trust and cooperation. Others suggest that hostile, xenophobic civilizations are waiting for us and will fight to either our extinction or theirs. Still others think that we are all alone in the Universe; nothing awaits us but noble gases, interplanetary dust, and barren worlds.

Which view is right? All are plausible; yet only one can be correct. Today we will find out.

Prepare yourself.