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First evidence of extraterrestrial life.
Extraterrestrial life is hypothetical life which may occur outside of Earth. Such life might range from simple prokaryotes (or comparable life forms) to beings with civilizations far more advanced than humanity.
Since the mid-20th century, active ongoing research has taken place to look for signs of extraterrestrial life. This encompasses a search for current and historic extraterrestrial life, and a narrower search for extraterrestrial intelligent life. Depending on the category of search, methods range from the analysis of telescope and specimen data to radios used to detect and send communication signals.
This question asks: When will the first discovery of evidence of extraterrestrial life take place?
This question resolves as the date on which the first discovery of evidence of extraterrestrial life takes place. This can be evidence of past or present extraterrestrial life, and the life can be of any degree of complexity. The life must not owe its off-Earth presence to humans; e.g. sending Earth-originating life to Mars (even accidentally) does not count.
To qualify for a positive resolution, the discovery must be generally considered credible by the scientific community, as judged by Metaculus.
- 2020-09-16: the sentence "The life must not have originated from Earth or human efforts" was changed to "The life must not owe its off-Earth presence to humans".
Metaculus help: Predicting
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The basics of predicting are very simple: move the slider to best match the likelihood of the outcome, and click predict. You can predict as often as you want, and you're encouraged to change your mind when new information becomes available.
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Metaculus help: Community Stats
Use the community stats to get a better sense of the community consensus (or lack thereof) for this question. Sometimes people have wildly different ideas about the likely outcomes, and sometimes people are in close agreement. There are even times when the community seems very certain of uncertainty, like when everyone agrees that event is only 50% likely to happen.
When you make a prediction, check the community stats to see where you land. If your prediction is an outlier, might there be something you're overlooking that others have seen? Or do you have special insight that others are lacking? Either way, it might be a good idea to join the discussion in the comments.