The real geeks among us long for synthohol. Only Class A nerds know, or admit to knowing, what it is, too.
But I have to tell you, your potential partner’s drinking it won’t make you any better looking. Better to stick with the real thing.
I’d surely like to see cheap, readily available fusion power. With unlimited energy comes unlimited possibility.
Medical advances never really grabbed my interest. Probably—and luckily—because I don’t have any sicknesses.
Would be good to see genetics progress to the point where we can reliably clone humans so that we don’t deprive the world of another me.
Proofs of various unsolved problems in math would be, as Martha says, a good thing, but, eh. Math will never cease, there is no natural stopping point, no real goal.
I can go to my grave—not happily, but resignedly—without knowing what the unified theory is, or whether string theory or something deeper is true.
But what I’d really like to know—I mean know, for certain—is whether life exists, particularly sentient life, on other planets.
When I was younger and, if it can be imagined, even dumber than I am now, I used to think such a discovery would put a lot of people in their place. I didn’t then appreciate the resiliency of belief.
So now I would like to know just for myself. For reasons I can’t quite explain, finding extraterrestrial life would make me very happy. I would feel like all is right with the universe.
When I was a kid, we didn’t know that other stars had planets. We suspected, of course: Because there were so many stars, there surely had to be other planets. But it wasn’t until recently that we had external proof.
The same sort of reasoning suggests there are extraterrestrial life forms. Certainly life is tenacious here on Earth. Kill it en mass with rocks from outer space or choke it with planetary-wide volcanic gas, it always bounces back stronger than before.
The ease with which life forms exploit any potential niche here at home is reasonable evidence it can do so elsewhere. Still, we haven’t even figured out if life made it on Mars. We’re not done looking, but it’s at least obvious that life wasn’t extraordinarily fruitful on the red planet. Well, we still have Io to explore.
We have looked for signals from space. I hope we get lucky with this, but any communication we do find won’t be an accidental one. That is, it is very unlikely we’ll be able to ear whig an alien conversation.
There is some fancy math that shows the more efficient a signal gets the more it looks like noise. Species that are more advanced than us are likely to communicate efficiently, and even in ways we don’t yet know, so overhearing gossip on an interstellar hydrogen-line party line is unlikely.
Thus, the signals we do eventually capture almost certainly will be broadcasts saying, “We are here, we are here, we are here!” The people at SETI are keeping their ears open.
Then there is Enrico Fermi’s question, sometimes called a “paradox”, which it most certainly is not. Fermi wondered that, since there are so many possibilities for life to have evolved to the point of technological superiority over us, why haven’t we noticed any of them?
To call this a paradox is to make the assumption that all other sentient life is as gregarious as our species. Or it assumes that we are interesting enough for superior beings to take notice of us. Or that our betters haven’t figured out how to duck into the multiverse. Or whatever.
But Fermi’s question is a good one all the same. We haven’t notice any Bracewell or Von Neumann probes, for example. (Probably better not to have seen any of the later.)
Nor have we seen the spectral signal of any Dyson spheres, or even Niven-like ringworlds. In short, no eternal evidence at all of any extraterrestrial civilization. So far.
I’ve got maybe 30-50 years left (my clan appears long lived), so I still have hope.
Still, it wouldn’t be all bad if we were the first sentient species. Our descendants, if they make it that long, would have bragging rights among the other species that eventually evolve. We’d be able to say, “We’re number 1! Eat that, proto-virus from cluster AGC-11H!”
That’s my desire. What’s yours?