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It's the loneliest question in the cosmos: Are we, creative and intelligent and flawed as we are, really all there is? Are we alone, and have we always been? Is there anybody else out there?

Leave it to the people of DARPA to think not only of answers, but of completely new ways to ask this question.

We might not be alone at all, but we probably won't find out by doing what we've been doing for the past few decades, said Lucianne Walkowicz, an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago who works on the Kepler Space Telescope. Walkowicz spoke on a panel Friday on the last day of Wait, What? — a future technology forum sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Pentagon's blue-sky wing.

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