Yes, There Have Been Aliens

NASA Ames/W. Stenzel; Princeton University/T. MortonNASA Ames/W. Stenzel; Princeton University/T. Morton

Relax, the aliens were here a long, long time ago, according to Adam Frank, an astrophysics professor at the University of Rochester and co-founder of NPR’s 13.7 Cosmos and Culture blog, writing at the New York Times:

Last month astronomers from the Kepler spacecraft team announced the discovery of 1,284 new planets, all orbiting stars outside our solar system. The total number of such “exoplanets” confirmed via Kepler and other methods now stands at more than 3,000.

This represents a revolution in planetary knowledge. A decade or so ago the discovery of even a single new exoplanet was big news. Not anymore. Improvements in astronomical observation technology have moved us from retail to wholesale planet discovery. We now know, for example, that every star in the sky likely hosts at least one planet.

But planets are only the beginning of the story. What everyone wants to know is whether any of these worlds has aliens living on it. Does our newfound knowledge of planets bring us any closer to answering that question?

A little bit, actually, yes. In a paper published in the May issue of the journal Astrobiology, the astronomer Woodruff Sullivan and I show that while we do not know if any advanced extraterrestrial civilizations currently exist in our galaxy, we now have enough information to conclude that they almost certainly existed at some point in cosmic history…

[continues at the New York Times]

majestic

Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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