When scientists discover habitable new planets, they raise old hopes for extraterrestrial life.
- Almost as soon as astronomers turned their search towards small stars, they found a bounty of Earth-sized planets. Updated Feb 23, 2017 ago
- The Fermi paradox: If habitable exoplanets are common, then where are all the aliens?
- Research shows building blocks for organic chemistry can exist around dwarfs like Trappist-1.
Almost as soon as astronomers turned their search towards small stars, they found a bounty of Earth-sized planets.
Last May, astronomers announced that they'd found three planets orbiting a small, cool star situated near Aquarius, 40 light-years away from Earth.
They doubled down on their announcement yesterday by declaring that seven Earth-sized planets, likely rocky in composition, orbited Trappist-1 in the star's "Goldilocks zone" where life-permitting temperatures prevail.
The success validated a change in strategy for astronomers, who for decades have ignored dwaft stars like Trappist-1, which is 200 times dimmer than our sun. While it's possible that astronomers were really lucky in finding so many planets, it's more likely that we've been underestimating the number of Earth-like planets.
The money line from a Cambridge astronomer not involved in the discovery: "We’ve made a crucial step toward finding if there is life out there."
Notably, many astrologers contend we are currently in the Age of Aquarius.
Research shows building blocks for organic chemistry can exist around dwarfs like Trappist-1.
The building blocks of life are more common in our galaxy than previously thought. The bleak flip side: in the case study examined, the carbon, phosphorus, nitrogen, and oxygen get there because one of their orbiting planets crashed into the star, its matter ultimately exhaled into orbit like a belch from a sated diner.
Science fiction generates compelling, if depressing, answers to why we haven't found alien intelligence.
"The thing that makes the Fermi Paradox interesting for SF is that like the speed of light, you have to have an answer for it. It can be any answer you like, but it has to answer it."
Tor compiles a list of possible solutions to the Fermi paradox, including:
—The aliens will arrive any minute
—The aliens, who planted us as a crop, will arrive any minute for the harvest
—The aliens are already here
—The aliens are so advanced we can't even understand that they're already here
—"Life is common, intelligence vanishingly rare."
—Our part of the universe is boring
—The aliens think we're boring
—All the aliens have had their own Singularities and live in other dimensions now
Then there's the somewhat noble possiblity that we really are the chosen ones, the first intelligent species, as well as the depressing probability that we, like every galactic civilization before us, will kill ourselves before we can explore the stars.
Speaking of aliens, this year's Nebula Awards contenders prove out-of-this-world tales can come from right here on Earth.
This year's nominations includes a novel about people who can control earthquakes in a postapocalyptic Evil Earth, an allegory about neurodiversity told through a job shuttling fairies between parallel universes, and the revenge of a murdered angel.
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