With time it was realized that the Earth was just one of the
solar planets orbiting the sun, but skepticism that planets existed outside the
solar system remained strong. However, with the advent of new techniques
and more power telescopes researchers began to discover
extrasolar planets at a rapid
pace, starting in the 1988, with the discovery of planets orbiting the star
Gamma Cephei. Meanwhile a large new orbiting body was discovered
on the fringes of our own system, while Pluto was downgraded
to a mere "Plutoid".
Some of these planets were deemed somewhat
Earth-like in that they were smaller than gas giants, might have water, and
could be made to be habitable. Other extrasolar planets were similar in
size to Earth, but were way
to hot to inhabit with current technologies.
Now European astronomers have continued the run of discoveries of smaller
planets with the discovery of a trio of "super-Earths" rotating around
the star HD 40307, located 42 light-years from Earth towards the southern
Doradus and Pictor constellations. The new planets have masses of 4.2,
6.7, and 9.4 times the mass of Earth and orbits of 4.3, 9.6, and 20.4 days
The star they orbit is a normal star, approximately the same size as our
sun. According to Didier Queloz and Michel Mayor, expert planet hunters
who led the discovery team, the planets are too hot to support life as we know
However, despite this slight disappointment, the discovery raises the
intriguing possibility of a so-called "crowded universe" teeming with
undiscovered planets. HD 40307 was long thought to hold no planets -- it
is clear now that the discovery was only possible with the advances in
detection. There are likely many smaller planets that have yet to be
detected. In total 270 extrasolar planets have already been found.
Stéphane Udry, a colleague of Mayor, describes the advance stating, "With
the advent of much more precise instruments such as the HARPS spectrograph on
ESO's 3.6-m telescope at La Silla, we can now discover smaller planets, with
masses between 2 and 10 times the Earth's mass."
Mayor who works at the Geneva Observatory states, "Does every single star
harbour planets and, if yes, how many? We may not yet know the answer but
we are making huge progress towards it. Clearly these planets are only
the tip of the iceberg. The analysis of all the stars studied with HARPS
shows that about one third of all solar-like stars have either super-Earth or
Neptune-like planets with orbital periods shorter than 50 days."
The slowly unfolding picture of a universe full of planets brings two key
possibilities. First, the possibility of expansion
and colonization outside the solar system, and secondly, the possibility
of extraterrestrial life.
quote: People even still argue proof that the earth is flat
quote: In his Homilies Concerning the Statutes St.John Chrysostom (344–408) explicitly espoused the idea, based on his reading of Scripture, that the Earth floated on the waters gathered below the firmament...Diodorus of Tarsus (d. 394) also argued for a flat Earth based on scriptures; however, Diodorus' opinion on the matter is known to us only by a criticism of it by Photius. Severian, Bishop of Gabala (d. 408), wrote: "The earth is flat and the sun does not pass under it in the night, but travels through the northern parts as if hidden by a wall".The Egyptian monk Cosmas Indicopleustes (547) in his Topographia Christiana, where the Covenant Ark was meant to represent the whole universe, argued on theological grounds that the Earth was flat, a parallelogram enclosed by four oceans...
quote: Right now it is a fight to maintain that we are the only beings in the universe.
quote: What . . . in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary? I mean, if there were other living beings in our universe why haven't they evolved far enough to make contact with us? Or at least create structures in space that we could detect? The universe is billions of years old. If life existed outside of Earth, I would expect that there would be some very convincing evidence of that.
quote: in terms of them contacting us, you'd have to essentially be spending most of your time looking at the earth
quote: One of the best means of potentially "discovering" intelligent extraterrestrial life is via radio communication
quote: With the universe as large and old as it is, it's very likely that intelligent life (both more advanced and less advanced than we are) has already developed and currently exists.
quote: Religions are criticized often by the scientific community for holding blind faith belief in ideas with no supporting evidence (or, I should say, clinging to their beliefs in the face of overwhelming contrary evidence). Yet that is exactly what you are doing
quote: the nonevidentiary, but highly reasonable supposition that intelligent life is no more than a special case of life in general
quote: there is evidence that life will tend to evolve whenever certain conditions are present.
quote: You would need to find a second case other than Earth to support your statement.
quote: If the universe is infinite (or really, really, amazingly huge), then if Earth exists with intelligent life, obviously the probability is greater than zero.
quote: Thats one winner for life, and two close-calls, in one solar system.
quote: We can't possibly be that special; to even think we could be almost seems arrogant.
quote: With a probability greater than zero and an infinite universe, logic dictates there must be countless other Earth-like planets.
quote: Obviously, if the question is "What is the probability of life existing in the universe?", that probability would be 1
quote: It's similar to asking what is the probability of pulling a blue marble out of a bag, where you have no idea what color marbles are in the bag.
quote: I'm not aware of any religious dogma that would prevent one from believing in extra-terrestrial life.
quote: I mean, if there were other living beings in our universe why haven't they evolved far enough to make contact with us? Or at least create structures in space that we could detect?
quote: Psalm 93:1, Psalm 96:10, and 1 Chronicles 16:30 include text stating that "the world is firmly established, it cannot be moved." In the same tradition, Psalm 104:5 says, "the LORD set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved." Further, Ecclesiastes 1:5 states that "And the sun rises and sets and returns to its place, etc."
quote: What . . . in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary? I mean, if there were other living beings in our universe why haven't they evolved far enough to make contact with us?
quote: Or at least create structures in space that we could detect? The universe is billions of years old. If life existed outside of Earth, I would expect that there would be some very convincing evidence of that.
quote: I imagine a super intelligent species would do exactly what we do with vastly inferior beings. Watch them like ants to learn about them, but don't mess with them otherwise you screw your science experiment up.