Does anyone remember when NASA was associated with daring – but credible – ideas?
|July 16, 2014||Posted by News under Extraterrestrial life, Exoplanets, News|
Here’s a different riff on the “we will prove we are not alone in twenty years” story (all done by calculating probabilities without detailed information), this time from CBS:
Speaking at NASA’s Washington headquarters on Monday, the space agency outlined a plan to search for alien life using current telescope technology, and announced the launch of the Transiting Exoplanet Surveying Satellite in 2017. The NASA administrators and scientists estimate that humans will be able to locate alien life within the next 20 years.
“Just imagine the moment, when we find potential signatures of life. Imagine the moment when the world wakes up and the human race realizes that its long loneliness in time and space may be over — the possibility we’re no longer alone in the universe,” said Matt Mountain, director and Webb telescope scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, which plans to launch the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018.
“What we didn’t know five years ago is that perhaps 10 to 20 per cent of stars around us have Earth-size planets in the habitable zone,” added Mountain. “It’s within our grasp to pull off a discovery that will change the world forever.”
Shovelling aside the hype for a moment, “signatures of life,” while very interesting, are overwhelmingly more likely to be something like bacteria than something like humans.
If bacteria are our idea of a cure for loneliness, the good news is that none of us has ever been alone. But how many people do we run into on a regular basis who feel that way about bacteria? How many would we wish to know?
See also: Scientists “very close” to finding another Earth? One would think that the Gliese 581d fiasco would result in more caution. Nah.
The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (cosmology), a hype speed trip to Planet They’ve Gotta Be Out There .
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