back to article Galaxy is CRAMMED with EARTH-LIKE WORLDS – also ALIENS (probably)

Fresh data from the Kepler space telescope shows at least a fifth of stars surveyed have Earth-like planets in a "Goldilocks" orbit – a habitable sweet spot that's not too hot or too cold for liquid water – and that's just the stars we can see. Planets in the Goldilocks zone Planets need to be not too hot and not too cold …

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  1. AndrueC Silver badge

    Cool..but also oddly disturbing

    I've been a lifelong fan of science-fiction and long term believer in alien life (though I doubt any has ever visited us). On the one hand that 20% figure is really exciting..but on the other hand somehow it's a little unsettling. Something along the lines of 'be careful what you wish for'?

    Still it's a stunning achievement by the Kepler team. The next generation of equipment is going to make some awesome discoveries.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

      Careful that you don't conflate life with intelligence and technology. There's plenty of life on Earth but apart from dolphins and mice, no real sign of intelligence ..

      1. Stanislaw

        Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

        Nicho makes an important point. Life != intelligence. There's been life on Earth for 3.5 billion years but H. sapiens only appeared 200,000 years ago.

        It's also important to note that conditions suitable for life != life. It's true that life on Earth began pretty much as soon as conditions were right, but for all we know this is the only place in the universe where that happened.

        However, I'm optimistic that the galaxy is actually teeming with life. Hopefully some of it has better TV than us too.

        1. Jim Wilkinson

          Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

          If there's a chance of life, it will happen IMO. How that develops will depend on many factors, but intelligent life will depend on a long development trail under favorable conditions. I agree that, given the number of stars in our local galaxy it will be teeming with life. Some of it might be even beyond TV ;)

          1. MacroRodent Silver badge
            Alien

            Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

            I think the resolution of the Fermi Paradox is that even though there appears to be billions of planets that could support life, and possibly many of them do support some form of life, the sequence of events that lead to intelligent life capable and willing to create technology that can communicate over astronomical distances is so extremely rare that we really are alone, or at most there is one other civilizations in the galaxy, perhaps on the other side and who has emerged at about the same time, give or take a 100 000 years.

            Perhaps we are living in the cosmic era where the first civilizations start appearing.

            1. DougS Silver badge

              Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

              Why? Just because you have a feeling that's so?

              Until recently most scientists thought Earth like planets in the habitable zone would be fairly rare. Now we found out there are billions in just our own galaxy. We don't know whether life arising is common or not, or how likely it is that intelligent life will eventually arise given a long enough period for evolution to take its course. The only way we'll find out the answer is to go look, so unfortunately we won't get an answer in our lifetimes unless some friendly alien comes along and tells us of the million civilizations out there or how we're the only other civilization he's seen in millennia of searching.

              While it is possible we're "living in the cosmic era where the first civilizations start appearing", that's exceedingly unlikely given the number of planets out that capable of potentially supporting life as we know it.

              The "if we're not alone why haven't we heard from anyone" could simply be that we haven't discovered the technology that civilizations typically use to communicate just yet. If we wanted to communicate off planet 120 years ago, our best bet would have been to use a lighthouse, because we didn't have radio. 50 years ago we'd have used AM or FM analog radio. Now we'd use some sort of digital transmission, which would sound like mere noise to someone who heard it a century ago.

              Life has existed on this planet for 3.5 billion years, humans for several hundred thousand, and we've had the means to send radio signals strong enough to leave the solar system for barely one hundred. If we discover something new that obsoletes radio, why would we bother to continue to broadcast and listen for radio signals "out there"? We'd assume they'd use the technology that replaced it, because it is better. If the average civilization replaces radio after a couple centuries, then never listens to it again, the odds of us hearing back from anyone via SETI even if there are millions of civilizations out there is very nearly zero.

              1. MacroRodent Silver badge

                Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

                Why? Just because you have a feeling that's so?

                No. But because we are here.

                The argument in the Fermi paradox does not depend on being able to listen to alien radio. Cleverer people than me have calculated that a space-faring civilization could colonize the entire galaxy in a matter of a few million years, even in the absence of any faster-than-light travel. We also known from the history of the Earth that there isn't space for multiple sentient species. Homo Sapiens out-competed and possibly annihilated other hominids.

                So if there were ancient aliens, they would have colonized the galaxy, Earth included, and there would have not been space for us to evolve.

                Therefore we are the first, or among the first.

                1. NomNomNom

                  Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

                  Whatever the case, planets that contain life like ours are going to be rare.

                  So this rare beacon called Earth has been around for hundreds of millions of years before we existed and yet no-one has touched it? I think we will die out soon and I think that's what happens to most intelligent species and that's why the universe isn't teeming with life.

                  Intelligent life would be motivated to spread life, but we don't see any megastructures like dyson spheres. No-one has terraformed Mars.

                  The lack of any trace of creator species out there is glaring.

                2. Izates

                  Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

                  Maybe they're hiding from us.

                  1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
                    Coat

                    Re: Maybe they're hiding from us.

                    Of course they are. We play cricket. Bad form, that, very bad form

                    OK, OK!! I'll get me coat

                    1. BobChip
                      Angel

                      Re: Maybe they're hiding from us.

                      This of course would be the clearest possible indication that they are intelligent.........

                  2. ravenviz Silver badge
                    Alien

                    Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

                    @Izates

                    Reminds me of the short story of The Ruum.

                  3. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

                    Or maybe the Xists know that ... our tiny heads will explode if they say hello?

                3. JamesTQuirk

                  Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

                  @ MacroRodent

                  "Therefore we are the first, or among the first."

                  Maybe in this region of galaxy, but I wonder why they apparently, came here to stack stone for ancients, just good sports, with a flying Ute ?

                  I suppose if your Tech is good enough, a near invisible Drone would answer, saves having to help build monuments, I suppose ...

                  The reason that they may listen to radio (if they know about using Radio waves like that), is that if it is a "evolutionary" step in tech, then they will know who is about, and you gotta keep a eye on youngsters ....

                  Anyway some close ones should be getting broadcasts of Radio, I Love Lucy, Flash Gordon, soon Godzilla Movies, maybe they will stay away & or the other side of Independance Day, where advanced civilisation move to get away from us ...

                  1. Suricou Raven

                    Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

                    You walk down a path. You see a snail, slowly crawling across the concrete. Lost. Unaware of where it is going. So you pick it up and place it down on the far side.

                    You are passing a planetary system on a routine survey when you find some strange creatures erecting monuments. Odd things. The monuments are meaningless, but they seem important to the creatures, so you spend a few days out from your travel to help them.

                    1. bpfh Bronze badge
                      Trollface

                      Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

                      Or if you are French, you eat the snail...

                    2. AndrueC Silver badge
                      Alert

                      Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

                      You walk down a path. You see a snail, slowly crawling across the concrete. Lost. Unaware of where it is going. So you pick it up and place it down on the far side.

                      I'm a gardener. I am not going to help a snail cross a path. I suppose we just have to hope there aren't any alien gardeners out there.

                      1. Marshalltown

                        Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

                        We toss ours over the fence into the county forensic science center's lot.

                    3. Thorne

                      Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

                      "You are passing a planetary system on a routine survey when you find some strange creatures erecting monuments. Odd things. The monuments are meaningless, but they seem important to the creatures, so you spend a few days out from your travel to help them."

                      You are passing a planetary system on a routine survey when you find some strange creatures erecting monuments. Odd things. The monuments are meaningless, but they seem important to the creatures, so you spend a few days out from your travel to anal probe them.

                      There, fixed it for you.....

                4. TheOtherHobbes

                  Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

                  "So if there were ancient aliens, they would have colonized the galaxy, Earth included, and there would have not been space for us to evolve."

                  Maybe they did and are leaving us alone because to them, we're stupid and boring knuckle-draggers.

                  Or maybe they're quietly influencing us in invisible ways.

                  Or maybe the conspiracy theorists are right and Earth is already being run by and for the benefit of trans-dimensional lizard creatures from Planet Lovecraft.

                  Some of those are more likely than others. But point is, when you're dealing with much older civs, the idea they're going to land a saucer in DC and say 'Take me to your leader' is nonsensical.

                  Aliens will be alien, with unknown morals, ethics, and technological abilities.

                  Expecting them to be like us, but with ethics from 1813 and technology from 2113 is very, very naive.

                5. Gav

                  Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

                  "So if there were ancient aliens, they would have colonized the galaxy, Earth included"

                  That involves a number of rather unsafe assumptions;

                  - They're interested in colonising the galaxy. This "colonizing" thing could be just a human compulsion.

                  - They're interested in the Earth. For all we know the Earth, on a galactic scale, may be considered a total dump.

                  - The galaxy is all there is and there's nothing bigger and better to move onto.

                  You might think you are safe to assume these things, but really we're in the realm of such huge unknowns, it would be foolish to.

                  1. MacroRodent Silver badge

                    Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

                    - They're interested in colonising the galaxy. This "colonizing" thing could be just a human compulsion.

                    Like us, the aliens would be a product of evolution. They would not be top dogs on their own planet if they did not have a similar drive to expand as humans do. Even if that is not true of all alien species (assuming there are several of them), it takes just one with an urge to colonize.

                    You might think you are safe to assume these things, but really we're in the realm of such huge unknowns, it would be foolish to.

                    Of course. I was advancing a theory that to me seems reasonable, but it is quite likely to be incorrect. However, I don't really expect to know it for sure in my lifetime. Possibly we will never know if there really are aliens in our galaxy. That makes the issue fun to discuss...

                6. Joe User
                  Alien

                  Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

                  Therefore we are the first, or among the first.

                  Says you, buddy.

                7. Charles Manning

                  Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

                  "No. But because we are here."

                  So by the same logic, there should be multiple Eiffel Towers.

                  There are billions of people on Earth, a few million of whom have the capability of designing a tower. Eiffel managed to build one, therefore other people must have too.....

                  But there is only one (well apart from Vegas etc).

                  1. Mike Taylor

                    Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

                    And the one in China, and the one in Blackpool...

                8. KarlLin

                  Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

                  Eloquently written post, but could you further explain why you think the evolution of the Earth can be applied to what has happened in our entire galaxy? Not enough room for multiple sentient species? Are you joking?

                  The nearest livable planet they have found is 274,000 years away for us at our current capability. And that is only 12 light years away. The galaxy is over 90000 light years across, probably more.

                  Based on these latest stats the Milky Way alone likely has over 40 billion earth like planets. That's one of billions of galaxies! The number of planets approaches infinite. The odds of there not being other sentients are nearly impossible. And humans should not assume that planets that are not considered livable based on our narrow knowledge of the universe are not livable to the likely many other types of life in our universe. There is almost certainly every form of life we could imagine and then many forms we cannot begin to imagine. We are small, very small.

                9. Muscleguy Silver badge

                  Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

                  The evidence wrt the other hominids is rather that we fucked them and they became us. If you have any non completely African ancestry you will carry Neanderthal sequences. New Guineans carry some Denisovan DNA and there are sections of some East Asian genomes that suggests another input, perhaps another erectus descendant we haven't recognised or sequenced yet. We have Denisovan genomic sequences but only finger bones so far so we don't know that they looked like.

                  There may be no pure bred Neanderthals or Denisovans or Erectus left but that doesn't mean they left no descendants. Having Neanderthal sequences doesn't bother me, does it you?

                10. Marshalltown
                  Thumb Down

                  Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

                  "We also known from the history of the Earth that there isn't space for multiple sentient species."

                  No we don't. What we know is that there does not appear to be "room" for multiple *technological* species. That is a very different kettle of fish. We occupy a singular ecological niche based upon our dependence on externals to survive. That would place us in direct, ecological competition with any other species that required tools and extracted materials for basic survival. But, there are plenty of species that are highly intelligent, yet do not need recourse to tools to survive. Some, like some crows are capable of manufacturing tools and even your common west coast scrub jay is bright enough to manipulate environmental objects to bring food into reach. I've seen them do it. They are not however dependent upon tools. Very different situation.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

                "The "if we're not alone why haven't we heard from anyone" could simply be that we haven't discovered the technology that civilizations typically use to communicate just yet."

                Wouldn't it be cool if somewhere down the line we got a new protocol and all of a sudden started decoding "white noise" like... look, the first "802.15.4edn" wi-fi card! Hey, what's this "milkywayfreewi-fi" network?

              3. N2Liberty

                Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

                The switch to low power cellular spread spectrum with a range of only a few miles has taken about 100 years we are nearly invisible from background noise now soon we will be. if we never send a beacon to the planets that might be listening it is unlikely that they will ever notice we are here. Maybe good maybe bad. I still believe that any society that develops interstellar space travel must develop technology that would free them from physical want. In other words if you can feed yourself and keep all your equipment running for the time it takes to reach another star you will have the ability to convert matter into energy and back at will and therefore can make anything needed when needed and recycle everything. With that kind of technology the only thing that matters is art and society. No one needs a job because the machines can make anything and everything.

                Probably not as wonderful as it might sound, With no challenges left most people would die of boredom.

              4. Marshalltown

                Safe betting

                One of the problems with any guess at the occurrence of life and intelligence in the galaxy is that up until the current generation of 'scopes, we had only our own planet and our own solar system as sample. The reasonable hypothesis was always that the solar system was not atypical, even if we could not see any planets out there. If that was true, was the earth atypical? No real answer, but the fact was, the earth IS atypical in the solar system. But is it atypical because life is present, or is life present because the planet is atypical? What we now know is that the most unusual aspects of earth are due to the presence of life. The evolving knowledge base suggests that life is much more likely to be common than to be rare. As regards intelligence, there are plenty of nominally intelligent species on earth. Human's stand out because we adapt through "extrasomatic" means: tools, clothes, language, etc. Now we find that not even those are strictly limited to humanity, merely the scope with which we depend upon them. Bayes theorem says, given the new data we have, that we are no more unique than earth like planets are.

            2. Shannon Jacobs

              Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

              My conclusion or belief is that they are out there, but after evolving into machine intelligences, they are basically just amused by watching the various solutions of the natural intelligences. In other words, I strongly suspect the evolution of the machine intelligences is convergent, but that they leave us alone, either because they don't care or because they are gambling on whether or not we will exterminate ourselves. I suppose another possibility is that they might occasionally intervene to prevent us from exterminating ourselves. (Maybe that's what happened when we almost went extinct about 50,000 years ago...)

              In more detail, some of my old ramblings on the topic:

              http://eco-epistemology.blogspot.jp/2007/08/resolution-of-fermi-paradox.html

              1. Muscleguy Silver badge

                Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

                I've never understood the attraction to uploading my intelligence to a machine, even if such were possible*. My biological body is self healing in a way no machine can be and new Biotech allied with nanotech and 'printable' organs mean eventually we can be kept going for some time. There is a promising drug that might be able to halt Alzheimers, Parkinsons and MS as well because they seem to have the same reasons for the cell dying.

                Have you never heard of metal fatigue? the effects of UV on plastics? It is more likely that we will create biological machines. AI will be easier with designed and arranged neural nets than trying to replicate them in silico. We already have implants that interface with biology such as artificial retinas. Those have potential in putting biology in robotics as well as fixing us.

                *As a biologist with more than a passing knowledge of neuroscience I just love it when physics/maths/compsci people talk about consciousness as though it were a digital computer that can be 'read' in any real sense of the word.

                1. JamesTQuirk

                  Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

                  @ Muscleguy

                  "I've never understood the attraction to uploading my intelligence to a machine, even if such were possible"

                  Haven't you noticed teenagers, walking around with mobile computing devices attached to their belts & Ears, Maybe Google/facebook/twitter can call it a upgrade, I am not sure it is ...

              2. JamesTQuirk

                Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

                @ Shannon Jacobs

                " because they don't care or because they are gambling on whether or not we will exterminate ourselves"

                20 Quatloo's on the Newcomers !!!!

        2. Benchops

          Re: Hopefully some of it has better TV than us too.

          I can just picture the euphoria at SETI when they start detecting the first extra-terrestrial television signals, only to be deflated when they receive the subscription bill from Sky the next day.

        3. JasonChildress

          Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

          Man has been here longer than 200,000 years. Footprints of Dinos and Man were found in Glen Rose, Texas.

          1. Muscleguy Silver badge

            Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

            "Man has been here longer than 200,000 years. Footprints of Dinos and Man were found in Glen Rose, Texas."

            Step away from the creationist magazine and logoff from answersingenesis. They are rotting your brain.

            Not to mention the creatards interpret that somewhat differently. Remember the Earth is only 6k years old? so the supposed footprints indicate that dinosaurs were alive in the near past, which means they were in the Garden of Eden and the Ark, though religious opinion differs on the last point. Some suggest they didn't make the Ark and drowned in the Flood, you know the one that all the necessary water for has disappeared.

            In the Genesis story there is also no information for how the platypus was categorised.

      2. Hooch181
        Pint

        Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

        "There's plenty of life on Earth but apart from dolphins and mice, no real sign of intelligence.."

        Ain't that the truth!

        1. Fredhof64
          Pint

          Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

          There may be another intelligent species here on Earth, but based on it's tendency to attempt to kill itself off, and be controlled by some form of box that shows images of Simon Cowell, the jury is still out. However, it has proved itself capable of drawing a good pint from time to time, so there is hope...

      3. J_with_a_B

        Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

        Try also cephalopods, insects and birds! Octopuses are extremely capable problem solvers. Bees and ants have extremely advanced social structures. Crows have been known to use tools to get at food. The diversity of intelligent life on our planet is impressive but what we have here was only able to evolve under the conditions our planet had. We can only speculate as to what other possibilities there may be if conditions were only slightly different here. Given that conditions on many other planets were likely quite different but perhaps suitable for life to evolve, the diversity of intelligent life elsewhere could be extreme. Perhaps there are forms of life that are neither plants nor animals? Our imaginations are limited by our experience here. We would only know if or when we see first hand for ourselves in the next several thousands of years...

        1. D@v3
          Go

          Re: neither plants nor animals?

          like hyper intelligent shades of the colour blue?

          1. Measurer

            Re: neither plants nor animals?

            More an indifferent mauve sludge

        2. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

          Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

          "Perhaps there are forms of life that are neither plants nor animals?"

          Fungi?

          Amoebas?

          Bacteria?

          Viruses?

          Or were you thinking of something less Earth-bound?

          That said, the idea of hyper-intelligent mushrooms gives me pause, a bit.

          1. Muscleguy Silver badge

            Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

            There is an argument that the funghi are more advanced than we are. They have completely severed their link with the sea. They have no extracellular space, so their cells don't swim in a small piece of an ancient sea like ours do. It's also why 'shrooms are high in potassium and low in sodium. So are the interiors of our own cells.

        3. Marshalltown

          Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

          Life only evolves once it appears. You might say that the distinguishing characteristic of life is the manner in which it adapts and evolves.

      4. James Micallef Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

        Or, in the words of Monthy Python,

        "pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space 'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth"

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

          "pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space 'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth"

          Can we have your liver then?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

      They could have visited, but just not been that interested in us. Perhaps the alien dudes would be more impressed with, for example, the biomass of the ant population, the size of the blue whales, or the age of the Redwood trees or coral reefs. Because we are vain and stupid, we would be most impressed with things that are like us. A different culture might think very differently. They might even look on us as an infestation thats ruining the place.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

        Indeed, something like in Roadside Picnic, but more subtle.

    3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

      Note that it's 20% of Sol-like G type stars, which only make up around 5% of the stars in the galaxy, and that's not taking into account things like binary systems, where the 'habitable zone' is quite different, if there at all. So really, it;s 20% of 5%, which works out neatly as around 1% of stars in the galaxy. It's still a decent number, though.

    4. Peter Simpson 1

      Re: Cool..but also oddly disturbing

      The wife was just mentioning that [some terribly smart astro-boffin] warns us against looking for aliens, because:

      - they'll find us, because they have mastered interstellar travel

      - they'll have mastered interstellar travel because they are looking for resources (or slaves)

      - they will be taking these resources if they find them

      - they won't be saying "please"

      - if we get in the way, (or maybe ieven if we don't), we'll be eliminated (or enslaved)

      Perhaps we should just shut up and keep a low profile?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I guess God has a sense of humor!

    With all these planets, perhaps a trillion or so in the Universe, if God exists she's probably laughing her head off at our arrogance that we are the "Chosen ones"

    1. bongorocks

      Re: I guess God has a sense of humor!

      If you believe in Alliens then you should believe in God because he is an Allien. Just remember we are only humans not supernatrual beings yet. And humans cannot create stars, and planets, and galaxies, we can only create robots to explore the work of the Allien.

      1. Hooch181
        Alien

        Re: I guess God has a sense of humor!

        "Just remember we are only humans not supernatural beings yet."

        Speak for yourself.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I guess God has a sense of humor!@bongorocks

        "If you believe in Alliens then you should believe in God because he is an Allien"

        Could you clarify that for me? Was it one of these:

        "If you believe in Allens then you should believe in God because he is an Allen"

        "If you believe in aliens then you should believe in God because he is an alien"

        "If you believe in Allahs then you should believe in God because he is an Allah"

  3. Herby Silver badge

    Interesting Pic...

    They included the star "Altair". Fitting for ElReg.

    As for finding life...

    I heard a comment that it may just be that when a civilization gets to the point where it can communicate its presence to "outsiders" it doesn't have enough sense to contain its internal conflicts, and will self destruct before it actually gets the chance.

    As to this happening here on Earth, it was postulated that we are close to a decision point.

    As always, YMMV (See store for details), etc....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      As for finding life...

      @Herby: "I heard a comment that it may just be that when a civilization gets to the point where it can communicate its presence to "outsiders" it doesn't have enough sense to contain its internal conflicts, and will self destruct before it actually gets the chance."

      That'll mean there's plenty more planets for us to colonize :)

  4. phil dude
    Coat

    holly hop?

    'nuff said...

    P.

  5. Filippo

    Either we're alone, or we're not

    Both possibilities are equally terrifying.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Either we're alone, or we're not

      I would say that both possibilities are equally cool .. But that's just me.

    2. Vociferous

      Re: Either we're alone, or we're not

      > Both possibilities are equally terrifying.

      Not at all. If we're alone, we've got a whole galaxy to spread into - a mere technological problem. If we're not, there's competitors, and the principle of mediocrity suggests some of them are better competitors than we are.

      Fermi's paradox can be rephrased as that it's surprising we've still not been extinguished by alien invasion.

      1. Ian 55

        Re: Either we're alone, or we're not

        Given how big spaaaaace is, it's not surprising. Especially if FTL travel isn't possible. If you can colonise the galaxy, you can do Dyson spheres and save the hassle of all the really long journeys while still having enormous amounts of living space space.

        1. Wize
          Coat

          Re: Either we're alone, or we're not

          Dyson sphere you say?

          http://www.productwiki.com/upload/images/dyson_ball_dc24_1.jpg

          Its a good vacuum but it isn't going to help you move across the stars...

        2. Gav

          Re: Either we're alone, or we're not

          Why even have Dyson Spheres?

          If you have advanced enough technology then why chain yourself to these gravity wells called stars and planets.? They just give you hassle when you want to move about. Steer well clear of them.

      2. Ted Treen
        Happy

        @Vociferous 04/11/13 22:42

        "... it's surprising we've still not been extinguished by alien invasion..."

        Maybe they were on their way to invade Earth, but picked up TV transmissions en route, saw Simon Cowell and decided they didn't want any part of such a planet...

    3. Salts

      Re: Either we're alone, or we're not

      Above quote originally credited to Arthur C Clarke.

      http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Arthur_C._Clarke

      He also said:-

      I'm sure the universe is full of intelligent life. It's just been too intelligent to come here.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hasn't the NSA been snooping on the little green buggers for years now?

    Since they've got everyone on this planet - it seem only logical.

    1. Hooch181
      Alien

      Re: Hasn't the NSA been snooping on the little green buggers for years now?

      Who do you think runs the NSA?

  7. Soap Distant

    Good Stuffs!

    I had quite a few thoughts as I read this. Just because these planets could support life as we know it doesn't mean that they do.

    Might be, that it's better if some don't. So that we're free to do what we will should we ever arrive there. Or should we take Greenpeace with us just in case?

    Supposing we could ever send a manned mission 12 light years... I wonder what we'd take with us to seed life there? Tuna for the oceans? Tomatoes for tomatoeyness and stuff? Cows for sure eh? And grapes, barley, hops and yeast? Clearly, you'd need ship's biscuits and probably a few other things besides. And tea? I wonder if HMRC would treat any wealth generated there as "off-world" and as such non taxable?

    We'd have to use nuke power or renewables if the place was uninhabited ever. Probly just nuke though realistically. With today's technology in any case. Maybe something better would be available.

    Goodness!

    SD

  8. Michael Hoffmann
    Thumb Up

    Billions and billions

    Was I the only one who mentally read the "billions and billions" in a Carl Sagan voice? Or even more so, in a Johnny Carson Does Carl Sagan voice?

    I feel old...

    1. Vociferous
      1. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

        Re: Billions and billions

        Hmm... now that you mention it, I've got Orbital's "Are We Here?" in my head(*). Not that that's a bad thing :)

        (*includes Carl Sagan samples, I think)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Billions and billions

          I've got Monty Python's Galaxy Song in mine

    2. MrT

      Cosmos...

      ... brilliant book/TV series. However, my biggest recollection of watching it when it originally aired was feeling lost as Carl tried to explain the light speed barrier using a moped rider in an Italian village with a 30kph limit (IIRC). Unless by that analogy photons are desperately trying to beat lightspeed to either impress other photons watching in the village square, or just to make the delivery before the pizza cools too far...

      The idea of balloon-like floating organisms in the skies of Jupiter was nice, which was something that Arthur C Clarke referenced in 2010: Odyssey 2 as the planet was condensed and ignited as a second, short-lived star.

      All, of course, dependant on my memory not being rewired and befuddled in the mean-time ;-)

      1. Gio Ciampa

        Re: Cosmos...

        Your memory is fine (unless mine is just as befuddled...).

        Here's hoping that next year's Cosmos "follow-up" is up to the same standard as the original...

  9. Vociferous

    Did I miss the announcement?

    Because AFAIK not a single Earth-like planet has been found orbiting in the habitable zone of a Sol-like (yellow, main-sequence, G-class) star.

    Estimates of how many life-supporting planets there are, based solely on tidally-locked super-earths orbiting around red dwarfs is really pushing the whole concept.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Did I miss the announcement? @Vociferous 22:34

      Nice to see that someone here actually took note of such terms as "could", "probably" and "must" in the article and quotes. The last, in particular, really annoys me - comes across as wishful thinking and often used on these boards with a feeling of "Squee!" ...

    2. Ellz

      Re: Did I miss the announcement?

      The suns not yellow, it's actually white.

      It only appears yellow to us because of our atmosphere.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Why.jpg

        NO.

        The Yellow Sun Paradox

        Explanation on why yellow

        One is that the same Rayleigh scattering that is responsible for the sky’s blueness also makes the sun appear yellow, since some of the blue has been scattered out. (This is the most common suggestion I hear when I mention the paradox to people.) But the amount of blue light scattered out is far too small to have a noticeable effect on the sun’s color.... (But read on)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Did I miss the announcement?

        I always thought that 'Yellow' referred to the spectral classification not the actual colour of the light.

  10. Bladeforce

    Google will get there

    FIRST!

  11. loneranger

    I know where some aliens are already

    How about Zeta Reticuli, the Pleiades, for starters...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What kind of life are NASA looking for? In the Bible it reveals that we have been visited by Alliens. numerous times and we still are. The appostle paul wrote, Be kind to strangers ,because you could be unwithingly entertaining Angels. Also Jesus Christ was an Allien, and he told us that Another super natrual Allien has created the heavens and the earth who many of us know as God.

    The bible reveals that heaven is full of all kinds of alliens, and it describes heaven like nothing what religouse denominations say heaven is. The bible say that there are billions of supernatrual beings ,There are creatures with human bodies, and animals heads ,There are other creatures that look like beasts before the throne of God worshipping him day and night. There are also mighty angels all ready to take orders from God at his will, they can stop the rain, and also

    make it rain, among many other supernatual feats.

    The big Question is, is heaven another planet in another universe.? The bible very briefly reveals that heaven is towards the north. and also that God is in the third heaven. And in the first verse of Genesis it does say that God created more than one heaven, but only one earth. IT says HEAVENS .EARTH heavens with an S. and earth with no S.

    In Genesis it also reveals that immortal angels, married mortal women, and the result was that the children that they produced where hybrids ,huge giants known as Nephalims.

    There are quite a few documentrys on youtube about the Nephalims for those of you that might be intrested ,at first i found this very hard to believe ,but now I do . Satan and his fallen angels are also Alliens ,These are the spirits that cycics contact in their false belief that they are making contacts with the dead. In the book of Job it clearly reveals that Satan and his demons are not in hell at all ,but roamming the earth and creating chaos .{Thats not hard to prove}.

    There are Alliens for sure but not the kind NASA are hoping to find. And not the kind that they ever will discover with their technology either. Only time will tell if this is true or fiction. Ihave proved to myself that it is true. But it's up to each individual to prove it to themselves. . But if you believe in Alliens then the bible has all the answears you need to know, all you need to do is believe the supernatrual intelegent Allien that gave us the bible.

    1. John H Woods Silver badge
    2. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge

      Hello bongorocks,

      I'm afraid your unusual grammar and spelling gave your identity away partly.

      Which version of which bible are you referring to? When was it written and by whom? (Please, don't say the holy spirit wrote it). The reason I ask is that the tale of the Nephilim and the Order of Heaven that you refer to are part of the Apocrypha and are pretty much "banned" from any contemporary version of the bible; they are certainly not recognised by the Catholic, Protestant and Judaic faiths and, as far as I recall, are not part of Islam either.

      I'm afraid your bible cannot be trusted as a source of evidence of any kind, as its provenance is unclear and dubious at the very least. If you wish to test this, I'd be interested in your proof of demonic/satanic activity on earth which you have claimed is easy to prove. If that's so you might want to pick up the large monetary prizes offered by people such as James Randi for any substantial evidence of supernatural agency and make yourself rich.

      Finally, a question; do you believe in the phenomenon of Alien Abduction and if not then why not, as there would appear to be just as much, if not more "evidence" (testimony, by religious standards) than there is for any actual deity or supernatural power.

      You may, of course, choose to believe what you will, but stating such beliefs as facts, especially in a science-oriented forum like this, will require extraordinary proof to back up your extraordinary claim.

    3. Horridbloke

      @AC

      "Also Jesus Christ was an Allien"

      This is a common misunderstanding arising from a fifteenth century mistranslation. Jesus Christ was actually Alan.

    4. Ellz

      Aliens spelt with one "L"

      And the bible was written by mankind.

      In 1000 years would you pick up a superman comic book and truly believe there was a superman?

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
        Joke

        You mean, superman isn't real?????????????

        HERETIC!!!!!!!

      2. Suricou Raven

        In 1000 years, political television and opinion columns will have lasted longer in cultural impact than the dull stories of facts. They will remember the 20th century as the time when the mighty and rightous armies of America slew the evil empire of the Nazis, and fought an epic battle with the communist masters of deception and their European puppets, the Un.

        1. JamesTQuirk

          @ Suricou Raven

          Maybe if we build a ship faster than Radio Waves, it could get to outside the "radio/tv" bubble and record all that history, or maybe alien minds would release it on dvd as "1000 years of Galaxys greatest Stuff Ups"....

      3. Ted Treen
        Boffin

        @Ellz

        If I could pick up anything in 1,000 years I'd undoubtedly be far too senile to indulge in any contemplation of it.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > The bible very briefly reveals that heaven is towards the north

      Sheffield? Gosh!

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        The Arc of the Covenant!

        I'm not saying it was Greys, but it was Greys.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Some people say the thought of life on other planets is scary and unnerving. I say the kind of beliefs held by our annoymous friend are far far more terrifying...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BOFFINS: BILLIONS OF EARTH-LIKE LIFE-FRIENDLY ALIEN WORLDS IN GALAXY

    Interesting article, but can I please make a suggestion?

    Prior to the advent of the Internet, if a writer used a form of slang, such as the word "boffin" for a local audience, then no big deal. However, millions of people from all over the world are reading your articles. In fact, I'd say there could be more people outside the U.K. reading this than local viewers.

    Most people outside the U.K. have no idea what a "boffin" is, and I don't think the rest of us should have to Google words that are not even proper English in the first place. It would be very helpful if you'd write in proper English. How about just using the word scientist?

    Thanks.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: BOFFINS: BILLIONS OF EARTH-LIKE LIFE-FRIENDLY ALIEN WORLDS IN GALAXY

      "proper English"

      It is a proper word. It's in the dictionary. Do not pass Go. Do not collect...

      C.

      1. frank ly Silver badge

        Re: BOFFINS: BILLIONS OF EARTH-LIKE LIFE-FRIENDLY ALIEN WORLDS IN GALAXY

        While we're on this subject, what are these 'modem' things that are mentioned in several articles? Also, don't get me started on Itanium; it is NOT in the periodic table of elements.

        1. hplasm Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: BOFFINS: BILLIONS OF EARTH-LIKE LIFE-FRIENDLY ALIEN WORLDS IN GALAXY

          "... Itanium; it is NOT in the periodic table of elements."

          oddly, neither is Euphonium- the element all 'brass' instruments are made of...

          Perhaps they are more common on these other Earths?

          1. PunkTiger
            Coat

            Re: BOFFINS: BILLIONS OF EARTH-LIKE LIFE-FRIENDLY ALIEN WORLDS IN GALAXY

            @hplasm - "oddly, neither is Euphonium- the element all 'brass' instruments are made of..."

            On that note, I can't seem to find Harmonium on the Periodic table, either.

            ...nor by the Occasional chair.

            /mine's the one with sheet music in the pocket.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: BOFFINS: BILLIONS OF EARTH-LIKE LIFE-FRIENDLY ALIEN WORLDS IN GALAXY

          "...Itanium; it is NOT in the periodic table..."

          It's next to Unobtanium.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: BOFFINS: BILLIONS OF EARTH-LIKE LIFE-FRIENDLY ALIEN WORLDS IN GALAXY

            and justdoitium

        3. dajames Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: BOFFINS: BILLIONS OF EARTH-LIKE LIFE-FRIENDLY ALIEN WORLDS IN GALAXY

          Also, don't get me started on Itanium; it is NOT in the periodic table of elements.

          No, it isn't ... and if it were our cousins across the water would be trying to spell it "Itanum".

          1. PunkTiger

            Re: BOFFINS: BILLIONS OF EARTH-LIKE LIFE-FRIENDLY ALIEN WORLDS IN GALAXY

            And I suppose the Proper British spelling for a certain precious metal is "platinium"?

            aluminum / aluminium... let's call the whole thing off.

    2. Horridbloke

      Re: BOFFINS

      "I don't think the rest of us should have to Google words..."

      Yeah, save us from ever having to learn anything..

    3. Atonnis

      Re: BOFFINS: BILLIONS OF EARTH-LIKE LIFE-FRIENDLY ALIEN WORLDS IN GALAXY

      I find it particularly amusing that someone outside the UK (and outside of ENGLAND) could presume to coach the particulars of the language known as English.

      Not to mention that 'boffin' has been in the English dictionary for a very, very long time.

      First we need to explain that words such as 'faucet' are not actually English.

      1. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: BOFFINS: BILLIONS OF EARTH-LIKE LIFE-FRIENDLY ALIEN WORLDS IN GALAXY

        Erm.... sorry old chap, but it is English...

        from the OED - "late Middle English (denoting a bung for the vent hole of a cask, or a tap for drawing liquid from a container)" - French origins, but widely used in English since the 16th Century.

        Gotta be careful with this "Proper English" thing as most of our language is German, French, Greek or Latin in origin if you go back far enough. See what I did there?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @AC

      "Most people outside the U.K. have no idea what a "boffin" is"

      Maybe, but I also think most people reading El Reg usually share a common interest in something new.

      I'm from outside the U.K. and quite frankly I welcome the opportunity to learn new words or find out where my interpretation might have failed me (like my classic "hover" v.s. "hoover" mistake some years ago).

      And what's wrong with taking a little effort if you don't understand something at first anyway?

      1. Maty

        Re: @AC

        'I don't think the rest of us should have to Google words ...'

        I don't think that people using 'Google' as a verb have any right to complain about neologisms. And there's definitely something ironical about 'English that is only used in the UK'?

    5. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: BOFFINS: BILLIONS OF EARTH-LIKE LIFE-FRIENDLY ALIEN WORLDS IN GALAXY

      You might want to refresh yourself on the concept of irony, and read up on colloquialisms and neologisms. El Reg is an English site, and here in the UK, we can understand the language used perfectly fine thank you very much, so it's a little arrogant to expect it to be warped into the twisted version of our Mother Tongue that our transatlantic cousins call English. Failing that, I am assuming your fingers have not yet grown so bloated from shovelling 1000 calorie snacks into your maw that you can no longer enter a search term into Google.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: BOFFINS: BILLIONS OF EARTH-LIKE LIFE-FRIENDLY ALIEN WORLDS IN GALAXY

        Oi! Loyal Commenter!

        " I am assuming your fingers have not yet grown so bloated from shovelling 1000 calorie snacks into your maw...."

        Before you get too far on your high horse whilst insulting the colonials, have you had a look at the state of British peasantry of late? More than a few hambeasts lumbering about the streets these days. At least it's one area where we're a leader in Europe:

        http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/activity/mds/centres/obesity/obesity-uk/index.aspx

  14. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Starting to put some actual numbers on the Drake equation

    Impressive.

    When it was first postulated none of its factors was known.

    Of course why we haven't heard from them (any of them) ever remains a puzzle.

    But we are starting to see how big a puzzle we are dealing with.

    1. Alpha-Geek

      Re: Starting to put some actual numbers on the Drake equation

      It's not a puzzle. Most people don't have any notion of how far a light-year is, much less 10 light-years. In cosmic time, the entire existence, from emergence to extinction, of a species like homosapien is hardly noticeable at all. The odds that such a species has the capability (intellectual capacity, thumbs not flippers, etc) to successfully achieve interstellar travel within that time frame are poor. Michio Kaku spells this out succinctly in his book, "Visions". So the reason they haven't stopped by for tea is two-fold: They didn't/don't/haven't exist at the same time as us, and they're too bloody far away to get here. Telepathy, and the convergence of thought/reality/energy/matter/time is another subject entirely, but bears mentioning because it may well provide more promise that conventional forms of physical space travel and propulsion.

      I wish the media would stop making a fuss about the existence of "Earth like" planets. Oh, sure.. it's interesting, but the average person reading this stuff probably has the impression that ET lives next door or something. The closest star (system) is 4.37 LIGHT YEARS away. Do you have any idea how far a light year is? It's a long damn way, and suffice it to say we can't get there.

      The fastest ship we have ever made maxes out at about 160,000 miles per hour. The speed of light is roughly 660 million miles per hour (it's actually a little more than that). Stretching the math even more, our fastest ship goes (almost) 2.5% the speed of light. So at maximum speed - full out, it would take almost 175 years to get to Alpha Centauri. And what about a planet? Yep. There is one and looks like it's only a bit larger than Earth.. with a surface temperature of (wait for it...) over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

      I just hope our species lasts long enough to develop the technology required for interstellar travel. I worry about this though when we can't even balance a national budget much less come together as a planet. Sigh.

  15. ProperDave
    Trollface

    Over excitement much?

    Of all the comments I just skimmed through, I see none that state the bloody obvious...

    It's all well and good just being 12 Light years away, but if my understanding of physics is correct, our best effort at deep space exploration (Voyager 1) travels at just over 60,000km/hour.

    If my maths is correct, it would take Voyager 1 just shy of 300 YEARS to travel the distance of just 1 Light Year, assuming it stayed at a constant 60,000km/hour.

    According to the Intarwebz, the fasted manned Apollo journey to the moon was only able to do 24,000km/hour, so it gets worse.

    So all this excitement over possible new Earths is pointless unless we get some of those exciting space-time-bending ship thingies from Sci-Fi.

    Just waiting for the downvotes for killing the buzz :o

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Richie 1

      Re: Over excitement much?

      > If my maths is correct, it would take Voyager 1 just shy of 300 YEARS to travel the distance of just

      > 1 Light Year, assuming it stayed at a constant 60,000km/hour.

      60000km/hour is 60000 * 1000 / 3600 = 16667m/s

      The speed of light is 300000000m/s.

      So it would take Voyager 1 3e8 / 16667 = 18000 years to travel one light year, or 216000 years to travel 12 light years.

      And anyway there are only 22 star systems within 12 light years.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nearest_stars

      Epsilon Eridani has featured in some sci-fi as harbouring aliens but we'd need some good ultraviolet shielding to live there.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epsilon_Eridani?#Potential_habitability

      So we'll have to very likely have to look further afield.

      1. ProperDave

        Re: Over excitement much?

        Oddly enough I was looking at my scribbling thinking I'm sure I made an error. I'm sure last time I'd one the maths I'd estimated about 26,000 years for a multi-light year journey.

        1. JulianB

          Re: Over excitement much?

          Taking any of these figures, it seems we need a ship capable of supporting many generations of crew, producing its own energy, food, etc. Once we can do that, we don't need the other planets: just stay on the ship.

    3. Ellz

      Re: Over excitement much?

      Depends if we get our act in gear and stop supporting shit companies like APPLE and start focusing on research into space travel technology.

      1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        Re: Over excitement much?

        Apple? Feck! Arse!! No wait, it's about extrasolar planets. Back to sleep, Eliz.

    4. anonomouser

      Re: Over excitement much?

      With continuous acceleration a manned mission (1G) would take about 5 years (ship time) to get there.

  16. Ashton Black

    Monkeys in tin cans.

    Just a skim through the sci-fi trope, a number of ways of overcoming (rather than breaking) the lightspeed barrier, have been thought of.

    Generation Ships or AI controlled with us monkeys sound asleep and the most fascinating would be some sort of cloning ship which "grows" the humans when the ship is within the sphere of influence of the target planet.

    I don't think we'll become interstellar for perhaps 3 or 4 hundred years. We'll keep plodding towards it if we don't kill ourselves.

    1. Yesnomaybe

      Re: Monkeys in tin cans.

      I think that possibly the "easiest" way of overcoming the speed/distance barrier in space around us would be to approach the problem from the biological science side. If we can prolong human life, (and perhaps build in a little radiation resistance in the process) then the problem is pretty much solved. Would still need a sizable ship, of-course...

  17. J_with_a_B

    Fermi's Paradox was nonsense.

    Fermi had much to offer as a physicist, but he had little grounding in alien intelligent life forms or interstellar astronomy.

    There are many reasons why his so called paradox was flawed, and most of them are due to the fact that there is a tendency to attribute wisdom to learned people in one field to them in other fields they merely have opinions about. Some are due to human arrogance that thinks intelligent life would be necessarily interested in meeting us.

    The fact that we don't see aliens here on a regular basis is due more to the vastness of space than to a necessary impossibility of them existing. If other planets have life forms capable of interstellar space travel, then they may have done so already. We are in a part of space with a relatively medium to low density of habitable planets. For us to travel to other stars would take several lifetimes, given that we had the technology to even try it.

    I think it is worth keeping in mind that our Sun is in a relatively sparse patch of the galaxy. That's not to say that there aren't plenty of places where there are very much fewer stars than around here, but where there are no stars, we likely won't find any planets orbiting them, of course...

    There are MANY regions vastly richer in stars than near here. What if there were a patch of space (and there are millions of such places in the galaxy) where the stars were far more densely packed? Intelligent life on any of them would have had a much easier opportunity to go visit other stars if there were several as close as a tenth of a light year or less away. It would be very possible that intelligent life had spread from planet to planet amongst many of the other stars. If each had planets (or even many) it would be easy to imagine that that within a relatively short distance there could be many habitable planets for them to choose from to visit.

    I suspect first attempts at getting to any of them would be one way trips for the travelers. It could be conceivable that for any number of reasons the trip was rarely repeated, and the return trips were even more rare. After a few million years or less I would think the various life forms, sharing common origins, may have evolved in many different directions largely due to differences in the environments they had encountered and the events of their societies. That would be easy to imagine even if intelligent life only originated once on one planet. Suppose it happened on several all over a long time span. There could be quite unimaginable diversity if they started to encounter each other.

    Consider them and us. They would be at least a few hundred light years away from us simply because the nearest such regions of space are at least that far away from us. Do you actually think they would bother looking further than their own neighbourhood for other intelligent life? Why would they bother? They may confidently assume that life is common throughout the galaxy and feel there were enough interesting species to communicate with (or avoid) without bothering to go much further.

    Now let's back off and reverse it a bit. What if the normal distance between nearest stars in a particular region of space is several dozen light years? We haven't been able to confirm or rule out life on planets orbiting any of Alpha Centauri's stars, let alone planets there at all. What if any such stars had planets and intelligent life? We could have intelligent life on planets around all the stars within a 100 light years, and unless they were vastly more advanced than us, none of them would know, for sure, of the existence of the others.

    If we then say that intelligent life is far rarer that that, maybe 1000 cases in the whole galaxy, that would leave us each a few hundred million stars to consider. I think Fermi was just a bit too impatient or arrogant in proposing his paradox...

    If a very intelligent species existed out there somewhere, there is no reason to assume they would want to encounter the likes of us in the first place.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fermi's Paradox was nonsense.

      "If a very intelligent species existed out there somewhere, there is no reason to assume they would want to encounter the likes of us in the first place."

      Indeed. After the first few hundred life-supporting planets, why bother visiting more? Chances are that (bounded by basic physics) you'd have found that life tended towards a range of basic shapes (two or four legged, winged, finned etc), that the range of feasible sizes was essentially limited, and various ecological roles are filled by similar biological solutions. If you've got interstellar travel cracked it's most unlikely that wealth or natural resources are sufficient problem to drive exploration.

      Which leaves the only real driver of aliens coming here being for the sake of it. With such a large number of planets to visit, catalogue and research, and the probably niche interest of exploration for exploration's sake, entire planets could evolve and become extinct between visits from space-faring species.

      1. Sweep

        Re: Fermi's Paradox was nonsense.

        "Which leaves the only real driver of aliens coming here being for the sake of it."

        Iain M Banks touched upon this in Transition- if tourism is the only reason for an alien race to visit other planets, and the only thing unusual about Ole Earth is the fact that our moon and star appear almost exactly the same size in the sky, then the best place to look for aliens on Earth would be to watch out for space hippies around the time of a solar eclipse....

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Drake

    A real-time Drake probability calculation would be good. As Kepler's goldilocks planet discoveries increase the probability with time, SETI's continuing silence reduces it a bit. And just like the US national debt clock, I reckon both numbers will only ever increase.

  19. Stuart Halliday
    Alien

    Time to rework the famous Kepler life equation? :)

  20. Steve Martins

    But what will it taste like?

    From the things I've read I like to think that rather than requiring a perfect recipe, life will simply exist wherever the environment isn't too harsh to prevent it, even it if is a simple primitive bacteria or spore. When you consider local maxima of genetic algorithm mathematics chances are that the genetic solutions for species might not be too dissimilar to that of earth (as an example both humans and octopus developed the same eye design through different evolutionary routes). But as others have said timing is everything, we may not be the first humanoid intelligent life in the universe (in fact statistically speaking it would be pretty amazing if we were!) but we may not coincide with the existence of any other species within reach (speculatively speaking).

    Of course if we do find life, we all know one of the first questions to be answered will be "what does it taste like?!!" (those that found the colossal squid - apparently ammonia tasting and not very nice, but those who discovered tortoises found them quite tasty...)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But what will it taste like?

      "Of course if we do find life, we all know one of the first questions to be answered will be "what does it taste like?"

      Unfortunately it's more likely that life will find us. Remember to marinade yourself before meeting the visitors.

  21. hvchronic

    We are so completely not alone. Sometimes you just have to open your mind to see the possibilities. Here's a song to help you do that ...

    https://soundcloud.com/biff-thuringer/moonman-1https://soundcloud.com/biff-thuringer/moonman-1

  22. Zot

    Why does it have to be like Earth to support life?

    We've only experienced biological life, so that's the only thing we can say that represents 'alive.'

    How about it being a mass connected silicone life form, or a huge but simple collection of giant synapses.

    They may not resemble the vertical symmetry of Earth creatures at all, and perhaps be hideous to our eyes!

    But, it'll be a lot of fun murdering it to appease our monkey-human insecurities and vicious instincts! ; p

  23. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    As for actually *getting* there

    Well I believe the best to date is a thing called a "fission fragment rocket."

    Essentially a high efficiency no moderator nuclear reactor designed to fir those fission fragments out the nozzle.

    Estimated performance is several Kg of thrust (which is pretty good for this sort of Isp) with fragment velocities of about 3-5% of the speed of light.

    1. MacroRodent Silver badge

      Re: As for actually *getting* there

      Essentially a high efficiency no moderator nuclear reactor designed to fir those fission fragments out the nozzle.

      Lovely. But hard to picture getting this device actually tested nowadays - I mean, it sprays out radioactive fallout by design! In the 1950's it would have been different...

  24. SirDigalot
    Coat

    if we are one of the prototypes...

    Or early vestiges of life in our galaxy at least, I like to think that instead of being primitive, we are "the first ones" and in enough time we will be able to shape younger races, and walk the stars like angels...

    and maybe get in a big intergalactic war with the other ones..

    then get kicked out

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> the one with the encounter suit plans in the pocket

  25. kabuki.usb

    MORE LIKE "Goldibollocks then "Goldilocks planets, there is only us and no one else.

  26. Micha

    Having once crawled out..

    of a gravity well, and developed the technology to survive in spaaaace, why would any intelligent species go back down (even assuming they could after spending a long time in microgravity).

    Of course, after we have finished our initial bumbling about and start getting serious about space habitation we will probably develop artificial gravity on our craft (not as in Star Trek, as in spinning). And once we have a reasonable energy source, gravity wells won't be as costly anymore either so even if we spend the majority of our time in space, we'll at least be capable of returning.

    But still, something to throw into the equation - once we're in space, what use do we have of planets (except as raw materials / protected environments for indigenous species). And ditto for any aliens. So even if some have passed our way they may not actually have any use of the planet except for curiosity.

  27. HectorSector

    This article is CRAMMED...with BALONEY. The parameters that allow life are a lot more complex than what looks to be an okay orbit from dozens or scores of light years away. This claim doesn't even qualify as science.

  28. dtarm1

    Of the number of stars surveyed with "type M" planets (estimating 20%), how many galaxies are there? and how many stars in each galaxy?

    It is only man's arrogance that he is highest form of life

  29. agricola
    Boffin

    NO KIDDING?! SERIOUSLY?!

    "Galaxy is CRAMMED with HABITABLE WORLDS – and possibly ALIENS"

    ALIENS!? NO WAY! You've obviously been brainwashed by Carl Sagan ("One must always keep an open mind, but not SO open that one's brains fall out.").

    All the aliens are right here, stealing our precious body fluids (we won't even touch on Social Security funds), abducting us for all kinds of nefarious, unmentionable--even in impolite society-- experiments, and then wiping our memories so that we have ABSOLUTELY NO MEMORY OF ANY ALIENS.

    What a TERRIBLE job of objective reporting. Hmmmpf!

    ***************************************************************

    Say, here's a thought:

    perhaps you could expand this idea into, say, a television series. Call it "The X-Files", or some such. On further reflection: forget it. It would never draw any viewers.

  30. Winkypop Silver badge
    Joke

    So

    Does god visit each planet supporting intelligent life?

    If so, maybe that explains his extended absence.

    Unlike Santa, god has a whole universe to service.

  31. ButlerianHeretic

    I'd guess that there might be very few civilizations out there to interact with in any meaningful way, even if life was fairly abundant and even if intelligent life evolved frequently. Life has been around for well over a billion years on earth. Humans have been around for a few hundred thousand, and we developed agriculture and the beginnings of civilization 10,000 years ago. We developed advanced technologies roughly a century ago, and in another century we will probably be either extinct or no longer be human.

    Even if another species developed human-level intelligence and started on a similar trajectory just thousand years ahead of us, they would be completely beyond our ability to understand by now - so, what if they were a few million years ahead of us? We probably have nothing in common with any species that has been around long enough to develop interstellar travel before us, and by the time we do we may have no desire to interact with any other species like us either. Because of this, both points of view might be valid simultaneously - Intelligence such as ours might be so common that we might be unremarkable, and yet still be all alone.

    Then again in a few thousand years, we could have nothing better to do than joyride the galaxy using technologies our current minds can't even comprehend, visiting other planets, watching other species evolve, and causing the governments of the more advanced ones no end of troubles trying to explain to their primitive inhabitants what we are doing.

    Or maybe we'll get bored of that and design a giant game where we can forget our future selves and play as primitive humans struggling for survival on a virgin world. Of course we'd have to make some compromises. We couldn't simulate every subatomic particle and photon but we could broadly model the shape of matter and the general way light shines fairly easily (assuming that Moore's Law has kept limping along in some fashion over the intervening centuries), and only instantiate individual subatomic particles and photons if we needed really fine interactions. Of course the inhabitants of the game world would notice some weird behavior but they would naturally just write the behavior into their notion of subatomic physics.

  32. boznal
    Alien

    Make of it what you will

    2nd line of the Qur'an..

    All Praise is due to God, Lord of the WORLDS

    1. James 36

      Re: Make of it what you will

      typo ?

  33. menotu

    no humans

    Hopefully there are planets that have no human type life... just plants, animals,, etc.. bet they are still pristine... not the garbage scow we have created....

  34. relpy

    Sorry but...

    It's got to go.

  35. JCSOG
    Thumb Down

    Sheer Magical Nonsense

    The sensationalist title is nonsense based on the given data. Ten possible data signatures of 'earth-like' planets is somehow extrapolated into a galaxy 'crammed' with aliens! No wonder the public is so badly mis-informed.

    First, the data points are very rough and unverified. Second, lets be generous and say they are entirely correct for these 10 stars, and, that they can accurately be extrapolated to the entire galaxy. There are many, many other factors that go into a life friendly (let alone intelligent life) planet. Plate tectonics, the presence of moons, being in the 'habitable zone' of the GALAXY, metallicity of the planetary system, the presence of gas giants in just the right spot of the system and even the presence of an asteroid belt appears to be a necessary condition. I recommend Alone in the Universe: Why Our Planet Is Unique by famed British physicist John Gribbin.

  36. davidprice

    Venus, Earth, Mars are all in the "habitible zone"

    Please remember, just because a planet is in the right place and is the right size, doesn't mean it is habitible. Both Venus (average surface temp 800F degrees) and Mars (dry as dust) are both within the "habitible zone".

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