back to article NASA: ALIENS and NEW EARTHS will be ours inside 20 years

A group of top NASA scientists told the space agency's chief yesterday that the forthcoming generation of space telescopes are likely to discover habitable Earth-like worlds and probably alien life – perhaps within 20 years. We're all someone's Sun "Sometime in the near future, people will be able to point to a star and say …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We will never find a "new Earth" -- there will be too many chemicals, bacteria, viruses that will be deadly for humans. We will always need to wear protective suits. We've evolved to live on Earth and no where will be exactly like Earth.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Martin Budden

        Re: Only thing live for now.

        God is not that cruel.

        god who?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Only thing live for now.

        He created *you* didn't he?

    2. Mike Bell

      Too early to say.

      Most bacteria and viruses that we encounter have co-evolved with us. They rely on our particular body parts and cellular chemistry in order to do their thing.

      While its pretty unlikely that you'd be able to find something nutritious to eat on a random planet, it's not at all certain that their particular bugs would do for us.

      As for toxic chemicals, well, you're not going to be able to stand on somewhere like Io. But there may be plenty of relatively harmless planets around.

      1. b0llchit
        Holmes

        "But there may be plenty of relatively harmless planets around."

        Yes, indeed, one planet in particular is already classified as "Mostly Harmless".

      2. Mage Silver badge

        Viruses, Bacteria, Fungus, yeasts and Food

        I agree viruses are likely not a worry.

        Bacteria, Fungus and Yeasts could be. Maybe even Algae could be dangerous. Some of them are not species specific and others are.

        There is no reason to suppose that Plant life elsewhere is all inedible. It will have Starches /Carbohydrates/sugars/minerals. Some may have poisonous chemicals (like oxalic acid). Vitamins may be an issue. We can of course plant our own seeds and roots etc. But better be careful.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. Dave Robinson
            Headmaster

            Re: Viruses, Bacteria, Fungus, yeasts and Food

            That was bacteria. According to Wikipedia, Viruses were suggested just a few years before TWOTW was written (I love being pedantic).

            Nevertheless, to paraphrase Jeff Wayne (rather than HG Wells, who was much more long winded), across the gulf of space, minds immeasurably superior to ours regarded this Earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely, they drew their plans against us.

            All I can add to that is, if they're regarding Earth with envious eyes, I don't think I'll be booking my next holiday in Ulla-pool!

        2. Truth4u
          Windows

          Re: Viruses, Bacteria, Fungus, yeasts and Food

          "I agree viruses are likely not a worry."

          Unless you run Windows

      3. Phil.T.Tipp

        However, getting there is more of a problem in 2014 than it appeared in 1969. NASA is more interested in promulgating nonsense climate propaganda in order to maintain its umbilical link to the US federal coffers - space travel, off-world engineering, future fiction imagineering - not so much. Distinct lack of progress, wouldn't you say?

      4. Jaybus

        Too early for hostile exo-Earths

        It is most definitely too early to worry over exo-bacteria. Should we find an exact copy of Earth around another star, there is no known way to actually get there. Problem solved.

    3. Pete 2 Silver badge

      > We will always need to wear protective suits

      Or "skin" as future us's might get to call it.

      1. BongoJoe

        Assuming that we will need physical bodies when travelling. It would be more efficient to change our form and then beetle off at the speed of light not needing ships, suits and zero-grav toilets and travel at 1G.

        1. Graham Marsden

          @BongoJoe

          If you do the maths, you'll find that if you can accelerate at 1g for a year, you're going to end up travelling pretty damn close to the speed of light anyway, so all we need is a better form of Drive.

          1. <a|a>=1

            Re: @BongoJoe

            You would also need a pretty strong force-field to protect the ship against dust and gas traveling at relativistic speed.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          If you can do that, why keep bothering with the fleshy bits?

        3. Jaybus

          " It would be more efficient to change our form and then beetle off at the speed of light not needing ships, suits and zero-grav toilets and travel at 1G."

          and it will still take decades to tens of thousands of years to get there.

        4. Brian Hall

          A copy of you is not you, even if it thinks it is. There could be any number of those, all with that illusion, of course.

          1. David Walker

            You are already a copy of you that thinks you are you. Sorry but by the age of 'you' necessary to post online every atom in your body has been replaced at least once. It seems if you do it slowly enough while replacing/destroying the original copy it's assuredly possible to maintain the fiction that you are you. It is also likely possible to maintain such a confabulation of youness while traveling at the speed of light.

      2. Domeyhead

        or "mackintoshes" as the less exhibitionist astronauts may call them.

    4. NomNomNom

      Protective suits? Sure except helmets are annoying and get in the way, don't worry though just take it off I am sure it'll be fine. Didn't you watch Prometheus?

    5. fandom Silver badge

      So the little detail of travelling faster than light has already been licked?

    6. daktari

      I doubt we'll find a "new Earth" any time soon, but it won't be because of deadly micro-organisms. The thing about viruses and bacteria is that they have to match pretty closely, to be a problem. It's like software viruses - if you're running some whole different system, they don't even know you're there, basically. We're swarming with bacteria and viruses, hardly any of which are not characterised and most of which we don't even have to react to. Viruses pretty much have to be a chip off the old block. They can't recruit cellular machinery unless they 'know' what that machinery is.

      The bigger problem in regard to microbiology is getting enough of it, not too much of it. We ignore the sea of micro-organisms that thrive in us and penetrate every millimeter of everything around us, all the way down into unexplored depths of the earth's crust, and only pay any attention to the very tiny number that we know, because they're pathogenic, or useful.

      We tend to regard ourselves as autonomous machines, needing only air and breakfast to survive, but we're so intimately part of our world that we take it all for granted, and don't see how precisely we are part of our world, our gravity, our day length, our radiation, our atmosphere, our microbiota.

      Humans going to another planet would just 'fail to thrive', becoming sickly and weak and sterile after a few generations. If we ever wish to live on another planet, we should first send our bacteria, and give them a few hundred million years to get things set up for us.

      1. KrisMac
        Joke

        "..If we ever wish to live on another planet, we should first send our bacteria, and give them a few hundred million years to get things set up for us..."

        So you are suggesting that our new alien overlords might be only a few years away from arrival after having sent their bacteria on ahead a few hundred millenia ago to prepare the planet for them??

        1. Geoff Campbell

          Re: Alien Overlords

          Obxkcd:

          http://xkcd.com/1377/

          GJC

    7. Nigel 11

      New Earth

      We will never find a "new Earth" -- there will be too many chemicals, bacteria, viruses that will be deadly for humans.

      Stated on what basis? We have zero observations to choose between these possibilities:

      1. Life in general is poorly able to attack alien life. Our defences will overwhelm their bacterial attackers and vice versa. The Space-opera writer's choice.

      2. The reverse: their bacteria would rapidly reduce our higher life to smelly slime and vice versa, followed by a long battle between two different clades of single-celled life for supremacy or symbiosis.

      3. A one-way knock-out victory: our bacteria overwhelm their biosystem in short order, or their bacteria overwhelm ours. There can be only one ....

      4. Panspermia: all life in our galaxy has a common origin, so it's only invaders from Andromeda we have to fear.

      5. There's only one way to do life with the physics and chemistry of this universe that's not a thermodynamic impossibility, so convergent evolution means it'll look like panspermia even though it isn't.

      All of which is ignoring the extreme unlikelyhood of mankind ever reaching another star. We are too fragile and too short-lived to endure interstellar travel at a realistic (small) fraction of the speed of light.

      Our Von Neumann machines have a better chance, but the last place in the universe that Silicon-based A-life would want to conquer would be planets with moist oxidizing atmospheres. Alien A-life might even be established in our Solar system, and if they don't use radio to communicate (or if they use VERY efficient coding indistinguishable from noise) we might not have noticed it!

      1. Jaybus

        Re: New Earth

        Except our non-Von Neumann machines (ie. Synapse Project) will likely have a better chance.

  2. xyz

    Not...

    ..if the neocon fundementalists of the USofA have anything to say about it they won't. Doesn't Nasa know the earth is only 5000 years old and was built by GOD for Texans?

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: Not...

      So you're saying, Earth *is* the B-ark?

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        1. AbelSoul
          Megaphone

          Re: Fletcher Memorial Home

          "ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Reagan and Haig

          Mr. Begin and friend, Mrs. Thatcher and Paisley

          Mr. Brezhnev and party,

          the ghost of McCarthy,

          the memories of Nixon

          and now, adding colour, a group of anonymous, Latin

          American, meat packing glitterati"

          1. Mike Flugennock
            Thumb Up

            Re: Fletcher Memorial Home

            "ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Reagan and Haig

            Mr. Begin and friend, Mrs. Thatcher and Paisley

            Mr. Brezhnev and party,

            the ghost of McCarthy,

            the memories of Nixon

            and now, adding colour, a group of anonymous

            Latin American meat packing glitterati"

            Not my all-time favorite Floyd album, but this was one of the good bits.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Correction, my liege!

          You really are a sad, bigoted, obsessed troll. Oh sorry, did I forget RACIST?! No matter what the subject, you always find some way of blaming the Jews for something. Pathetic.

      2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: Not... @Captain DaFt

        Well, according to Douglas Adams, yes, we are the descendants of the B-Ark. Our ancestors were all management consultants and telephone sanitisers running from an enormous mutant space goat ... or twelve foot piranha bees ... or something.

  3. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Promises, promises

    > “I think in the next 20 years we will find out we are not alone in the universe,”

    So is that the same "20 years" time period by which we'll have commercial nuclear fusion?

    Or is it like the "two weeks" forecast for when we'll have that software ready. I.e. soon enough to keep the hope alive and keep the boss off our backs, but far enough away that by the time the forecast / deadline arrives, there will be a new and credible reason why it'll take just another couple of weeks

    As for:

    > "Just imagine the moment, when we find potential signatures of life," concurred Matt Mountain, a top space telescope boffin

    I think what he means is "Just imagine all the new research grants we'll get to confirm or refute the existence of extraterrestrial life (depending on which religion / industrialist is paying for it). Just imagine all the publicity we'll be able to generate and all the talk shows we'll be invited onto. I might just have to change my name to Majikthise".

    1. sisk Silver badge

      Re: Promises, promises

      So is that the same "20 years" time period by which we'll have commercial nuclear fusion?

      To be fair we should have commercial nuclear fusion by now. Bussard had it figured out, but the US government thought taking down Saddam Hussein was more important than his research. It's a shame we don't know how much of the process went to his grave with him.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Promises, promises

        > Bussard had [commerical nuclear fusion] figured out

        What.

    2. Code Monkey
      Trollface

      Re: Promises, promises

      It will also be the year of Linux on the desktop. What a year that'll be!

      1. Pedigree-Pete

        Re: Promises, promises

        Oh yeh! Anyone else remember the "paperless office".

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          Re: Promises, promises @ Pedigree-Pete

          "Anyone else remember the "paperless office"." Well, in some cases it is getting further away: http://gizmodo.com/german-government-is-using-typewriters-to-avoid-the-nsa-1605185821

        2. P. Lee Silver badge

          Re: Promises, promises

          > Oh yeh! Anyone else remember the "paperless office".

          These days, its more of a question of who remembers a paper-run office with massive filing rooms? We may not be completely paperless, but where I work there isn't much of it around and its mostly used for proofing and signing.

          The universe may be rather large, but it appears he hasn't done the stats on the probabilities of the evolution of life as we know it.

          "20 years and there will be aliens"... AKA, "Funding Please!"

      2. RISC OS

        Re: Promises, promises

        The year of linux on the desktop - that will be the year that and solar EMP wipes everything out and all we have are few government computers in bunkers unafected that run linux...

    3. RISC OS
      Devil

      Re: Promises, promises

      Exactly... it's 2015 next year, where are the flying cars, the hoverboards, mr fusion?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    20 years + 500 years

    That should be enough time for the inhabitants of Earth II to develop FTL travel and get the hell outa there before we stuff the place up.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: 20 years + 500 years

      There will be no FTL travel - there will be the next best thing which is endless duty free travel.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: 20 years + 500 years

        .... endless duty free travel with endless TLA probing.

        You now know where the Event Horizon went.

  5. Asylum Sam

    Where do I sign up..

    for a holiday to Nu-Earth??? The Quartz Zone sounds Idyllic...

  6. Craig 2

    Much as I love all the exciting space stuff happening in recent years, seeing these new 'Earths' will be a real kid-in-a-sweetshop-look-but-don't-touch moment. We'll be able to see all these amazing things and never* touch them. Given that, still can't wait to see :)

    *never - Not in my lifetime and probably quite a few more generation's lifetimes!

    1. mr.K

      If only

      It is not as this new tech will enable us to see or take pictures of these exoplanets. In fact we will never be able to make technology that is able to do that from this system. There simply isn't enough data in the photons that reach us to do that. What we are doing is that we are creating instruments that is able to pry a little more data out of the few photons that do make it here.

      We are not even able to take pictures of any decent quality of most of the planets, dwarf planets and moons in our own system. We have to send out probes to do it. Take Pluto for instance that we have not yet visited. Here is the best picture we have so far:

      http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/multimedia/display.cfm?Category=Planets&IM_ID=10363

      We can do of course is send probes, but I am sad to say that we will not be able to do that to other systems while I am alive. But we will get better pictures of Pluto next year. May 5, so clear your calender :)

      So...we will be the blindfolded kid in the candy store. Dunno if that is worse or not.

    2. RISC OS

      we are alone in the universe

      "Only one child in the sweetshop at-a-time"

  7. Winkypop Silver badge
    Alert

    Cats

    I'll bet Lister took shore leave there and left his pet cat behind....

  8. wowfood

    A quote from Hawking

    "We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn't want to meet," Hawking said. "I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach."

    -----------

    The only reason we need these super space telescopes is so we can arm ourselves to the teeth when the aliens start invading. That is also the real reason why every country is stockpiling nukes.

    *adjusts tinfoil hat*

    1. James Micallef Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: A quote from Hawking

      "these super space telescopes"

      I'm curious as to what's the theoretical limit (if there is one and it's known) of what we are physically able to see from Earth or Earth-orbit based telescopes:

      1) what's the minimum number of photons/weakest wave power signal that we would need to detect to be sure that another planet has such-and-such atmospheric composition, such-and-such mass, density etc etc

      2) Given the minimum from (1) that we would need to detect, how much needs to be emitted from the source at a given distance.

      And combining both points, is there a hard limit on how far away we can detect any of this.

      1. TheOtherHobbes

        Re: A quote from Hawking

        In theory you could make a collecting surface the size of a solar system, which would give you astonishing resolution.

        In practice - something like this is more likely:

        The FOCAL Project

        Park a telescope out around >550AU, use the sun as a gravitational lens.

        Not very steerable - you have to move your spacecraft to 'point' the telescope.

        But you'd get one hell of a close-up. And it's sort-of almost achievable with current technology.

        Interestingly, if a culture learned how to engineer gravity and warp space directly without using a nearby star, it could build an even strong version with a shorter focal length. But it would have to be even further out, because it have enough of a gravitational influence to begin perturbing the orbits of anything close to it.

        1. James Micallef Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          @TheOtherHobbes - Thanks

          That is freaking cool - so if I understand this correctly, using something like FOCAL, we could in principle observe pretty closely any planet/star etc as long as our scope is exactly lined up, AND it does not matter how far out it is, we can still achieve the same view... ie almost infinte magnification - that's a hell of a counterintuitive tech.

          "sort-of almost achievable with current technology."

          Given that Voyager is about 125au out right now and a FOCAL telescope would need 700-ish au out, whatever we can launch with current tech would still require decades before any results could be seen. Nevertheless, this is definitely a project to embark on.

        2. Martin Budden

          Re: A quote from Hawking

          Park a telescope out around >550AU

          As interesting as that sounds, it seems... tricky.

          Firstly, keep in mind that Voyager 2 is still only a bit more than 100AU away, so we'd need to get the telescope a *very* long way. Of course we could use clever planetary slingshots to speed it up enough to knock a decade or two off the travel time, even so it's a very long-term project.

          Secondly, how do we "park" the telescope when it reaches 550AU? Remember that it will be travelling very fast! There isn't any way to slow it down, so it will just keep on keeping on, zooming further out into the void, to be lost forever.

          1. James Micallef Silver badge

            Re: A quote from Hawking

            "how do we "park" the telescope when it reaches 550AU?"

            We start decelerating it very very gradually as soon as it's past the half-way point. Not sure if practical but it might be possible to harvest a tiny amount of energy from the ambient radiation to do so. Even if infinitesimal amount of decelaration is possible, it's happening over the course of decades. And keep onboard fuel / nuclear reactor power for final braking and manuevering.

    2. Fink-Nottle

      Re: A quote from Hawking

      I suspect Hawkins quote predates the discovery that telluric planets are relatively commonplace. What possible resources could we offer intelligent life that could not be found on any of the many rocky exoplanets we've detected nearby - McDonald's?

      1. Volker Hett

        Re: A quote from Hawking

        >What possible resources could we offer intelligent life that could not be found on any of the many rocky exoplanets we've detected nearby - McDonald's?

        A workforce!

    3. mr.K

      Re: A quote from Hawking

      Resources on a planet can for the most part never actually be used up. It is one of these layman views on the world and how it works that is simplified until it is plain wrong. There are a few exceptions. We could theoretically use up radioactive materials and some fusion materials like heavy hydrogen. Also we can in theory, but that will take a stupid amount of effort, take in use all of some of the elements present on the planet. For instance we could mine out all the gold and take it in use, but unless we start shooting it out into space or radiate it with particles to turn it into lead we will never use it up. Gold will forever be gold.

      Chemical compounds such as oil and coal can be taken out of the ground and spent. Then we have to lower our consumption to whatever rate it is replenished, which is quite small, or we have to make it ourself. But since what we really get out of fossil fuel is energy and not the chemicals themselves*, we can get that from somewhere else. If there is one thing we do not lack, it is energy. At this particular point in time though we do have a somewhat limited supply of energy we are able to use. We are also quite bad at making use of the energy we do spend. However let us assume that if we were able to build ships that could send our entire species through space then we are also able to make decent solar panels.

      Then we have such things as food and other resources we harvest. But that is just it, we harvest them which implies that there is a replenishing supply. We can screw up the supply by over harvesting, but it is a hell of a lot easier to regulate the outtake than to go to another planetary system, adapt an existing flora (in lack of a better word) or terraform to suit your needs.

      Expansion and colonization is of course valid reasons to go out there, but using up the resources are just stupid. Resources are used not spent in a close systems such as these. Whatever Hawkins are thinking of I don't know and I haven't bothered to read up on it, but I have some much faith in the man that it is either something he just said as some thinking aloud, he just wanted to seed a discussion and spark an interest in the population or his argument is more complicated than that.

      *The chemicals are quite easy to make if we have energy.

      1. Psyx

        Re: A quote from Hawking

        "Resources on a planet can for the most part never actually be used up.... For instance we could mine out all the gold and take it in use, but unless we start shooting it out into space or radiate it with particles to turn it into lead we will never use it up.."

        How about helium?

        1. Mage Silver badge

          Re: Helium

          Waste gas from our Fusion power stations?

        2. mr.K

          Re: Helium

          Yes, helium are something we kind of jettison into space. Our current usage liberate it prematurely from the crust and in a greater rate than it is replenished. So throw it in with my other exceptions. Still, I think a nearby gas giant is a better place to go than invade Earth to take over natural gas reserves (which is where most of our helium comes from I believe).

      2. Fink-Nottle

        Re: A quote from Hawking

        > Resources on a planet can for the most part never actually be used up.

        It's posited that a Dyson sphere could require more material than all the planets in a solar system could provide.

    4. fandom Silver badge

      Re: A quote from Hawking

      If the aliens are so bad at managing natural resources they will never be able to build self sustaining ships.

      So, no problem

    5. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Re: A quote from Hawking

      If they wished or had the ability to harm us in such a way they would have already. Which leaves two options.

      1) They cannot.

      2) They can, but are playing games with us until they do.

      With Occam's razor at play, I'd say they are not there. That and the fact any space faring race could colonise/explore/leave marks on the galaxy so quickly, if they existed before us, we'd see the evidence everywhere.

      The current evidence points to us being the only/first intelligence within observable and traversable distances.

      1. John Bailey

        Re: A quote from Hawking

        3) They exist, but are so far away that we can't see any evidence of them.

        This is no different to my dad, who never left a 20 mile radius of where he was born, dismissing Spain as a fairy story.

        In the far reaches of space.. What would tip us off to the presence of a gigantic city sized space craft, when we can barely discern suns that far away?

        If it takes a few million years for the light or radio waves from some distant sun to reach us, then what we see is the past. Not the present. So that distant earth like planet might very well have already been colonised, striped of resources, and abandoned... What we see from here, is the light and radiation from before the time of dinosaurs.

        1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

          Re: John Bailey

          There is no life on the moon. This is an observable fact. Therefore, while it's incorrect to state "there is no life outside of 20 miles of my house" it is correct to state "there is no life on the moon".

          We can state there are places where no life is. Does that boundary stop on the earth, or extend past it? But there is a certain boundary to life.

          1. NumptyScrub

            Re: John Bailey

            There is no life on the moon. This is an observable fact. Therefore, while it's incorrect to state "there is no life outside of 20 miles of my house" it is correct to state "there is no life on the moon".

            I don't think you've got this science thing down right. Either absence of evidence is classifiable as a "fact", so that it is exactly as correct to state that "there is no life outside of 20 miles of my house, because I have never seen any" as it is to state "there is no life on the moon, because we've not found any", or alternatively absence of evidence is not classifiable as a "fact", and thus it is as incorrect to state "there is no life on the moon" as it is to posit that no life exists 20 miles from my house.

            The correct statement is "we have not yet found any evidence of life on the moon", and that is as definitive as I would be comfortable getting.

      2. chris lively

        Re: A quote from Hawking

        A blind man says, "They must not exist because I can't see them."

        A deaf man says, "They must not exist because I can't hear them."

        An idiot says, "They must not exist because that's what the other guys said."

        Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

        Take from that what you will.

        1. Phil.T.Tipp

          Re: A quote from Hawking

          It makes absolute sense that there are no travelling intelligent life forms within reasonable travel distance/time, as their lack of presence clearly illustrates. Neither are we present in the locales of any alien species within reasonable travel distance/time, so the same applies for them. We simply don't exist outside our tiny bubble of planetary atmosphere, in our quiet backwater of the universe.

    6. Sander van der Wal

      Re: A quote from Hawking

      That would be the aliens too stupid to build a Dyson Sphere, or even a Ringworld?

  9. Rocket_Rabbit
    Joke

    Aliens exist?!?! The History channel will now take over the world!!!!

    1. chris lively

      I truly wish the History channel had stuck with verifiable facts instead of constantly running off into "sucker" territory. There are many subjects I'd love to watch a show about but I simply can't trust a single thing they say.

  10. Chizo Ejindu
    Thumb Up

    I Like NASA

    As much as it pains me to see how comparatively small NASA's budget is compared to the rest of the US federal budget, I'm still awed but what they strive for and can achieve. Think how crap our understanding of the universe would be if NASA didn't exist! Give them a bit more money so we can land a nuclear-powered laser-armed battle-bot on every planet in our solar system! :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I Like NASA

      "Think how crap our understanding of the universe would be if NASA didn't exist!"

      That's only because you don't speak Russian or Chinese!

  11. <a|a>=1
    FAIL

    The chance of finding bacteria on other worlds may be high, but the chance of progressing to eukaryote cells might be very small. After all it only happened once on our planet and took about 1.5 billion years. So it may well be that the only aliens in our galaxy are bacteria.

    1. Roj Blake Silver badge

      The odds that alien life would even evolve into something recognisable as bacteria are pretty slim.

      That's not to say that it wouldn't be complex, merely completely different to anything we've seen or even imagined. You might even say that the best word to describe it is "alien"

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just waiting for EELT

    - European Extremely Large Telescope. Will be finished in 2020-2021. Close ups of exo planets will be possible.

    1. mr.K

      Re: Just waiting for EELT

      You say close up. A dot or possibly two that represents that biggest planets out there is more likely.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just waiting for EELT

        The EELT will be able to collect 13 times more light than the best available telescopes today.

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: Just waiting for EELT

          Bernie - they will be bright dot but still dots.

          Not sure what's happening with the VLTi but that should be 5* better in terms of resolution which may turn the dots in collections of 25 dots...

    2. RISC OS

      Re: Just waiting for EELT

      I wish these science projects would stop getting douglas adams to name them... European Extremely Large Telescope, the large hadron collider, Large Electron–Positron Collider...

  13. We're with Steve

    A new life awaits...

    ... you in the Off-World colonies. The chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    I can't wait to see the artists' impressions of what life might look like when we 'discover' that it's out there. They're always hilarious and remind me of the paintings made by people in the dark ages of what monsters dwell in far off lands (history always repeats itself, no matter how sophisticated we think we've become).

    What would be really interesting though is if we are suddenly able to tune into their TV stations, assuming they haven't encrypted their broadcasts to the point where they're of no use to anyone without their DRM.

    Another thing I find amusing is the assumption that aliens will be nice because they will have grown out of their violent ways (assuming that good always wins and that the races we find aren't the ones who managed to slaughter everyone else into obscurity) and evolved into interplanetary tree-hugging botanists.

    Black helicopter because...... THEY'RE ALREADY HERE!!!!!!!!!!

    1. d3rrial

      If a species is capable of interstellar travel, what would compel them to wipe out an inhabited planet? Do they stand to gain anything from it? Are there no planets which are much more rich in resources than earth? (Jupiter or Saturn for example). The only reason they'd really have to attack humans would be for hunting / sports. And that'd get boring after the first couple of million dead.

      1. ma1010 Silver badge
        Joke

        Well, there is another possible reason...

        Ever read Damon Knight's story "To Serve Man"? "It's a COOKBOOK!"

        1. d3rrial

          Re: Well, there is another possible reason...

          I'm not going to lie, humans do taste good, however they are rather inefficient for food production. There are almost no parts on a human that have enough nutritional value to make it worth eating. Cows for example are much better, there's more meat and they grow a lot faster.

          Also we're assuming here that the aliens have a similar / equal digestive system as we do. Maybe they don't, that could either mean they'd be independent from eating meat, either because they can extract nutrition from more efficient sources (sunlight and soil maybe?) or because meat doesn't contain the kinds of nutrition they need, or they simply use more efficient / effective meat producers than humans.

  15. Brandon 2

    probability...

    "It's highly improbable in the limitless vastness of the universe that we humans stand alone,"

    Show me the maths. Just because you want to believe something, doesn't mean it's probably true. Don't you need at least 15 or 16 samples to make a statistically significant statement? So far, we have 1. It's been a long time since college stats class, so I could be wrong.

    1. Fink-Nottle

      Re: probability...

      > Show me the maths.

      Space-time is infinite. There's a finite number of ways particles can be arranged in space-time. Space-time must therefore start repeating at some point.

      An infinite universe is thus guaranteed to contain multiple versions of you. The distance you need to travel to find a duplicate earth is a simple calculation.

      There are 10^118 sub atomic particles in Hubble space. The number of possible arrangements of these particles is thus 2^10^118. Multiplying the number of arrangements by the diameter of the known universe - 8x10^26 meters - gives an average distance to the nearest duplicate earth of roughly 10^10^118 meters.

      1. Psyx

        Re: probability...

        "Space-time is infinite. There's a finite number of ways particles can be arranged in space-time. Space-time must therefore start repeating at some point."

        Except that space-time being infinite is not a proven fact. We can only work with the observable universe. Likewise, even if space-time is infinite, it does not automatically equate to an infinite amount of matter being in it.

        The idea of there being duplicate Earths in the same dimension requires a few assumptions that it's not yet fair to make.

        1. Fink-Nottle

          Re: probability...

          > The idea of there being duplicate Earths in the same dimension requires a few assumptions that it's not yet fair to make.

          To be fair, the OP stated "the limitless vastness of the universe" as a given.

          Nevertheless, there is some strong physical evidence in support of an infinite universe / duplicate earth scenario:

          The WMAP mission measured the microwave background; and by mapping the hot and cold spots, was able to determine the topology of space. NASA's conclusion was "that the universe is flat with only a 0.4% margin of error." This suggests that the universe is either infinite or very, very large.

          Similarly, three-dimensional galaxy distribution studies have shown that, on extremely large scales, the visible universe is monotonously uniform. This isotropy / homogeneity argues against the finite matter / island universe model. Indeed recent background radiation data gathered by Planck telescope seems to indicate the gravitational pull of matter outside our Hubble volume.

          Even if there were huge fluctuations in the distribution of matter, there would still be an infinite number of Hubble volumes identical to ours in the universe - they would just be further apart.

          1. Psyx

            Re: probability...

            "To be fair, the OP stated "the limitless vastness of the universe" as a given.

            Nevertheless, there is some strong physical evidence in support of an infinite universe / duplicate earth scenario:"

            But when queried by skeptics about the possibility of other life; what is a more reasonable and convincing reply: That we *think* space is infinite and therefore there must logically be an exact Earth duplicate, or that space is at least X size because we have measured it, and even in that volume, the most staggeringly mean numbers plugged into the Drake Equation result in a large number of other critters being statistically likely.

            Essentially, it's better to argue with laymen with measured facts we know than seemingly fantastical theories.

            1. Fink-Nottle
              Happy

              Re: probability...

              > It's better to argue with laymen with measured facts we know than seemingly fantastical theories.

              "Eppur si muove"

      2. Adair

        Re: probability...

        The logic might pass, but the premise is problematic, to say the least.

        'The universe is infinite' - sounds cool, and in an abstract form it is cool, but what does it actually mean? Outside of a mathematical formula we actually have no idea what it means in practice because we still have such a meagre understanding of what is actually going on.

        Rather like someone at the bottom of a very deep shaft claiming they know what it's like outside the shaft on the basis of what they can see through the hole way up there at the top. What they will see is a tiny bit of night sky, occasionally occluded by cloud. They may make some remarkably accurate deductions and assumptions, but until they manage to climb out they will never really 'know' what is there and how it all hangs together from a different, and much bigger, point of view.

        Extrapolate and fantasize away, but please don't dress either up as 'fact' until you can plausibly demonstrate what is actually true.

        Let the explorations and adventure continue...

      3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: probability...

        Space-time is infinite.

        Citation needed.

        There's a finite number of ways particles can be arranged in space-time. Space-time must therefore start repeating at some point.

        There's a finite number of decimal digits, therefore the decimal expansion of pi must start repeating at some point. Oh, wait.

        Even if space is infinite, that doesn't guarantee there are an infinite number of particles in it.

        An infinite universe is thus guaranteed to contain multiple versions of you.

        Even if the previous argument held water (which it doesn't, for several reasons), this doesn't follow. Your "infinite set of particles arranged in finite ways" could include one copy of me and an infinite number of hydrogen atoms. There is absolutely no requirement that there be more than one of me.

        Sometimes there seems to be an infinite number of people making sophomoric arguments that don't stand up to a moment's scrutiny, but I'm sure that's just an illusion.

        1. Fink-Nottle

          Re: probability...

          > Citation needed.

          I sense hostility.

          This stuff is basic physical cosmology, so I suggest you check out a current cosmology text. Failing that Parallel Universes Max Tegmark, Scientific American - May, 2003.

          > There's a finite number of decimal digits, therefore the decimal expansion of pi must start repeating at some point. Oh, wait.

          Not a good analogy. Nevertheless, pi is a normal number, so it it is conjectured that it will contain any a finite sequences of digits. One possible finite sequence is the coordinates of every particle in the observable universe ... and, if it contains one copy, it can contain an infinity of copies.

          > Sometimes there seems to be an infinite number of people making sophomoric arguments that don't stand up to a moment's scrutiny, but I'm sure that's just an illusion.

          True, that is just an illusion on your part. Physical cosmology is a branch of physics that is concerned with the scientific study of the universe at the largest scales. As Richard Dawkins remarked, “science replaces private prejudice with public, verifiable evidence.” I'm also reminded of another Dawkins' quotes “Science is interesting, and if you don't agree you can fuck off."

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: probability...

      See the Drake Equation.

      Some of the variables are now known to a reasonable degree of accuracy, so pick numbers you feel make sense for the remaining ones.

      The original estimate was 1000 - 100,000,000 civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy alone.

      We now know that R* and fp are higher than Drake's group originally estimated - though some of the other values (eg fi) are probably smaller.

      As the values of the remaining terms are indeed unknown, you can justify both large and small values for each of them.

      However, you cannot use zero for any of these terms because we already know that (semi) intelligent life has arisen at least once in this galaxy.

      Given that the Universe is really rather big, it is extremely improbable that the remaining values are all so small that the final answer is 1 civilisation.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: probability...

        R* = the average rate of star formation in our galaxy

        [ Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. etc]

        fp = the fraction of those stars that have planets

        ne = the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets

        [The discovery of exoplanets is allowing us to better estimate this factor]

        fl = the fraction of planets that could support life that actually develop life at some point

        [We currently only know of one planet that has life. Discovery of life on Mars / Europa / Wherever would allow a better estimate of this factor]

        fi = the fraction of planets with life that actually go on to develop intelligent life (civilizations)

        [ Very hard to estimate. Vertebrate life was around for hundreds of millions of years without much in the way of tool use]

        fc = the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space

        L = the length of time for which such civilizations release detectable signals into space[8]

      2. Paul Kinsler

        Re: See the Drake Equation.

        The problem with the Drake equation is that although it partitions all the unknowns into types, it doesn't make them less unknown. It's better to think of what a pututative spacefaring civilization might get to do, and under what circumstances - see e.g.

        http://www.brin-l.com/downloads/silence.pdf

    3. Psyx

      Re: probability...

      "Show me the maths. Just because you want to believe something, doesn't mean it's probably true."

      Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is.

      There are 400,000,000,000ish stars in our galaxy.

      There are 170,000,000,000ish galaxies in the observable universe.

      That equates to 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars in the *observable* universe [we don't know how many more are out there], each of which might harbour one or more planets which might be harbouring life.

      So, unless you believe the odds of life evolving are less than 10^24 or less, then it's statistically certain that there is life elsewhere. Frankly, that's such a stupidly, astonishingly slim chance that if there *isn't* life elsewhere and we are the only things alive, then it becomes a compelling argument for the existence of a higher power that's f***ing with us.

      "Don't you need at least 15 or 16 samples to make a statistically significant statement? So far, we have 1. It's been a long time since college stats class, so I could be wrong."

      We have 10^24 'sample' stars, and we are busy discovering that lots of them have planets in the goldilocks zone.

      If you want to do the maths yourself, then the Drake Equation is here:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drake_equation

      Make the variables as un-generous as you like: The equation will still tell you there's a lot of life out there, smart or not.

    4. mr.K

      Re: probability...

      Others mention the Drake equation as a reply here, but all that really does is to replace one unknown as a product of unknowns. I am not saying it doesn't have a value, but it's value is with establishing what we need to figure out in order to estimate a number.

      However when it comes to answering this question we are left with one observation. There is life on one planet. The question "Are we alone?" actually becomes what are the chance that this one planet we have observed is the only one with life? If you are a visitor in our universe and you pick out one planet from one planetary system from one galaxy and that planet has life, then you can out of a sample size of one say that life is very common. In contradiction to what quite a few people believe in statistics a sample size of one will reveal quite a lot about what you have sampled. The resolution is just quite bad. However, we are not a visitor that pick out a random planet. So that is completely negated by the fact that the one planet we are observing is the one we are on and that the only reason we are observing it is because it has life in the first place.

      So we are back at square one. Or not quite. We can look at the probabilities of probabilities. Since we know nothing how probable the different probabilities we have to regard them as random. What is the likelihood of a probability that produces one and just one planet with life at a given point? Well, we are still in the unknown here, but I find it extremely unlikely. To put it another way. Of all the results of the Drake equation the numbers of results that is not one is much much bigger than the results that is one. (The probability of the probability of each of those is not equal, for instance zero is probable bigger than the rest, but you get the idea.)

      There is one problem though is that we are assuming one universe here. In a multiverse with infinite outcomes you suddenly make all the probabilities that is near zero valid again since all you need is for one of those universes to produce one instance of life at one point in time.

      No, what we need to figure out how life started in the first place. Then we can establish how unlikely that was to happen when the conditions were right.

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

        Re: probability...

        " In contradiction to what quite a few people believe in statistics a sample size of one will reveal quite a lot about what you have sampled."

        No, no it does not. Our solar system has 1 sun. We can conclude from this:

        Solar systems only ever have 1 sun. Or all orbital systems have 1 sun.

        Both are incorrect, as we have binary star systems, and orbits around planets (or dwarf/failed stars if we wish to keep the stellar definitions in our example).

        So... long story short, with 1 data point, we can only ever (mathematically, logically and scientifically) state "There is at least one star in at least 1 solar system in the universe", the same applies to life.

        We got more data on stars, we need more data on life. :)

        PS, citation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathematical_joke#Stereotypes_of_mathematicians

        1. mr.K

          Re: probability...@technicalBen

          First of all you are confusing statistics with mathematics. In mathematics we operate with certainties and there you are quite correct that all that we can know with a sample size of one is that all we actual know is that there is at least one thing to sample and at least one of the entire population has the traits of that sample.

          But you see, that is where you have effectively argued that all sampling is meaningless. If there are a thousand black sheep on the field in Scotland all you know is that there is at least one field in Scotland, it has one thousand sheep and they are black on at least one of their sides. And so on. When you operate with certainties you will never know before you have sampled the entire population.

          In statistics however you will try to quantify the different uncertainties. In science we can then use this to set certain thresholds to circumvent the problem that you often can only disprove certain things and never prove them. Basically all that we can know is that we are*, which makes it very hard to build a scientific foundation on.

          Back to our sampling. I have never claimed and will never claim that if you take one sample that whatever qualities that has is the only one present in the population. To claim that I did by arguing against it is quite frankly something you should consider yourself too good for. What I am saying is that it is highly unlikely that you have found a unique entity in the population**. And this is what I mean with resolution. The bigger the sampling size the better resolution you get on the picture it casts on the entire population.

          *Cognito ergo sum

          **With regards to certain attributes. All humans are unique when you come down to it, and thus by selecting any individual out of the entire population you will never find any one equal. But that is not what you are after when you look at groups. You have to look at traits that are similar. Like how many legs, skin colour, reads the Register and so on.

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: probability...@technicalBen

            First of all you are confusing statistics with mathematics. In mathematics we operate with certainties

            And you appear to be confusing mathematics with some figment of your imagination.

            "Mathematics" describes those forms of reasoning which employ formal abstractions to produce results that are demonstrably consistent with a set of axioms (and a set of principles for combining them, which are second-order axioms themselves). Statistics is most definitely part of that set.

    5. Lars Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: probability...

      Try logic instead, why would "life" exist only on this planet alone among the increadible amount of galaxies. Just not logically possible unless The God (our) is a very local magician, Personally I belive we will find a set of local The Gods where ever we go. I am not sure It's a good idea to meet any of them or their followers considering the mess we have created at home. Desperately trying to find out who to send to ask for their permission to plant our flag on their property. Surprisingly it's perhaps better if there is no intelligent life out there as there is nothing here either.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: probability...

        Try logic instead

        An excellent suggestion. Perhaps you should learn what "logic" means and have a go at it yourself.

        Here, I'll get you started. "Gosh, that seems really unlikely" is not a logical construction. If it's correct, then it's a justification for making a Bayesian estimate of the probability of a thesis; but in itself it has nothing to do with logic.

      2. TechnicalBen Silver badge

        Re:Lars

        Why would life exist everywhere? I observe there are limits to it's existence.

        This is the case for matter. This is also interestingly the case for Earth.

        If I deal a pack of cards, I can state "this dealt hand only exists here on earth". Why do you suggest I can say that it exists else where?

        So, with some things, I can say "it only ever happens once". I consider life to be at least as unique (and / or complex) as a pack of 52 cards. Something that seems extremely simple, can in reality have a mathematical probability so obscure that it only ever happens once in the lifetime of the universe. :)

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Search... find.

    Until they find a way to search for planets with rotating molten iron cores, that generate magnetic fields to protect the surface from external ionized radiation (the kind that destroys DNA), I find highly unlikely they do find planets where you can take your helmet off.

    Once they do...

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Search... find.

      There's other ways to protect the surface, eg atmosphere, water, distance...

      Though an atmosphere that thick may well be a Krikkit...

      - Tidally-locked could be interesting, a band of habitability around the terminator, protected from radiation by the thickness of the atmosphere. A few books have been written set on such a world.

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: Search... find.

        A water world is another interesting possibility. Liquid H2O in far greater abundance than Earth, 200km or so deep i.e. down to the point where the pressure causes it to crystallize into a denser-than-liquid high-pressure phase of ice. Earth's ~2km of water would be stripped by the solar wind in about 100My without our geomagnetic field. A water world might well last until its sun boiled it, even if losing water to space at 2km per 100My.

        Radiation may be a problem only for life that evolved on this planet with good radiation protection in place. Protection against a non-existent threat doesn't evolve. Even here, blue-green algae will thrive in the cooling jacket of a laser discharge tube (intense UV) and live off the Cherenkov glow inside a nuclear reactor (huge neutron flux and lots of other nasties). It's probable that they are descended directly from the first life on the panet, which evolved before we had an oxygen atmosphere or an ozone layer, and so needed good radiation tolerance.

        One datum allows no conclusions to be drawn about the population it is taken from. Maybe we are alone. Maybe as many as one in twenty stars carries life on one of its planets. The evidence so far can rule out neither, nor anything between.

        Oh, and what do we know of the possibilities for life in the various phases of degenerate nuclear matter on the surface of a neutron star with a strong magnetic field? NOTHING!. Apart from the obvious facts that we'd never get to shake hands or share biospheres, and that given the relative speed of nuclear chemistry compared to the everyday sort, one of our months might be long enough for the complete rise and fall of a civilisation.

  17. Caaaptaaaain kick arse

    They'll all look much like the Canadian back woods

    Like that daft TV prog. Stargate?

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: They'll all look much like the Canadian back woods

      Stargate assumes that there has been migration or seeding, possibly with teraforming as a result of having FTL travel. In those circumstances, it's not surprising that there are human-like people with green vegetation.

      It also makes production of the TV programme cheaper!

  18. SDSmith

    New "Columbus" era coming

    Once we actually find a "new earth" or several then the real race begins as nations on earth wake up to the fact that they could be left behind as a less than 3rd world power if they don't advance into space. There will be enormous pressure on the US and other large nations and groups such as the EU to allow smaller nations to participate with them and claim planets and technology.

    I see a lot of virus/bacteria oriented scares here and while that's a concern...it's not even in the top 10. First we'd have to figure out how to travel the immense distances in a time period which is reasonable with respect to our short life spans and won't drive travelers insane dealing with it.

    A wave of focused research and engineering would be launched and our biology would be a big issue. I wouldn't be surprised if this new era included the discovery of the fountain of youth.

    Naturally, the closer a "new earth" is the more competitive the exploration wave becomes. At 4 - 25 light years away we'd see that as more achievable in the next 25 - 100 years than something identified 100+ light years away.

    I don't see intelligent life being discovered...not that it couldn't be there. I just see it as less likely. Afterall, earth has existed for billions of years and yet there has only been an intelligent human prescence here for what? 3 - 5 million years at best? We are more likely to find "new earths" with other life but not intelligent life.

  19. wolfmoon

    As long as there is a major influence of religion in the world, we will still see the scientific community scrutinized and downplayed and fooling the less educated people into thinking that any life other than here on earth is non existent. This way of thinking HAS to stop. The world community in a whole must EMBRACE the worlds scientists. When life is discovered on another world, be it microbial or intelligent, and is proven that it DOES exist, I look forward to the sudden change of human consciousness in knowing that the universe is abundant with life. Religious factions around the world FEAR this fact and will do anything, and pay anyone to hush media and dull minds in order to push their beliefs that humans are the only life in existence. Technology is increasing, along with breakthroughs on how the technology is being used. Its ironic that the religions of the world have increased their influence on people as well. They know whats coming so they are having one last hurrah before humans become part of the Universe community and not just Earth community.

    "It's time of destroy the collar and leash of hummanity."

    1. Psyx

      "As long as there is a major influence of religion in the world, we will still see the scientific community scrutinized and downplayed and fooling the less educated people into thinking that any life other than here on earth is non existent."

      What? Where? I think you'll find that even if you straw-poll a highly religious nation where a sizable proportion of the population believes the Earth was made on a Tuesday a few thousand years ago*, then belief in life somewhere other than our own is a majority opinion.

      You're basically bringing your anti-religion sentiment into a discussion that has nowt to do with religion.

      Oh yeah: Even the Catholic Church is fine with aliens existing.

      *ie America.

    2. SDSmith

      I'd agree that this is way off track...most religious people I know are fine with alien life and would tell you that it's a probability. Catholic Church, which I was raised in, is expecting it. Naturally, they've been beaten up over the centuries losing to Galileo, Copernicus and a few other notables. So it understandable.

      Islam is too busy wreaking the lives of their own people to care about alien life or it's implications.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Meh

    Another NASA prediction....

    ...must be funding time.

    In the meantime, some light entertainement

    http://io9.com/5821954/1970s-nasa-film-predicted-wed-colonize-space-before-the-year-2000

  21. WalterAlter
    Devil

    GIGO

    There are serious problems with the "disk accretion" model of planetary formation and astronomers who try to examine these problems are threatened with loss of funding, censure and ridicule. What will be discovered in the next 20 years is that the Sun and all stars are electro-magnetic plasma Z-pinches, not sustained H-bombs, and that planets are formed by ejection due to plasma instabilities as the Z-pinch matures from a toroid to a sphere. www.thunderbolts.info

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: GIGO

      I love it: Electric Universe workshop - space limited.

    2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: GIGO

      And what difference would it make to the topic we are discussing here? (Not that I'm taking the theory seriously anyway).

  22. Scott Broukell
    Meh

    So in 50+ years time, maybe . . . .

    Thank you for flying with O'Rion Space Travel. Passengers who remembered to book and pay for the 'Landing Supplement' can now make their way to the Landing Podules at the rear of the craft. Anyone wishing to pay the supplement now will have to pay an additional supplemental administration charge of 2m Credits. All other passengers have the option of staying on board or enjoying a short break on a nearby asteroid. Either of these options requires payment in full of an additional supplemental administration charge to cover extra accommodation cost etc. Thank you for flying with ......

    (Plus ca change)

  23. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    here's to hoping

    that they find New Earth within easy tapping distance of the Beer Nebula.

    "Kirk, my old friend, do you know of the Klingon proverb that tells us Beer is a drink best served COOOOLD...? It is very cold in spaaace." </RicardoMontalban>

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: here's to hoping

      Beer should NOT be served cold!!!! (Well, real ale shouldn't be, anyway)

  24. NomNomNom

    It's arrogant for atheists to claim there is no God but then go on to claim there are aliens. There is absolutely no evidence for aliens. They are not mentioned in the Bible and even the science books admit no aliens have been found. They are made up creatures like zombies and seahorses.

    All the telescopes in the world have been spinning round frantically looking for aliens but every planet scientists zoom in on they just find different color rocks or gases, NO aliens. NASA supposedly landed men on the moon, if so they must have looked real hard in craters and suchlike when they were there but still NO aliens. So when are they going to get a clue and admit defeat? It's the 21st century boys, it's high time to grow up and stop believing in little green men.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Atheists and Religion

      Atheists and Religion are irrelevant to this, both groups have people that think we are alone or there are Aliens.

      We have not been looking very long and have poor tools so far. At the minute it's impossible to confirm or deny.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Atheists and Religion

        Actually, they're not irrelevant to this. The idiot in Congress who oversees the NASA budget is a god-botherer who believes everything is only 6000 years old and we are the chosen planet.

        1. chris lively

          Re: Atheists and Religion

          Now, wouldn't it be funny if we did find aliens and some of those aliens believed the universe was only 6000 years old as well?

          1. Mark 85 Silver badge

            Re: Atheists and Religion

            Would it matter if it were "their" years as opposed to "our" years? Could be very different....

    2. Shrimpling
      Coat

      On the other hand looking out into space with a good enough telescope could find God.

      Or the remains of God after a collision with a space probe...

    3. Psyx

      "It's arrogant for atheists to claim there is no God but then go on to claim there are aliens."

      Just as its arrogant for those of a religious bent to claim that there is a god and hence no aliens.

      "There is absolutely no evidence for aliens."

      Ditto God.

      However, there is simple statistics. With there being 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars kicking around it's blisteringly, mind-numbingly arrogant to suggest that there *isn't* life elsewhere.

      "There is absolutely no evidence for aliens. They are not mentioned in the bible"

      Wow.

      Just wow.

      Nor are microbes, gamma rays, cheesecake, or a correct value for Pi. Do they not exist?

      "and even the science books admit no aliens have been found."

      'The Science Books'? Which ones, exactly? Is there a definitive list?

      They 'admit' it, because that's the truth. Are you inferring that they would rather lie? I don't think 'science' means what you think it means.

      "They are made up creatures like zombies and seahorses."

      I hate to break this to you, but seahorses are a real thing.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seahorse

      "All the telescopes in the world have been spinning round frantically looking for aliens"

      No they haven't. They've only been looking for planets outside our own solar system for 5ish years. How do you think we can 'see' aliens through a telescope?

      "NASA supposedly landed men on the moon"

      They did. That's how they put a mirror there that bounces lasers back, so we can measure how far away it is. Or did you think that they magiced up there?

      "if so they must have looked real hard in craters and suchlike when they were there but still NO aliens. So when are they going to get a clue and admit defeat?"

      So... we didn't find an alien on our moon, so there's not one in the infinite reaches of space?

      Is there an elephant in your kitchen? Then by your logic, there are no elephants.

      "It's the 21st century boys, it's high time to grow up and stop believing in little green men."

      It is indeed. High time you grew up and stopped believing that anything that's not in the Bible doesn't exist.

    4. SDSmith

      Wow...you are a poster child for atheist recruiting aren't you. You make religion look stupid and don't even get it.

      - The Bible is NOT universally accepted as "literally correct". The Catholic Church considers it inspired parables (ie: stories) of faith. Not literal truth. I'm sure Islam, Hindi, Buddist and other faiths would weigh in on that as well.

      - Antecdotally NOT finding life on the moon is silly. Of course not. We didn't expect to as the conditions for life as we know it are not present. Air and water in the top two. Finding life on a world with suitable conditions for life as we know it (*where we can live), has not been possible yet. It is STATISTICALLY, a probability that there is other life. Given the sheer scale of the universe and billions upon billions of galaxies....let alone solar systems.

      1. Psyx

        "Wow...you are a poster child for atheist recruiting aren't you. You make religion look stupid and don't even get it."

        Actually; no. I'm agnostic and have qualifications in Religious Studies. I've read the bible and many of the world's other popular religious texts. I 'get it'; I was rebutting someone who appears to believe the Bible is the source of all knowledge.

        "The Bible is NOT universally accepted as "literally correct".

        I'm aware of that. However, the poster to which I was replying had stated "There is absolutely no evidence for aliens. They are not mentioned in the Bible", so is one of the more literal religious maniacs, I suspect.

        "Antecdotally NOT finding life on the moon is silly. Of course not. We didn't expect to as the conditions for life as we know it are not present."

        Yes, I agree. I was disagreeing with someone of a religious bent who believes that lack of life on the moon means that there is no other life in the universe. Which is absurd, clearly.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          > I was disagreeing with someone of a religious bent

          Didn't you two hear the whoosh over your heads?

          NomNomNom is a regular and amusing troll who's posts invariably catch out the over-earnest.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > There is absolutely no evidence for aliens. They are not mentioned in the Bible and even the science books admit no aliens have been found.

      Not true!!! John 14:2 - In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you where no man shall troll his neighbour. For what does it profit a man to raise a false report, even if he deceives a multitude? Put not thine hand to an unrighteous post lest thou be judged with the wicked.

  25. Turtle

    I Read About Things Like This...

    Reading articles such as this, I really begin to have contempt for NASA. This is a funding-oriented publicity stunt that has next to nothing to do with science, aimed at people who are unable to distinguish between "science' and "scientists".

    1. Kunari

      Re: I Read About Things Like This...

      I remember reading articles like this 20 years ago, some of the statements have proven true. We have found proof of exo-planets. Some haven't yet came to be, like a replacement for Hubble as the James Web telescope was canceled.

      Funding does play a role in what science NASA can do and NASA's budget keeps taking hit after hit. At least the ESA and others are also looking so eventually someone will get proof of a Earth like planet.

  26. Scott Sinnock

    We ARE alone. We can never get there. Earth is our home. It is all we have. Lets not ruin space too.

    1. Paul Kinsler

      Re: Lets not ruin space too.

      Space is quite big. Even the most enormous galaxy-spanning human civilization of popular fiction would struggle to make even a slight mess of all space. Even blowing up a galaxy would scarcely dent Space.

  27. Mark 85 Silver badge

    20 years, eh?

    Didn't we just have a similar article in the last couple of months about the "20 years but we need the funding" thing? Yeah.. flying cars, FTL, and world peace.

  28. LameStream Media
    Linux

    Right --- and these are the same guys who bring global warming (ooppss - climate change) to you

    cuz of coal -- Right,,, some scientists indeed. These guys need to read up on "Rare Earth" theory!

    BUNK to these Clowns at NASA.

  29. jtwine

    ""It's highly improbable in the limitless vastness of the universe that we humans stand alone,""

    Wrong!

    you only need the add the improbability of earth's moon to Drake's equation to understand that we are singular.

    there are certainly a multitude of potentially habitable planets orbiting sun-like stars, but there are no aliens out there . . . anywhere.

    1. Queasy Rider

      Improbable, not impossible. Drake's equation still holds, although I've begun to have my doubts.

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

        It's not impossible for a whale and a pot of petunias to appear. It is however extremely not probable.

        Really, make the universe as big as you like. Make time as long as you like. There is a limit on what will and will not happen. We prefer to use evidence and observations for this. Speculation does not help one bit to change our understanding.

        A spontaneous pot of petunias is about the same probability (within an acceptable margin of error) as life appearing (in the vastness of the universe multiple times). So, if we state that one can happen, we have to admit we also believe the other is likely. Are we happy to make that conclusion?

        1. EssEll

          A spontaneous pot of petunias is about the same probability (within an acceptable margin of error) as life appearing (in the vastness of the universe multiple times). So, if we state that one can happen, we have to admit we also believe the other is likely. Are we happy to make that conclusion?

          The chances of life appearing in the vastness of the universe *once* have to be as close to zero as makes no odds. The fact that life *does* exist (at least, I damn well hope so) surely means that the odds of it appearing again are significantly enhanced. Ergo, a bowl of petunias must have (by that logic) a much enhanced probability of springing into existence.

    2. Psyx

      "you only need the add the improbability of earth's moon to Drake's equation to understand that we are singular."

      Tosh.

      Even if the Earth's moon *IS* required for life (we have no evidence of that), then just toss in another 1-in-a-million chance to the equation and guess what: You still get a significent result greater than one.

      Believing we are alone is utterly, ignorantly arrogant and belies a lack of comprehension regarding the sheer size of the universe.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We are the only life in the universe...

    ...because the universe is a giant brain that is growing.

    http://sprott.physics.wisc.edu/pickover/pc/brain-universe.html

    That is why the universe is growing and why we haven't seen any evidence of other life. There is none.

    Light at the end of the tunnel... could be travelling down a penis to start new live... and then a black hole appears somewhere and live starts again in some other creatures brain...

  31. implicateorder

    But will the aliens speak English...

    Or do we have the translator virus yet?

  32. Bunbury

    What's a "sign of life" then?

    Look mate, you had us at "earthlike worlds". This new JWT will make Hubble look like Mr Magoo.

    And then you go and spoil it by blurting out "and we'll find we're not alone in 20 years". Why spoil hard science by jumpoing to messianic claptrap?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let’s suppose that we are alone. Now take our tiny insignificant planet out of the equation and suddenly there is no intelligent life in the universe AT ALL.

    You would have to ask – what even IS the universe with no life form capable of observing it? I think I’m having a quantum meltdown just thinking about it.

    On a more practical scientific note – is gravity an assumed feature of the goldilocks zone? I never see it mentioned. Always with the liquid water and breathable atmosphere, but I’d reckon sticking to the surface of the planet with just the right amount of force to enable free motion would be quite important. Or at least important for intelligent life that resembled us in any way.

  34. doubled1

    NASA dopes

    NASA can't even get a man in to space at the moment. Why on this earth are they wasting time with this sort of pure speculation when they should be concentrating on getting their sh!!t together. What a bunch of dopes, I have no respect for them anymore. Just pathetic.

  35. Bob From Marketing

    Will Perl 6.0 be ready by then?

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Bob

      Perl is perfection. No need to improve it.

      C.

  36. Mike 137

    Fundamentally flawed thinking

    "...the possibility we're no longer alone in the universe..."

    reminiscent of Columbus "discovering" America - the native populations didn't even know it existed until he turned up and told them...

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