In my lifetime?

Possibly the greatest discovery of all time.

What would that be?  Finding evidence that there is intelligent life on another planet.

With the assumption, of course, that there is intelligent life on Planet Earth 😉

So what prompted this article?

Simply that the British Magazine The New Scientist on its website has a recent article with the intriguing heading of Found: first rocky exoplanet that could host life.

Here are some extracts:

Astronomers have found the first alien world that could support life on its surface. It is both at the right distance from its star to potentially harbour liquid water and probably has a rocky composition like Earth.

“That’s the most exciting exoplanet I’ve seen yet,” says James Kasting of Pennsylvania State University in University Park, who was not involved in the discovery.

The planet orbits a dim red dwarf star 20 light years from Earth called Gliese 581. Four planets were already known around the star, with two lying near the inner and outer edges of the habitable zone, where liquid water – and therefore potentially life – could exist on its surface.

A rocky world has been found squarely in the middle of the star Gliese 581's habitable zone (Image: Lynette Cook)

The article continues:

The discovery suggests habitable planets must be common, with 10 to 20 per cent of red dwarfs and sun-like stars boasting them, the team says. That’s because Gliese 581 is one of just nine stars out to its distance that have been searched with high enough precision to reveal a planet in the habitable zone.

“If you take the number of stars in our galaxy – a few hundred billion – and multiply them by 10 or 20 per cent, you end up with 20 or 40 billion potentially habitable planets out there,” says Vogt. “It’s a very large number.”

For more years than I can imagine, I have always thought that the most amazing scientific find of my lifetime would be the discovery of life on another planet.

I’m 65 at present – wonder what the odds are? But surely this announcement by The New Scientist does increase them?

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