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Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

02/25/2009 9:54 AM

Here's a great story I found on CNN.com. The link to the story is at the bottom.

As NASA prepares to hunt for Earth-like planets in our corner of the Milky Way galaxy, there's new buzz that "Star Trek's" vision of a universe full of life may not be that far-fetched.

Pointy-eared aliens traveling at light speed are staying firmly in science fiction, but scientists are offering fresh insights into the possible existence of inhabited worlds and intelligent civilizations in space.

There may be 100 billion Earth-like planets in the Milky Way, or one for every sun-type star in the galaxy, said Alan Boss, an astronomer with the Carnegie Institution and author of the new book "The Crowded Universe: The Search for Living Planets."

He made the prediction based on the number of "super-Earths" -- planets several times the mass of the Earth, but smaller than gas giants like Jupiter -- discovered so far circling stars outside the solar system.

Boss said that if any of the billions of Earth-like worlds he believes exist in the Milky Way have liquid water, they are likely to be home to some type of life.

"Now that's not saying that they're all going to be crawling with intelligent human beings or even dinosaurs," he said.

"But I would suspect that the great majority of them at least will have some sort of primitive life, like bacteria or some of the multicellular creatures that populated our Earth for the first 3 billion years of its existence."

Putting a number on alien worlds

Other scientists are taking another approach: an analysis that suggests there could be hundreds, even thousands, of intelligent civilizations in the Milky Way.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland constructed a computer model to create a synthetic galaxy with billions of stars and planets. They then studied how life evolved under various conditions in this virtual world, using a supercomputer to crunch the results.

Galaxy Quest• The Milky Way is believed to be more than 13 billion years old.

• It is just one of billions of galaxies in the universe.

• The Milky Way has a circumference of about 250,000-300,000 light years.

• It is about 100,000 light years in diameter.

• There are three types of galaxies: ellipticals, spirals and irregulars.

• The Milky Way is a large disk-shaped barred spiral galaxy. (A barred galaxy has a bar-shaped structure in its middle.)

Source: Space.com

In a paper published recently in the International Journal of Astrobiology, the researchers concluded that based on what they saw, at least 361 intelligent civilizations have emerged in the Milky Way since its creation, and as many as 38,000 may have formed.

Duncan Forgan, a doctoral candidate at the university who led the study, said he was surprised by the hardiness of life on these other worlds.

"The computer model takes into account what we refer to as resetting or extinction events. The classic example is the asteroid impact that may have wiped out the dinosaurs," Forgan said.

"I half-expected these events to disallow the rise of intelligence, and yet civilizations seemed to flourish."

Forgan readily admits the results are an educated guess at best, since there are still many unanswered questions about how life formed on Earth and only limited information about the 330 "exoplanets" -- those circling sun-like stars outside the solar system -- discovered so far.

The first was confirmed in 1995 and the latest just this month when Europe's COROT space telescope spotted the smallest terrestrial exoplanet ever found. With a diameter less than twice the size of Earth, the planet orbits very close to its star and has temperatures up to 1,500° Celsius (more than 2,700° Fahrenheit), according to the European Space Agency. It may be rocky and covered in lava.

Hunt for habitable planets

NASA is hoping to find much more habitable worlds with the help of the upcoming Kepler mission. The spacecraft, set to be launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida next week, will search for Earth-size planets in our part of the galaxy.

Kepler contains a special telescope that will study 100,000 stars in the Cygnus-Lyra region of the Milky Way for more than three years. It will look for small dips in a star's brightness, which can mean an orbiting planet is passing in front it -- an event called a transit.

"It's akin to measuring a flea as it creeps across the headlight of an automobile at night," said Kepler project manager James Fanson during a during a NASA news conference.

The focus of the mission is finding planets in a star's habitable zone, an orbit that would ensure temperatures in which life could exist. Boss, who serves on the Kepler Science Council, said scientists should know by 2013 -- the end of Kepler's mission -- whether life in the universe could be widespread.

Finding intelligent life is a very different matter. For all the speculation about the possibility of other civilizations in the universe, the question remains: If the rise of life on Earth isn't unique and aliens are common, why haven't they shown up or contacted us? The contradiction was famously summed up by the physicist Enrico Fermi in 1950 in what became known as the Fermi paradox: "Where is everybody?"

The answer may be the vastness of time and space, scientists explained.

"Civilizations come and go," Boss said. "Chances are, if you do happen to find a planet which is going to have intelligent life, it's not going to be in [the same] phase of us. It may have formed a billion years ago, or maybe it's not going to form for another billion years."

Even if intelligent civilizations did exist at the same time, they probably would be be separated by tens of thousands of light years, Forgan said. If aliens have just switched on their transmitter to communicate, it could take us hundreds of centuries to receive their message, he added.

As for interstellar travel, the huge distances virtually rule out any extraterrestrial visitors. To illustrate, Boss said the fastest rockets available to us right now are those being used in NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto. Even going at that rate of speed, it would take 100,000 years to get from Earth to the closest star outside the solar system, he added.

"So when you think about that, maybe we shouldn't be worried about having interstellar air raids any time soon," Boss said.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/space/02/25/galaxy.planets.kepler/index.html

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#1

Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

02/25/2009 1:42 PM

And yet on all those 100 billion worlds and from each world's innumerable life forms both simple and astoundingly advanced, who have ever lived or will yet live in the unimaginable swath of time...not one of them -- not a single one -- has ever come up with a 100% reasonable explanation for why pretty young things aren't romantically attracted to aging Engineers*.

*worlds where there are no pretty young things, Engineers or romance are excused from this complaint.

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#2
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Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

02/25/2009 2:27 PM

If you are patient, advances in bioengineering will deliver to you the talking, thinking, acting like the young thing of your dreams, young thing clone. The same way one could provide "parts" that needed for replacement in an aging Engineer.

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#3

Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

02/25/2009 11:31 PM

Then we must prepare for the alien menace, the could be mong us, even as we speak! "do you want to know more?"

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#4

Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

02/26/2009 1:11 AM

I like the part where it is said "crawling with intelligent human beings". I really don't think that man is so intelligent. If we were created to watch over earth and all other living things we are doing a really crap job of it. The only thing man has on its mind is the destruction of earth and nothing else - best part is we know it and still nothing changes. Nations fight for power daily. Everyday there is a war somewhere in the world. Thank our lucky stars that the continents drifted apart. Imagine it was still all together.....it would be one big warzone. Animal life will be on this planet long after we are gone. Maybe sticking my head into a debate here......To come back to the point of alien life elsewhere, I think we are not alone in the universe. We have sent so many things into space that has gone missing and they all are bound to have some sort of bactaria on them. If that lands somewhere and can survive.....hey another stupid species is born.

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#5

Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

02/26/2009 1:20 AM

Nobody can exclude life out there.

It is about time to start a new forum (Maybe GR1234 - Galactic Room nnn) and communicate via the newly acquired faster than light Gravitational Radio Link.

What about Galactic Answers? (GA for short)

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#6
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Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

02/26/2009 1:22 AM

Ha good one, zoning out will have a whole new meaning!

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#7

Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

02/26/2009 3:15 AM

Of course one might postulate if ther is ANY intelligent life in the universe , but the idea of other inhabited worlds DOES cause some speculation:

1) If we assume there are inhabited planets and they can travel here, their technology would be far superior to ours. We would be little more than a primitive life-form to examine .. we're probably featured on their version of Discovery Channel.

2) I think we needn't fear them. I would assume they have transcended the warring nature of humans, or they wouldn't have survived long enough to be as advanced as they are. Its unlikely we have any natural resources they might need, considering the vastness of the universe, and with so many other 'earths', they don't need a place to live, so they don't need the planet. We, as a race, wouldn't have anything they needed, except possibly slaves, but they probably don't need the labor force. If interested at all, it would be just for the sake of research, the same way we research 'primitive tribes', or other species in nature on Earth.

3) We seek other 'worlds', because we want to know "we are not alone", but if they have this technology they already know they are not alone.

4) It's not likely they would make themselves known to us, and probably wouldn't risk being exposed in any way. It fact, I would more likely assume if there were an alliance of advanced worlds (AAW ), they would probably consider less advanced worlds as "off limits". Assuming (I know, a LOT of assuming, but we're just talkin' ) they have somehow 'evolved' past our societal level, I doubt they want to risk any chance of their advanced technology falling in to the hands of 'apes'. They would shudder at the thought of 'us' zooming around the galaxy with 'them', not as a matter of pure prejudice, but as a matter of preserving what they have. (I may like Zebras, but I don't want them in my house.)

SOOOO, are there other worlds? Probably. Will WE ever see any of them? Not likely, at least not for a long, LONG time. Will they ever come to us and say, "Hi ... please join our League of Excellent Aliens"? Not any more likely than us inviting a herd of cattle to our next Engineering Conference (although that might be a lot more entertaining ). Should we have their technology (either on purpose or by their accident) to 'play with'? It'd be just the same as giving a 5-year old the keys to the family car.

Hey, I'm a scifi kinda guy, and the idea of cowboying our way through space is fun and exciting ... "where no one has ever gone before" ... and, I DO enjoy my fantasies. BUT, when I wake up, I don't think, beyond our curiosity to learn and know, it makes much difference. At least not until Zephram Cochran invents the Warp Drive.

Inquiring minds want to know ... I want to know ... but, we'd better fix what we got first.

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#8
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Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

02/26/2009 3:20 AM

They don' need to visit us, our radio & television broadcasts would be enough to scare away any civilized alien races

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#11
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Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

02/26/2009 11:20 AM

No Kidding!!! Who'd want to come close to a planet that transmits so many war graphics, 'professional wrestling' (as it is portrayed, including the audience), crime dramas (Sopranos, etc), Ultimate-No-Holds-Barred-Fighting, CBS weekly-murder-investigations ... and then ... (no offense intended) ... there's those whacky over-the-top Japanese game shows...!

Scary indeed!

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#13
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Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

02/26/2009 9:43 PM

Japanese rape anime torture porn, would set earth on the quarantined area ASAP

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#14
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Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

02/26/2009 10:54 PM

Unless, of course, they're LOOKING for a PARTY PLANET ... you know, just a little raping, pillaging, plundering ... trash the place then go home ...

We're screwed

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#15
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Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

02/26/2009 11:21 PM

Ah you talking about the band Gwar

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#16
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Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

02/26/2009 11:31 PM

We, as a race, wouldn't have anything they needed, except possibly slaves...

How about they want us as food?

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#17
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Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

02/26/2009 11:55 PM

Oh, that's an EASY defense ...

We all just dress as clowns ...

And, they'll think we taste FUNNY

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#25
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Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

03/01/2009 1:21 AM

In that case, we won't have to dress as clowns when they see how we act!

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#26
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Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

03/01/2009 3:49 PM

Besides if they have seen Killer Clowns from outer space, all the clowns suit could make them think we have the need for an exterminator.

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Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

03/01/2009 5:55 PM
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#27
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Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

03/01/2009 4:12 PM

Or perhaps they suffer from coulrophobia and wipe us out without a second thought. It's what I'd do.

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#9

Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

02/26/2009 6:39 AM

One would have to be a cynic to not believe in life on other planets. Unfortunately the human race will have ceased to exist long before the possibility of contact.

The only chance we have that might reveal there existence is to pick up stray radio type signals that could have been transmitted many thousands of light years ago.

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#10

Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

02/26/2009 8:52 AM

Did I hear that somebody does not believe in us ?

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#12
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Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

02/26/2009 9:20 PM

I believe ... I BELIEVE

Now can I mate with your women?

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#20
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Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

02/28/2009 12:52 PM

She will love to

Wait for her after sunset.

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#23
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Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

02/28/2009 11:42 PM

DOG OWNER: See here doggie! This is all the stuff you got by being BEST IN SHOW at Westminster.

DOGGIE: I don't care about all that S**T. What I want to know is... Where are all these Wimmin you promised to introduce me to if I won?

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#18

Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

02/27/2009 5:41 PM

If the aliens have a mechanism for visual assimilation of information that doesn't absorb information in frames, imagine if they pulled up to this planet and saw the lights in real time as a sine wave. Probably make the crew sick.

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#19

Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

02/28/2009 2:28 AM

All I can say is if we are the most advanced or only intelligent race in the Milky-Way is What A Waste Of Space!

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#21
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Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

02/28/2009 1:46 PM

We're not so bad, we are just a young civilization, like an adolescent. I may take a few more thousand years, but we'll hit our stride.

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#22
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Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

02/28/2009 11:19 PM

My guess is we are preschool. I am also of the belief we have many redeeming qualities. SWAG is if we don't start hitting our stride soon it will hit us. Time will tell.

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#24
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Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

03/01/2009 12:46 AM

True. I may be a bit of an idealist, but I think we've got real potential. At least that's what Kirk told all the other alien races he met on Star Trek, usually after he was done kicking their a......

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#29

Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

03/01/2009 7:13 PM

Maybe an alien invasion is not so bad.

But then again;

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#30

Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

03/01/2009 8:21 PM

If they have a sense of humor they would produce us as a world of soap opera/primate research/more comedy from the planet Earth/what not to do/what were they thinking, shows.

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#31
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Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

03/01/2009 8:38 PM

It would begin with a major motion picture, "Planet of the Humans", followed by "Beneath the Planet of the Humans", then "Escape from the Planet of the Humans", and "Conquest of the Planet of the Humans", and ultimately "Battle for the Planet of the Humans".

Of course, being clever aliens, they would create the Saturday morning animated series for the kids, and years later create a re-make that has a totally different story line.

OR ...

Maybe the situation is more like "The Truman Show" ... maybe we're really not on earth anymore, but just an elaborate set being watched all the time ... hmmm ... interesting, AND entertaining ... I wonder who our sponsor is?

OMG, all that 'stuff' of science fiction wasn't fiction at all

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#32
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Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

03/01/2009 10:15 PM

If they were truly clever aliens, they would forget to make "Beneath the Planet of the Humans".

By the way, if I am ever at a zoo and I see a cute chimp pointing to the word Caesar in the dictionary, that chimp is toast.

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#33
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Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

03/02/2009 2:55 AM

Some aliens come here fore hedonistic reasons

Come to the lab and see what's on the slab, i can see you are shivering in ant..ticipation

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#34
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Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

03/02/2009 11:35 AM

Lets do the Time Warp again!

I took a girl named Janet for my first time. Liked her a lot, some reason that relationship didn't work out. I was dressed more like Eddie but she did dress like Janet.

Brad

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#35
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Re: Galaxy May Be "Full of Earths", Alien Life

03/02/2009 7:19 PM

Damned Janet!

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