How Many Earth-like planets are out there?

See on Scoop.itDidYouCheckFirst

“Astronomers using NASA data have calculated for the first time that in our galaxy alone, there are at least 8.8 billion stars with Earth-size planets in the habitable temperature zone.  For perspective, that’s more Earth-like planets than there are people on Earth.”

Greg Russak‘s insight:

I love this kind of news. I just wish it was more scientific and less hyperbolic.

Here’s my only gripe with this article. I can’t believe someone like a UC Berkley planet hunter named Geoff Marcy would actually talk about the radio silence issue without somehow further qualifying it. It makes me wonder if Seth Borenstein of the AP and/or his editors may have left out some of the more important elements of that topic.

Personally, I find this anthropomorphic attitude about radio silence to be both ridiculous and insulting to the intellect.

Just because we haven’t picked up any electromagnetic signals doesn’t mean there isn’t life – or even intelligent life – in our galaxy or in the universe. How incredibly egotistical (and incredibly unscientific) it is to assume that life elsewhere will have evolved into beings like us. How silly it is to then assume that that intelligence would invent, just like our species did, technologies like radio, TV, satellite communications, and the like. Even more absurd and overlooked in this so-called question of silence is that that technology would have had to have been invented and put into use at precisely the point in THEIR evolution such that THEIR signals would be reaching us NOW so that we could detect them, assuming that we had the right technology to do so.

Let’s put the “radio silence” question into the time and distance perspective of our own species. KDKA broadcast the first commercial radio signals from Pittsburgh in 1920. That’s 93 years ago. That means those extremely weak signals would only be detectable as of now to a distance of 93 light years from us.

The Milky Way Galaxy is 120,000 light years across. Those signals have made it 0.075% of the way across our galaxy.

I don’t doubt for one second that there’s life in our galaxy and elsewhere in the universe, but can we please stop wondering why the Vulcans or Klingons or Romulans haven’t shared reruns of their version of I Love Lucy?

See on www.nbcnews.com

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