Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Are we alone in the universe? Probably not. But don't expect flying saucers.

Pound360 likes to believe the universe is flush with intelligent, technically advanced life capable of racing between star systems at warp speed. We like to believe there are enough stars and planets out there that this is likely.

But realistically, it's probably not. And
the London Times has a terrific piece (an op-ed by Lord Rees of Ludlow, Astronomer Royal and President of the Royal Society) summing this up in a blunt, albeit optimistic package.

According to Lord Rees (of Ludlow), "even if primitive life were common, the emergence of advanced life may not be." On earth, it took life billions of years to evolve into multicellular organisms. Even then, life was constantly ravaged by mass-extinctions. It's a miracle we're still here.

But let's say life does evolve into intelligent creatures, and eventually advanced civilization. Would they have the knowledge or resources to race between the stars? Not likely.

But that doesn't mean we'll never come in contact with an alien civilization. "Even if we have not been visited, we should not conclude that aliens do not exist," said Rees. "It would be far easier to send a radio or laser signal than to traverse the mind-boggling distances of interstellar space."

(Image of Lord Rees from

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.