Communion Of Dreams

Is there anybody out there?*
January 31, 2011, 11:33 am
Filed under: Astronomy, BoingBoing, Fermi's Paradox, Music, NASA, Science, Science Fiction, Space, tech

Lee Billings, a science writer I was not previously aware of, has a really nice little introduction over at BoingBoing on the topic of searching for exoplanets capable of supporting life. Here’s a bit:

I’m admittedly biased (just look at my Twitter feed—it’s clear what my interests are), but my argument rests on facts: The research architectures and observational capabilities required to find Earth-like planets in our region of the galaxy, and determine whether or not some of them harbor life, are already reasonably well-defined. Public interest in (if not knowledge of) the search for alien life is high, and nearly universal. And, in comparison to tasks like finding the Higgs boson, establishing the precise nature of dark energy, or experimentally validating string theory, completing much (though not all!) of this “planetary census” simply isn’t that expensive.

* * *

What if we are cosmically alone, on a planet as anomalously unlikely and fertile as a fruit tree flourishing in an arid wasteland, or a flower blooming in a desert? What if worlds like ours are common as grains of sand? Does the universe hum and throb with life, or does eternal silence and sterility reign outside of our small planet? The truth is, no one really knows. But that will soon change. And when it does, this knowledge can only fill our lives, our world, and our future with more excitement, mystery, and awe.

Interesting metaphor – the flower blooming in a desert. And exactly the same one I use in the beginning of Communion of Dreams for exactly the same reason. Obviously, the man is brilliant.

OK, to be a little more serious here, I just thought people might want to know about this fellow, since he is going to be reporting on the results of the Kepler mission over the next couple of weeks.

Jim Downey

*Gratuitous Pink Floyd reference.

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