Boffins see 'probability' of alien life
No replies to this topic
Posted 25 January 2010 - 07:06 PM
The law of probabilities backs theories that we are not alone in the Universe, although an encounter with an advanced civilisation may shock our species, scientists at a conference in London said on Monday.
"There is no firm evidence that life exists elsewhere, but there is a very firm probability" for it, said Baruch Blumberg, an astrobiologist at the Fox Chance Cancer Center in Philadelphia.
"My clear prediction is that living generations have an excellent chance of seeing extra-terrestrial life being detected," said Martin Dominik, an astronomer at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland.
Life on Earth may have been kickstarted thanks to carbon molecules and dust that drift through interstellar space, said Pascale Ehrenfreund, an astrochemist at George Washington University, Washington.
If so, "the basic building blocks of life -- at least as recognised on Earth -- must be widespread in planetary systems in our Milky Way and other galaxies," she suggested.
The two-day conference is being hosted by Britain's Royal Society, one of the cradles of modern science, as part of a series of discussions on major issues to mark the academy's 350th anniversary.
The meeting is not intended to give any conclusion on whether other life exists but give a snapshot of where we are in our quest to find it -- and speculate on the impacts of such a discovery on human society.
Lord Rees, president of the Royal Society, said it was essential to admit to our present ignorance.
"We don't even know how life began here on Earth and that being said, we don't even know how to place our bets on how widespread life is or where to look for it," he said in an interview.
Even so, new astronomical tools, including powerful orbital telescopes, are exposing "extra-solar" worlds, or planets orbiting other stars, and one of them could eventually be revealed as a potential haven for life, said Blumberg.
0 user(s) are reading this topic
0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users