Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Exoplanet Excitement

Things are getting interesting. As our detection methods get better and better, we are finding even more planets.

The latest bit of excitement? A potentially earth-like planet orbiting...Tau Ceti. Tau Ceti is the closest single G type star to our sun, at only twelve light years away. (That's actually within feasible probe range if we can get speed up to 0.5 c or better, without FTL...results would return within a working lifetime). I'd put Tau Ceti high on the priority list for targeted interstellar probe missions, although obviously the first one should go to the Alpha Centauri complex just because it's so close (4 light years) and would be easier to deal with the inevitable problems associated with the 'first one'.

The more we look out there, the more it seems that planets are normal. Common.

If even a fraction of them bear life.

If even a fraction of that life has achieved sufficient complexity for sentience and sapience.

We are not alone. I think we can say that now. True, we have no direct evidence that somewhere out there, somebody is looking up at the stars and wondering what we wonder. But we do have basic math.

I have held my entire life to the belief that we are not alone. (No, I don't believe in anal probes and cattle manipulation). With each discovery it becomes easier and easier to accept. If we ever do have proof, though, how will that change the human spirit?

Personally, I think it will change us for the better.