So we’ve postponed the fiscal cliff and dodged a mis-translated Mayan prediction. I guess these things over-shadowed the really big news.
The big news is this: there is probably an E.T. out there somewhere. According to new data from the Kepler telescope, we can now estimate that, just in our Milky Way galaxy, there are 100 billion planets. More than 10% of those are thought to be in the “goldilocks zone” which means the star is very sun-like and the planet is a very earth-like distance from the sun. That leaves 10 bilion chances for carbon based, oxygen breathing, tool using life to exist. With that many chances, the odds are good for intelligent life. It’s also 10 billion chances that they may have evolved a Justin Beeber and created reality TV as an entertainment format. OK, that might not make them intelligent, but they are still “life”.
And of course, the Milky Way is just one galaxy of an estimated 100 billion galaxies in the universe. That means there are at least as many potentially life-bearing planets out there as there are dollars of US debt and YouTube views of Gangham style, combined.
This is big news. It helps define our place in the universe. We are just an incoming radio signal or semaphore from confirming a great mystery. All those science fiction stories could be true. If the odds are 1 million trillion to 1 that the Vulcan Mind Probe exists (that’s 1,000,000,000,000,000,000:1 just to give you a sense, and called a quintillion), then odds are that the universe contains 1,000 planets where Vulcans are probing minds all over the place. Freaky.