This just in from the wonderful world of astro-science – or, perhaps, astro-speculation. NASA: Humans Will Prove ‘We Are Not Alone In The Universe’ Within 20 Years. Excerpt:
Speaking at NASA’s Washington headquarters on Monday, the space agency outlined a plan to search for alien life using current telescope technology, and announced the launch of the Transiting Exoplanet Surveying Satellite in 2017. The NASA administrators and scientists estimate that humans will be able to locate alien life within the next 20 years.
“Just imagine the moment, when we find potential signatures of life. Imagine the moment when the world wakes up and the human race realizes that its long loneliness in time and space may be over — the possibility we’re no longer alone in the universe,” said Matt Mountain, director and Webb telescope scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, which plans to launch the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018.
Let’s forget the technical aspects of this for a moment, and let’s also forget the likelihood of NASA actually finding life – in fact, let’s forget about intelligent life altogether, since we’re still looking for that right here on Earth in the Imperial City. Instead: Imagine the consequences if NASA (or anyone else) were to find evidence of life somewhere other than Earth. Some good candidates are present right here in our own solar system, after all – plenty of biologists are just dying to know what might be lurking under Europa’s ice pack.
First: Earth loses it’s one-of-a-kind status. We’re no longer the special exception. Life exists elsewhere, and presumably – since in all the vastness of the Universe, we have found it on another world in our tiny little sphere of perception, life exists lots of places.
Second: Imagine the consequences for the world’s religions. Not being religious myself it’s probably easier in some ways to imagine the impact, but in other ways it’s doubtlessly harder. What happens to adherents to mainstream religions when it is proven that Earth’s life-bearing status is not unique?
Finally: If life is found elsewhere, how long will it be before the not-so-intelligent life in the Imperial City tries to a) tax it and b) regulate it?