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Good News, Bad News

Good News: There may be lots and lots of earthlike planets in the galaxy.

Bad News: We have no way of getting to any of the others – which is a shame, as such planets would be very useful to those of us fed up with the way things are going on the only earthlike planet we can get to.

But, based on the limited numbers of planets found so far, Dr Boss has estimated that each Sun-like star has on average one “Earth-like” planet.

This simple calculation means there would be huge numbers capable of supporting life.

“Not only are they probably habitable but they probably are also going to be inhabited,” Dr Boss told BBC News. “But I think that most likely the nearby ‘Earths’ are going to be inhabited with things which are perhaps more common to what Earth was like three or four billion years ago.” That means bacterial lifeforms.

The article doesn’t give any clue as to how Dr. Boss came to that conclusion. How does he know? For all he can guess, these earthlike planets could be crawling with sentient vegetables, blanketed with rock-devouring amoeboid superorganisms, creeping with incomprehensible silicon-chemistry-based hive-mind nightmares, or any number of things we can’t even begin to extrapolate from terrestrial experience. Or dead, for that matter.

Evolution happened here and led to (among other things) us. If physics and chemistry work the same under similar conditions everywhere in the universe, and one takes as a given the likelihood of bacteria-level life on another planet, why wouldn’t it have evolved over time into more complex forms?

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