back to article 100 EARTH-LIKE PLANETS orbit stars WITHIN 30 LIGHT-YEARS!

In an announcement with massive consequences for the human race, astronomers say there are "probably about one hundred" planets within just 30 light-years of our solar system which could support life along Earthly lines. By their calculations, there are tens of billions of such worlds in our galaxy, suggesting that even if life …


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  1. Geoff May

    Does this mean ...

    ... the next SPB is to send a paper probe to a nearby star system or should it be something a bit closer like one of them temporary moons we've been having hanging around lately?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Does this mean ...

      Definitely let the Playmonauts claim the new planets to stop humanity getting there and fucking things up!

  2. hi_robb

    May I be the first

    to welcome our close living Alien overlords.

  3. hi_robb

    and something I've just noticed.

    Your forum server times are still running an hour behind..

    1. Bakunin

      Re: and something I've just noticed.

      They're running on "New Alien Overlord Time".

      Well you did welcome them.

    2. dssf

      Re: and something I've just noticed.

      That's just a temporal anomaly. Probably a backdoor to Section 31, intercepting logs for unauthorized off-world communications.... You'll be contacted later when the Temporal Integrity Commission re-aligns your place in the timeline for exposing the glitch....

    3. King Jack

      Re: and something I've just noticed.

      The Forum is on GMT not BST so they are correct.

  4. Forget It

    RegHack reported

    "By their calculations, there are tens of billions of such worlds in our galaxy, suggesting that even if life is very rare it is bound to have arisen elsewhere."

    The opposite conclusion could be drawn from that statement:, for intelligent life, anyway:

    Since there was so much opportunity for it to arise and it still hasn't made itself evident anywhere but on this planet then it is probably very very rare.

    1. Tchou


      We made it evident only for ourselves, and "intelligent" can be a sligthly different reality on another world...

    2. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      If I were intellegent life on another planet and saw what's going on here, I might be inclined to hide my existance as much as possible. They probably have installed these heat / light / microwave cloaking devices that everyone is saying are just around the corner (if you count 10 parsecs as just around the corner!)

      1. Spink-Bottle

        On planets with truly intelligent life the heat cloaking devices are employed for VAT avoidance.


    3. Swarthy Silver badge
      IT Angle

      There's Intelligent life here?

      1. BorkedAgain
        Thumb Up

        Hello Swarthy.

        Pleased to meet you! Welcome to the intelligent life club. So glad you could make it.

        Do take a seat; there should be plenty of room...

      2. Marshalltown


        MMMM, ---- could be.

    4. Saoir


      Firstly, the article talks about "Life". Did you read it ? It makes no mention of "intelligent life" or "technologically advanced intelligent life".

      So your repost is a meaningless and irrelevant one. At best.

    5. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

      They avoid us because of cricket!

      It's in very bad taste, you know.

    6. Stoneshop Silver badge

      @Forget It

      "it still hasn't made itself evident anywhere but on this planet"

      Rather, we haven't yet noticed any intelligent life elsewhere, the limited capabilities for which we've only managed to develop and put to use over the last fifty or so of our earth years. That's a pretty small window, cosmically speaking. Also, your anthropocentric view of the matter only holds if you're limiting yourself to *intelligent* life, which the article doesn't. From which we can conclude that you are not included in this "intelligent life" subset either.

  5. Roger Kynaston Silver badge


    Wish I'd studied astronomy and got to play with some nice toys as well as making discoveries like this rather than reading about it while trying to avoid writing some pointless script to do a task that should never have been dreamt up in the diseased mind of a project manager.

    1. Thecowking

      Re: Damm

      I did study astronomy,

      Here I am, writing scripts.

      So yeah, it's much of a muchness.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Damm

        The great wonders of

        The universe are closer

        Than you think, Cowking

        1. SYNTAX__ERROR
          Thumb Up

          Garth, that was a Haiku!


  6. Tchou


    "...seeding them with suitably-adapted Earth life to create truly habitable worlds..."

    So our first inter-stellar contact would result in a massive genocide to make the new planet suitable for Humans?

    1. Lewis Page 1 (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Genocide

      How can you commit genocide on a planet that hasn't got any life? RTFA

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: Genocide

        ... that we can detect or recognise

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: Genocide

          1) That woukd be "xenocide"

          2) Damn bleeding heart greenside liberals at it again? Sod that! LAUNCH CAPSULES!!

    2. Marshalltown
      Thumb Down

      Re: Genocide

      You left out the <Sarc> tag.

    3. ManxPower

      Re: Genocide

      Humans are (sadly) very good at Genocide. See: Native Americans, New World, smallpox, blankets

  7. frank ly

    What percentage of these planets ....

    ... have black monoliths on them?

    1. Paul_Murphy

      Re: What percentage of these planets ....


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What percentage of these planets ....

        "ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS—EXCEPT EUROPA. ATTEMPT NO LANDINGS THERE." our currency is flaky and we don't want to have to bail out another load of people.

  8. BristolBachelor Gold badge

    "and look outward to the other zero-point-nine-recurring of the universe"

    <redneck> is this universe place also in Texas or is it in another state anyways?


    Sorry, I had to after Lewis went and suggested that we were only inward looking

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "...and look outward to the other zero-point-nine-recurring of the universe..."

      Is it just me, or is that sentence missing the words "ninety-nine" and "percent".

      C'mon Reg-hacks. If I can proof-read my half-arsed comments a couple of times, you could at least do likewise when penning an article!

      1. Daniel Evans

        Eurgh, percentages? Horrible things. Decimals make much more sense.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        0.9999.... = 1

  9. Pete 2 Silver badge

    So WE are the aliens

    Since Red Dwarves are much more common than G-class stars such as our Sun, it follows that if complex live can come into being near a RD it will be more common than our Yellow-star type of life-forms (chlorophyll, DNA, etc.). That's assuming that life in systems of similar star-types share some sort of commonality - a big IF.

    In that case, maybe they are all chattering to each other in Red-Dwarvish and it's us, with our "yellow-star speak" who neither recognise their existence, not share common traits. So when we do finally make contact with the massed hordes of other intelligences, we could be the ones who are oh, so different.

    1. LaeMing

      Re: So WE are the aliens

      They are probably passing us by because 'no life could ever evolve around a yellow star like that.'

    2. OrsonX

      We'd just have to change the bulb

      To a Red one.

    3. Steven Roper

      The other thing about red dwarfs

      is that, being so small and dim compared to the Sun, the habitable zone is so close to the star that 1) any planets are being bathed in hard radiation and 2) are highly likely to be tidally locked, so one hemisphere is in permanent daylight and the other in permanent night. We already have an example of this in Gliese 581g.

      Whether life can evolve or even be sustained under such conditions is a question even our grandchildren may not be able to answer.

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

        Re: The other thing about red dwarfs

        They have far less UV radiation output than the sun. Because the temperature is lower. If we put the planet near enough to the red dwarf to be comfy temperature-wise, the amount of shorter wavelengths (including blue light) hitting the atmosphere is less. Charged particles release might be energetic, but with a strong enough magnetic field a planet could be OK. One worry is actually that there is not enough UV and other hard radiation to cause enough mutations to keep evolution ticking over, but that is a rather speculative argument. There are many sources of randomness which could supply enough mutations.

        Incidentally, the colour of light emitted by your typical red dwarf equals that of an incandescent light bulb (3200 K colour temperature) to that of a halogen light (3600K). So they are really yellowish red, whereas our "yellow" sun emits white (5800K) light.

        1. Steven Roper

          Re: The other thing about red dwarfs

          Valid points, Michael, but when I said "hard radiation" it wasn't the UV I was thinking of - it was the gamma that is a result of all thermonuclear reactions. A red dwarf is still, at its heart, a massive thermonuclear reactor, albeit a smaller one, and it still chucks out a sizeable amount of gamma in the process.

          Whether that's enough to irradiate a planet beyond the capacity to support life is a function of how much less gamma the star is producing than the Sun versus the increased exposure due to the reduced orbital distance (the inverse square law applying here), and the strength of the planet's magnetic field (if any).

          Since to the best of my knowledge planetary magnetic fields are a product of the planet's rotation affecting its roiling interior, I would imagine the vast majority of planets that are tidally locked would, due to the slow rotation, not have much of a magnetic field at all. We have an example in our very own solar system; of the four rocky planets, only Earth has an appreciable magnetic field. And without a magnetic field to deflect and absorb that radiation, there's no way a planet is going to be able to support life.

          That said, it would be interesting to see what the result of a planet having a large moon (like Earth) in such a proximal orbit to a red dwarf would be. The moon has a far greater tidal effect on the Earth than the Sun because of its proximity over the mass difference, so would a planet with a large moon orbiting a red dwarf still be tidally locked to the star, or to the moon? Or would the clash of tidal forces result in the planet still having an appreciable rotation?

          Since I'm not an astrophysicist, the answer to that is beyond my puny maths, but it would be interesting to hear the take of someone with more knowledge on this, since I haven't heard it mentioned in discussions of planets in close orbits of red dwarfs.

  10. Velv

    Do you think each world has been made by a different God, or did one God make them all?

    If it was one God, then he's up to 600 days work already (since each world will clearly believe their Earth to be the only one). Now call me cynical, but I'm fairly sure that breaches the European Working Time directive, not to mention several Health & Safety rules.

    If it was more than one God, then clearly religion is bunk.

    1. Bakunin

      "If it was more than one God, then clearly religion is bunk."

      Unless of course God's (or the gods) intention is to seed millions of intelligent lifeforms with slightly different spiritual perspectives. The progression of life is the slow adaption and integration of these beliefs systems into their single shared common thread. At that moment we all obtain a clear insight into the meaning of the universe.

      Or maybe I just made that up to counter a pretty juvenile attempt to turn and interesting science article into an excuse for religion bashing.*

      [And I say that as an ardent atheist]

      1. jubtastic1

        Or possibly

        Its some kind of competition, where each God seeds his randomly selected rock with a life form of his (or her), design and a winner takes all game develops, it's probably broadcast on the heavenly equivalent of BBC2.

        "Your puny humans don't stand a chance against my mighty Xargons"

        Actually, giving this more thought, I suspect that this activity is limited to a somewhat nerdy clique of Gods.

        1. Wize

          Re: Or possibly

          God spreading his seed? So the universe is a giant wank-sock.

          1. dssf

            Re: Or possibly

            Maybe god literally hip-spewed out into the uniwerse, a partly base and acidic blend of life stream? Life has a rhythm, a melody, once we tune in to it. We can swim in it and still be on the shore. We can feel the current, but not be sucked in.

            That must be that unseen matter/force that keeps pulsing and pushing the uniwerse to expand. Now, if the uniwerse expanded and contracted rhythmically, it might be a cosmic orgasm, adding more musical terms to life.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Black Helicopters

          So the universe is like a giant game of Black & White??

          That would explain why I constantly feel like I am a pawn in some master being video game :)

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge

            Re: So the universe is like a giant game of Black & White??

            "pawn in some master being"

            No, that's perfectly normal paranoia. Everyone in the universe gets that.

        3. MadChemist

          Re: Or possibly

          Dunno what you mean, surely that would be the kind of entirely classic Roman or Greek variety of a hoard of gods, all into gambling and manipulating...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @ MadChemist

            * HORDE

            unless maybe you keep the gods unnecessarily gathering dust in a cupboard...

      2. Colin Brett

        With all respect to the late, great Douglas Adams.

        "At that moment we all obtain a clear insight into the meaning of the universe."

        At which point it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.


        1. Matthew 3

          Re: With all respect to the late, great Douglas Adams.

          With a name like Colin, you wouldn't be an artificially cheerful robot by any chance?

      3. Stoneshop Silver badge


        "At that moment we all obtain a clear insight into the meaning of the universe." as it existed up to that point, because it will then instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.

    2. dssf

      God.. Your God, My Gods,

      The Cylon god or gods.. s/(t)he/y(it) can be big enough for us all, hehehehe....

    3. Andus McCoatover

      "Whom the GodS would destroy....

      ...they first make mad". Possibly by enabling comments from trolls on these forua...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Technically your argument isn't god is bunk, but only that particular very homo-centric interpretations thereof are so. If you are going to be a self-rightious psudo-intellectual prat, you need to think a little more outside the teeny tiny society you grew up in!

    5. Marshalltown


      The rest of the universe is just God trying to get it right </sarc>

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Isendel Steel

      Re: and pray

      I call Monty Python..The Meaning of LIfe

  12. Yesnomaybe


    These planets are only far away because of our relatively short lifespan. If we can increase it to something sensible, say 1000 years, then the rest should be easy. The scary thought is that the space-aliens may have thought of it first.

    1. Flashy Red

      Re: Lifespan

      It's quite likely that the first interstellar explorers to depart this solar system will not be human. Our ambassadors will probably be the product of our species' ongoing research into robotics and artificial intelligence. They're unlikely to be hampered by such short lifespans, or the need to eat, drink and breathe.

      1. IglooDude

        Re: Lifespan

        And they'll be back with a shortened name and green plasma weapons looking for their Creator to merge with.

        Then again, something similar could probably be predicted for human explorers, too.

  13. Arctic fox

    Fascinating. The thought strikes me that some people are probably............

    ........crapping themselves in the face of this kind of evidence. I.e. Religious fundamentalists (of all stripes) who, by definition, believe that there is only one Deity and he/she or it created us as unique images of the godhead. In other words it is essential for them and their beliefs that we are alone in the universe (we saw who was behind the killing of federal support for the SETI project in Congress several years ago did we not?) and the possibility that they may have to face up to a theological question that they would above all else like to pretend does not exist must be causing them to shit themselves. Personally speaking the more evidence of this kind that shows that it is increasingly unlikely that we in fact are unique the better I am pleased. The sooner that cosmic reality kicks the legs out from under the godbotherers (regardless of which religion we are talking about) the better.

    1. Dan 10

      Re: Fascinating. The thought strikes me that some people are probably............

      This gives me a problem.

      Given the magnitude of this area of research, it is unlikely that we will see real proper bonafide aliens in my lifetime (circa 50 years left), which means I want reincarnation to be real, so I can live again and see some weird shit straight out of Dr Who.

      When aliens are discovered and (if?) we all look drastically different, then yeah, religion is bunkum.

      But I want to see the ETs!

      Gaah, my head hurts.

      1. Arctic fox
        Thumb Up

        @Dan 10 RE: "Given the magnitude of this area of research, it is unlikely.........

        .................that we will see real proper bonafide aliens in my lifetime (circa 50 years left), which means I want reincarnation to be real, so I can live again and see some weird shit straight out of Dr Who."

        You and me both old chap, you and me both. -:)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fascinating. The thought strikes me that some people are probably............

      "crapping themselves in the face of this kind of evidence. I.e. Religious fundamentalists"

      Quite the contrary. I suspect that within days of scientists announcing they've spotted life on other worlds, the various televangilists will be in full voice:

      "Friends! Do you want to spread The Word Of Our Lord Jaaaaysuuuus to those poor unfortunate souls out there? Of course you DO! We need a bazillion dollars to build our Ark Of The Word, the spaceship Of The Lord Our God! Send your donations to 'Mission(ary) to the Stars!'"

      (I'm not afraid of alien overlords - if they are hostile we are screwed. I am far more frightened of an alien ship opening, and them saying "Have YOU accepted GLORB as your personal saaaaviooooor?")

      1. Arctic fox

        @David D. Hagood. Re "Have YOU accepted GLORB as your personal saaaaviooooor?"

        Yes, in all likelihood on a Sunday morning. Though the sight of them having a barney with the Adventists over first dibs to the doorstep would have a certain entertainment value.

      2. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: Fascinating. The thought strikes me that some people are probably............

        "Have YOU accepted GLORB as your personal saaaaviooooor?"

        Let's hope they don't have, analogous to the Electronic Thumb, an Electronic Foot-between-the-door.

    3. F111F

      Re: Fascinating. The thought strikes me that some people are probably............

      You might wish to do some more research before stating such conclusions. The vast majority of religions have already answered this question and there will be no general crapping should alien life be a) discovered or even b) intelligent. Oh sure there are a few nut jobs out there, and the press with a variety of atheists will work very hard to find them and generally portray their sentiments for the entire religious community, I have no doubt. But by and large any such announcement will be a momentous occasion simply because it represents that many more possible converts, not a repudiation of any religious dogma.

      ...Mine's the one with the Bible in the pocket, thank you...

      1. Arctic fox

        @F111F Really?

        "You might wish to do some more research before stating such conclusions. The vast majority of religions have already answered this question"

        You might care to justify that very grandiose claim. What I suspect you are saying is that religious denominations you are comfortable with have managed to square the circle (yet again) to their satisfaction and convenience. You may perhaps however have noticed that fundamentalism (in several monotheistic flavours) has been on the rise for the last couple of decades or so - it should not need much "research" for you to notice that. The "nutters" are not a small marginal fringe, they are very influential in a number of very dangerous contexts (albeit out of proportion to their absolute numbers) - and yes, they would still regard the discovery other sentient life as a theological disaster.

        1. F111F

          Re: @F111F Really?

          Actually, fundamentalism has been on the decline in monotheistic religions, have you bothered to look at the factioning of various sects over the past 20 years or so? About the only place on Earth with a solid core of fundamentalism is among African Christians, who are now sending missionaries to Europe and America, to try and bring them back to the fold.

          And again, "nutters" are only portrayed as mainstream by atheists and the press. The former to bolster their arguments and the latter to gain sales/hits.

          You really think we "religious" types ignore science? What a laugh, we review everything published, every discovery, every journal. We talk about implications of scientific research, the latest findings and theories/revisions to theories. And, the vast majority of time, scientific advances have little or nothing to do with our personal walk with God. Sometimes they do (and we can have that argument elsewhere), but alien life, or the discovery of intelligence elsewhere in the Universe will not. There will be no rioting in the streets, no tearing of robes, no self-immolation, probably just a LOT of discussion about how this news may or may not impact our personal relationship with God. And frankly, unless the little green buggers are invading Earth and laying waste to the surface of the planet, it probably won't have any impact at all. The only rioting/problems will probably come from those who run around scared all the time anyways, such as the survivalists, who represent a tiny minority of opinion, but somehow rank high in visibility.

          1. Arctic fox

            Re: @F111F Really?

            Really, have you failed to notice what has been happening in the US and the Middle East over the past twenty years or so? Radical fundamentalists in both the Islamic and the Christian conservative traditions? They are not some missionaries from Africa, they have very fundamentalist religious perspectives and considerable political influence. Take a look at what is happening on the right wing of the Republican party in the US if you have not already noticed. Take a look at the internal balance of power within the right wing in Israel. Take a look at what the Wahabis in Saudi Arabia have been up to in recent decades (clue - Osama Bin Laden to name an infamous example). Take a look at what has been happening in Iran since the fall of the Shah. In short, take a look and start doing some thinking. The influence of fundamentalists within all of the Abrahamic religions is significant and highly pernicious in its effects . Common to all of them would be an utter hatred of beings that not only would likely not recognise their God but in many ways from the fundamentalist's point of view the very existence of such beings would be a denial of the existence of their Deity.

            1. CD001

              Re: @F111F Really?

              Common to all of them would be an utter hatred of beings that not only would likely not recognise their God...

              Ironically even if the xenos do recognise the Abrahamic God that's never been reason enough not to slaughter someone; from the Crusades, to Northern Ireland, 9/11...

    4. ian 22

      Re: Fascinating. The thought strikes me that some people are probably............

      I AM made in the image of my maker, down to the color of my chitin and the length of my palms. You primates however....

  14. chebucto

    A quick look at the wiki page on interstellar probes shows nothing that can travel the ~2m AU (30ly) in anything close to 100 years. Here's hoping that there are some breakthroughs in that field fairly soon. I have about 70 years left on this rock, I'd really like to see these worlds studied in my lifetime. At least, it would be nice to see this topic become a major field of research.

    I wonder if there's some way of using the interstellar medium as the fuel?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "... I have about 70 years left on this rock..."

      Whoever told you that should have pointed out that this figure is subject to a margin of error of, er... +/- 'about 70 years'.

      1. chebucto

        "Whoever told you that should have pointed out that this figure is subject to a margin of error of, er... +/- 'about 70 years'."

        I'd say the margin of error of is closer to -70/+30, actually

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "I wonder if there's some way of using the interstellar medium as the fuel?"

      Yes. We just need to invent the Bussard Ramjet :-)

    3. Bluey1701

      Wouldn't we go faster if we used the interstellar maximum as the fuel?

      1. Gaz Jay

        High Octane Interstellar Fuel?

        No, but it is more efficient if you have a high performance rocket engine.

  15. umacf24

    Fermi Frightens Me.

    Billions of more-or-less earthy worlds. Zero artificial-like signals. Fermi's paradox: Where ARE they? Either:

    a) We're really special -- one of a very small number of worlds that grow a civilisation, or

    b) Civilisations don't survive.

    I don't believe a) and I really dislike b).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fermi Frightens Me.

      "Where ARE they?"

      Some are already here watching you, Earthling. Bip brrr ap ap pip.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Fermi Frightens Me.

        "Where ARE they?"

        Clearly pacified for their own good by some kind of Space Obama.

    2. BorkedAgain
      Thumb Up

      Re: Fermi Frightens Me.

      Or c) - Only those civilisations that survive get invited into the grown-up club. If you can achieve cheap energy, cheap orbit and not screw your homeworld in the process then it's yippee! Everyone gets a t-shirt and some blue dude turns up to explain how numbers really work to the three humans capable of grasping it and passing it on. Also the fundies get to meet-n-greet the angels (who turn out to really like Dr Scholls, and look shifty when the subject of begetting is raised) and we all get to holiday at the Galactic CentrePark (nice views, but don't drink the water...)

    3. NomNomNom

      Re: Fermi Frightens Me.

      c) they are hiding from us

      d) this universe is a simulation. Advances in computing will allow us to build a computer so powerful it can simulate the human brain. Then we might build a simulation earth and seed it with simulated people to play out scenarios we are interested in. Why would we bother putting aliens in this simulated universe?

      In short: Fermi's paradox misses the real question. The real question is statistically how can we NOT be in a simulated world? Of all the worlds out there the simulated ones should outnumber the real ones - a real world species can be expected to play about with millions of different simulations. So odds are we should be running in a simulation. Ironically this provides an answer to the God question that both theists and atheists won't like.

      1. dssf

        Re: Fermi Frightens Me.

        "Why would we bother putting aliens in this simulated universe?"

        Maybe because we to some egg stint are mass-o-kisseds?

        Maybe we actually like and need fear, "from outside". So, if we only have ourselves to fear, even in a fermented simulation, the next, evolutionarily real stimulation is simulation of fear beyond our control.

        In short, we may be wired to stupefy ourselves on a regular basis....

      2. dssf

        Re: Fermi Frightens Me.

        Here is my current subroutine in play: "God" is a glitch in the program, an unresolvable subroutine that was reconciled as an anomaly to be proved later due to the expensive clock cycles consumed on the analysis. The program became delusional and spilled the 1s and 0s into its simulated beings whose firewalls and IDS were no match for the halo-effect of expended energy, thus imprinted with more glitches. Essentially, God is part virus, part Trojan, part worm, part spam, part bot, part honeypot and part honeynet. The whole s/hebang embedded in the infrastructure -- and for those codebases that took it to the hilt of the simulated coccyx, the end-frah-structure.

        Maybe Fermi frightens and tightens?

        1. BorkedAgain

          @dssf - God as Glitch

          You know The Matrix was fiction, right?

      3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Fermi Frightens Me.

        "Of all the worlds out there the simulated ones should outnumber the real ones"

        "Of all the worlds out there the ones where I have 20 million quid in my account should outnumber the one where I have 20 quid. WHY DO I HAVE 20 QUID!!!"

      4. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

        Re: Fermi Frightens Me.

        "Why would we bother putting aliens in this simulated universe?"

        I believe SimCity answered this one... to spice the game up with some random destruction!

        Oh dear...

    4. dssf

      Re: Fermi Frightens Me.

      Even if your A and B are real (and, i, too don't want A or B to be the case), we should find ruins or artifacts of some sort, eventually, unless the timescale is billions of years since their demise.

      Even so, it would really be inspiring if we find telescopically planets with climates. I mean, I'm so irritated by people who winge about the rain. Unless one is caught in a death-bringing flood, say in The Philippines, Brazil, a mountain range in China, or Tennessee, people need to quit bitching about the rain!

      When I look into the stars at night, on a clear night, and when I've looked into starfields through telescopes (as a visitor on an open tour) at CSM (College of San Mateo), mesmerization, euphoria, hope, are just a few indescribable emotions that come to mind. I also feel a sense of disappointment, despondency, and irritation that the might not be reincarnation, and if there is, we're very limited in our ability to derive utility and excitement from "coming back again".

      So, when I look up and see clouds, rain, and imagine being a bird, I cannot HELP but feel that RAIN IS ONE OF THE MOST *BEAUTIFUL* THINGS IN THE UNIVERSE. So far, in my limited reading, we have not as a species found, recorded, and published actual existence of planets that have landscapes, oceans, and rain and climates that are just right for us if we were able to arrive physically at them in a space craft with a drop-ship. But, it would be nice if when we can arrive one for colonization that there are no advanced life forms to displace or send into extinction. Arriving a few billion years before evolution as we understand our own evolution means we should be likely to do damage to an environment that is mostly lush forests, swaths of deserts, and arable-capable fields/plains.

      THAT could be the holy grail: Finding lush, uninhabited planets within 20 light years, giving us a chance (yet another chance in our continuum) to try to work together as a PLANET and not a system of power-jockeying, bork-minded governments bent on domination and subsumation of other cultures or consumer bases.

      1. Michael Thibault

        Re: Fermi Frightens Me.

        "lush"? Meaning, 'with life of some sort', presumably. Even plant life could be mobile, in the short-to-medium-term sense, (rather than outright ambulatory, which would, in the current scheme of things, incline toward a categorisation of 'animal'). And that plant life (even if it isn't ambulatory) may prove to be omnivorous and swift (in some ways), perhaps a quick 'learner' or a 'rapid-evolver', and possibly quite deadly.

        The pot at the end of the many, many light-years is a planet without so much as microbial life, but water, an atmosphere that isn't actually toxic to life-forms from this planet, and something less than a constant hemisphere-wide sandstorm--though chances are good that by the time humans can reach even the first highly-promising candidate it will also be possible to terraform on almost any scale, including customising the entire atmosphere.

        Wouldn't mind being "The Man Who Awoke" for that first landing, but by then there'd probably be many more horizons towards which to lean.

      2. Wombling_Free

        Re: Fermi Frightens Me.

        Could I have a glass of whatever they are having?

    5. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Fermi Frightens Me.

      For the last 4 billion years, we haven't existed either. Give us another few thousand and we won't be detectable by someone with our current level of technology, unless we want to be. (We'll be able to see them, of course...)

      So just why is it called Fermi's <it>paradox</it>?

    6. Wombling_Free

      Re: Fermi Frightens Me.

      The answer as always is C


    7. MacroRodent Silver badge

      A) it is

      If the article about the number of potentially habitable worlds is right, it puts several terms in the Drake equation to high values. So the remainder, like development of life, followed by the development of sentient beings, followed by them developing technology, IS very, very improbable.

      We ARE special. Probably the only technically advanced civilization currently alive in the galaxy.

  16. Jelliphiish


    again. there's nothing much out there that cares enough to look at us or that has sent anything vaguely like a signal in any noticable wavelength in any of these hypothetical signal shells from these theoretical planets. ..

    also, 'space is big, really really big..'

    still, quite cool and it only took six years and a bugdet of some sort..

    sorry, can't help the trollage, i know they probably contribute to the planet's over all quality of life .. but i can't help but feel they're all quite good at mostly contirbuting to their own quality of life first.. ..

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: Fermi

      Well, my main purpose in like if to contribute to MY quality of life -which I do by having a job - I don't think they are unique. You have a job too? Does it improve your quality of life? (call centres excepted)

  17. luisxl60

    finding life in these planets and to know that we are the only ones that are technologically advance

    This is a great statement to make about the probability of earth like planets within a 30 light year span. But you know what is really scary, finding life in these planets and to findout that we are the only ones that are technologically advance…

    Imaging the damage we could bring to a world that has intelligent life, but are in their prehistoric period…we will be Gods to them…and we still are an aggressive species that cannot resolve our own differences…Imaging the impact, not only to them, but to us as well.

    1. Crisp

      Imagine those civilisations that avoided things like the Dark Ages

      An extra 1400 years of technological progress buys you an awful lot of cool toys.

  18. S 11

    Only 30 lightyears ...

    Thirty lightyears isn't "close" or doable. Just stop. And who wants faunacide anyway?

    Thirty years in space would destroy any human anatomy not under conscious control (exercise isn't enough).

    Only a Seed Bank can make it. And why should infect another ecosystem?

    See "Planetary Caravan" by Pantera (original song by Black Sabbath):

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Only 30 lightyears ...

      > And why should infect another ecosystem?

      Maybe because that's the whole point of everything. It's called LIFE, Jim!

      "This robotic infection vector actually though it had free will. How bizarre!"

    2. PGregg

      Re: Only 30 lightyears ...

      Err its only 30 years to the outside observer. Relativity says that the traveller will not experience that time... so assuming they can travel at just under the speed of light, it'll seem like the journey took less than 1 second.

      Flip side is, perhaps realisically, it'll take 100+ years (to the outside) observer, and so internally there will be generations who live and die in on the trip.

      1. Bill Fresher

        Re: Only 30 lightyears ...

        "Relativity says that the traveller will not experience that time... so assuming they can travel at just under the speed of light, it'll seem like the journey took less than 1 second."

        Good point.

        Relativity also says the mass of an object increases as its velocity increases so whoever's making that journey had better have a big appetite.

  19. James Micallef Silver badge


    The definition of 'Earth-like' adopted by the study seems to be "planets between 1 and 10X Earth mass, at a distance from their star that allows for liquid water".

    Firstly, just because the surface temperature on some or all of a planet is in the 0-100 - Celcius range does not mean that there is water there in any significant quantity (see Mars). Also, I would hope the scientists have enough sense to tweak their 'Goldilocks zone' to something more like 0-50 Celcius range. It's not going to be very habitable if there is liquid water at an average surface temperature of 80 C.

    Secondly, the range '1-10 earth masses' seems a bit far out to me. Even accounting for the fact that the surface gravity will not scale exactly with the mass of the planet, it's unlikely that human life could thrive at anything anything outside a range of maybe 0.75 - 1.5G, so that rules out a whole other large set of planets.

    Finally there is one other rather unique characteristic of Earth that supports life, which is the liquid magnetic core that provides the Earth's magnetic field, and therefore, protection from cosmic radiation. Although this can be overcome by localised protective domes or underground living quarters, it's still an important missing factor.

    I don't want to be a killjoy here, in fact seeing the vast numbers mentioned in the article it's still likely that there is at least a handful of planets within, say, 50 light years, that match the tighter criteria I outlined. I'm also sure that as astro-boffinry advances along the same lines as interstellar travel technology, that by the time we have a starship, we will also have a few well-defined destinations to aim for.

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: Earth-like??

      Good grief,. I hope those scientists thought of that stuff. You did read the PDF....didn't you?

      (No I didn't either)

    2. MadChemist

      Re: Earth-like??

      while I agree that "earth-like" might be stretching is a bit with those ranges, I would like to point out that life right here on earth is certainly happily thriving at up to 120°C (not all life, mind).

      The first goal is to find life out there, not to plonk down holiday homes, you know.

  20. Crosseyed and Painless

    80s Sic Fi

    All those 80s Sci Fi movies and TV series filmed in disused quarries where more accurate than we first thought.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    GMT anyone?

    It says it right there,

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    With every passing discovery,

    the fingernails fo God slide further down the outside window trying to stay in.

    I wonder what passage of the Bible my friend will quote, when we discover an inhabited planet, to provide my proof that his book knew all about it.

    1. Flashy Red

      Re: With every passing discovery,

      I hear you, but godbotherers are a slippery bunch. Your friend will simply say that their god created the planet's inhabitants, too, and that they must "be saved" or "submit" and the entire charade will play out as it has here.

      Look what happened to the New World when it was discovered by the Christians. I doubt we've changed all that much.

    2. Subtilior

      Re: With every passing discovery,

      Is there any serious theologian that has ever stated that life on other planets would be a problem? Why do you guys seem to all think there would be issues with this?

      1. BorkedAgain

        Re: With every passing discovery,

        Well, for one: why did God so love THIS world that he gave his one-and-only begotten son to save us? With countless billions of other inhabited worlds in the universe (there are a lot of galaxies out there, even the tiniest, weeniest probability multiplied by that much space will turn up a lot) what made us that special?

        Does He just really dig arrogance, perhaps?

        1. Subtilior

          Re: With every passing discovery,

          Why assume that Jesus only saved THIS world through his sacrifice? I don't remember anything in the Bible claiming that salvation was limited to planet Earth. Indeed, I thought a large part of the point of Chrisitianity is that, unlike Judahism, it is Universal, and that one should therefore spread the good news.

  23. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Nice little planet

    Needs a bit of work but in a very up and coming area. Bags of potential for future growth.

    Reasonable terms are available.

  24. Graham Wilson
    Thumb Up

    Good. I want to migrate to one.

    Reading my other El Reg posts of today, it's clear that I'm a life form truly ill-adapted to this planet. Perhaps a sky with red light would soothe my personality more than a blue one.

    On a planet circling a red star, going out in the midday sun should be safe for us mad dogs and Englishmen--at least the UV won't get us!

    Now how do I get there?

    1. Mikel

      How do I get there?

      The journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step. You lift up one foot and swing it in the desired direction and put it down. Then the other foot. Repeat.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh only 30 light years eh? Project Daedalus Britsh designed unmanned space craft that can eventually reach 12% the speed of light, currently the fastest possible design the human race has.

    It'll only cost 100 trillion quid to build (roughly) and reach our nearest star (4 light years) in only 42 years!!!!

    Ohh! we'll be there in no time! and with a debt to last the duration of the voyage!!!!

    Oh dear wake up dreamers! Lmao!

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Krugman! Kind of the Economists!! I have a quest for you!!!

      Well, kicking that one off would certainly make Keynesians and Central Bankers cream their pants. 100 trillion quid of money printing is sure to kickstart the dead economy something fierce. Even the Military-Industrial-Complex should not be against this one. They don't even need to bomb asians, sun people or sand citizens and get beautiful mansions regardless.


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Oh dear wake up dreamers!

      Some say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one!

    3. CD001

      Oh dear wake up dreamers! Lmao!

      ... your life must be terribly, terribly empty and lonely ... I'm sorry.

  26. Gil Grissum

    Seed your Lawn. SEED IT!!

  27. Gordon 11

    ...and seeding them with suitably-adapted Earth life to create truly habitable worlds would be a trivial matter compared to getting there in the first place.

    Trivial? Have you ever looked at the food chain to see how deep it goes? And if the base goes it all falls down.

  28. PGregg

    Hurry up.

    Apple is bound to run out of patent infringers here soon. Just imagine the possibilities of suing whole other world's full of infringing technologies! I'm buying more APPL right now.

  29. M7S

    What must they think of us?

    if they're now picking up TV from the early '80's (with very sensitive receivers)

    Your comment on programs and the possible interpretations they place on them would be welcome. I'll assume they've not learned the lingo.

    From Knight Rider, the Dukes of Hazard etc they will beleive our cars are starting to learn to fly.

    1. Bluey1701

      Re: What must they think of us?

      ...and that the Anthem of the Peoples of the Human Race is 'Making Your Mind Up' by Buck Fizz

  30. oregonensis


    Much as I would like it to be otherwise, the most optimistic estimates for the VASIMR engine's speed have a probe getting to the NEAREST star in something like 11,000 years. How are we going to send a probe out 30 ly in decades? And is your sci-fi probe sending its data back on subspace?

  31. 0_Flybert_0

    >>Of course these worlds may - probably do - lack any life at present<<

    of course ??

    we have no clue whether different conditions within a certain range would develop life faster or slower than here, whether intelligent life would develop faster or slower, and I'd think the process could have started a couple of billion years plus or minus on other planets

    iow .. it seems just as likely life on another planet could be a billion years less advanced or a billion years more advanced .. and it's a huge stretch to say planets that are life friendly would "probably ... lack any life at present"

  32. ted frater

    Seti and intelligent life

    Looking at the numbers , Carl Sagan thought that in our own galaxy , the chances of life as we understand it , ie self replicating organisms ,was most probable .

    however, it seems to me that the reason we havnt had any tangible results from all the seti analysis thats been done is,

    that the leap H sapiens made that other orgasnisms here havnt is our mastery of fire.

    that opened up the mastery of metals , which ultimately led to the development/understanding of electricity, and the development of radio communications.

    It is still the case we happened to be in the right place at the right time in the evolution time frame here on our lovely blueworld.

    1. Swarthy Silver badge

      Re: Seti and intelligent life

      Or, it could be Iron. Iron is a tricky metal to extract, if you don't know how. If memory servers, only one or two cultures discovered iron independently; everyone else got it via cultural diffusion.

      Without Iron, the magnetism half of electromagnetism is a lot harder to get started on.

  33. Winkypop Silver badge

    Send all the religious types first

    Then destroy the plans for the star ship.

    Let them create a world of their own, free to invoke any gods they like.

    Leaving us filthy, nasty, heathens in peace.

  34. Mikel

    All stars have planets

    Well, except for the tight-binary pairs that have eaten them all, and the hyperspeed stars that have come too close to a black hole. And the planets are interspersed in such a fashion that no whole planetary orbit could fit between 'em. And further, there are 2-4 planetary bodies in orbit around what we would call the "Goldilocks zone" of every star - and if the planets are too big for Men to live on, they have moons. Always.

    This is a side effect of the way that stellar systems are formed from clouds of gas and dust, and the fall-off of gravity's effects, centripetal force, angular distance, the distribution of prestellar masses of gas and dust. It's universal.

  35. Richard Wharram

    Lots of planets, yes.

    Just fire up Elite 2 and you can see exactly how many planets the galaxy has.

  36. Taz Taziuk

    Why don't we just fix Venus?

    Drop a few trillion sulphuric-acid eating, oxygen-excreting bacteria and sit back and watch?

    1. Crisp

      Re: Why don't we just fix Venus?

      That's a bloody good idea. It would be relatively cheap to pull off, and you could just drop balloons full of bacteria into the atmosphere as Earth normal atmosphere is a lifting gas in the Venusian environment.

      Why aren't we sending probes to Venus with a few bacteria on board, and maybe some marmite to get them started?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why don't we just fix Venus?


        Surely you're thinking of Mercury.

        I think you'll find Vegemite is better for Venus.

  37. AdamSweetman

    Resource sub-surface extraction and refining nearing 90%, time they came to collect

    Its about time our overlords came to wipe us out anyway, we've nearly done extracting all the usable heavy elements from the crust and refining them into usable grade metals/alloys. Much simpler to upskill a bunch of monkeys and let them dig them out for a few years than get their own hands dirty.

    Job nearly done! We've nearly finished the terraforming phase for our CO2 breathing masters as well, what good underlings we are!

  38. Bunker_Monkey

    Not new news lol

    Anyone with a serious interest in Exopolitics..

    Already knew this.. NASA experts admitted in 2001 that 54 known species are within visiting distance of Earth...


  39. anti-addick

    Why would our mate Lewis believe this?

    Funny how Lewis Page jumps right onto this bandwagon when it contains no actual evidence other than speculation and probability. Yet when it comes to believing scientists of a similar educational standard who present actual evidence about our own planets' changing climate he guffs it away as nonsense.

    The guy is a bell end.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As the Vogon captain said..

    What do you mean you’ve never been to Alpha Centauri? Oh, for heaven’s sake, mankind, it’s only four light years away, you know. I’m sorry, but if you can’t be bothered to take an interest in local affairs, that’s your own lookout.

  41. Martin Yirrell


    Interesting word that, used quite a lot when people are trying to push up funding.

  42. ChaosFreak

    Fermi Paradox

    Fermi figured all this out years ago. Given the age of the galaxy is over 5 billion years yet it's only a few hundred light years across, there has been plenty of time for any number of spacefaring intelligences to have colonized the entire galaxy several times over even without FTL technology. So why haven't we met them or at least seen signs of their past colonization? The fact that we haven't means that we won't.

    Note that this "Fermi Paradox" doesn't mean intelligent life doesn't exist, it just means we will never meet them. All of the following "objections" actually support the hypothesis.

    * Maybe they exist and we just lack the ability to detect them? Exactly...that means we won't meet them.

    * Maybe they came and went and left no trace we could detect?

    * Maybe there's a physical reason that makes interstellar colonization impossible?

    * Maybe civilizations tend to destroy themselves?

    * Maybe when civilizations reach a certain level they lose the desire to colonize and expand?

    So, the fact that there's so many habitable planets so close to us makes it extremely unlikely that we'll ever meet extraterrestrial intelligence. It's been 5 billion years and with all those planets no life form has been able to colonize the few hundred light years to our solar system?

  43. Mips

    Big Assumption

    If the planet is fit for life, why assume that there will be no life?

    Surely it is more likely there will be life.

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