One of my favorite aspects of astronomy is how it tackles the biggest questions we humans have. How did this all begin? What is the ultimate fate of the Universe? Are we alone? Oh, that last one. Such an interesting question, and one that for centuries has been essentially unanswerable due to a lack of solid data. But that's changed very recently. We've started exploring other planets up close. We've been able to listen to potential signals from other civilizations. And we've begun to get a handle on how many habitable planets there might be in the Universe. The BBC Future blog asked me to write up my thoughts on this for their clever series, "Will we ever...?", and so I did: "Will we ever… find life elsewhere in the universe?" is now online. I'll note this is an opinion piece, but it's based on the best data I know about these three avenues of inquiry: physical inspection of other worlds in our solar system, listening for E.T., and observing planets around other stars. Given the current state-of-the-art, and where these programs are going, I predict which of these three I think will pay off first - assuming life is out there to find. I won't spoil it here. Go read the article!
[Note: In June, I also wrote a piece for them called Will We Ever Live on the Moon? which you may also enjoy.]
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