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1 Interesting Times  Wed, Jan 11, 2012 12:12:10pm

There’s no way on Earth (ha) that ALL of these planets are devoid of intelligent life, Krauthammer blather and Fermi Paradox aside. The reason we haven’t been contacted is simple: no technology exists to allow for faster-than-light travel, and the vast distances involved mean even if another species developed mechanisms for transmitting radio signals before we did, they’d be so weak by the time they reach us we can’t detect them.

Too bad, though - I was really hoping I’d live long enough to see discovery of exoplanetary life and the resulting cranial explosions amongst religious fundamentalists :P

2 freetoken  Wed, Jan 11, 2012 12:51:06pm

This is an exciting (well, as far as astronomy) field of study.

The CNN author does well to draw attention to a technique, lensing, other than the one Kepler is using (transits). However, as is so common in discussing this technique it is described poorly:

The microlensing technique uses the motion of stars and their gravity: when one star moves in front of another, it acts like a lens, magnifying the light from the background star. If there’s a planet in orbit around the foreground star, it can further magnify the light. It’s that extra boost that reveals the planet itself, which would otherwise be too faint to see through a telescope.

No, not “magnify”, but rather “bend”. The gravity of the object between the distant solar system and Earth bends the light from the distant object, allowing the light to be focused on us. Gravitational “lensing” is used to observe the masses of distant galaxy clusters, and so forth.

“Micro”lensing is of objects too small (unlike whole galaxies) for detailed observations of the distant object, so instead an apparent brightening is observed for a short time interval, this brightening due to the mass of the intermediate object bending the light of the distant object towards the Earth.

3 Political Atheist  Wed, Jan 11, 2012 1:01:54pm

re: #1 publicityStunted

Plus, lets say there are intelligent beings, that also are into not just any tools but advanced tools of travel. Then we assume space flight appeals or is necessary. Then we assume they come out in this general direction. then we assume they come right into our tiny corner of the Milky way, then we assume they will want to swing by here as in our orbit.


I do not get the “where is everybody?” argument it all. It is chock full of self centered assumptions.

4 Varek Raith  Thu, Jan 12, 2012 3:04:37am

Space is stuipidly big.
Even if we could travel at the speed of light, it would still take four years to get the nearest star to earth.


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