Finding Life Outside, Page 4
Oddly enough, I think it will be a three-day wonder and then people will be worried about Britney Spears again. The fact is I don’t think it will be a radical shift in anybody’s thinking, because I think everybody expects it to happen sooner or later anyway. By the time it does happen, the reaction will be, “Well, it’s about time,” or “Didn’t they already know that?” Even if it was intelligent life. I think, also, if we do find intelligent life we’ll find out that their way of communicating, their kind of language, is so utterly alien from ours that we won’t be able to communicate. But, who knows? I still read that science fiction, and anything’s possible.
You look at our little eight or nine, or eight-and-a-half, planets and think that that’s a fair representation of all that planets can be—uh-uh. It’s just a small taste. There are many other possibilities. The purpose of my book Worlds Without Endwas to spell out some of those other possibilities, and to open people’s eyes as to why a few government dollars properly spent on discovering planets of other stars might tell us an enormous amount about our own Solar System, our own Earth, its relationship to the other planets, and the big questions: Are we alone in the universe? Are habitable planets possible?
There’s sort of a popular misconception that the reason the Earth is inhabited is become we have oceans and a wonderful oxygen atmosphere, but in fact the reason the oceans aren’t frozen is because we have life on Earth regulating the composition and thermal properties of the atmosphere, and the reason we have oxygen in the atmosphere is because plants grow. Earth has adapted to life.