How Many Earths Again?

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BBC News: “Galaxy Has ‘Billions of Earths’” Two weeks ago we covered a study that said there could be up to 37,964 alien civilizations in the Milky Way. Now, the number of Earth-like planets in the Milky Way has been enumerated: 100,000,000,000.

That figure is according to Carnegie Institution scientist Alan Boss, who addressed the American Association for the Advancement of Science (see items #3, #5). Boss’s estimation is founded on the assumption that each Sun-like star has, on average, one Earth-like planet.

The vast majority are gas giants totally unlike Earth.

Of the extrasolar planets found so far, however, the vast majority are gas giants totally unlike Earth, and the few that are relatively “Earth-like” are nonetheless far from hospitable. However, at present, it is easier to discover gas giants than Earth-like planets, which facilitates Boss’s hopes.

Boss also believes we will find plentiful alien life on these planets. Boss told BBC News:

“Not only are they probably habitable but they probably are also going to be inhabited. . . . 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.”

We also heard from Boss in the July 12 News to Note last year, who at the time claimed, “[E]verything has been pointing in the direction of, ‘Hey, the solar system, which we thought was unique, is not unique at all . . . [c]ertainly there will be other planets that support life . . . I think life is actually quite common. I think we’re going to find there are literally billions of [Earth-like planets] in the galaxy.”

At that time we referred to Boss’s “evidence-less faith in life off-earth,” and this latest news only reinforces our view!


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