Alien Life May Be Found Within 40 Years
Finding alien life beyond our solar system would be the most profound discovery in all of humanity, and would undoubtedly be the greatest story in all of human history.
The royal astronomer for the Queen of England believes it could happen within the next 40 years. Former Royal Society president, Lord Martin Rees, speaking at the launch of Professor Stephen Hawking’s new series ‘Grand Design,’ said evidence of whether alien life exists elsewhere in the universe could be answered in that timeframe.
He said he believes that astro-physicists could be able to view images of distant planets outside the solar system as early as 2025, potentially leading to the discovery of some form of life, the Telegraph reported.
“We know now that stars are orbited by retinues of planets just as our sun is. We have learned this in just the last decade, essentially,” Rees said. “Within 10 or 20 years we will be able to image other planets like the earth, orbiting other stars. That will be a really exciting subject to see if there is evidence for [extra-terrestrial] life or not.”
Hawking’s series, which will air on Discovery Channel beginning next Thursday, will be based on his best-selling book by the same name. It will study everything from Isaac Newton’s theories on gravity to the recent Higgs boson findings, and everything in between. He will also air his take on the relationship between God and science, and what the meaning of life is for humans.
Hawking had previously described heaven as a “fairytale.” That controversy will become even more heated when he talks more about the subject during the new series. “I think science can explain the universe without the need for God,” he said at the series launch.
Rees admitted that there could be some scientific challenges that are “beyond human brains” and that we may need alien interaction to help us learn more. “There may be some questions that our brains will never understand, in the same way that chimpanzees couldn’t understand quantum theory, that are just beyond human brains.”
It may even take another step in the evolutionary chain before these challenges can be understood, he added. We may also have to wait and learn from some aliens that may be far ahead of us, Mail Online reports.
Rees said previously that aliens may be “staring us in the face” in a form that humans are not yet able to recognize. “The problem is that we’re looking for something very much like us, assuming that they at least have something like the same mathematics and technology. I suspect there could be life and intelligence out there in forms we can’t conceive.”
In related news, the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute may have to restrict its radio telescope operations–which hunt for signs of alien intelligence form other worlds–unless it can bridge a gap in funding. Credit: Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com
Video – Stephen Hawking – Rocket to the Future
Stephen Hawking examines how we may some day, travel to the future. Into The Universe With Stephen Hawking – Time Travel. This video belongs to Discovery Communications and is being used for educational purposes only.
100 Year Starship Symposium Next Week
The 100 Year Starship 2012 Public Symposium begins next week, with the recently announced news that former president Bill Clinton will serve as honorary chair for the event. I’m not sure whether a US president has ever spoken about starships before, but what Clinton said was this: “This important effort helps advance the knowledge and technologies required to explore space, all while generating the necessary tools that enhance our quality of life on earth.” The symposium takes a decidedly multi-disciplinary theme, with speakers on topics ranging from engineering to ethics, philosophy, the social sciences and biology.
Our recent discussions about experimenting with self-enclosed ecosystems flow naturally into the upcoming event in light of the range of topics to be covered. In addition to the speakers and scientific papers, four workshops have been announced. Let me pull some excerpts on the workshops directly off the 100 Year Starship page:
Workshop 1: Research Priorities for the First Ten of 100 Years
The capabilities required to successfully mount a human interstellar mission are numerous and daunting. Yet, we must start somewhere. Requirements range from achieving relativistic (approaching light speed) velocities and navigation, radiation shielding, robust crew and passenger health, training, dynamics, optimized skill mix, culture and compatibility, to selecting destinations, self-renewing machine and life support systems, and financial investment.
Workshop 2: Path to the Stars—Evolutionary or Revolutionary
Is the best approach to reaching the stars a giant leap or incremental baby steps? Is there a real and necessary requirement to colonize our solar system before attempting to travel to another star? Is a one-way trip ethical? Is it possible to achieve such an audacious goal as interstellar flight with a “slow and steady wins the race” strategy or does that method risk stagnation?
Workshop 3: The Mission: Human, Robotic or Reconstituted?
Some argue that taking humans along not only complicates the mission and equipment, but may also make an interstellar mission anytime in the foreseeable future extremely improbable.
Workshop 4: Is It Everybody’s Space Mission?
Who should and can participate in the quest for human interstellar space travel? How should that participation be facilitated, encouraged and measured? Should those who have technical backgrounds or declared “interstellar first” have the front row seats? Is this the purview of certain countries, socioeconomic groups or cultures?
Attendees can register to participate in workshops on the website.
Among the speakers at the symposium will be, in addition to symposium chair Mae Jemison, anthropologist Johnetta B. Cole, director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, space journalist Miles O’Brien, SETI Institute co-founder Jill Tarter, and two figures well known to Star Trek fans: Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura from the first Star Trek series), and LeVar Burton, who played Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Although I’ll mostly be there for the scientific papers, it will be fun to see what the dose of popular entertainment lore can bring to the proceedings. Track chairs include Eric Davis (Institute for Advanced Studies-Austin ), Amy Millman (Springboard Enterprises), David Alexander (Rice University) and Ian O’Neill (Discovery News).
For those of you coming in late on all this, the 100 Year Starship effort grows out of seed money provided by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Last year’s conference in Orlando took place a few months before the award was allocated to The Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence, named in honor of astronaut Mae Jemison’s mother. The winning proposal was crafted by Jemison’s team in partnership with Icarus Interstellar, which continues to explore research and development dedicated to interstellar hardware, and the Foundation for Enterprise Development. From a recent news release from 100YSS:
In its first year, 100YSS will seek investors, establish membership opportunities, encourage public participation in research projects and develop the vision for interstellar exploration. 100 Year Starship will bring in experts from myriad fields to help achieve its goal – utilizing not only scientists, engineers, doctors, technologists, researchers, sociologists and computer experts, but also architects, writers, artists, entertainers and leaders in government, business, economics, ethics and public policy. 100YSS will also collaborate with existing space exploration and advocacy efforts from both private enterprise and the government. In addition, 100YSS will establish a scientific research institute, The Way, whose major emphasis will be speculative, long-term science and technology.
The Houston event will run September 13-16, 2012 at the Hyatt Regency with details available on the 100 Year Starship site. Having handed off initial funding to the new organization, DARPA has stepped back to let the 100 Year Starship grow on its own. Thus Houston marks the first major event 100YSS has undertaken, and I’m hoping the sessions will have much of the same multi-disciplinary sparkle that enlivened Orlando one year ago. Source; Paul Gilster -n September 7, 2012