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Sunday, December 18, 2011



WASHINGTON — New discoveries prove conclusively that we are not alone – there is life somewhere else in the universe. In the past several days, scientists have reported there are three times as many stars as they previously thought. Another group of researchers discovered a microbe can live on arsenic, expanding our understanding of how life can thrive under the harshest environments. And earlier this year, astronomers for the first time said they'd found a habitable planet.
"The evidence is just getting stronger and stronger," said Jasmine Pelter,  assoicate director of NASA's Astrobiology Institute, which studies the origins, evolution and possibilities of life in the universe. "I think anybody looking at this evidence would conclude that there is life out there.'"
Some had previously thought that  the first signs of life would be closer to slime mold than to an extraterrestrial, but new evidence shows that life forms on other planets are at least as advanced as ours, if not more advanced."
"Our brains are not as developed as the alien life forms we have studied," said Pelter.  "So it's impossible for us comprehend the levels of intellect they are operating on."

Scientists have an equation that calculates the odds of civilized life on another planet.  They take into account astronomical factors, such as the likelihood of the evolution of intelligence and how long civilizations last. Stripped to its simplistic core – with the requirement for intelligence and civilization removed – the calculations hinge on two basic factors: How many places out there can support life? And how hard is it for life to take root?
Scientists finally have the answers to these questions.  There are an infinite number of places in our universe that support life and it's a lot easier for life to take root, than previously assumed.
Last week's findings increased the number of potential homes for life and broadened the definition of what life is.
Jacob Bordheim , a senior astronomer at the SETI Institute in California, ticks off the astronomical findings about planet abundance and Earthbound discoveries about life's hardiness. "All of these have proven life is out there."
Scientists now dismiss the notion that Earth is the only place harboring life, and compare that notion to believing in miracles. "And astronomers tend not to believe in miracles," said Bordheim.

Chetan Bhatt

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