The European Southern Observatory announced that according to their calculations there could be as many as 100 habitable planets within 30 light-years from Earth that would be able to sustain human life. That's right: if we could get there, we could easily turn them into hospitable places suitable for us to live on.
From the article by Lewis Page of The Register:
The implications are immense, as these hundred worlds are so close that it is possible to imagine ways of sending spacecraft to them - though such journeys would take many decades or even centuries under current assumptions. The prospect of interstellar colonisation - a staple of science fiction - has become hugely more likely.*
Perhaps still more importantly, the prospect of such worlds across the galaxy in the tens of billions suggests that even if the appearance of life on watery worlds is extremely unlikely, it has probably occurred somewhere else as well as here on Earth. We could be looking at one or two worlds with some primitive slime in their oceans, or thousands of aggressive star-conquering alien empires (who could - given the distances and numbers involved - all be unaware of each others' existence) but we're much less likely to be alone than we thought we were last week.
No matter what, this would seem to be a clear wake-up call to humanity to pull its head out of its - erm - navel, and look outward to the other zero-point-nine-recurring of the universe. It's not just pretty lights in the night sky: it's potentially home one day to the vast majority of human beings who will ever live - and perhaps to lots of other people too.
|"The hunt for life on other planets is now ramping up in a serious way."|
|"Train on Earth for 10 years until they are ready to be shot into space strapped to a rocket, never to return."|
|"Could we move beyond our small, blue planet to establish colonies in the multitude of star systems out there?"|
|"Aspiring astronauts were asked to write a Twitter post, a limerick or a haiku as part of their NASA applications."|
|Termite-Inspired Autonomous Robotic Construction Crew|
|Unboxing a Factory Sealed IBM Compatible PC from 1988|
|“The release of methane from hydrate may be apocalyptic.”|
|The Unknown Reader|
|James Charles' Pop Culture Dollars|
|Reviewing Counterfeit Toys Made in China|
|"This very internationalism that contributed to the apocalyptic disaster that ended the Bronze Age."|
|“There was not only automation but where the suggestion that humans had any control [...] was absent too.”|
|"Most of what kids currently learn at school will probably be irrelevant by the time they are 40."|
|"Fossil fuel executives want to get a piece of the clean-energy business."|
|Pat the Zombie: A Cruel Adult Spoof of 'Pat the Bunny'|