Thursday, March 29, 2018

Lee Billings, Five Billion Years of Solitude: The Search for Life Among the Stars (Penguin Books, 2013)

It’s no secret that our time on Earth is limited—individually, of course, but also as a species. In fact, all life on Earth will come to an end in a billion years (give or take), maybe earlier if those warning us of the dangers of global warming are correct.

This is a scary thought, but not one to keep most of us awake at night. At least it’s not unless you’re Lee Billings or one of the astronomers and physicists he interviewed for Five Billion Years of Solitude. Sure, they’re interested in whether there is life elsewhere in the universe. However, equally as interesting as catching up with ET is the possibility of finding a new home for us before our current place is enveloped by the sun as it enters its red giant phase.

Given the fair amount of advanced warning we have, it’s not surprising that this project has been put on the backburner. Potential steps forward made possible by developing technology are constantly being delayed primarily as a result of budgetary concerns. There is, however, some talk about alternative funding avenues, a number of which feature tapping into entrepreneurial sources.

In the last decade or so, the human genome was mapped—more quickly than anyone anticipated it could be—as a result of a competitive race between public and private researchers who pushed each other along. Something similar could happen in the search for a habitable (but currently uninhabited?) nearby exoplanet, which might be rich with resources for entrepreneurial earthlings as well as our future home for when the time comes. ET, we’re on our way!

No comments :

Post a Comment