THE EARTH IS NOT ALONE

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Catholic Church Girl, 10, hailed hero after recording herself being sexually abused by parish priest Father Michele Mottola was only arrested this week when the footage was broadcast on a current affairs show in Italy. But science wasn't the only thing that influenced Drake — even current events factor into his calculation.

No, We Haven't Solved The Drake Equation, The Fermi Paradox, Or Whether Humans Are Alone

At the heart of the search for life elsewhere in the universe is the question " Is Earth unique? Stanley discussed the history of humanity's evolving view of its place in the cosmos at the American Physical Society April Meeting on Saturday April 16 , in a session focused on recent discoveries in planetary science. Humans once thought that the Earth was not only unique, but at the center of the entire universe, Stanley said.

Scientific investigations eventually showed that our planet is not even at the center of its own solar system — it is one of seven other planets and many smaller bodies orbiting the sun.


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On the other hand, in the last 20 years, scientists have discovered thousands of planets around other stars, and most of those planets are not like Earth they're big and gaseous, like Jupiter. And most solar systems are not like Earth's solar system big planets orbit close to their parent star, whereas in Earth's solar system, the large planets orbit further out.

A lonely planet?

Does this suggest that Earth is unique? Stanley said that currently, this question is difficult to answer, because telescopes that search for exoplanets have a selection bias toward large, gas giant planets that orbit very close to their parent stars. With current technologies, these types of planets are easier to detect. With that in mind, scientists are still trying to estimate how many rocky and Earth-like planets are out there. By one estimation, for every grain of sand on Earth, there could be as many as 10 Earth-like planets in the universe.

That's according to Peter Behroozi, a Hubble fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, who presented during the same session as Stanley. Of course, it is important to remember that the universe is a very big place, and at the moment scientists can search for life only on planets within the Milky Way galaxy. Behroozi is working to link galaxy formation with planet formation.

In a paper published in in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Socity, he and his co-author showed that larger galaxies produce a greater number of Earth-like planets than do smaller galaxies such as, for example, the Milky Way. But because there are many more Milky Way-size galaxies in the universe, that's where most Earth-like planets in the universe should be found.

Thus, Earth's location in a Milky Way-size galaxy is not unique. This work not only helps scientists make estimations about how many planets are currently in the universe, but how many will form, assuming the universe continues to grow and evolve in the same way it has in the recent past. In the paper, Behroozi and his colleague look far ahead into the future and estimate that "the universe will form over 10 times more planets than currently exist. During his talk, Stanley re-traced the history of humanity's search for life beyond Earth, and showed how people are influenced by their own times and experiences when trying to predict what lies beyond this planet.

Nasa's Kepler telescope finds 10 Earth-like planets: 'We are not alone'

William Herschel, an extremely influential 18th century astronomer, believed that intelligent beings lived on the sun. In the 19th century, mainstream astronomers thought they saw artificial canals built by intelligent creatures on Mars and Venus. Observations of those two planets and the sun by space-based probes have disproved those ideas, but new research has also given rise to updated ideas about how and where life could exist elsewhere in the universe. For example, Stanley said, in the last 40 years, scientists have adopted a broader view of the conditions under which life can exist.

So-called extremophiles are organisms that live in environments that were previously thought inhospitable, like at the bottom of the ocean, under the ice in Antarctica and in areas that receive high doses of radiation. Stanley said many aspects of the Drake equation need updating not only with new scientific evidence, but also with new perspectives.