Are we alone? The question haunting some of us. New discovery reported by NY times seems to bring us a step closer to finding new acquaintances:A team of European astronomers said yesterday that they had found one of the closest analogues yet to our solar system: three planets and an asteroid belt circling a pale Sun-like star about 42 light-years away in the constellation Puppis.The third planet, about 18 times the mass of Earth, circles at a distance of about 60 million miles, within the star's so-called habitable zone, where the temperatures would allow the existence of liquid water, the authors said.The planet is still too big to be considered Earth-like, and is probably shrouded in hydrogen like Neptune or Uranus, and so is an unlikely environment for life. "Nevertheless," Christophe Lovis, of the University of Geneva and lead author of the group, wrote in an e-mail message, "this discovery opens the way to the detection of even smaller planets in the near future."
More on the planet, the method used to discover it and the dangerous life possible inhabitants would have available here
We've been obsessed with the idea of finding new life forms for a long time. But thinking of the still present issues of accepting different people, I wonder how would we react to an entire new life form? How would our prejudices act? Would we be completely judgmental, would we point our guns to them and keep them under close supervision until we find out which their intentions are (this instead of simply asking)? Would we be completely breathless and speechless when seeing what they know and how they live? Or would we simply dismiss them as not cool enough?
Somehow I have always dismissed the "end of the world" vision of the moment when aliens would decide to drop by and say hello.