I was about to post this to the Linklog, but it really deserves highlighting here. According to this BBC News report, 50 planets outside of our own solar system could have life:
>Astronomers estimate about half the planetary systems so far discovered in our galaxy could contain Earth-like worlds.
>And they say that space telescopes will be capable of observing these planets and investigating them to see if they support life in about 15 years’ time.
This news is startling enough, but what’s also amazing is the fact that no one seems to care very much. The fact that I only found out about it via the web speaks volumes.
I guess I’m sensitive to this since I’ve been reading, and thoroughly enjoying, Bill Bryson’s excellent A Short History of Nearly Everything — which has by all accounts been a tremendous success commercially, but does not appear to me to have had any significant effect on today’s pervasively apathetic attitudes towards science in general.
I can certainly see some factors that would dissuade enthusaism for space exploration in particular, most notably the Columbia shuttle disaster, but I can’t see any concrete reason why a report as exciting as this one hasn’t generated the excitement it deserves — especially since there didn’t seem to be a such a problem with news of the Cassini-Huygens mission, or the Mars landings last year (although they did fall out of the news quite swiftly).
So I pose some questions to you: What do you make of it? What happened to the public’s awe of scientific discovery? Am I blind to something that everyone else can see?