Bad news and good news about the SETI quest

Image: Jill Tarter
SETI pioneer Jill Tarter pays a visit to the Allen Telescope Array in California, one of the prime sites for the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. (Credit: SETI Institute)

t’s a question that goes back decades: If other civilizations have arisen beyond Earth over the course of billions of years, why haven’t we heard from them? Two kinds of answers have recently come into the spotlight – one kind that’s disheartening, and another kind that’s challenging.

First, the bad news: Researchers from the Australian National University say climate change could have killed off E.T. and his ilk.

In a paper published last month in the journal Astrobiology, Aditya Chopra and Charles Lineweaver suggest that habitable Earthlike planets eventually fall prey either to runaway global warming, as in the case of Venus; or runaway global cooling, as in the case of Mars.

Their model proposes that if life ever does arise on an alien world, it would go extinct in most cases after just 1.5 billion years of the planet’s existence, without getting past the microbial stage.

Get the full story from GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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