We may not be alone

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The Independent Online

The great question posed by those who doubt the existence of extra-terrestrial life is: why has no one contacted us yet? After all, although we have yet to evolve the technology that would allow us to travel to distant galaxies, surely someone out there must be curious to check out what we are up to here on planet Earth.

The great question posed by those who doubt the existence of extra-terrestrial life is: why has no one contacted us yet? After all, although we have yet to evolve the technology that would allow us to travel to distant galaxies, surely someone out there must be curious to check out what we are up to here on planet Earth.

Now, however, with the announcement at the general assembly of the International Astronomical Union of the discovery of another nine planets in outer space, bringing the grand total of known planets outside our solar system to 51, a plausible answer begins to take shape. In the evocative words of astronomer Geoff Marcy, of the University of California, Berkeley, now that we have new, improved ways of detecting distant planets, "we are suddenly drenched in a planetary shower".

No doubt, the reason that we haven't heard from anyone else yet is that they are already busy talking to and visiting their numerous neighbours. Our best hope of making contact with our counterparts in outer space would be to throw a bash - one that would put our poor millennial projects in the shade - and send out invitations to all in the universe. A millennial project for the year 3000?

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