…but only 25 when it reports on science.
So here’s the big headline and a subheader. See if you can tell what the problem is:
New ‘life in space’ hope after billions of ‘habitable planets’ found in Milky Way
Billions of potentially habitable planets may exist within our galaxy, the Milky Way, raising new prospects that life could exist near Earth, a study has found.
It turns out the “found” means “may exist (according to our best guesses)”.
Now, I don’t doubt that there probably are billions of habitable planets. But this sort of reportage is not “science” reportage. It’s faith reportage. “Finding” billions of planets means, you know, actually finding them. Not “being pretty sure they must be there”.
There’s a fair amount of base-stealing being encouraged in this piece. So, for instance, there’s no mention of the fact that there are two habitable zones for a planet. One is the Goldilock zone of distance from its star (so that it is not too hot, not too cold, but just right so that liquid water can exist). But also the star system needs to be sufficiently far from the galactic center, otherwise it is bathed in eterna-fry radiation.
And that’s just two of the factors necessary for life. There are about 20 more.
I don’t deny the possibility of life on other worlds. In fact, I think it likely. But I’m skeptical we will ever meet any other non-human intelligences besides angels. It will be interesting if Hubble is able to see chlorophyll on other planets. That will finally put the boots on the question of life on other worlds. But only a radio signal (and we’ve been listening for decades) will settle the question, “Is anybody out there?