Just a quick observation on the BBC radio news this morning. For some reason, despite Leicester City winning the league, they were short enough of news to run a piece on three possible earthlike planets orbiting (as I understand it) a single star. So what else is new?It seems they’re in the Goldilocks zone as regards the possibility of liquid water and so – wait for it – there is the possibility of their having life!!!!! You see, water is one of the building blocks of life, like atoms, which these planets also possess.
Granted, it’s believed that all three have rotational periods locked to their solar orbits so that the same side faces the sun all the time; like Venus, whose average surface temperature, under the sulphuric acid clouds, is 462 degrees Celsius. But somehow that doesn’t detract from the optimism.
Now the interesting thing was that one of the astronomers on discovery team was in the studio to be interviewed, mainly, of course, about the possibility of life. After all, one wants to keep up with what the cutting edge scientists know about such things, so as not to be caught on the hop when their securely-based expectations come true.
And the scientist in question intimated that she had, in fact, looked it up before the interview and found that THERE IS A 1:100 CHANCE OF FINDING E.T. LIFE BEFORE 2019. Which, of course, is lower odds than those of Leicester City winning the Premier League. It must be true, for Science™ says so, and it’s on the BBC!
The difference is, of course, that Leicester City is known to exist, as is the Premier League and their membership of it. The low odds for their winning it were the odds given by bookmakers backing their guesses against those of the punters. No science was to be seen.
There is even less science in any pretended “probability” for finding life – or even for the existence of life – whilst we still have only one example (us) in the known Universe.
Those dreamers who predict the odds of Christ returning in this generation at least base their speculations on (a) the known existence of Jesus Christ, (b) the known prediction of his return and (c) the observed state of the world. The scientist who believes a set of odds about the discovery of extraterrestrial life has rather fewer fixed points than that for their divination.
They may, of course, make up for that by being enthused by the spirit of the god located at that oracle.