Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Proxima Centauri, Here We Come...

It seems the German weekly Der Spiegel announced that scientists have discovered an Earth-like planet orbiting Proxima Centauri - that's the closest star to our own, and it's the only one we could conceivably reach within a human lifetime. In fact, plans are already underway for a "laser-sail nanocraft" that could reach speeds of 20% the speed of light. That means we could reach this unnamed world in about 20 years - of course, it would take at least 4 and a half years to receive information from it. Nevertheless, this is exciting stuff. The nanocraft is the brainchild of a Russian billionaire, supported by Stephen Hawking and facebook dictator Mark Zuckerberg.

The only thing that bugs me about this report is that the German newspaper used an unnamed source. As a former reporter with two decades of experience, I feel pretty confident that means the discovery is not at all confirmed, otherwise they'd go public. And, as with so many other unnamed sources, that's likely an indication that the whole thing is bullshit.

Time will tell. Meanwhile, we can at least enjoy knowing our fantasies of alien life are one tiny step closer to plausibility.

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