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SOMETIMES it pays to take the lengthy view. Take a look at the previous half-century of cosmology, as UK Astronomer Royal Martin Rees does in our interview, and it’s plain how far we’ve come.

The story of the universe’s origin in a giant bang – an thought not particularly favoured when Rees began as a researcher within the 1960s – is now as near a longtime reality as science permits. We’ve additionally elucidated the properties and phenomena of an unimaginably huge cosmos with ever extra acuity. It’s a privilege to stay in an age when, for the primary time, we’ve a convincing story of a lot of the grand sweep of cosmic evolution.

“In that case many planets are on the market, how come clever life hasn’t come our method?”

These are actually thrilling developments, albeit ones which have, within the nature of science, thrown up extra holes in our understanding – holes that devices such because the just lately launched James Webb Area Telescope are designed to plug.

But this progress additionally offers cause for introspection. Many researchers like Rees discover themselves drawn to questions of humanity’s future. The invention of 1000’s of exoplanets circling different stars, and the realisation that even icy moons within the outer photo voltaic system may harbour heat and moist environments, boosts the assumption that if life exists on one tiny blue dot, it’d exist elsewhere, too.

So why hasn’t clever life elsewhere made itself identified to us? Maybe as a result of hubristic missteps give technological civilisations a restricted lifespan – and maybe additionally as a result of, as we’ve realized, area is an unforgiving surroundings. It’s a half-century now for the reason that final particular person walked on the moon and, as Rees warns, whereas billionaires corresponding to Elon Musk battle it out to return there, it’s folly to assume “area tourism” will ever be the norm for our species. Any vestiges of humanity that go away our photo voltaic system will in all probability be very completely different to us, and most certainly the progeny of the pioneers who set up a future past Earth, on Mars for instance.

For the remainder of us, our planet is all there may be. The issues we face, not least the tragedy at the moment unfolding in Ukraine, are a reminder that progress can simply as simply be undone. All of the extra cause to use our frequent humanity to fixing the issues of the right here and now.

By 24H

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