If there are billions of planets in the Milky Way, how would your view of life on earth change?

An international team of astronomers now believes each star in the Milky Way has at least one planet around it. That adds up to billions of planets. Today’s Question: If there are billions of planets in the Milky Way, how would your view of life on earth change?

  • Hiram

    There are billions of planets in the milky way, and that fact hasn’t had much impact on my life so far. Today is still garbage day.

  • Alison

    “If” – Is this up for debate?

  • Jillian Adamson

    I have to agree with Hiram.

    At this point, my life would be impacted more by moving into Hiram’s neighborhood. My garbage day is Friday. Tuesday would take some adjustment.

    Until there’s some sort of contact, or unless we suddenly have the science to make getting humans to any of those planets, I don’t see how billions of planets will affect me in any way whatsoever.

  • Phil

    I think we have known for some time now, that there are Vulcans, Romulans, and pretty green women living on planets all over the galaxy for quite some time already.

  • CJ

    This is for the imagination and like putting a camcorder in the hands of many, some make better home movies than others, but then it’s still a matter of what appeals to you.

  • Lou

    Anyone that ever had a class from the late Karlis Kaufmanis would not be surprised to hear the astronomer’s findings. It has no affect on my view of life on earth

  • The existence of planets itself is not a game changer for me. Planets appear to be a dime a dozen.

    Now, the existence of planets in the habitable zone of a planet, that’s more interesting.

    And of course, the grand prize, detecting signs of life (any life) is the grand prize.

  • Mark G

    OK, so let’s say we find an Earth-like planet, not tooooo many light-years away. Does this mean I’m going there? No. Such a discovery won’t mean a whit to me. And my garbage day is Monday.

  • Philip

    Oh no! What if they’re watching Us?!

  • jon

    Far more interesting is the prospect that all the stars in the universe have planets around them. This doesn’t leave millions, or billions of planets, but millions and billions of googles of planets.

    Suspect that means the odds are pretty good that there is life out there some where, and maybe odds that it’s intelligent. Though alien pen pals that take years/generatiosn to hear back from due to speed of light lag is going to be frustrating for all parties.

  • Steve the Cynic

    MPR needs to hire some staff with more science backgrounds. This isn’t big news; it just confirms what has long been suspected.

  • GaryF

    My garbage day in Wednesday, and I’m flexible if it’s on another day, another planet.

    “Space travel’s in my blood

    And there ain’t nothing I can do about it

    Long journeys wear me out but

    Oh god, you know we won’t live without it

    Another girl is loving you now

    Another planet forever holding you down

    Another planet

    Another girl, another planet

    Another girl, another planet”

  • James

    A lot of it has already been said.

    It’s been known for a long time that there are a lot of planets out there. We could have/should have guessed that lots of them are in the Goldilocks (habitable) zone. The fact that we are now finding them just means we have better detectors.

    The fact that we haven’t heard from anyone on any of these milloins of planets is a little surprising, given the huge numbers involved. However, Earth has only actually been able to communicate with the rest of the universe for only 0.000005% of its existense so far…and may not be able to keep doing so for much longer if we manage to break it.

    The distances are so extreme, and space travel is so painful for humans (a good read: Packing for Mars) that the chance of face-to-face contact every is essentially zero ever, and certainly not in our lifetimes.

    What everyone is leaving out of this discussion so far, is the impact on our world view if we actually find life, and particularly intelligent life elsewhere.

    Even people who believe in evolution generally, aren’t quite sure how life started. Lightning striking a pond and sparking early life and evolution taking things from early life forms to humans is a bit of a stretch for most people. And most of our God concepts are Earth- and human-focused, so life elsewhere would cerainly add to the discussion!

    Personally, I think the recent focus on “new” planets is part of the NASA and science machine’s PR campaign to keep funding relatively fruitless big science. Without the dream of finding life elsewhere, we may as will spend more time investigating Earth.

  • Regnar James

    I only wish our leaders had the fortitude to get out there and continue manned exploration.

    Of course this would require all new technologies, engineering, research and development.

    Just think of the spinoff possibilities. Also the jobs this would create would be … well out of this world.

    And by the way:

    Of the 312 pilots and scientists selected as astronauts since 1959, at least 207 have been identified as having been Scouts or active in Scouting. The list includes 39 Eagle Scouts, 25 Life Scouts, 14 Star Scouts, 26 First Class Scouts, 17 Second Class Scouts, 13 Tenderfoot Scouts, 3 Explorers, 25 Cub Scouts, 10 Webelos Scouts, 1 King’s Scout, 2 Wolf Scouts, and 32 with unknown ranks, including 27 who were Girl Scouts.

    Of the 24 men to travel to the moon on the Apollo 9 through Apollo 17 missions , 21 were Scouts, including 10 of the 12 men who physically walked on the moon’s surface, and all three members of the crew of Apollo 13. Three travelled to the Moon twice.


  • Zebulun

    The fact that this is even considered news is a bit baffling. For anyone to think that our “sun”, which is actually a star just like every other we see in the night sky, is somehow special in having elemental bodies in orbit around itself is in a great sense, anthropocentric. To me this parallels the idea that the earth is the center of the universe/solar system. My first thought in seeing this question was,”duh.”

    One special quality our solar system has that we cannot yet prove in others is life. With this said, since life formed on earth, I believe it could have formed elsewhere. Since something exists in one location it can exist in another.

    There is a probability for everything especially when it’s all ready known to have happened.

  • Lance

    There’s still a God, and I’m still not Him – no change.

  • Luke

    No change in my view. We are a “small green ball in the suburbs of an unremarkable sun” regardless of whether it’s just a big universe out there or a big universe with billions of planets.

    Quote is from “Electronic Tape Found In A Bottle” – something I memorized for high school speech class decades ago.

  • GaryF

    Gerald Ford, the only US President that was an Eagle Scout.

  • John P II

    So remember, when you’re feeling very small and insecure,

    How amazingly unlikely is your birth,

    And pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere up in space,

    ‘Cause there’s bugger all down here on Earth.

    (Eric Idle of Monty Python – The Galaxy Song)

  • Regnar James

    @GaryF, that is rather sad we don’t have more:-(

    Eagle Scouts have morals and fortitude.

    Unlike 99% of the lawyers that puff up and TRY to lead.


  • Gordon near Two Harbors

    Well, we already know that there are many planets outside of our own solar system. Extra-solar planets have been suspected for decades, but it has only been in recent years that technology has allowed us to detect them.

    The more relevant question should be: if there is LIFE on any of these planets, especially intelligent life, how would it change your world view?

    I suspect that for a large percentage of the human race, their theology would be thrown into chaos.

    In all probability, there is life out there, but the laws of physics, will never allow us to get out there to find out. The distances are just too great.

  • Jim G

    Regardless of whether there is life on any of these billions of planets, we are adapted to living on this one. It’s the only life boat available to our species. Mother Earth is light years away from any other possible home. Mars is too cold for even this native Minnesotan. Life is rare. I treasure it and the planet Earth that makes it possible.

  • Terence

    Thank you, Jim G below ,for submitting some down-to-earth humility (Buhddist Wisdom).

    Discovering simple lichen-like life–or even dust mites– trapped deep on a Jupiter moon for instance, would not make make my mind race with amazement…The answer to the silly modern scientific obsession: “ARE WE ALONE??”, is answered manifestly: Certainly not right here on Earth!… Smell the roses! …And try to come to terms with earthly suffering/misfortune and grief… rather than expect to escape it on a spaceship, or heavenly afterlife.

  • ann steinke

    It changes nothing, my “life” and how I live doesn’t come from anywhere but inside.