Caleb Scharf has just finished his superb sequence of the ten most important question in astrobiology. They are all good, but the end is a good place to begin:
The final piece in this brief summary of what the most pressing questions are for astrobiology effectively brings us full circle. It is what ultimately motivates us, what we really want to know, perhaps even what we really need to know as a species. It is a question that humans have pondered for at least 2,000 years Is there intelligent life elsewhere in the universe?
One of my favorite quotes in the long history of this question is attributable to the Greek philosopher Metrodorus of Chios in the 4th century BC, who was of the school of Democritus. Undoubtedly mangled over the centuries it nonetheless brilliantly summarizes a key part of the discussion:
“To consider the Earth as the only populated world in infinite space is as absurd as to assert that in an entire field of millet, only one grain will grow”
Mark my words, the 2020’s will be the decade of the aliens.
- Become an astrobiologist! (Or at least learn a lot about astrobiology) (blogs.discovermagazine.com)