Elon Musk has made no secret of his desire for humans to become an interplanetary species. And he’s reiterated that desire after a study suggested there’s a decent chance we’re alone in the universe.
Last week a paper came out that suggested there is between a 39 and 85 percent chance we are alone in the observable universe. Researchers came to this conclusion by looking at various scientific uncertainties in the Drake Equation, which attempts to predict the number of intelligent civilizations out there.
And in a couple of tweets, Musk suggested the study highlighted our need to leave Earth and spread life where we can, as first reported by Business Insider.
“This is why we must preserve the light of consciousness by becoming a spacefaring civilization & extending life to other planets,” he said.
“It is unknown whether we are the only civilization currently alive in the observable universe, but any chance that we are is added impetus for extending life beyond Earth.”
Musk, of course, has stated this before. His company SpaceX is currently building a huge new rocket, called the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR), with the goal of setting up a human colony on Mars. Musk wants a million-strong colony by the end of the century.
If we are truly alone in the universe, then one could argue there’s a greater need to preserve life on Earth, be that on the planet itself or elsewhere. Plenty of experts have argued that humanity needs to leave Earth, including the late Stephen Hawking.
“We are running out of space, and the only place we can go to are other worlds,” he said at the Starmus festival in Norway in 2017, noted Inverse. “It is time to explore other solar systems. Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves. I am convinced that humans need to leave Earth.”
It’s not all bad news though. Anders Sandberg, the lead author on the probability of life paper, told New Scientist that scientists are still quite optimistic there is life out there. We still can’t answer the Fermi Paradox, which asks why we can’t see any life if it's so abundant, but the odds aren’t completely against us.
“If you want to argue there is certainly intelligent life, you need to argue some of these parameters are in a narrow range, which is a bold claim,” he said. “But claiming that we are alone also takes a bold claim, as you have to cut off optimistic part[s] of that range.”
But while the jury might be out on the chance of alien life, Musk seems pretty adamant. In order to survive or thrive, we need to start exploring other worlds. Better get to it, then.
[H/T: Business Insider]