|Photo courtesy of NASA|
And that doesn't include the red dwarf stars the Kepler Space Telescope discovered have planets as well. Those cooler, dimmer stars burn longer, are far more abundant in the galaxy, and have the potential for many more earths with longer lives than ours. Imagine what sort of complex life could develop on such worlds over the additional billions of years available to them.
For any sci-fi geek, this is the sort of announcement you live for. And living in the new golden age of astronomy, they just keep coming. Now, excuse me for a moment while I get petty here. I'm taking a deep breath and I just have to say it:
HA! Take that old fogey science guys from when I was growing up! Dashing my sci-fi fueled hopes that there is abundant life out in the galaxy with your dried up predictions that there are NO other worlds outside of our solar system. I'm so glad you were WRONG!!!
There, I feel better.
To add fuel to the fire, NASA is working on warp drive. Yes, that's right, warp drive. It's being discussed and explored by NASA's Breakthrough Propulsion Physics program. I saw some articles on this popping up this year ... and frankly I didn't believe it. That was just too good to be true, but here's a link from NASA (very carefully worded and tamping down any expectations, but it's here): http://www.nasa.gov/centers/glenn/technology/warp/warpstat.html
The convergence of these two stories is just too good! Oh yes, and the closest potential system with an earth-like world is a mere twelve light years away.
Could we work a little faster on that warp drive, NASA? We've got places to boldly go!