Astronomy: The Prevalence of Planets And the Probability of Life

Science fiction crawls with intelligent BEMs (bug-eyed monsters) and humanoids (manlike creatures) that live on planets revolving about distant stars. Most fact-fancying scientists are far more skeptical. Somewhere in the universe, they say, there may indeed be a scattering of planets with salubrious atmospheres and temperatures, and something like earthly life. But the planets are probably few, and the odds against finding or communicating with their far-out creatures, say the skeptics, are exceedingly high.

Caltech Geochemist Harrison Brown demurs. It is a good bet that populated planets are spotted throughout the universe,...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!