Nobel Prize-winning scientist says alien life to be found in 30 years

Humans will find alien life in the next 30 YEARS says the astronomer who won a Nobel Prize this week for finding hundreds of exoplanets

  • Swiss astronomer Didier Queloz, 52, is ‘convinced’ we are not alone in universe
  • The Cambridge University professor won a Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday
  • With Dr Michel Mayor he discovered the first planet outside of our solar system

A Nobel Prize winning ‘planet hunter’ who discovered the first planet outside of our solar system predicts humans will discover alien life in the next 30 years. 

Astronomer Didier Queloz, 52, from Switzerland, says he is ‘convinced’ that we are not alone in the universe. 

The Cambridge University professor won a Nobel Prize on Tuesday for his work as a ‘planet hunter’, having discovered hundreds of planets orbiting suns outside of our solar system.

Speaking after the win at the Science Media Centre in London he said: ‘I can’t believe we are the only living entity in the universe.

‘There are just way to many planets, way too many stars, and the chemistry is universal.

NOBEL PRIZE WINNERS DISCOVERED THE FIRST ORBITING PLANET OUTSIDE OUR SOLAR SYSTEM

Professor Michel Mayor and Professor Didier Queloz, both working in Switzerland, were awarded for discovering the first exoplanet orbiting a sun-like star other than our own in 1995.  

51 Pegasi b is a gaseous ball similar to Jupiter and was discovered by the professors at the Haute-Provence Observatory in southern France in 1995.

Since the discovery, over 4,000 exoplanets have since been found – 1,900 of which have been confirmed.   

Professor Queloz and Professor Mayor’s discovery is now regarded as a pivotal moment in astronomy that changed our understanding of our place in the universe. No planet other than those in our own solar system had ever been found before. 

‘The chemistry that led to life has to happen elsewhere.

‘So I am a strong believer that there must be life elsewhere.’

Adding: ‘Life doesn’t just mean a green man coming to you, life started way before animals were crawling on the surface of earth.’ 

He says he is certain that in one hundred years time aliens will be known to us but says that it is very ‘realistic’ that within 30 years scientists could develop a machine to allow us to detect aliens in distant solar systems.

Dr Queloz was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics along with his research partner Dr Michel Mayor, the Swiss duo discovered 51 Pegasi b at the University of Geneva in 1995. 

Theirs was the first confirmation of the existence of an exoplanet, which is one which orbits a star other than our Sun.

It is now regarded as a pivotal moment in astronomy because no planet other than those in our own solar system had ever been found before. 

Since the discovery, Professor Queloz has successfully developed the Doppler technique to be more precise, leading to the discovery of further 1,900 or so confirmed exoplanets. One 10th of those were discovered by Queloz himself. 

The other half of the award was given to James Peebles, from Princeton University, US, ‘for theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology’.   

Professor Michel Mayor (left) and Professor Didier Queloz worked together to discover the planet 51 Pegasi b in 1995, the first one to be discovered orbiting a star which isn’t the Milky Way’s sun

Prof Queloz said: ‘I do hope that this Nobel Prize will help give a further boost for this fascinating question when we think about life on another planet.’ 

He added that he was convinced of life on other planets and that scientists would not be searching for it, if they did not think it existed. 

The now Nobel Prize laureate missed the call from the committee informing him of his win

Both NASA and the European Space Agency are officially searching for life on other planets.

The now Nobel Prize laureate missed the call from the committee informing him of his win while busy in a meeting with colleagues – leaving it to a press officer from Cambridge to break the news to him.

Prof Queloz said: ‘This morning I was just a Cambridge professor working with colleagues, and then all of a sudden my life changed entirely.’

He added: ‘I was in a scientific meeting, absolutely focused by the scientific meeting. I know it is the week of Nobel Prize, but I didn’t pay attention.

‘To tell you the truth, people mentioned the Nobel Prize early on when we made the discovery 20 years ago, and after some time it has been said.

Dr Queloz stated that life on other planets ‘doesn’t just mean a green man coming to you’ and may be found in more basic forms that may help us to understand how life on earth started

‘In a way you get used to it, but also there are so many great discoveries elsewhere and so many programmes, so it tends to fade away from my mind, and I wasn’t expecting it all this morning.

‘I was not really in the mood, because I was in the mood for the scientific meeting.’

He laughed, saying he was in ‘shock’. 

Adding: ‘The morning started very badly, I got problems with my bike and yesterday I had a flat tyre. It is just amazing what is going on today.’ 

WHAT ARE THE KEY DISCOVERIES HUMANITY HAS MADE IN ITS SEARCH FOR ALIEN LIFE?

Discovery of pulsars

British astronomer Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell was the first person to discover a pulsar in 1967 when she spotted a radio pulsar.

Since then other types of pulsars that emit x-rays and gamma rays have also been spotted.

Pulsars are essentially rotating, highly magnatised neutron stars but when they were first discovered it was believed they could come from aliens.

‘Wow!’ radio signal

In 1977, an astronomer looking for alien life in the nigh sky above Ohio spotted a powerful radio signal so strong that he excitedly wrote ‘Wow!’ next to his data.

In 1977, an astronomer looking for alien life in the nigh sky above Ohio spotted a powerful radio signal so strong that he excitedly wrote ‘Wow!’ next to his data

The 72-second blast, spotted by Dr Jerry Ehman through a radio telescope, came from Sagittarius but matched no known celestial object.

Conspiracy theorists have since claimed that the ‘Wow! signal’, which was 30 times stronger than background radiation, was a message from intelligent extraterrestrials.

Fossilised martian microbes

In 1996 Nasa and the White House made the explosive announcement that the rock contained traces of Martian bugs.

The meteorite, catalogued as Allen Hills (ALH) 84001, crashed onto the frozen wastes of Antarctica 13,000 years ago and was recovered in 1984. 

Photographs were released showing elongated segmented objects that appeared strikingly lifelike.

Photographs were released showing elongated segmented objects that appeared strikingly lifelike (pictured)

However, the excitement did not last long. Other scientists questioned whether the meteorite samples were contaminated. 

They also argued that heat generated when the rock was blasted into space may have created mineral structures that could be mistaken for microfossils. 

Behaviour of Tabby’s Star in 2005 

The star, otherwise known as KIC 8462852, is located 1,400 light years away and has baffled astonomers since being discovered in 2015.

It dims at a much faster rate than other stars, which some experts have suggested is a sign of aliens harnessing the energy of a star.

The star, otherwise known as KIC 8462852, is located 1,400 light years away and has baffled astonomers since being discovered in 2015 (artist’s impression)

Recent studies have ‘eliminated the possibility of an alien megastructure’, and instead, suggests that a ring of dust could be causing the strange signals.

Exoplanets in the Goldilocks zone in 2015 

In February this year astronomers announced they had spotted a star system with planets that could support life just 39 light years away.

Seven Earth-like planets were discovered orbiting nearby dwarf star ‘Trappist-1’, and all of them could have water at their surface, one of the key components of life.

Three of the planets have such good conditions, that scientists say life may have already evolved on them. 

Researchers claim that they will know whether or not there is life on any of the planets within a decade, and said ‘this is just the beginning.’ 

 

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