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A team of astronomers have announced that they reckon the Milky Way contains billions of planets like the earth which could support alien life.  I am fascinated by this sort of thing and lap up the infinite number of documentaries investigating astronomy and cosmology.  And that is why I find this announcement strangely depressing. 

Proxima Centauri is 25 trillion miles away.  That is our nearest star! Its light takes over four years to reach us. 

So the chances that I will ever live to find out much more about any of these other 'earths', let alone get to know any of the inhabitants (even if just by email) is tiny.  Indeed the chance humanity will exist long enough to make landfall or contact has got to be pretty small. Butting up against the limits of our knowledge and experience of our own existence so starkly is frustrating.  Someone better get a move on and discover one of those Star Trek wormholes through space and time asap.


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