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The Question

(Submitted March 28, 1997)

Is it possible that in the future we will live on another planet?

The Answer

It's hard to say whether in the future we will live on another planet. The Earth provides for us the right balance of necessary conditions so that we can live in reasonable comfort without artificial aid. Through advances in technology, we might certainly be able to create an environment in which we could live on almost any other planet (e.g. a space suit is a miniature of such an environment). But whether another planet out in space harbors conditions similar enough to earth that we would need little or no "artificial environment" is unknown. We might think that such another planet ought to exist, but it doesn't mean that it necessarily does.

The role of science is to take us from what we think **might** be true to what really is true and possible. In order for us to live on another planet, we must first find other planets (this is an active field of research that astronomers are now making great progress in), determine whether they are suitable for us, and then travel to them. All of these require significant advances in our knowledge and technology. This is not to say that it is beyond our capabilities, but rather to consider what would need to be done to do it.

It is a question worth pondering, and by thinking about it we can certainly learn many exciting things along the way.

I hope this helps,

Jim Lochner
for Imagine the Universe!

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