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Two hundred of the world's experts in the search for life beyond our solar system are meeting this week to probe the great unanswered question of the 21st Century: Are we alone in the universe? Motivated by the rapidly increasing number of known Earth-sized planets, the increasing range of extreme conditions in which life on Earth can persist, and the progress toward a technology that will ultimately enable the search for life on exoplanets, the Vatican Observatory and the Steward Observatory are holding a major conference this week entitled The Search for Life Beyond the Solar System: Exoplanets, Biosignatures & Instruments.

The goal of the conference called "The Search for Life Beyond the Solar System: Exoplanets, Biosignature & Instruments," which runs from March 16 through 21 in Tucson, Ariz. is to bring together the interdisciplinary community required to address this multi-faceted challenge: experts on exoplanet observations, early and extreme life on Earth, atmospheric biosignatures, and planet-finding telescopes.

Astrobiologists attending the conference include John Baross (U. Washington), Natalie Batalha (NASA Ames), Phil Hinz (UA), Markus Kasper (ESO), Lynn Rothschild (NASA Ames), Lisa Kaltenegger (MPIA, CfA), Peter Lawson (NASA JPL), Sara Seager (MIT), and Jill Tarter (SETI)

"Finding life beyond Earth is one of the great challenges of modern science and we are excited to have the world leaders in this field together in Tucson," said event co-chair Daniel Apai, assistant professor of astronomy and planetary sciences at the UA Steward Observatory, in a statement. "But reaching such an ambitious goal takes planning and time. The goal of this meeting is to discuss how we can find life among the stars within the next two decades."

José Gabriel Funes, an Argentine Jesuit priest and astronomer, and the current director of the Vatican Observatory says there is no conflict between believing in God and in the possibility of extraterrestrial civilizations perhaps more evolved than humans.

"In my opinion this possibility exists," said the Reverend José Gabriel Funes, current director of the Vatican Observatory and a scientific adviser to Pope Benedict XVI, referring to life on other planets.

"How can we exclude that life has developed elsewhere," he said in an interview with the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano. The large number of galaxies with their own planets makes this possible, he noted.

Asked if he was referring to beings similar to humans or even more evolved than humans, he said: "Certainly, in a universe this big you can't exclude this hypothesis."

"Just as there is a multiplicity of creatures on earth, there can be other beings, even intelligent, created by God. This is not in contrast with our faith because we can't put limits on God's creative freedom. Why can't we speak of a 'brother extraterrestrial'? It would still be part of creation."

Funes, who runs the observatory that is based south of Rome and in Arizona, held out the possibility that the human race might actually be the "lost sheep" of the universe. There could be other beings "who remained in full friendship with their creator," he said.

Funes commentary is a giant step away from the historical record that includes the Inquisition, which condemned Galileo in the 17th century for insisting that the Earth revolved around the Sun. The Roman Catholic Church did not rehabilitate him until 1992.

Funes said he believed as an astronomer that the most likely explanation for the start of the universe was "the big bang," the theory that it sprang into existence from dense matter billions of years ago. But he said this was not in conflict with faith in God as creator. "God is the creator," he said. "There is a sense to creation. We are not children of an accident."

He added: "As an astronomer, I continue to believe that God is the creator of the universe and that we are not the product of something casual but children of a good father who has a project of love in mind for us."

NASA's Astrobiology Institute will broadcast a live feed of the sessions. You can learn more via the conference website: http://www.ebi2014.org/ http://www.ebi2014.org/

The Daily Galaxy via http://www.ebi2014.org/


What if we have found another planet that has civilization that's more backward than ours, priest?

So the Chinese can enslave the aliens and rob their natural resources like they are doing in Africa? Just lovely.

you cannot detect a civilisation "younger" than ours because they wouldn't have invented radio transmissions yet. The only thing about them is that you can detect a habitable planet and imagine it could be already intelligent life on it. The only thing that we need is to try and establish a permanent base on the Moon and/or than Mars. Discovering life at >5 LY is no use .

There are no aliens.

I'm so happy this is finally happening in my generation and can be part of this historical event, and yes extraterrestrial aliens do exist.. XD ♡♥

“Are we alone in the Universe?” – An age-old question. With Science-knowledge inflated, its import of magnitude has expanded. WHAT - or Whom - could have been responsible for creation of celestial Night? Its time melded formulation, matter fused life-generation.

How can we “find life among the stars within the next two decades." – May simpleton posit, that we may be the offspring of LIFE from beyond the stars. And that the “biosignature” of that Extraterrestrial Life is written all over our Planet: Author's living script, animated with "breath of life".

– “Reverend José Gabriel Funes”, Vatican Observatory director, science adviser to Popes: “How can we exclude that life has developed elsewhere,” in Universe of planet-filled galaxies. He makes a case, when he suggests possibility of extrasolar life, in context of endless worlds. But does life NOW exist, above air-vault of Earth's sky?

"Certainly, in a universe this big you can't exclude [“evolved” life] hypothesis". – Key words: evolution (implied), and “hypothesis”. What if it's a Universe by Special Creation? Then it MUST have integral purpose: Filament-tied Super-Clusters to galaxy star-fields – and their circling PLANETS. Some colossal objective inherent in dynamic EXPANSION of space. IF the Cosmos is Work of Intelligent Plan, then conception flashed for Vision immense! – a “project of love in mind for us”.

Encyclopedia of worlds: Yet, apart from Earth, not one entry for life?

– "Just as there is a multiplicity of creatures on earth, there can be other beings, even intelligent, created by God. This is not in contrast with our faith because we can't put limits on God's creative freedom.” – World around, Earth is a showcase-wonder of biodiversity, imagination unbound.

“Why can't we speak of a 'brother extraterrestrial'? It would still be part of creation." – Intelligent MATERIAL beings other than mortal man? As for non-physical conscious entities “in full friendship with their creator,"...

– Regarding why questions: WHY numberless worlds, if Earth is only life planet? The answer to that, gigantic Universe in whole new light recast. Astrobiologists may be looking in the wrong direction of space, while out of sync in dimension of time.

“There is a sense to creation. We are not children of an accident." – And, we all know, children need room to grow. Once mature – they leave home!

You lunatics are in denial, they are already here. have a nice day.

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