The famous wheelchair-bound quantum physicist Stephen Hawking says the survival of the human race depends on our ability to find new homes elsewhere in the universe, because of the increasing risk that a disaster will destroy the earth. Just in time, researchers have found a new way to find habitable planets that are close enough to get to (in galactic terms, anyway).

Christine L. Kluyk writes in that researchers have found galaxies are similar to our own Milky Way. Some of these are more than 13 billion light-years away (a light-year is the distance light can travel in a year?about 6 trillion miles?and while we are learning how to manipulate light speed, we can’t yet travel THAT fast). These would obviously take too long to reach, even if we traveled in generations or froze astronauts’ bodies on the journey.

But astronomers, like geologists, see time in really LONG terms, and they are trying to spot galaxies that seem to be evolving in the same way that ours did, since these may eventually harbor planetary systems that would be habitable for our progeny, in the far future.

Astronomer Christine Wilson is using huge telescopes in Hawaii to get “snapshots of galaxies at several different stages in their evolution. From this, we hope to get a better understanding of star formation and the gas physics involved.” It turns out the key is dust. The galaxies they think may contain viable solar systems contain about 100 times more gas than dust, similar to what is normally seen in mature galaxies like the Milky Way.

Scientists may be willing to wait for evolution to bring us improvement, but the rest of us aren’t that patient. Here at, we’ve always admired the brave people who go ahead and dare to do things, risking scorn and scandal. But we can’t wait forever for your support?we need you to subscribe today if we’re going to be able to continue our risk-taking tomorrow.

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