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DAVID TEICHER, Plymouth, Minn.
Positive stories generate generosity
It seems the news these days consists only of reports regarding the latest crime or devastating stories. It is finally nice to see an article about a caring person helping others in need (“Knitters mend social fabric with hats for the homeless,” Nov. 7). When acts of kindness circulate through the news, it inspires others to get up and help the people around them. They may not go as far as hand-knitting hats for the homeless; however, they still get motivated to give their time and efforts to improve the life of someone around them. Stories like this are what get people to challenge themselves to do something good and help the community.
BRYNNE DAVIS, Golden, Colo.
Earth visitations might face pretty long odds
The Nov. 7 Letter of the Day asked why, if planets like Earth are common, is it so far-fetched to believe that UFOs and aliens may be common occurrences on Earth? Let’s answer that with some numbers.
First, we don’t expect 40 billion Earthlike planets in the Milky Way. Twenty-two percent of sunlike stars (10 percent of the 300 billion in our galaxy) have an Earthlike planet, leaving 6.6 billion Earthlike planets. Let’s say maybe half have the right conditions for life. Assume maybe one in four will develop intelligent life before a life-ending event.
Note that of several intelligent species on Earth, only humans have developed sophisticated technology like rockets. Let’s say one in four survive longer than 100 years with both rockets and nukes. Four hundred million left. A sunlike star lives about 12 billion years before becoming inhospitable. Assume 4 billion years go by before anyone can develop rockets (we took that long). Let’s say a space-faring age lasts, oh, 1 million years. So: 50,000 civilizations currently exploring space in our galaxy.
Our galaxy is 100,000 light years wide. That means on average, the nearest civilization is 500 light years away. Even going 1,000 times faster than Voyager 1, the fastest spacecraft we’ve built, it would take 7,000 years to reach the nearest star, which is only four light years away. So the nearest civilization is 1 million years away.
And these were some very generous numbers. See the problem?
ADIV PARADISE, Minneapolis
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.