“In fact, bizarre and extreme conditions are emerging as the norm for the 500 or so extrasolar planets found so far – and that finding is forcing some astronomers to rethink all their assumptions about the likelihood of ever finding alien life. “The new information we are getting suggests we could effectively be alone in the universe. There are very few solar systems or planets like ours,” said Howard Smith, a senior astrophysicist at Harvard University. “It means it is highly unlikely there are any planets with intelligent life close enough for us to make contact.””

– “Sorry, Earth, we don’t exist”, Sunday Times, 23/1 2011