So there’s a potentially Earth-like planet orbiting Gliese 581, which is about twenty light-years from us.
The Rare Earth theory just took it in the pants big time. For scale: our galaxy is about a hundred thousand light years across, and it has billions of stars in it. And our Milky Way galaxy is just a backwater galaxy on the ass end of the observable universe, which has a few dozen billion galaxies in it. The article states that Gliese 581 is in our neighborhood, but that’s not quite accurate. On the galactic scale, it’s in our cosmic driveway, so to speak. If we already have an Earth-like planet orbiting in the Goldilocks zone of a star so close by, then the statistical chances for our little blue pebble being the only life-supporting planet in the universe are about as great as the statistical chances of Kate Beckinsale coming up our driveway in the next ten minutes, wearing her skin-tight Underworld leather outfit, piloting a Ferrari with the suitcase compartment full of $100 bills, and bearing a note from my wife saying “Have A Fun Vacation, Honey.”