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Last week, scientists announced the discovery of Kepler-186f, a planet 492 light years away in the Cygnus constellation. Kepler-186f is special because it marks the first planet almost exactly the same size as Earth orbiting in the “habitable zone,” the distance from a star in which we might expect liquid water—and perhaps life.

What did not make the news, however, is that this discovery also slightly increases how much credence we give to the possibility of our own near-term extinction. This is because of a concept known as the Great Filter.

The Great Filter is an argument that attempts to resolve the Fermi Paradox: why have we not found aliens (or why have they not found us), despite the existence of hundreds of billions of exosolar systems in our galactic neighborhood in which life might evolve? As the namesake physicist Enrico Fermi noted, it seems rather extraordinary that not a single extraterrestrial signal or engineering project has been detected (UFO conspiracy theorists notwithstanding).

This apparent absence of thriving extraterrestrial civilizations suggests that at least one of the steps from humble planet to interstellar civilization is exceedingly unlikely. The absence could be because intelligent life is extremely rare, or because intelligent life has a tendency to go extinct. This bottleneck for the emergence of alien civilizations from any one of those billions of planets is referred to as the Great Filter.

Complete nonsense. To read more, click here.