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Aliens have been in the news this year. In April, cosmic oracle Stephen Hawking, the legendary theoretical physicist, proclaimed that extraterrestrial life is almost certain to exist. He also mentioned, by the way, that we should stay as far away from aliens as possible, since they're probably scavenging the universe for resources after destroying their own homes.

Then, in August, two separate teams of astronomers discovered that distant solar systems had as many as 10 planets, one of which may be capable of hosting life because of its near-Earth size. That brings the total count of confirmed planets outside our solar system to more than 400.

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