The history of science shows us that our place in the Universe is not as unique as we might think. From the lessons of the Copernican revolution that the Earth is not the center of the Universe, to the discovery in the early 20th century that our Milky Way is just one of many galaxies, science has discovered that the Universe doesn’t revolve around us. We live on a planet that is probably fairly average in size, orbiting a fairly average star, in the outskirts of a fairly average galaxy. Should we infer that the evolution of intelligent life is similarly unexceptional, or does the Anthropic Principle imply that we are starting from a biased position as intelligent observers and that life is perhaps very rare? Either way, for the first time in our evolutionary history, we may be close to an answer.
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