The belief in a “plurality of worlds” dates back to the time of Copernicus. Copernicus wasn’t revolutionary—he agreed with the Aristotelian model of the universe wherein all the stars were thought to be affixed to an outer sphere surrounding Earth with the sun at the center. The person who first suggested that stars are suns, those suns have planets and their planets have inhabitants was the Italian philosopher Giordano Bruno, whose views got him was burned at the stake in 1600.
Benjamin Franklin was a firm believer both in other worlds and in the superiority of their inhabitants to humankind. In Poor Richard’s Almanac for September 1749, he wrote, “It is the opinion of all the modern philosophers and mathematicians that the planets are habitable worlds.” Many of our nation’s other revolutionary thinkers were interested in the idea of extra solar worlds, including Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Thomas Paine.
The Library’s Science, Technology and Business Division has put together a Science Tracer Bullet on extraterrestrial life. Listed are resources that can be found in the Library itself and at public libraries, along with additional sources of information such as web sites and organizations in the field of study. The Library’s Science Tracer Bullet Series contains research guides that help researchers locate information on science and technology subjects, offering brief introductions to the topics, lists of resources and strategies for finding more.