We think we live in the age most obsessed with the discovery alien life. In fact we missed that time by several hundred years. In the 1700s, astronomers thought life existed everywhere - including the sun.
Two-hundred-and-thirty-two years ago a mistake was made. The question is, do we have to keep living with it forever, or is it finally time to rename Uranus?
Today, we have rovers busily studying the surface of Mars, but 100 years ago, it wasn't uncommon for people to believe that intelligent Martians occupied the Red Planet, and 100 years before that, visions of Moon dwellers danced in many people's heads. Where did these ideas of nearby intelligent extraterrestrials come…
William Herschel's greatest triumph was discovering a new planet — Uranus. His greatest folly was as egregious as his scientific triumph was great. But it was a beautiful folly, and so let's pay tribute to the cultured lunar civilization he was sure he had discovered.
By the 1700s, there could no longer be any doubt. Earth was just one of many worlds orbiting the Sun, which forced scientists and theologians alike to ponder a tricky question. Would God really have bothered to create empty worlds?