Nobel Prize Winner Says 'It's Completely Crazy' To Think Humans Will Relocate to the Planets He Discovered

On October 8, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz were awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for their 1995 discovery of an exoplanet. In the 24 years since the find, much research has been done on exoplanets with a press release from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences claiming over 4,000 have been discovered since 1995. But Mayor doubts the likelihood that humans will ever live on an exoplanet. When asked by Agence France-Presse, Mayor called the idea "completely crazy."

In his interview with AFP, Mayor shot down any notion of humans beginning to inhabit these planets, mainly due to the distance: "These planets are much, much too far away. Even in the very optimistic case of a livable planet that is not too far, say a few dozen light years, which is not a lot, it's in the neighborhood, the time to go there is considerable." He went onto say that he would like to "kill all the statements that say 'OK, we will go to a livable planet if one day life is not possible on Earth.'"

NASA research on exoplanets shows that most confirmed exoplanets are composed of gas or ice, but a few rocky planets may be able to support their own lifeforms.

Michel Mayor Physics Nobel
Michel Mayor, 77, was announced as a Nobel Prize Winner on October 8 for his work in discovering exoplanets. In an interview, he stated that humans will not migrate to planets outside of Earth's solar system. Javier Soriano/Getty

The 77-year-old physicist appeared optimistic about both long-term life on Earth and future discoveries of exoplanets. He stated, "We must take care of our planet, it is very beautiful and still absolutely livable." Not ruling out the possibility of life on planets outside of our solar systems, he stated, "The only way to [discover life on other planets] is to develop techniques that would allow us to detect life at a distance."

In a statement to Newsweek, Mayor's co-Nobel Prize winner, Didier Queloz concurred with his colleague. "He's right, we don't have the technology. Maybe in 1,000 years or 1 million years if we mature and we face our responsibilities as a species that currently modifies the Earth's surface and its atmosphere (terraforms) to the point that we put ourselves as well as the existence of all life on Earth in danger," the Swiss physicist wrote. "To imagine leaving the Earth to go elsewhere is irresponsible. It's time to stop dreaming and confront reality, and for our human society to carry our effort and act to ensure that a future exists and that maybe one day we will be able to journey among the stars."

In an interview with the Nobel Prize Organization, Mayor stated his belief that we are still at least a decade away from discovering life on exoplanets, but he did acknowledge that it has been a common curiosity among humans for the past two millennia: "Greek philosophers were discussing the plurality of worlds and the possibility to have some of them inhabited 2,000 years ago, so I believe we can wait 20 years more."