Introduction to the 100th Anniversary Debate

This "Life in the Universe" debate in 2020 has a quite different format than the commemorated "Scale of the Universe" debate in 1920. Here, instead of just two debaters, several noted scientists are giving their "best guess" as to how ET life will first be discovered. One reason for this is because there are several possible ways that ET life may be discovered, not just two. A reason for holding this debate online is that most contributors are staying home just now because of the currently-raging worldwide pandemic of COVID-19 -- and this online format gives even people staying home a chance to contribute. To be clear, the COVID-19 pandemic is a developing tragedy, and we consider this debate to be but a momentary diversion.

Why "Life in the Universe"? We feel this topic, as with the 1920 debate, is momentous, dividing the astronomical community, and carries a good possibility of being resolved within the next decade -- or two. The resolution of the 1920 debate helped define humanity's place in the universe physically. It seems to us that the resolution of the 2020 debate will help define humanity's place in the universe biologically.

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