Another Earth

Kepler 22b.    That is the name of it.   The discovery was just announced the other day by the NASA Kepler team.   It is the first confirmed discovery of another Earth.   A second Earth.  Really a “Super Earth”, it is 2.4 times the radius of our planet.   Orbiting a star 600 light years away from us with a period of about 290 days.   The average surface temperature is about 72 degrees F.   It lies in what is called the Goldilocks Zone (the Habitable Zone, where liquid water can exist, where conditions are mild and favorable for life).

And this is just the beginning.   We are just on the very edge of being able to detect rocky worlds.   Other Earths.   The odds are that there are thousands, if not millions, of them in our Galaxy alone.   As I said before, in this respect, Star Trek got it right.   I believe in the next decade, we will discover many more Earths, more rocky worlds in the habitable zones of their parent stars.   More Venuses.   More Mars-like worlds.   Our technology is on the verge.  The techniques have been carefully refined over the past decade.   We are on the cusp.

Kepler has hauled 2,326 potential planets in its first 16 months.   If confirmed, they will quadruple the already known and confirmed 700 planets in the Exoplanet catalog.   And we have just scratched the surface.  This Galaxy must be buzzing with worlds.   Swarms of  hot Jupiters.   Neptunes.   Earths.   And what does that mean for life?   It happened here.   Was it just an accident of Nature?    The elements and atoms that compose the Universe are everywhere the same.   The forces that govern physics operate identically all over the Universe.   Newton’s laws.   Kepler’s laws of planetary motion.  Einstein’s Relativity.   All hold everywhere the same.   Why not?   Why not life on other worlds?   If my conjecture is correct, and we will find many thousands more Earths in the Milky Way, the odds are high, it seems to me, that life exists out there in our Galaxy.

And what of the rest of the Universe?   There are a hundred billion galaxies in the known Universe.   If each galaxy contains several millions of worlds around its billions of stars, then you must multiply that by a hundred billion.    Perhaps i’m an optimist, although by the statistics I would say I’m a realist, but I feel that this Universe must be positively teeming with life.    We have only just begun to look.    We have only just looked up and glanced around and, stunned and startled, but curious just the same, noticed the worlds beyond our shores.   Other Earths.

Stay tuned….


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