The black hole from "Interstellar"
. . .

As if fulfilling a prophesy from Interstellar, NASA research announced the discovery of eight new planets which may exist in the habitable,”Goldilocks”, zone — thanks to the Kepler telescope. These follow the exciting discoveries from a few years ago when some of the first potentially habitable planets were discovered. Of the eight new planets, two show the most promise: Kepler-438b and Kepler-442b. Currently these have the best chance of earth-like geological composition, water retention, and sunlight exposure.

To be in the habitable zone, an exoplanet must receive about as much sunlight as Earth. Too much, and any water would boil away as steam. Too little, and water will freeze solid.” —Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Privileged planet, picky planet — whatever — for some reason we are determined to find alternatives to earth. This may be because we’re worried that the earth will become inhabitable; perhaps due to global warming (et al.), or because we think that if aliens existed they’d probably need an environment similar to ours. After all, if the universe is uncaused and uncreated, it would make sense that we would find more than one habitable planet or at least some extraterrestrial life. Maybe our telescopes are just looking for meaning.

Unfortunately, there’s no real way to verify the data we’re receiving because, “As with many Kepler discoveries, the newly found planets are distant enough to make additional observations challenging.” But how far is that exactly? “Kepler-438b is located 470 light-years from Earth while the more distant Kepler-442b is 1,100 light-years away.”

So unless you’re like Christopher Nolan and believe in the seven dimensional wormhole gods, there really isn’t very much we can do about the apocalypse or alien life at the moment. So we hold fast to our faith in Goldilocks and hope that science will — because it must! — provide for our salvation before the end is truly neigh.

But doesn’t it make for a neat-o movie?

  • What does an alternative to earth mean to you?
  • Do you believe this kind of scientific exploration is useful?
  • What does our curious search of the universe say about our humanity?