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Xeni Jardin at 2:08 pm Wed, Jan 11, 2012
“…including planets that mirror Star Wars Luke Skywalker’s home planet with twin suns.”
Nearby, they discovered what looked like the debris of a planet that had recently been destroyed, and what they at first thought was a moon.
re: exciting potpourri. Does Not Compute.
Awesome news about all the unreachable places! Lets go!
Should be http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2012/01/11/science/AP-US-SCI-Plentiful-Planets.html?smid=tw-nytimes&seid=auto
There was some crufty stuff in the beginning of the link. This is the crucial bit:
On one hand, this is really cool news.
On the other . . . having read SF since forever, I inevitably get a “well, YEAH, of course there are planets all over” feeling.
But of course, the actual picture is turning out to be weirder and more diverse than most SF authors imagined. A few authors, like Hal Clement, should be getting more respect.
This makes sense because, generally, small objects outnumber large objects. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same scaling laws apply all the way from galaxy clusters right down to grains of dust.
Gaaaaaaaaaaaa!!! What an incredibly exciting time to be alive.
“Worlds without end, worlds without end….”
It’s hard to wrap my head around how recently Hubble showed that there was more than one galaxy… that we had the slightest real sense of the age of the universe, or even the idea that it’s larger than it is old. To be alive at that moment in history, when consciousness first absorbs that perspective, is a staggering privilege. Time to take another stroll through the Hubble Deep Field thinking about that.
Oh please do NOT even get me started on the Deep Field images. Thousands of galaxies heaped upon one another!? In one tiny little patch of the night sky!?? One very sobering fact that crossed my view recently…the thought that even if we were to eventually become a civilization that was able to span the entire Milky Way….all of those other galaxies would remain forever out of our reach.
It’s just galaxies all the way down. Or Up. Or that away..or this away….
I gotta go lie down.
Sky Survey gigantic zoom… something like 5,000 megapixels:
Deep Field zoomable:
Ultra Deep Field zoomable:
Musical accompaniment by Eric Idle:
Welcome to the Total Perspective Vortex. Version 0.27
Go, then. There are other worlds than these.
All of these worlds are yours save Europa. Attempt no landing there.
The Drake equation and Fermi’s enigma are swinging wildly… I think we’ll find microbial life elsewhere nearby soon, really throwing the variables toward the crowded side.
In any event, a more glorious dawn awaits.
I think we’ll find microbial life elsewhere nearby soon
How do you expect that at happen? Do you expect us to find microbes in trenches dug on Mars, or the signature of microbe like objects in spectra from other stars? I suppose a direct sample by cassini at Enceladus is possible to.
I hope you are right, but we have been disappointed before.
I think we’ve already found it, just not confirmed. The seasonal site-specific methane concentrations on Mars look promising to me, so I’m hoping the probe just launched in November will get lucky enough to sample chemistry that falls within its ability to analyze.
Your Cassini note has several good possibilities for finding suggestive spectra in those geyserish eruptions that are creating Saturn’s outer rings, almost like the chapter in 2010 when they got a chlorophyll return in a probe flyover of Europa. Would even very interesting chemistry be convincing enough to say “yep, that’s it”?
After Viking and the ALH84001 Mars meteorite fanfare I bet scientists are extremely gunshy about insisting results must be interpreted as proving life… but it’s interesting that in both those cases many of the non-life explanations for the results have been eliminated and the results are getting reexamined.
There are so many different possibilities, which do you think most promising in the short run?
Chlorphyll on Europa is a bit weird. We spent so much time talking up the possibility of life deep in the ocean that surface life seems a strange idea. Radiation should make the surface sterile.
My main doubt is that the life we know of is obvious. The spectrum of the earth advertises our presence. But life elsewhere is so far not obvious. This is strange to me because life evolves to fill the available niches. So life away from Earth must be struggling along in small environments.
Time will tell. I think its pretty clear that there is nothing like us within a few hundred light years, at least. Maybe thats good for us in a way.
I was more thinking that byproducts of chemosynthetic vent life might be present in the matter being blown out in those eruptions, or just mixed in with the slush in the stress fractures on the surface of Titan.
I’m not so optimistic as to expect we’ll find anything more complex than, say, algae in the neighborhood. But what a rush to consider the implications of even that… the galaxy would have to be teeming.
That’s no moon…..
It’s a space station.
Now all we need to do is figure out how to travel faster than light. They say we cant because as we get closer to the speed of light, the ship’s mass would increase to infinity….thereby needing an infinite amount our fuel to make it go faster…but wouldn’t the fuel onboard also gain mass? thereby increasing the amount of energy (E=MC2) at the same rate as the ship’s mass? C’mon NASA get crackin!
Hit relativistic velocities? No. That’s physically impossible. However I’m sure we can sidestep the problem by being clever enough.