Spoiler Alert (Kepler)!

This is a slide from some scientist's presentation back in July - it raised quite a storm in the community since it's pretty obvious this guy (lost his name) is revealing data from the Kepler Observatory that the Kepler Team themselves are not yet prepared to release - probably in the name of good science.

However, if true - and I strongly believe it is - this is groundbreaking data. Hitherto, every planet we have discovered around other stars has been 1. Huge and 2. very close to its Star. The chart above shows that in fact, it is the small, rocky worlds like Earth that make up the majority of planets around stars.

Which of course leads to the next conclusion (theoretical), which is that these rocky planets are the only known location for life so far, so this greatly increases the chances for life around other stars as well.

I suspect it might be another year or so before the Kepler Team confirms these numbers (owing to the fact they'll want to observe a planet going around another star more than once before concluding it is there, and these orbits can take over a year - or much longer). But, I'm already accepting this data as a given.

Carl Sagan went through this bit in his book "Pale Blue Dot" where throughout human history, science - Astronomy - has been downgrading the importance of humanity, and this is one of the reasons science finds enemies in Churches, and in some States. Essentially, the old idea of the Earth as the center of the Crystaline Spheres has been relentlessly attacked by new ideas since the middle ages - Copernicus landing the first major blow, then Kepler, then Galileo, then Newton, and so on. Each has relegated the Earth to a less and less central place in the heavens, because it's true. 

Finding that earth like planets are a dime a dozen is the next step down, and the final step will be discovering that life blooms wherever it can gain a foothold.

I find these facts exhilarating. The Holy Rollers and God Botherers find it blasphemous. Pretty much sums up much of modern life in America, actually. 


veralynn said...

shit, they will go nuts when science can prove this. if they think Americans are 'exceptional', wait til they get a look at the lifeforms that must be out always give me a new way to see things, thank you

Redshirt said...

Alas, I suspect it won't matter. I once thought finding life on another world might be the end of Christian religion - since, how could the Adam and Eve story cover it?

But I've come to realize these folks can accept and/or justify anything. Anything they're told to.

So, I suspect even if/when we find microbes on Mars, Enceladus, Titan, Europa, some random asteroid, etc, the Fundies will go marching right along, same as always. Why let new facts get in the way?

By the by, are you a follower of the blog, veralynn? If not, please do join up, in the lower right corner. I'd be most obliged.

veralynn said...

I am following....but it's up at the left top of the page....I am confused.

veralynn said...

and a girl can dream that one day, short of the rapture, they will come to their senses.

Redshirt said...

I don't know what's going on then - much like everyone else on this planet!