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Earth 2.0? Billions Of Reasons Why It’s Possible

Forty billion planets like ours are out there. Like Earth. We’ll look at the latest news from space.

This artist's rendition provided by NASA shows Kepler-69c, a super-Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of a star like our sun, located about 2,700 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. Astronomers using NASA data calculate that in our galaxy alone there are at least 8.8 billion Earth-sized planets that are not too hot or not too cold circle stars that are just like our sun, according to a study published Monday, Nov. 4, 2013 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

This artist’s rendition provided by NASA shows Kepler-69c, a super-Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of a star like our sun, located about 2,700 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. Astronomers using NASA data calculate that in our galaxy alone there are at least 8.8 billion Earth-sized planets that are not too hot or not too cold circle stars that are just like our sun, according to a study published Monday, Nov. 4, 2013 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

The news from space this week gets our attention:  There may be 40 billion Earth-like planets in our Milky Way galaxy.  Planets like Earth “relatively common,” say the researchers.    In the “Goldilocks” zone.  Not too hot, not too cold.  Forty billion chances for life to get started and evolve on Earth-like planets around Sun-like stars.  Wow.  Earth 2.0.  And we thought we were special.  Well, around here we are.  The closest near-Earth – 12 light years away.  And yet, just the idea of a single twin or sibling out there is amazing.  Up next On Point:  Maybe we are not alone.  Contemplating Earth 2.0.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Erik Petigura, doctoral candidate in astrophysics at the University of California, Berkeley. Lead author of a three-year study on Earth-size planets orbiting Sun-like stars, recently published in the National Academy of Science’s Proceedings journal.

Sara Seager, astrophysicist and planetary scientist, professor of planetary science and physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Author of “Exoplanets” and “Exoplanet Atmospheres: Physical Processes.” (@ProfSaraSeager)

David Kipping, exomoonologist, exoplanetologist, astronomer and Carl Sagan Fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. (@david_kipping)

Tariq Malik, managing editor for Space.com. (@tariqjmalik)

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: Far-Off Planets Like the Earth Dot the Galaxy — “One out of every five sunlike stars in the galaxy has a planet the size of Earth circling it in the Goldilocks zone — not too hot, not too cold — where surface temperatures should be compatible with liquid water, according to a herculean three-year calculation based on data from the Kepler spacecraft by Erik Petigura, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley.”

USA Today: Earthshaking news: There may be other planets like ours — “In all, about 8.8 billion stars in our galaxy have planets that are nearly the size of Earth and also have a surface temperature conducive to the development of life. But many more stars (those not similar to our sun) also have planets where life could form, which is where the 40 billion-planet figure comes from.”

SPACE.com: Liftoff! India’s First Mars Probe Launches Toward the Red Planet – “With a thunderous roar, India’s Mars Orbiter Mission rocketed into space at 4:08 a.m. EST (0908 GMT) from the Indian Space Research Organisation’s Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, where the local time will be 2:38 p.m. in the afternoon. An ISRO Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle launched the probe on its 300-day trek into orbit around the Red Planet.”

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  • Al

    This is tangentially related to the topic, because it obviously brings in the question of life and the SETI. So, if we (at our current state of “barely interstellar” technology, if you count Voyager) can detect transiting planets and spectroscopically analyze their atmospheres, should we assume any life around stars that could see our transit shadow would already “know” we’re here?

    And, I know it’s not up to your guests, but can we please start looking for planets in our shadow? (And maybe sending some pulses of light out in our shadow would be certain to get us some attention, no? Maybe ways of manipulating our shadow.)

    • Wm_James_from_Missouri

      Personally, I hope there isn’t “anyone” out there. It’s more for the rest of us ! Imagine, everything: FREE !

      • geraldfnord

        Charles Stross, a notable science fiction writer, upset a lot of people with this:

        http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2007/06/the-high-frontier-redux.html

        All the arguments I could see talked a lot about ‘the human spirit’ and such, but no-one credibly challenged his assumptions and maths.

        • Wm_James_from_Missouri

          Good article but note: If you start with negative assumptions you are sure to get negative results.

  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    Good news and bad news.

    Bad news:

    One has to wonder how many rogue planets are on a trajectory to intercept Earth. A large planet wouldn’t have to hit us just disturb our orbit. Of course a single particle of sufficient size, moving at near light speed, would turn the entire planet into a blazing inferno, without warning.

    Good news:

    Computers continue to push their way toward, ‘living the AI dream’. Sufficiently smart and sufficiently small, AI enhanced machines will allow humans to visit planets, ‘virtually’. Just launch these extremely small machines, at extreme velocities, by the millions. Let them land on objects, transmit their human-like sensor data, at the speed of light back to Earth, then feed that data into human brain implants. We could all visit ‘everywhere’ with out going anywhere !

    • AC

      this would be fun for those of us that won’t live to see the next 200 years….

    • thequietkid10

      That’s actually a really cool idea. I believe that with the increasing wealth gap and increasing computerization we will eventually end up with a Matrix style virtual reality system.

      • geraldfnord

        Yup…with anything like current tech., we can’t long support a planet that all want to live like Americans…in meatspace.

    • Expanded_Consciousness

      If something is 100 light years away, then it will take that data 100 years to get here. So, while data could be received, no conversation is gonna happen.

      • Expanded_Consciousness

        So, the data wouldn’t be interactive, virtual-reality. Just a movie.

        • Wm_James_from_Missouri

          A movie with sensory experiences, added.

      • Keepinitreal50

        Think of it as “conversation” with 100 year pauses between sentences.

        • Bob S.

          with these assumptions, it would be two hundred year pauses. In addition, if we are sending something there, it won’t average the speed of light — to get even close for a small mass would take an enormous amount of energy both for the acceleration and the deceleration. so you are really thinking about starting the conversation in 400+ years.

          • Keepinitreal50

            True enough. If the universe is 13.8 billion years old, plenty of time to compose a response. No rush.

      • Wm_James_from_Missouri

        Yes but I am assuming that people will be living extremely long lives.

  • AC

    Migration is always an excellent way to control population imbalance problems (better than famine, war or disease anyway)…
    To even begin thinking about traveling to ‘other’ planets like Kepler 22b, the infrastructure will need to be in place – which means materials and energy for it to happen need to be acquired that do not take away from limited resources on this planet:
    http://news.discovery.com/space/asteroids-meteors-meteorites/could-asteroid-mining-drive-21st-century-space-industry-130204.htm
    in the mean while, i grow impatient. I’m hoping in my lifetime. At least to witness the beginning…

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Im sorry but i’m trapped in a gravity well with politicians arguing about cutting foodstamps and going to war over energy. Does anyone have any idea how much fuel it takes to lift a pound of stuff off of this planet?

    Before we start talking about going outside of this solar system, we not only have to create a nearly free energy source and propulsion system that takes advantage of physics that we don’t even understand yet, an even greater hurdle has to be surmounted: we need an economic system that meets the needs of humanity before our society collapses into anarchy under the weight of its own greed and corruption making interstellar space exploration more of a dream than it is now.

  • Ray in VT

    I remember when the first announcement was made regarding the discovery of a planet outside of our solar system. It seemed like a pretty huge deal at the time (and I think that rightly it was). Now such discoveries don’t even make the news much due to their frequency. I think that it says a lot about how far we have come in this area, but we’re a long way off from Star Trek and warp drive.

  • Coastghost

    Oooh and ahhh! Billions and billions of earth-like planets, right here in the Milky Way! SO convenient! Why, it would take us only centuries or millennia to reach one of them!
    Wake me up once inter-galactic travel has become routine.

  • Shag_Wevera

    The transformation of space endeavors from public to privately funded will have consequences as we go forward. It will no longer be a great step for mankind, but a great quarter for Startech LLC or Spacemax Global corp. The returns won’t be for all of us, but for about one percent of us.

  • Coastghost

    OR: how novel would it be to arrive at some far-flung exoplanet, just in time to hoist the flag and witness the descent of a planet-killing asteroid! (Timing is everything, even in space exploration.)

  • Roy-in-Boise

    Even cavemen dreamed of flight … The collective consciousness of Man has a long way to evolve before slipping the surly bonds of the star we call our Sun.

    • northeaster17

      I perfer the loving embrace of our sun. But whatever

  • Ed75

    An exciting idea. The Vatican has only said ‘we don’t have to worry about it’. Which suggests one of two things: either there is no other sentient life, or (since they are not part of the human race and not subject to our original sin) they are not malicious. We’ll see.
    Erasmus discussed this in the 1530s: ‘If there are other civilizations, we are one of the ones where God took on our nature’.
    In either case, God is the God of life. If God wills that they be there, they are there, if not, they are not there. Along with the concept of dark matter and dark energy, indicating that the blank space is not emptiness, a very exciting time.

    • J__o__h__n

      The same Vatican that insisted the sun revolved around the Earth? Why would the Human race be the only sentient beings that god bestowed the gift of original sin upon? Many animals and germs are not consciously malicious but that does not make them harmless.

      • Ed75

        I assume you’re talking about the Galileo case – you’re expressing the common view, which, from what I’ve read (‘Galileo’s Mistake’, ‘Galileo Heretic’, etc.) seems incorrect.
        Pope Urban was quite a good amateur mathematician, and scientists now think he was correct in his conflict with his friend Galileo: Copernicus’ idea and Galileo’s was a hypothesis. It gave a more elegant view by removing the need for a secant in the Ptolemaic system, a hypothesis which turned out now to be true. But at the time they didn’t have the scientific means to prove it. So Urban asked Galileo (a Catholic, but headstrong) to teach it as a hypothesis, and he refused.
        The Cardinals feted Galileo when he came to Rome, he was a great celebrity. And the Cardinals went out and bought telescopes so they could see what he was seeing. Galileo’s argument wasn’t with the Church, but with Aristotle’s Physics, which was the prevailing view since the time Aristotle was translated in the West from Arab sources.

      • Ed75

        About Original Sin, God tested the angels, and he tested man, and we failed. So we all inherit the effects of Original Sin, and need redemption. If there is another race out there, they would probably have been tested also, and they might not have failed. (And it’s true – they could find a life form, an algae or something, which would kill us on earth, even though it’s not sentient.)

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    What percentage of these earth-like planets are within the reach of magnetars, pulsars and other life eradicating forms of stars?

  • Expanded_Consciousness

    Everything is so spread out in the universe, it just doesn’t matter how many Earth-sized plants there are. You ain’t never getting to any of them. Keep these fantasies in science fiction.

    • the anti-Emily

      As a science fiction fan and occasional creator, I now regard science fiction as fantasy. It’s all perpetual motion machines, immortality, exotic sexual partners, and other human fantasies.

      • Ray in VT

        I have heard some decry the lack of what might be called true science fiction in favor of what you describe. I think that there is a good amount of what you describe out there in the genre presently. I think that one of the very interesting things about what one might call classic science fiction is how a number of the things described have come to pass in one way or another. I’ll always found the genre interesting for how it has sometimes dealt with the human condition under the guise of a often not taken seriously medium.

      • fun bobby

        we have most of the things from star trek. I bet you have a communicator and tricorder in one in your pocket right now. I bet you could even teach cerie to respond to just being called “computer”. you take those automated doors at the supermarket for granted but that was once science fiction

        • the anti-Emily

          Yes, we’ve picked the low hanging fruit, certainly something to warrant applause. What would really be impressive if we managed to keep our Iphones after we face the double whammy of fossil fuel depletion and climate change.

          • fun bobby

            you have an Iphone? we have reached a high pinnacle in human civilization who knows how long we can keep it together. We have enough fossil fuels that if we burned them all the earth would be uninhabitable by us.

          • The poster formerly known as t

            A large portion of the fossil fuel reserves that we have are not economically recoverable. Uneconomic fossil fuel reserves don’t make any sense to go the trouble of extracting under any economic system because the high cost it would take to extract them out of the ground would never be recovered by the extractors. The production rates would be too low and the unit prices would be too high for there to be a market large enough to recover the costs. We will be able to “keep it together” as long as fossil fuel prices remain low enough and supply is high enough to maintain long supply chains–that make things like Ipods affordable. The amount of time we have for being able to “keep things together” while is not known for sure, is a lot less than the usual 100-200 years figures pundits like to trot out. We have maybe 7-20 years, according to those who are informed.

          • fun bobby

            doomsday preppers?

    • Wm_James_from_Missouri

      Never say never unless your name is William James from Missouri, responding to Expanded Consciousness.

  • andrewgarrett

    The more we find the more it suggests Fermi was correct. Even if intelligent life is very rare, and most of those that arose killed themselves off by nuclear war, in a galaxy of 200 billion stars we’d be hearing a lot of billion year old “I Love Lucy”-like shows from distant planets. And yet there is nothing. You heard it here second: we will never find other life.

    • Yar

      Ever look at a super nova and think, wow, another civilization found the God Particle?

      • fun bobby

        I feel like the big bang, if not caused by God, is most likely a physics experiment gone wrong

    • Coastghost

      To my pedestrian mind the Fermi paradox suggests not only that extra-terrestrial intelligence is absent or unresponsive but also that “the future” (far-flung or not) does not exist: no one is sending time-traveling probes backward to visit our present circumstances, either, not even our illustrious descendants and posterity, from all appearances: no help, no assistance from the future is forthcoming. (This could give us cause for pause, too: the Fermi paradox may simply offer a compelling prediction that humanity will succeed in killing itself.)

    • fun bobby

      maybe it will take a while for the signals to get here

  • Gary_Disqus

    Folks are always talking about the billions and billions of earth-sized planets out there, and then concluding that the number is so big, intelligent life must exist elsewhere. However, even with extremely large numbers, don’t we need to know something about the probabilities of all the billions of individual events that must occur to produce intelligent life? I never hear about that. If the probabilities of intelligence are extremely small, couldn’t we just as well talk about how infinitesimally small the probabilities are and conclude that there’s basically no chance?
    A related issue — is it clear that intelligence is a successful evolutionary strategy in the long run? We assume it is, but conceivably intelligence gives a species the ability to wipe itself out.

    • fun bobby

      we know it has happened at least once

      • Gary_Disqus

        We know of only one occurrence. That knowledge doesn’t really tell us anything about the probability that the whole process (from star system formation to the evolution of intelligence) would be repeated. My point is that those who argue that there must be intelligent life out there are making an assumption of some probability for which they have no evidence. So while they have some science behind the probability of earth-sized planets existing, they have no evidence relating to the probability of intelligent life. It’s really just rationalizing a conclusion they very much want to reach.

        • fun bobby

          on someone else’s post I put a link to an article about tardigrades, multicellular organism that can survive in space. it is not necessary for biogenesis to occur on a planet for it to host life

          • Gary_Disqus

            OK, they exist on earth. Where is the evidence that they exist in space, apart from some sort of human experiment? There isn’t any. And even if you found some, you’re not really saying anything about the probabilities that everything from star system formation to intelligence would work out just right.

          • fun bobby

            I would not be surprised if someday we determine that most planets with the right conditions host life. as far as “intelligent” life its probably fewer but there is no reason to believe, given the billions of planets, that the life on more than one of them is intelligent. will we ever contact them? it seems unlikely

  • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

    With the possible exception of microbes, life as we know it is too fragile to withstand the rigors of interstellar voyages.

    The same is not true for automata. It is not unrealistic to envision engineered automata traveling far beyond the range of human exploration.

    Similarly, it is not unrealistic to imagine that intelligent beings on distant worlds could do the same, and send their probes our way.

    • AC

      well, if you can find out in which organ the ‘soul’ resides, can’t we engineer ourselves into automata with consciousness? the hard tech is almost there now….

      • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

        The majority of our information-processing functionality resides in the lobes of the brain.

        However, many of us have offloaded some of the more routine and pedestrian faculties of information processing to engineered automata.

    • fun bobby
  • Wahoo_wa

    What’s with these BIZARRE questions about mowing the lawn, cooking turkey and blonds? Is it supposed to be humor? I just don’t get it.

  • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

    If there is intelligent life on distant worlds, there is a good chance of making radio contact. But since it would take decades between successive messages, we would not be chatting with 140-character tweets. Rather we would send entire volumes of Encyclopedia Galactica in each round.

    And, as Craig Venter suggested, these knowledge encyclopedias would include the blueprints for reconstructing both our advanced technologies and reproductions of our biota.

    • fun bobby

      so that we can easily be colonized or destroyed by the aliens. brillient

  • Kate

    Dear Rest of the World,

    See?!
    Now who looks silly?

    Sincerely,
    Us Nerds.

    • Ray in VT

      I think that it is interesting that nerd was considered to be an insult when I was a kid in the 1980s, but then something changed. A nerd became one of the richest people on the planet, and nerd culture became more mainstream and accepted. It seems like the nerds have claimed that term for themselves and turned it into a sort of term of pride.

      • fun bobby

        So they have had their revenge?

  • toc1234

    Earth 2.0?? Why not the Earth as Planet XYZ 2.0? Tom, you are so insular.
    Watch for liberals to start tripping over each other to be the first to call themselves Citizen of the Universe….

  • AC

    this is going back to my infrastructure issue….

  • Jonathan Pinney

    This woman needs to relax!

  • Coastghost

    Mr Petigura makes unfortunate frequent recourse to the word “should” for someone contributing to a public science initiative.

  • John_Hamilton

    Maybe there are different kinds of life that aren’t dependent on human certification in order to exist.

  • Yar

    No one is looking at us, even when we look into a mirror the reflection we see is from the past. Think about that on a distance of light years.

  • Coastghost

    Why assume that the realm of baryonic matter is the only location where consciousness can reside?
    No one speaks of detecting non-baryonic planets.

  • Wahoo_wa

    The topic is interesting but going back to the $. Is space exploration really worth the money spent?

    • Coastghost

      “Billions and billions, trillions and trillions!” says the ghost of Carl Sagan.

    • Ray in VT

      I suppose in part it depends upon how one values knowledge. There are inventions and products that have come out of the space program, and one can look at those things and probably come to some sort of monetary valuation, but what about the abstract things like knowledge?

      • Wahoo_wa

        I think tackling hunger, homelessness and poverty are much more important uses of funds.

        • Ray in VT

          Well, comparatively NASA has a pretty small budget, and it depends upon how one values the outcomes. For instance (granting that Wikipedia is what it is as a source), water purification technology that NASA uses/has developed can help many people who face issues regarding lack of access to clean water. I think that a lot would go into attempting to get a clear picture of costs versus outcomes, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone has attempted to tackle the issue.

          • Wahoo_wa

            I agree that technology developed for the space program can be used for the greater good but why not focus on creating the greater good as a primary goal instead of focusing on speculative ventures with little to no value.

            In other words, is finding life on other planets really going to do anything or benefit anyone?

          • Ray in VT

            So it looks like you have already determined that exploration, discovery and knowledge are not worth what we are paying for it.

          • Wahoo_wa

            Just think the money could be spent on things that make a real difference for real people living on this world.

          • Ray in VT

            But if we had not engaged in the sort of enterprises that demand that we challenge what we know and what we can do would we have been able to pioneer some of the advances that we have made? Ultimately I think that it is a noble and useful venture.

          • fun bobby

            somehow I think we could have come up with Velcro sooner or later without spending billions to take a golf trip to the moon

    • John_in_Amherst

      This type of seeking is at the intersection of science and art. Doing something for the sheer exploratory value, without possible commercial benefit. Like art and culture, it is what makes humans humane

    • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

      It’s a lot better investment than developing the technology of war.

      • Wahoo_wa

        Sadly the technology developed for space exploration is also used for war.

        • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

          Sharpened steel blades can be used to make both swords and scalpels.

      • fun bobby

        actually it was developed for war

  • Queen Cupcake

    Tom, please ask your guest to stop making every statement begin with: “Here’s the thing…”

    • Wahoo_wa

      Here’s the thing about your comment…it’s got a lot of merit.

    • Coastghost

      So, when do we get Americans to stop prefacing every clause or sentence with “so”? (This verbal tic NPR has brought to light only in the past year or two, but it’s not too soon to discourage its use, either.)

      • anon

        I’m glad you mentioned that! I don’t live in the US and don’t see a lot of TV, but about a year ago I started noticing that almost everyone interviewed there on TV or radio starts every answer with ‘So’… where DID that come from?

        • Coastghost

          I assume it crawled directly from the La Brea tar pits or some other scenic southern California locale. High rising intonation, which seems also able to claim a West Coast provenance, still afflicts American media presentations, too, though it may be leveling off modestly.

        • fun bobby

          the same place as “just sayin’”

  • Yar

    This discussion needs pizza and beer, it is too early in the day to solve the mysteries of the universe.

  • malkneil

    If the universe is indeed infinite, aren’t there potentially an infinite number of planets out there where life may try to take residence. By that token, even if the probability of life on any random planet is minute, if you multiply that small probability by infinite planets isn’t life not only likely but guaranteed?

    • fun bobby

      but then what are the chances of finding it?

  • John_in_Amherst

    Some deep thinkers have postulated that there is a very narrow time frame between when “intelligent” life arises, and then so corrupts the natural system that it evolved in that it flickers out…

    ” Man has tried his suicide
    With bigotry and hate
    But in the end he’ll kill himself
    with nothing but his waste”

    from “The Trees Are All Gone” by Roger McGuinn

    • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

      Perhaps in a future edition of On Point, Tom will invite some guests to discuss the challenge of crafting a sustainable culture.

    • fun bobby

      perhaps stars are created by accident when a alien society becomes significantly advanced

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    Before we get too excited with thoughts of us moving to another planet: the Voyager spacecraft which just left our solar system – will take about 700,000 years to reach even our nearest neighboring star, Alpha Centauri.

    There is no Planet B.

  • Yar

    A long time? What is a long time? No, we have not searched for a long time.

    • fun bobby

      people have been looking to the sky for as long as humans have been around

  • Rebecca Gould

    Great “On Point” (as always!).
    “Each star someone’s sun” is a line from a recently published poem.

    I’ve always thought this to be true, simply from looking up at the night sky. How delightful when poetry and science interweave! Nor should it be surprising. Let’s hope that, as with the Copernican revolution, this news might help keep human hubris in place.

    Kudos to all the hard-working scientists (and their grad students!) for bringing these discoveries to us.

    Dr. Rebecca Kneale Gould
    Senior Lecturer in Environmental Studies
    Co-director of the Philosophy, Religion and Environment Focus
    Middlebury College

    • Coastghost

      The Copernican revolution restrained or localized our hubris? What is the evidence for that conjecture? Rather than resulting in any centripetal historical concentration, the advent of modern astronomy seems to have spawned centrifugal cultural and historical forces.

      • Rebecca Gould

        Agreed absolutely. The dominant history indeed shows that we were [and still remain] NOT constrained/restrained or kept in our place by our own discoveries. But the Copernican revolution DID make some thinkers, scientists theologians, etc. admit that we and “Our Earth” were, in fact, not the center of the universe and that we should stop behaving as such. Darwinian revolution had a similar effect. Unfortunately, the dominant story of the West has ALWAYS leaned toward hubris, but at various moments in our history scientific discoveries have given us opportunities to re-think and re-calibrate — and a minority of thinkers reliably have. So the emphasis of my comment really should be on my words “hope” and “might.” Thanks for the correction. Writing a hasty comment between meetings with students can lead to misunderstanding and I agree with the substance of what you have said! I also fear that the “colonizing passion” that this discovery may unleash could lead us in precisely the wrong direction, along the lines of shipping our garbage to the moon rather than asking more important questions about unlimited consumption!

  • AC

    you HAVE to start mining asteroids, one will follow the other and it’s closer than you think….

  • John_in_Amherst

    What are the theological implications?

    • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

      I reckon the theological implications will emerge as a rejuvenated examination of sustainable practices.

    • J__o__h__n

      People will object to the science (creationists), not understand it (god created evolution), or discard obsolete beliefs.

      • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

        “Science advances one funeral at a time.” ~Max Planck

      • fun bobby

        the pope is cool with alien life

  • EricAdler

    The idea that moving to other planets is an answer to the possibility that the earth could be destroyed by an asteroid is nonsense. It is more feasible to protect the earth against dangerous asteroids than to move to planets around other stars.

  • Coastghost

    If Kashlinsky’s analysis of the Planck microwave anisotropy data confirms his Wilkinson data analysis of “dark flow”: then our astronomers can profitably plot our Galaxy’s and Local Group’s trajectory into the maw of the Alpha Concentration, or the Great Attractor, or the Norma Cluster, or the Shapley Supercluster, or whatever is responsible for the gravitational anomaly lurking out there.

  • J__o__h__n

    Can we colonize these planets or have they already been claimed by afterlife Mormons?

  • MarcSFried

    Hiya folks – good morning…
    Other Earths? I am sorry to disappoint you – while I enjoy the effort expended on finding other planets capable of sustaining “life” I have the following belief based on my 64 years of observation on this planet: We are not getting off this rock.!!! Not in any great amounts of people but more importantly because of our behavior here. We humans, the highest form of mammalian life have destroyed this OASIS in the universe. I give us about two maybe three more generations before our attack on the planet and its resources goes over the edge. I firmly believe we have reached the tipping point environmentally whether that is caused by global warming man made or not. With three billion more people due in the next 50 or 100 years it is over. Unless inhabitants or life forms from other planets are in the very close proximity they will find dead civilizations and a planet inhaboted by insects and these type of life forms. On the other hand I think mankind should continue the education effort to learn and expand its knowledge base but I doubt we will ever get to leave…

    Marc S. Fried

    • fun bobby

      or perhaps they would find…… The Planet of the Apes

  • Sanjay Jaiman

    My fundamental question is “whether hunt for life good for humanity?”

    Looking for life is an interesting exercise and I’m not advocating to stop that effort but are are we ready for even the knowledge there is another civilization out there? My opinion is “no” – maybe in a couple of thousand years we will be ready but right now we cannot get around two basic human propensities – to dominate / give up and get dominated. On earth we are busy doing that to each other. If we come across a hugely advanced civilization, could we deal with them and avoid getting a massive inferiority complex? On the other hand, if we come across a civilization that to us looks as “inferior” are we going to put all our resources in trying to dominate it? If we start feeling threatened, is it all in our minds (since we don’t know how the other civilization thinks)? And if we actually are threatened, how are we going to defend ourselves or even agree on any one course of action? Compared to these questions, the problems/questions we face today on earth in dealing with each other are far less complex and we are having such a tough time with those. I think these are unanswerable questions and we are just ignoring them for the time being.

  • TyroneJ

    My only comment is that none of the guests are really qualified to talk about life arising on any of these planets. You really needed a biochemist, particularly one who studies biogenisis, to be on the panel. The Miller–Urey experiment long ago showed, for example, that amino acids will develop from raw elements in weeks in “primordial earth” type environments.

    • fun bobby

      the problem is going from amino acids to actual replicating molecules

  • Yar

    While you are looking up, look for the GOCE to come down.
    http://www.satnews.com/story.php?number=520108196

  • Coastghost

    Surely NASA can calculate more than approximately how many pounds of debris the Apollo program left on the Moon’s surface. How much trash have we already dumped on Mars?

  • Wahoo_wa

    Doubtful.

  • passarinha

    Many of the comments raise valid questions and concerns. But let’s not be so critical that we forget the wow factor here: this is amazing and awe-inspiring! Congratulations to the research teams. And I consider those tax dollars well spent!

    • Expanded_Consciousness

      Why were the tax dollars well-spent? So we could be awed?

    • myblusky

      Unfortunately cynicism is pervasive in the current culture. I would much rather hear about space exploration than about politicians and everyone’s agenda. Space exploration is for those who are curious about what is out there, why are we here, what are the possibilities for our future etc….It is fun to think about and learn about. It gives me some hope of understanding the universe. Space exploration can also be the catalyst for calming angry political situations, example: Russia and United States. Putting aside our difference to learn is money well spent in my opinion.

    • passarinha

      Because exploring and seeking to understand and explain our environment is a fundamental human drive, and science has now pushed the boundaries of that pursuit far into outer and inner space. We cannot know in advance what the implications of new knowledge may be. However, since Earth is a sample size of 1 and we are currently bound to it, an increased understanding of the properties and dynamics of other Earth-like planets is potentially very useful, as well as interesting. The awe is of course a pleasant side effect, not a rationale.

  • tbphkm33

    Earth 2.0 be nice… but Earth 1.5 is all we really need — with an Earth 1.5, we could ship off the Talibaners, Tea Baggers, Nopublcans and other conservative nut cases and really enjoy Earth 1.0 :)

    • fun bobby

      drink!

  • chuckMidwest

    Ok is it just me or does Tom really get into these space themed shows?? PROPS TO PUTTING SPACE ON AT 9 AM AND POLITICS ON AT 10, haha.
    Great questions, also had a great show awhile back about “who killed pluto” and a great Carl Sagan podcast, time to get the teliscope out!

    • chuckMidwest

      Oh and that wasn’t sarcasm, I’d this show stretched my mind much further than anything political lately!

  • Stefan ChEx

    Wow, Tom, you were really obnoxious on this show, I had to turn it off halfway through. You seemed to mask your inability to understand what the guests were saying with blustery arrogance or loudness. Take it down a notch, dude, and try to listen to your guests a little more.

    • brettearle

      Sooner or later men and women, on this planet, will–somewhere, somehow–be exposed to exceptional talents, such as Tom Ashbrook, and will somehow find a way to spin their petty jealousies in the most miserable and petty-spirited of ways….

  • Bminder

    i’m all for the exploration, but look, odds are greater for our finding some sort of life form that leaves us in a relationship such as we have with the animals we share this planet with and so far there is not a single one of those that we don’t eat. we may not ever think we are heading out to establish a new source for food, but perhaps for just an instant, this search could cause us to reflect on just how we are behaving with reference to those we share this splendorous being with. bob minder

    • Wm_James_from_Missouri

      This is a very profound comment. Thanks.

    • fun bobby

      perhaps they would eat us

  • anon

    I agree – it would be nice if these discussions weren’t so focused on Western thought and discoveries. Islam also does not teach that the Earth is the center of the universe, and there is nothing saying that we are the only life in the universe. God (Allah) is called over and over again ‘the Lord of the Worlds’. The Quran describes many scientific phenomena that were not known at the time, and the Renaissance would not have happened without the work done in the Islamic world before that….

  • fun bobby

    we are stuck on earth so we need to do the best with it we can. these other planets are much to far away.

  • fun bobby

    not to mention the borg and tribbles

  • fun bobby

    cockroaches?

  • fun bobby

    perhaps by then we will no longer need the sun or we could build a sphere around the sun to capture all of its energy or solve the problem in some other way. we have plenty of time to work on that one

  • Ed75

    In regard to religious beliefs, religion is not based on a specific scientific view of physical reality, it’s based on revelation. As scienitists learn more, it’s one way that we learn more about the meaning of revelation and about God since truth, whether from reason (and science) or revelation, is from the same source.

    • J__o__h__n

      Reason and science are not from the same source as revelation.

      • Ed75

        Theologically, one would say that their common source is God, who gave us reason, and who gave us Revelation. They also interact and depend on one another: for example one has to study Revelation and reason about it, and to use reason one has to have a starting point, which is provided by Revelation.

  • libillin

    Sara Seager is so “on point” in this discussion. She says, regarding these “billions and billions” estimates, “there are big error bars here, there’s been some so-called modest
    extrapolation….for direct imaging, it really really matters what that number is, if it’s 1 in 5, 1 in 3, 1 in 10” stars that may have an Earthlike planet. “There are big uncertainties on this number…the margin of error is quite large…it was given to us as 22 plus or minus 8 percent.”

    Talking about all the uncertainty surrounding what appear to be hard numbers may take some of the fun out of what USA Today calls “Earthshaking news.” Nonetheless, it must be done in order to convey an accurate picture of what we know and what we don’t know and what we assume but don’t yet have evidence to confirm.

    Thanks, Sara!

  • fun bobby

    if intelligent life does exist in the universe why would they want to talk to us?

  • fun bobby

    would that not be like us trying to have a discussion with a fungus?

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