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BBC: Kepler finds 100 Earth-size planets

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From BBC News:

It has also detected nine small planets within so-called habitable zones, where conditions are favourable for liquid water – and potentially life.

The finds are contained within a catalogue of 1,284 new planets detected by Kepler – which more than doubles the previous tally.

The Nasa Ames researcher said the Kepler mission was part of a “larger strategic goal of finding evidence of life beyond Earth: knowing whether we’re alone or not, to know… how life manifests itself in the galaxy and what is the diversity”.

She added: “Being able to look up to a point of light and being able to say: ‘That star has a living world orbiting it.’ I think that’s very profound and answers questions about why we’re here.” More.

How does it answer questions about why we are here?

In current pop science media, significance is very much a double standard. Finding “life” out there is held to be significant even though we have a hard time defining life. There is human life all around us, and—depending on the circumstances—supporting snuffing it out is supposed to be virtue (yes, I am talking about abortion and infanticide, of course).

File:A small cup of coffee.JPG If half the life out there were a young child, most science journalists would be for killing that child, if inconvenient. Yet we are expected to take whatever “significance” they are huffing seriously.

See also: 700 quintillion reasons to deny Earth is unusual

Breaking: Earth special after all


To find alien life, quit being terracentric

Also: Copernicus, you are not going to believe who is using your name. Or how.

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NASA’s handy guide to date:

Exoplanet discoveries

6 Replies to “BBC: Kepler finds 100 Earth-size planets

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    How does it answer questions about why we are here?

    If there is life elsewhere there is nothing special about life here. The vast majority of the universe is still hostile to life. Therefore ID is false.

  2. 2
    RexTugwell says:

    Materialism is full of non sequiturs

    Micro evolution, therefore ID is false
    Drug resistance, therefore ID is false
    Inverted retina, therefore ID is false

  3. 3
    Eric Anderson says:

    Denyse, you know I don’t share your antagonistic approach to extrasolar planetary research, but you are right that finding life elsewhere, while an exceedingly interesting and profound discovery, would not “answer questions about why we’re here.”

    This is one of the things that everyone on all sides of the aisle needs to understand: finding life on other planets would neither confirm nor deny the traditional evolutionary narrative, would neither confirm nor deny the design inference, and would neither confirm nor deny any religious implications (at least those flowing from the Bible).

    Part of the antagonism leveled at extrasolar planetary research (not necessarily from you, but from others I’ve noticed) flows from some religious or philosophical stance that Earth and life on Earth are somehow utterly unique in the universe — a position that is both scripturally unsupportable and scientifically illogical.

  4. 4
    Mung says:

    But would life on other planets increase the probability that life on earth did not arise on earth?

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    This article is more realistic (i.e. no ‘just add water’ hype):

    More than 1,000 new exoplanets discovered – but still no Earth twin – May 11, 2016
    Excerpt: The team analysed 4,302 candidate planets from a list published by the Kepler team in July 2015. They concluded that 1,284 of them have a 99% chance or better of being exoplanets; another 1,327 of them are more likely than not to be exoplanets, but more work is needed to confirm them. That leaves 707 objects which are likely to be due to something else and 984 which have already been verified as exoplanets by others, and which this study has confirmed.
    From the newly identified sample, around 550 are smaller than twice the radius of the Earth, which means they could be rocky in composition. Nine of these lie in the optimistic habitable zone around their stars. However, six of the nine lie on the extreme inner edge of the habitable zone and another lies on the extreme outer edge. This leaves just two firmly within the “conservative” habitable zone and only one of these – the exoplanet Kepler 1229b – is similar in size to the Earth at 1.1 Earth radii. However, even that is not in an Earth-like orbit, as its parent star is a cool red dwarf which the planet orbits once every 87 days.

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related note on the ‘in-habitability’ of red dwarf planets

    Notwithstanding What Bill Nye Says, the Sun Is Not an “Unremarkable” Star – Daniel Bakken – December 1, 2014
    Excerpt: Another requirement for habitable planets is a strong magnetic field to prevent their atmosphere from being lost to the solar winds. Planets orbiting a red dwarf star are also more affected by the star’s tidal effects, slowing the planet’s rotation rate. It is thought that strong magnetic fields are generated in part by the planet’s rotation.15 If the planet is tidally braked, then any potential for a significant magnetic field is likely to be seriously degraded. This will lead to loss of water and other gases from the planet’s atmosphere to the stellar winds.16 We see this in our solar system, where both Mercury and Venus, which orbit closer to the Sun than Earth, have very slow rotation rates, and very modest magnetic fields. Mercury has very little water, and surprisingly, neither does Venus. Even though Venus has a very dense atmosphere, it is very dry. This is due to UV radiation splitting the water molecules when they get high in the atmosphere, and then the hydrogen is lost to space, primarily, again, by solar wind.17,,,

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