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So what did the Kepler space telescope discover, 715 confirmed planets later?

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Further to the “new, lower estimate for exoplanets that could support life,” from New Scientist:

In our solar system, all eight planets orbit the sun in nearly circular paths and in roughly the same plane. This orderly arrangement led in part to the theory that planets are born from swirling discs of debris found around very young stars. With only our solar system to guide us, astronomers had assumed that other planetary systems would have similar line-ups, with small rocky planets close to their stars and larger, gassy worlds farther away.

but

The team says that 94 per cent of the 715 verified worlds are smaller than Neptune, and all of them live in multi-planet systems. Only four of the worlds are far enough from their stars to potentially host liquid water, but those planets are probably too big to be rocky worlds like Earth.

The article notes that it is easier for the telescope to image planets closer to their stars; there many be many more planets out there, invisible to current technology.

See also: Don’t let Mars fool you. Those exoplanets teem with life! 😉

Hat tip: Matthew Cochrane

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11 Replies to “So what did the Kepler space telescope discover, 715 confirmed planets later?

  1. 1
    JoeCoder says:

    Only four of the worlds are far enough from their stars to potentially host liquid water

    This is because detection methods have a strong bias toward only being able to detect plants close to their host stars. They’re detected either from visible wobble, red/blue-shift wobble, or slight dimming of the star as the planet passes in front of it if we’re lucky enough to be aligned enough with it–more likely for tight orbits.

  2. 2
    Graham2 says:

    Olearys religion says we are unique so she is furiously cherry-picking anything that supports this.

  3. 3
    kairosfocus says:

    G2: Perhaps you have not thought of the possibility that radical secularism and scientism- influenced talking points may be leading you to overlook evidence regarding both cosmological fine tuning and the evident rare, privileged planet status of our home world. KF

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    Graham2, you accuse O’Leary, in the name of ‘religion’, ‘cherry picking’ evidence that supports the view that humans may be ‘unique’ (i.e. made in the image of God). On the contrary view, I suppose you hold Dawkins’ (and Sagan’s) view of reality:

    ‘The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.’
    Richard Dawkins

    Is this the nihilistic worldview you hold Graham2? If so, it might interest you to know that ‘at bottom’, in so far as Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity can tell us, which are by far our best mathematical descriptions of ‘the bottom’ of the universe, far from revealing a universe of ‘blind, pitiless indifference’, instead reveals a universe in which humans have a surprising amount of significance.

    In fact, contrary to what is commonly believed by many people today of the earth being nothing but an insignificant speck of dust lost in a vast ocean of space, there is actually a strong case that can now be made from science for the earth being central in the universe once again.
    In what I consider an absolutely fascinating discovery, Einstein’s General Relativity has shown that 4-dimensional (4D) space-time, along with all energy and matter, was created in the ‘Big Bang’ and continues to ‘expand equally in all places’:

    There is no centre of the universe! According to the standard theories of cosmology, the universe started with a “Big Bang” about 14 thousand million years ago and has been expanding ever since. Yet there is no centre to the expansion; it is the same everywhere. The Big Bang should not be visualized as an ordinary explosion. The universe is not expanding out from a centre into space; rather, the whole universe is expanding and it is doing so equally at all places, as far as we can tell.”

    Thus from a 3-dimensional (3D) perspective, any particular 3D spot in the universe is to be considered just as ‘center of the universe’ as any other particular spot in the universe is to be considered ‘center of the universe’. This centrality found for any 3D place in the universe is because the universe is a 4D expanding hypersphere, analogous in 3D to the surface of an expanding balloon. All points on the surface are moving away from each other, and every point is central, if that’s where you live. And as such, it may now be possible for the Earth to be, once again, considered ‘central in the universe’.

    “People need to be aware that there is a range of models that could explain the observations… For instance, I can construct you a spherically symmetrical universe with Earth at its center, and you cannot disprove it based on observations… You can only exclude it on philosophical grounds… What I want to bring into the open is the fact that we are using philosophical criteria in choosing our models. A lot of cosmology tries to hide that.”
    – George Ellis – collaborator with Hawking and Penrose on refinement of General Relativity equations

    So in a holistic sense, when taking into consideration the ‘Privileged Planet principle’ of Gonzalez and Ross which overturned the Copernican mediocrity principle, and which gives strong indication that the Earth is uniquely suited to host complex life in this universe, it may now be possible for the Earth to be, once again, considered ‘central in the universe’. This intriguing possibility, for the Earth to once again be considered central, is clearly illustrated by the fact the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR), remaining from the creation of the universe, due to the 4-Dimensional space-time of General Relativity, forms a sphere around the earth. I find the best way to get this ‘centrality of the Earth in the universe” point across is to visualize it first hand. Thus I reference the first few minutes of this following video to clearly get this ‘centrality in the universe’ point across:

    Centrality of The Earth Within The 4-Dimensional Space-Time of General Relativity – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/8421879

    Moreover, not only does General Relativity give us a surprising amount of significance in the universe but because of advances in Quantum Mechanics, the argument for God from consciousness can now be framed like this:

    1. Consciousness either preceded all of material reality or is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality.
    2. If consciousness is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality then consciousness will be found to have no special position within material reality. Whereas conversely, if consciousness precedes material reality then consciousness will be found to have a special position within material reality.
    3. Consciousness is found to have a special, even a central, position within material reality.
    4. Therefore, consciousness is found to precede material reality.

    I find it extremely interesting, and strange, that quantum mechanics tells us that instantaneous quantum wave collapse to its ‘uncertain’ 3D state is centered on each individual conscious observer in the universe, whereas, 4D space-time cosmology (General Relativity) tells us each 3D point in the universe is central to the expansion of the universe. These findings of modern science are pretty much exactly what we would expect to see if this universe were indeed created, and sustained, from a higher dimension by a omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal Being who knows everything that is happening everywhere in the universe at the same time. These findings certainly seem to go to the very heart of the age old question asked of many parents by their children, “How can God hear everybody’s prayers at the same time?”,,, i.e. Why should the expansion of the universe, or the quantum wave collapse of the entire universe, even care that you or I, or anyone else, should exist? Only Theism, Christian Theism in particular, offers a rational explanation as to why you or I, or anyone else, should have such undeserved significance in such a vast universe.

    Psalm 33:13-15
    The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.

    Graham2, these findings are simply inexplicable if your nihilistic view of reality were correct.

    Footnotes:

    It is also interesting to note that ‘higher dimensional’ mathematics had to be developed before Einstein could elucidate General Relativity, or even before Quantum Mechanics could be elucidated;

    The Mathematics Of Higher Dimensionality – Gauss and Riemann – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/6199520/

    The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences – Eugene Wigner – 1960
    Excerpt: We now have, in physics, two theories of great power and interest: the theory of quantum phenomena and the theory of relativity.,,, The two theories operate with different mathematical concepts: the four dimensional Riemann space and the infinite dimensional Hilbert space,
    http://www.dartmouth.edu/~matc.....igner.html

    And yet math is now shown to be ‘incomplete’:

    THE GOD OF THE MATHEMATICIANS – DAVID P. GOLDMAN – August 2010
    Excerpt: we cannot construct an ontology that makes God dispensable. Secularists can dismiss this as a mere exercise within predefined rules of the game of mathematical logic, but that is sour grapes, for it was the secular side that hoped to substitute logic for God in the first place. Gödel’s critique of the continuum hypothesis has the same implication as his incompleteness theorems: Mathematics never will create the sort of closed system that sorts reality into neat boxes.
    http://www.firstthings.com/art.....ematicians

    Godel and Physics – John D. Barrow
    Excerpt (page 5-6): “Clearly then no scientific cosmology, which of necessity must be highly mathematical, can have its proof of consistency within itself as far as mathematics go. In absence of such consistency, all mathematical models, all theories of elementary particles, including the theory of quarks and gluons…fall inherently short of being that theory which shows in virtue of its a priori truth that the world can only be what it is and nothing else. This is true even if the theory happened to account for perfect accuracy for all phenomena of the physical world known at a particular time.”
    Stanley Jaki – Cosmos and Creator – 1980, pg. 49

    So the ‘higher dimensional source’ for these higher dimensional equations cannot be the equations themselves, or a ‘platonic realm’, but the source for the truthfulness inherent in the equations must reside in a personal agent, i.e. in God Almighty!

    As to why higher dimensions are invisible to our sight:

    Dr Quantum – Flatland – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWyTxCsIXE4

    The following site is also very interesting to the subject at hand;

    The Scale of The Universe – Part 2 – interactive graph (recently updated in 2012 with cool features)
    http://htwins.net/scale2/scale.....olor=white

    The preceding interactive graph points out that the smallest scale visible to the human eye (as well as a human egg) is at 10^-4 meters, which ‘just so happens’ to be directly in the exponential center of all possible sizes of our physical reality (not just ‘nearly’ in the exponential center!). i.e. 10^-4 is, exponentially, right in the middle of 10^-35 meters, which is the smallest possible unit of length, which is Planck length, and 10^27 meters, which is the largest possible unit of ‘observable’ length since space-time was created in the Big Bang, which is the diameter of the universe. This is very interesting for, as far as I can tell, the limits to human vision (as well as the size of the human egg) could have, theoretically, been at very different positions than directly in the exponential middle;

    Also of note: Just as it makes no sense, from a space-time perspective, to ask, ‘What was before the Big Bang?’, it also makes no sense, from a space-time perspective, to ask, ‘What is below the Planck length?’

    Planck length – Theoretical significance
    Excerpt: This implies that the Planck scale is the limit below which the very notions of space and length cease to exist.,,,
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P.....gnificance

    Thus graham2, you can ‘freely choose’ to believe that you live in a universe of pitiless indifference, but that is not what the evidence ‘at bottom’ tells me. The evidence I find tells me that the universe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, design and purpose. ‘Blind, pitiless indifference’ is only to be found in the atheist’s disregard for his own, and others, eternal soul(s)!

    Verse and Music:

    Matthew 16:26
    For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

    Jewel – Who will save your soul – Video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-LukEq643Mk

  5. 5
    Jul3s says:

    Graham, you say that O’Leary is cherry-picking the evidence to claim that we are unique. But how can anyone cherry-pick if the only available evidence says that life on Earth is unique? There is nothing to cherry-pick because there is no evidence to ignore in the first place. Your statement can only be accurate if it turns out that scientists have already found lots of life-friendly planets.

  6. 6
    Eric Anderson says:

    Careful, folks, with the nuances.

    I’ve gone over this ground in some detail with Denyse before.

    My understanding, if I may, is that she is not claiming that humans are “unique” in the universe. At least when pressed on the point she acknowledged as much. I think her issue is with the regular statements that often come out in articles and in the press about claiming (or at least implying) two things:

    (i) there are lots of other Earth-like planets out there; and

    (ii) if the right planetary conditions exist, then life can be expected to emerge, so — therefore — lots of life out there.

    I happen to think there is good reason to expect there is life beyond Earth (but not for those reasons), and I think I differ from Denyse somewhat in my expectation of other life out there.

    But I do agree that the often-expressed mindset these days that their just must be a bunch of other life out there, because “Gee, look at all those planets; and, hey, life started here on Earth didn’t it and Earth isn’t anything special” is very poor reasoning, unsupported by the facts or the math.

  7. 7
    Graham2 says:

    With Oleary, its hard to tell what is the point, but the tone is invariably gleeful that science has failed to find life, or more generally, that science has failed.

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    G2, there is some evidence on the table, so could you move on beyond motive-mongering to address it? a good place to start is the fine tuning of the cosmos that sets up an operating point for C-chemistry, aqueous medium, cell based life, then addressing the evidence that justifies an inference that life is somehow likely enough to form spontaneously, then also deal with the galactic, circumstellar, impact protection, tidal and other constraints and factors held to point to ours being a privileged planet. Finally, given the Drake Eqn factors (cf. UD glossary), kindly address actual empirical evidence for “plausible” values, and the great silence challenge. KF

    PS: There may indeed be life out there and some of it may not be of the bio-forms we see on our planet. The real issue is the evolutionary materialist narrative and the way evidence is being presented to make it seem more plausible than it is.

  9. 9
    Axel says:

    ‘With Oleary, its hard to tell what is the point, but the tone is invariably gleeful that science has failed to find life, or more generally, that science has failed.’

    Is this really the site for you, Graham? Though a scientific Noddy, through my understanding of plain English, I am able to understand very clearly the point Denyse has made.

    It is perhaps not a good idea to argue with adults in a language that is rather foreign to you, especially since the import of the technical responses to your lament at your own incomprehension, appear to have been equally opaque to you.

    There are plenty of good schools teaching English to foreign students around. It would be a better way to spend your time, wouldn’t it?

    Incidentally, when 2 + 2 are taught to to equal 5, because of the hegemony of barbarous plutocrats, in Christian terms, ‘the World’, it is a very healthy and normal reaction to react with a certain glee, at the punctiliously scientific annihilation of said stupidity, and reinstatement of the sum of 2 + 2 as 4.

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    ‘With Oleary, its hard to tell what is the point, but the tone is invariably gleeful that science has failed to find life, or more generally, that science has failed.’

    Graham2 you seem to be confusing the failure of a particular materialistic/naturalistic prediction for what we will find in science as a failure for science itself. Science, as in our systematic study of nature, could care less if materialism/naturalism fails to have one of its predictions validated. Materialism, in fact, if true, would lead to the epistemological failure of ‘science’ itself (Lewis, Plantinga). i.e. Science is not, nor has ever been, your preferred atheistic philosophy of materialism/naturalism! Science was born out of Christian metaphysics and continues to nurse at its breast (Lewis, Jaki, Plantinga, etc.. etc..). In fact, the prediction that the earth would be special in the universe is a rather unique Christian prediction, whereas a broader, less well defined, Theistic prediction would hold that God could create life all over the universe. The reason why Christian Theism is more specific in regards to its prediction for the Earth to be special in the universe is that Christian Theism holds that God created this universe, and specifically the Earth in this universe, to deal once and for all with the ‘problem of evil and free will’. And in so far as we can ascertain we find that biological life in the universe is exceeding rare. Moreover in keeping with that ‘dealing with evil’ prediction, we find direct evidence from physics for two very different eternities,,,

    “Einstein’s equation predicts that, as the astronaut reaches the singularity (of the black-hole), the tidal forces grow infinitely strong, and their chaotic oscillations become infinitely rapid. The astronaut dies and the atoms which his body is made become infinitely and chaotically distorted and mixed-and then, at the moment when everything becomes infinite (the tidal strengths, the oscillation frequencies, the distortions, and the mixing), spacetime ceases to exist.”
    Kip S. Thorne – “Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy” pg. 476

    i.e. Black Holes are found to be ‘timeless’ singularities of destruction and disorder rather than singularities of creation and order such as the extreme order we see at the creation event of the Big Bang. Needless to say, the implications of this ‘eternity of destruction’ should be fairly disturbing for those of us who are of the ‘spiritually minded’ persuasion!

    Two very different ‘eternities’ revealed by physics:
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-489771

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    somewhat related:

    The Universe Is Not Eternal – Johanan Raatz – March 1, 2014
    Excerpt: One thing known for certain about quantum gravity is something called the holographic principle. Precisely put, the holographic principle tells us that the entropy of a region of space (measured in terms of information) is directly proportional to a quarter of its surface area. The volume of this region is then actually a hologram of this information on its surface.
    Except this tells us something interesting about the universe as well. Entropy, or the amount of disorder present, always increases with time. In fact not only is this law inviolate, it is also how the flow of time is defined. Without entropy, there is no way to discern forwards and backwards in time.
    But if the holographic principle links the universe’s entropy and its horizon area then going back in time, all of space-time eventually vanishes to nothing at zero entropy. Thus Carroll’s argument is unsound. We already have enough knowledge about what happens beyond the BVG theorem that Craig cites. The universe is not eternal but created.
    It is interesting to note that this also undermines claims made by atheists like Hawking and Krauss that the universe could have fluctuated into existence from nothing. Their argument rests on the assumption that there was a pre-existent zero-point field or ZPF. The only trouble is that the physics of a ZPF requires a space-time to exist in. No space-time means no zero-point field, and without a zero-point field, the universe can not spontaneously fluctuate into existence.
    http://blog.proofdirectory.org.....t-eternal/

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