Archive for the ‘exploration’ Category

Seed Newsvine

Clipped from YouTube, this video is a powerful reminder that asking the skeptical questions is the first and only requirement of being human. Without skeptical inquiry we would still be napping flint weapons, living in caves, and wandering about the plains in search of food. Asking skeptical questions, however, is not a remedy for ambition, hubris, or evil. It is not a remedy for those who believe without evidence. It is not a remedy for stupidity. Skepticism is, however, the springboard to human progress and greatness.

clipped from www.youtube.com

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And this is a powerful response to Pale Blue Dot.

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Seed Newsvine

So what’s not known about this new planet? A lot, it seems. But isn’t that what science is all about. Peeking into the unknown to find answers to what was previously unanswerable is what drives scientific inquiry. If in our galaxy alone there are something like 100 million planets that could support life and only 10% actually do there are 10 million planets that do support life. If only 10% of those support some form of intelligent life then there are 1 million planets in the Milky Way Galaxy that support intelligent life. If only 10% support advanced civilizations then there are some 100,000 planets in our galaxy alone that support advanced civilizations.I am willing to bet that none of those folks out there look anything like human beings. In spite of the fact that Star Trek confirmed that everyone in the galaxy speaks English, I doubt that as well. The point here is that we may not be so isolated or unique as we might want to think.

I, for one, am excited about living in a time when reason may finally push aside reasons to believe in the fairy-god of the heavens by erasing the need to fear the unknown. Not knowing, Richard Dawkins reminds us, is the inspiration for either rigorous inquiry or closing off inquiry and pushing the god default button by attributing everything to some unknown creator.

What an exciting new discovery. I can’t wait to learn more.

clipped from www.chicagotribune.com
European astronomers say they have found the first Earth-sized planet beyond this solar system with temperatures mild enough to allow liquid water—a crucial step toward answering whether our cradle of life is unique in the universe.
The planet circles the star Gliese 581 in the Libra constellation, and at 20 light years away is among the 100 stars closest to Earth. Dubbed Gliese 581c, the planet orbits very close to its star—closer than Mercury is to our sun. But astronomers with the European Southern Observatory say the star is dim enough that average temperatures on the planet would fall in the range of an ordinary Chicago spring day.
If the planet has water—a big unknown—its size and climate could make it habitable, experts said. The planet appears to be about 50 percent larger than Earth and has five times more mass, making it one of the smallest far-off planets ever detected.
Our galaxy alone could be home to 100 million habitable planets,

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