Friday, February 15, 2008


What should be the biggest news of the day isn't, to most people: "Scientists Find Solar System Like Ours".

One reason this is important is that it is the first fruits of a newer way of searching for extra-solra planets. That it gave such interestibng results so quickly is a strong indicator that solar systems like our own are quite common.

The search technique most commonly used till now had a built-in bias for finding systems with very large planets orbiting very close to their suns, and such systems are not likely to possess planets with what we currently consider optimum conditions for "life as we know it"; but the new method, which is more sensitive in some ways, can find--and now has found--systems where there are likely to be planets of a reasonable size in the so-called "habitable zone" around their star.

Conjectures on the probability for life on other worlds have tended to make or break depending on the likelihood of solar systems like our own being common. Now we are pretty sure they are common, making the probability of life, which almost necessarily includes intelligent life, quite high.

That is what excitement is, not who seems to be winning what political horse race.

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