Sunday, October 17, 2010

Zarmina Barmina Banana Fana Farmina...

So, if you were (luckily) under a rock lately, you probably didn't hear about Zarmina/Gliese 581g. It may or may not exist. It may or may not be inhabited.
It may or may not be a pointless, imaginary planet that conjures arguments between
scientists because Lindsay Lohan is in prison (again) and there is nothing else to
talk about.

You can read about it at SPACE and DISCOVER.

Perhaps the most interesting and exciting aspect of all this is what it implies. The Milky Way galaxy is composed of about 200 billion stars, and is 100,000 light years across. The fact that we found a planet that is even anything like the Earth at all orbiting another star only 20 light years away makes me extremely optimistic that earthlike planets areeverywhere in our galaxy. 20 light years is practically in our lap compared to the vast size of our galaxy, so statistically speaking, it seems very likely it's not unique. I don't want to extrapolate from a data set of two (us and them), but if this is typical, there could be millions of such planets in the galaxy. Millions.

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