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NASA’s Kepler Mission Reports 1,200 More Planets, But Could They Support Life?

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Did you ever notice that we humans, love us, need to sleep seven or eight hours nightly? And notice the fact that we sleep better with the lights out; in the dark, if you will. And a lucky coincidence it is that most parts of our planet, our home in the solar system, are quite nicely dark for several hours every night. Lucky us.

This lights on, lights out folderol wouldn’t mean much if we didn’t have eyes to see; two of them work out nicely, particularly for driving. But these eyes which we take, some of us, for granted
wouldn’t mean much without nice, clear, translucent, transparent air to look through. Imagine a planet with a bright sun, snuggly and warm, days, nights—and thick dense gas. What a waste. No fun. Can’t see a thing.

All this atmosphere makes it convenient for sound waves to unite us with their ululation. Music wouldn’t be much without an airy atmosphere for it to move about in. Now we can sleep, watch the birds, smell the flowers, and listen to the band. Not much to complain about here.

Do you think we take having light for granted?  What if we didn’t have any? The whole thing would be wasted.

We get hungry, there’s food. Evolution seems to help. The weather outside is frightful, but generally stays in our comfort range. Where am I going with all this? Every few days it seems NASA announces a few new planets that might “support life!” I have my doubts. I dare to suggest there’s more required than may meet the eye.

This paper I’m reading over toast and coffee says the Kepler mission, a small satellite with a large telescope, has discovered 1,200 new planets in the past year, according to William Borucki, the head of the Kepler mission. NASA should be proud. This they deem a “revolutionary development in the quest to understand what lies beyond our solar system.” Of the new planets, 68 are about the size of our mother Earth. Fifty-four are in the “habitable zone,” which means they are at the correct distance from their star to be, maybe, habitable.

Truthfully I myself am kind of excited to know that one solar system was found with at least six planets. We have eight; or nine if you recognize Pluto. We hold the record; six is the most populous solar system outside our own so far discovered.

I guess I’m preoccupied with light and dark, and clear, transparent air. Call me a purist. And I’m still very gung-ho about Pluto.

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About John Lake

John Lake had a long and successful career in legitimate and musical theater. He moved up into work behind the camera at top motion pictures. He has done a smattering of radio, and television John joined the Blogcritics field of writers owing to a passion for the liberal press, himself speaking out about the political front, and liberal issues. Now the retired Mr. Lake has entered the field of motion picture, television, and video game (now a daily gamer!) critique. His writing is always innovative and immensely readable!
  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    If you recognize Pluto as a planet then we have a lot more than nine. Eris, discovered in 2005, is probably larger than Pluto, the minor planets Sedna and Makemake also give it a run for its money, and it is entirely likely that there are even more large objects lurking out there in the Kuiper Belt which are yet to be detected.

  • John Lake

    I have no choice but to recognize Pluto, a planet. The State of Illinois, the home of the planets discoverer, Clyde Tombaugh, and my home as well, insists on planethood for Pluto. Pluto does, in fact, have moons, and an atmosphere.
    As to those other things, time will tell.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Even some asteroids have satellites, John. And about a dozen moons have atmospheres, many of them more substantial than Pluto’s.

    The main reason Pluto got downgraded was that it seems likely Pluto-grade objects in the Kuiper Belt may turn out to number in the dozens or even hundreds.

    Meanwhile, even little Mercury is much larger than Pluto, as are some of the moons of four other planets.

    To me, it makes sense to leave the planet count at eight, plus a whole happy family of minor planets including Pluto, Eris, Ceres, Sedna, Makemake, Quaoar and the rest of the gang. Otherwise things are just going to get ridiculous.

  • John Lake

    Good afternoon, Doctor,
    Absolutely correct. eight is sensible and sober, nine ridiculous and altogether absurd!
    Imagine if there were ten!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Nine isn’t ridiculous, but ninety might be.

  • John Lake

    just awful!