Newly Discovered Planets May Have Life
Is It alright to think this is Good News?
(CNN) -- Our everyday concerns -- what's for dinner, what to update on Facebook -- seem small when we consider that there's a whole universe out there where other life may exist.
Astronomers now are upping that likelihood, announcing that they've identified a star system with up to seven planets -- three of which could potentially host life -- 22 light-years away.
The likelihood that conditions could support life on at least one of those planets, given that there are three terrestrial-mass planets in the habitable zone of one system, is "tremendous," according to at least one scientist. The "habitable zone" is the area near a star in which a planet can theoretically hold liquid water. In our own solar system, Venus is close to the inner edge of potential habitability, while Mars is closer to the outer edge.
The discovery is the largest number of "habitable zone" planets ever found within a single system, said Guillem Anglada-Escude of the University of Gottingen, Germany, who led the team of astronomers.
The findings were published Wednesday in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.
The findings are only the latest in a recent string of identifications of planets that may host life....more
A Whiteheadian Appreciation
Thank you astronomers at Guillem Anglada-Escude of the University of Gottingen. Is it alright just to be a little excited by this news?
I don't know; maybe we are supposed to be more cautious. But those of us influenced by the philosophy of Whitehead, find it very exciting -- hopeful -- that there is life on other planets, regardless of how intelligent or unintelligent this life might be.
For that matter, along with Howard Gardner at Harvard, we Whiteheadians believe in multiple forms of intelligence: mathematical-logical, verbal-linguistic, visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, rhythmic-musical, empathic, introspective, and naturalistic. Some of us even talk about spiritual intelligence.
We know that many forms of life on our planet have one or another of these forms. If they receive communications from their surroundings in any way, they know something in their way. And if they respond to that they know, they make decisions of a kind, whether conscious or unconscious.
We think that the very Eros of the universe is toward heightened forms of creativity and sentience, and we would find it odd -- and kind of lonely -- to think that this Eros has been at work in only one small part of the universe, namely our own solar system.
So we'll wait for further evidence. And we know that this evidence may come in very, very slowly. We may not see it in our lifetimes. Or we might!
Still it gives us a sense of hope that there's more, so much more, than the small portion of life we've been privileged to carry.
So, yes, thanks astronomers. Keep it up.