Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Scientists Find Planet Orbiting Star

Exoplanetary systems! So thrilling!

Joseph Campbell thought the next myth was about space exploration, the "Big Blue Marble" photo sent back by Apollo 8 gave us the first image of earth in space. While we aren't exploring in person, a number of satellites, telescopes, and explorer robots are doing it for us. And while this particular planet isn't earth-like, one's imagination can't help but speculate about possible life outside our solar system. Perhaps it can arise on a planet that isn't earth-like, perhaps not, but the search continues.

Homo sapiens is an explorer species, long-distance runners, actually. It's part of our evolution. It's bred into us -- a genetic legacy that may go back further than we can currently measure using modern fossil dating techniques. Sprinting from the original home savannahs of Africa out into Europe and Asia, our species rather quickly dominated the landscape. Our ancestral past as long-distance runners makes the current obesity epidemic dangerously ironic. If were were still a culture of long-distance runners, would the planet be in the shape it is currently?
clipped from news.yahoo.com
Photo

This artist rendering released by NASA/JPL-Caltech, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2007, shows four of the five planets that orbit 55 Cancri, a star much like our own. The most recently discovered planet, and the fourth out from the star, looms large in the foreground. Astronomers said Tuesday they have discovered a fifth planet orbiting a sun-like star 41 light years away, making it the first planetary quintet outside our solar system. The newfound planet joins four others circling the nearby star 55 Cancri in the constellation Cancer. (AP Photo/NASA JPL CalTech)
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