Media Screws Science Up Again

NBC News reported this morning that astronomers have found a planet capable of supporting life. Why, here is a picture of the happy guy right here.

Except, as you can predict by this essay’s very existence, they got every piece of that wrong.

Actually, it was the Kepler space telescope who found a new planet. And that planet is at a temperate distance from a very stable, ordinary star. That’s it. There is no more.

Now, one could argue that a planet at that distance could have a comfortable temperature. We don’t know that’s the case.

One could theorize that a planet at that distance could be made of a rocky, solid material suitable for standing on, and not be a middle-mass ball of poison gas gathered around a liquid metallice core. We don’t know that’s the case.

Possibly, if the planet were solid, there could easily be liquid water on the surface in enough quantities to serve as a catalytic laboratory for mixing organic compounds. We don’t know that’s the case.

And maybe there is an atmosphere there capable of protecting the surface from catastrophic bombarments, and even providing a source of oxidization of the organic compounds so that cool and complex stuff can happen. We don’t know that’s the case.

Perhaps even there is a magnetic field around the planet, you know, if has enough rotating metal in its core, to protect the surface from lethal doses of radiation that would otherwise sterilize fragile life on the surface or just below the soil. We don’t know that’s the case.

So what do we know? We found a planet. For all we do know, this planet is a dry, bloated gasbag of toxicity and deadly radiation, peppered with meteorite hits, in a lazy orbit around a cold star.

And that photograph is simply the work of an artist who knows nothing more about the planet than you do. Here’s your proof.

About The Czar of Muscovy

Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia by upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.