re “One Star Over, a Planet That Might Be Another Earth”



“One Star Over, a Planet That Might Be Another Earth”

by Kenneth Chang

The New York Times, August 24, 2016




I copied a friend of mine on this article. He emailed me back as follows:

Roger — yes I saw this exciting piece. What amazes me is that this planet is described as relatively close but is in fact a trillion miles away or so.



I replied to my friend as follows:


A couple of things:

Kenneth Chang, the NY Times’s lead science writer is excellent.

They used to have some boring ones (science writers) years ago.

I am woefully uninformed and poorly educated in science, but I find this sort of stuff fascinating.

To get to the planet Proxima b, traveling at incredibly fast speeds, would take something like a hundred (or is it fifty?) years.

Given its distance from us in light years, it would take around four and a half years merely for a signal or electronic message sent from there to reach us (and vice versa).

Another thing (or two):

We know that life on earth originated from a “primordial soup” … there were four basic elements present that made life possible.

It seems certain that life could originate elsewhere.

Planets that could be habitable keep being discovered orbiting other stars … this is only beginning because of powerful telescopes that we didn’t have before which are orbital.

It seems to me now — considering the arc of discovery, as it were — that there is no question whatsoever that there is life on other planets — there are so many stars in the universe, including the zillions with planets orbiting them, it boggles the mind.

Of course there are! I would be inclined to say — definitely, inarguably. There are habitable planets out there with a form of life. We just haven’t reached or contacted them.

— Roger W. Smith

     August 25, 2016

About Roger W. Smith

Roger W. Smith is a writer and independent scholar based in New York City. His experience includes freelance writing and editing, business writing, book reviewing, and the teaching of writing and literature as an adjunct professor. Mr. Smith's interests include personal essays and opinion pieces; American and world literature; culture, especially books and reading; classical music; current issues that involve social, moral, and philosophical views; and experiences of daily living from a ground level perspective. Besides (1), a personal site, he also hosts websites devoted to (2) the author Theodore Dreiser and (3) to the sociologist and social philosopher Pitirim A. Sorokin.
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