The Search for Earthlike Planets

The Search for Earthlike Planets

2014, Science  -   28 Comments
Ratings: 8.32/10 from 175 users.

For many years, the remarkable planet-searching mission, Kepler, gazed at a large body of 150,000 stars situated in a neighborhood located 3,000 light years away from planet Earth. The valuable information harvested by this space probe has brought a critical point in this lengthy search for earthlike planets. Is planet Earth one of many life-supporting worlds scattered across the galaxy; or is it a unique garden of Eden in a desolate universe?

What are we discovering about our place in the universe, from the hunt for planets similar to Earth? Thousands of years ago, humans began to migrate across the planet, following mysterious roadways, traversing unfathomable distances. We followed all coastlines, and crossed dangerous seas.

We managed to cross the ocean's narrow passages depleted by the last ice age. Into every obscure part of Earth we went, looking for a land to put down our roots, to take care of our families, or just to discover what was there. Today, it's the unexplored universe that excites our imagination. With countless of stars in just one ordinary galaxy, such as the Milky Way, we make a logical estimation, that the universe must be packed with earthlike worlds, with life... even with humanlike life.

This supposed "many worlds" hypothesis dates back to age-old times, to China, India, Greece and Egypt. The Qur'an, the Talmud, and many Hindu texts all fancied a cosmos full of live forms. It wasn't until the 16th century that this belief became grounded in the solid concepts of the physical universe.

Astronomer and mathematician Nicolaus Copernicus asserted that Earth revolves around the Sun. That paved the way for the Italian monk, Giordano Bruno, a natural philosopher who assumed that the universe is everlasting and endless. He claimed that there is a myriad of worlds with various life forms, intelligent beings included. Bruno's explicit objections to church dogma got him put to death in the year 1600. His main ideas were proven when Galileo Galilei used his telescope to demonstrate that our Sun is just one among innumerable other stars.

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28 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Christian Petersen

    I wish the'd start making new documentaries with updates fact about today's advances, knowledge and discoveries!

  2. Carl Thatcher

    How defeatist, pessimistic to focus on possible human immigration to other star systems, when we have here just what we need. It's a magnificent, habitable place for all to reside, grow, thrive and discover more about what the world and its varied life systems are about. But this is true ONLY if we can care sufficiently for it and ourselves. No owners' manual here. But we have the knowledge and skills to go on with dedication, no gods required. Just perseverance and mutual cooperation.

  3. David Kachel

    Though I fully agree with Hawking that the human race can only endure by moving out into the stars, the 100 year thing is just ridiculous. Shame on Hawking for even saying it. The chances of an extinction event occurring in the next hundred years are almost certainly identical on whatever planet we might choose to colonize, as they are here. Not to mention on the space ship we might send there. Such a ship would face far greater risk than either planet. What a joke to rush to an uncertain planet only to discover it blew up two days before ours did. The only urgency is that of discovery.

  4. Ed

    Jeff, I have to disagree.

    Religion = Politics = Power/Wealth Accumulation and Control. Plus, there is nothing science about it. It's pure fantasy fiction. Apologetics is the pseudo-science fiction...working hard to "baffle with bullsh*t" the less intellectually endowed. I can almost here it now...

    I tells ya, all the learnin ya'll need is right in this here committee-approved, thousand-time edited, fairy tale inspired by Sky Daddy hissef. Now vote how we tells ya, pass the collection plate and give til it hurts.

  5. Tellenthetruth

    I have always known that NASA reached the one trillion dollar mark is spending, and its mission? No matter what dogma they pump out, their mission was and is to disprove the existence of God. One of their top scientists was fired this past year for implying thought was a possibility on why we are, as we are. Molecular Biology is clearly showing that Darwinists can no longer pass this blind unguided process is responsible for you and I are a product of design, and I believe that to be God. Science is a religion in itself, when they use theories as facts, and this happens in the biologies on a regular basis. Einstein when asked about God said that no mere human could explain such an entity, should God exist. He said to come back once science has produced a blade of grass, and we are still waiting. I wonder what one trillion dollars would do in the way of Cancer research? The answer is practically nothing, as chemotherapy is a 30 billion dollars a year industry. The same applies to heart disease, and why or how can that happen? It is really quite simple. Folks that believe in God have morals ingrained in them, while the religion or ideology of science, are completely devoid of, after all, they are getting ready for the trillions they will make with the baby boomers. Anyone can say its an earth like planet, and all this through red shift of light.They do not even know how light behaves at these extreme distances, but I will wait for that blade of grass. The audacity of these so called scientists,who are morally corrupt, but if you want to follow this ridiculous notion that their is life on other planets, read Genius and find out why God did what He did. I will put my faith in Him, while you dreamers can dream.

    1. Colin Curley

      Not sure which is worse, your bad grammar or the total nonsense you try to pass off as an intelligent comment.... You obviously are not a scientist

    2. U_Should_Know

      "Telingthetruth" (Nope, not a word of it).

      So many false statements, it's hard to know where to begin. No such thing as a Darwinist, but I assume you mean scientists that base their work one the scientific theory of evolution, are trying to pass anything.

      The very nature of science is that it is constantly reexamined - every time a biologist studies a new animal or tries to trace the linage of a known one, it tests (and so far has verified) the principles of evolution/Darwinism. Also it is not a blind process, it is guided by natural selection, or natural elimination, depending on how you prefer to look at it.

      The fact remains you do not need a conscious being dictating the path of life for it to stumble along the evolutionary ladder and after 3.5 BILLION years on our planet, finally create life mentally capable of tool usage within the last million years (or less than .03% of life's history on earth, about .007% of the universes history).

      On the other hand, it is hard to explain why, if this process was guided by a divine being, intent on creating intelligent life from the beginning, it took so long to have us come about.

      If Einstein said that no mere human could explain such an entity (and he was probably right), then why are you following doctrine written down by people thousands of years ago (though generations after the events they describe) by people who would not even be able to comprehend this very discussion?

      Lets see, what next: Oh yes, folks that believe in God have "morals in them"

      - really? does this extend to many mass murderers and terrorist who have killed innocent people in the name of their God, from the dawn of civilization to present day -

      while "those of science" do not

      - yeah, screw those researchers trying cure for cancer or help people with heart decease, mentioned earlier, they are corrupt and evil. That's why they many extra years studying and raking up personal debt to be paid a lower salary than business people with a bachelors degree. Because they did not want to do the ethical work of say... banking, when they could doing the evil work of trying to expand our knowledge so we could solve the problems of today and tomorrow.

      Wow. I'm glad you helped me come to this realization. (sarcasm)

      BTW, you may not want money to be spent on scientific evils, but they help us understand the world/universe around us, and NASA's budget is less than 0.5% of the US federal budget as opposed to for example 18% for military spending.

      Finally, this documentary had NOTHING to do with proving or disproving God. I personally think that science and the belief in higher power can co-exist, there are in fact many scientist who believe in some sort of God or divinity,

      BUT science as a discipline cannot accept doctrine or faith into its considerations, because that would negate the very focus of science on continually testing and finding empirical evidence for the theories it provides to further explain the world around us. And that is a GOOD THING, because it means science does not try to force you to accept anything it cannot prove (though I will accept there are plenty of people try to do so in the name of science, but that does not make them scientists or representatives of science).

      I rally hope some of that got through to you and you go educate yourself before blaming your next I-hate-science message.

    3. Jeff N.

      I was just getting ready to say that. :-)

    4. Jeff N.

      God? Who's that? Oh, the magic man in the sky? Is he kind to Santa Claus?

    5. Tellenthetruth

      A majority of Americans believe in God, and many came to our Savior through reasoning, as science has no answers, and in fact molecular biologists have already seen order, and information inside a cell. Information can only come through thought, but in reading your response,it tells me you surely do not think at all.

    6. Accursed Entity

      Yeah, because when a majority of people do something means they are right, is that correct? You speak with "pretty" words but do you know what they mean at all? Where do you get you christian facts? Because your "facts" are nothing but christian made lies. I'm sad for you really, good luck finding your true self with hypocrisy.

    7. Jeff N.

      Religion=Science Fiction. Poor science fiction. It's for those that are afraid, others that are greedy, and still others that want access to little boys. If there's a god that created this mess and suffering, I sure as hell want nothing to do with him. He's f*cked!

    8. Jeff N.

      I don't think NASA could care less about God.

  6. Robert

    An inevitable probability, sometimesI crack myself up.

  7. Sonicdude2445

    This is so great how we can make tech like this to venture off into other galaxies it's just amazing so amazing

    1. Tellenthetruth

      What light beam will you be riding? Einstein has been recently dished on the speed of light being the fastest phenomenon, but you did not hear that in the news.Get a grip on yourself and try reality.

  8. schwinndog

    all this for who? the kids of AMERICA hopefully! and only !

  9. John Doherty

    A good documentary but only relevant to theme from 13th minute IMHO

  10. bringmeredwine

    This doc was short but very interesting. Our ability to create technology to observe the universe is truly amazing. I really enjoyed the photos and graphics.
    I love my planet and never want to leave it.

    1. NX2

      ah nice, but it's bound to happen, some will want to leave. We've had the first primitive oceanic explorers. Now, imagine a few tribesmen on a raft floating through space :)

    2. bringmeredwine

      Not this old bird, Sweetie!
      I know, it's probably inevitable.
      Best of luck to them.

  11. dmxi

    it's next to a miracle how far we've come & when one ponders that by placing a certain amount of telescopical mirrors in to orbit functioning as one giant observing tool we could actually 'see' one of earths 'twins',i believe to have heard & that is just breath taking.

    1. bringmeredwine

      Isn't it amazing dmxi, how many truly brilliant brains there are, right here in our own universe? Man can be truly awesome!
      If only everyone used their powers, for good! There'd be no need to restart on another planet.
      We could just visit and experience a new world, instead of trying to exploit it for our own selfish devices.

    2. dmxi

      like a wise man said:the number of conscious minds in the universe is ONE!

    3. Heisveis

      Was he a psychopath?

    4. dmxi

      no,he was/is a psycho-scientist!

    5. Robert

      Earth rolls over every now and then. Yellowstone is way over due, asteroids, hydrogen, cobalt,atomic bombs. Life is hanging by a thread. All our eggs are in a single basket. It would be nice to have shelter in the coming storm. Of course the probability then for inter galactic war is enivitable.

    6. bringmeredwine

      I agree.
      There's been a recent near miss with a large asteroid. I learned about it after the fact! I'm still here busily paying taxes.
      All the power to anyone who wants the opportunity and experience to build/explore new worlds. It's just not for me.