Why Life May Be Common Throughout the Galaxy

The super-Earths discovered by NASA's Kepler mission may be better at supporting life than Earth itself, says the Harvard astronomer who coined the term super-Earth. 

What's the Latest Development?


NASA's Kepler mission has discovered thousands of planets outside our solar system which, being larger than Earth but not so large as gas giants, could harbor life. Due to their size, astronomers refer to these planets as super-Earths. Now, the Harvard astronomer Dimitar Sasselov, who coined the term super-Earth, says these planets may be better at harboring life than Earth itself: "Their larger size make its easier for them to retain their atmospheres, and they are more likely to have active plate tectonics, supporting a CO2 cycle that regulates the temperature of the planet’s atmosphere."

What's the Big Idea?

Given vastly different chemical compositions, life on other planets may look very different from the life we know on Earth. Sasselov says that the emerging field of synthetic biology will help us understand what different forms of life are possible on other worlds. Not only is Sasselov confident that life exists elsewhere, given the nearly 100 million Earth-sized planets he estimates to be in our galaxy, "he believes our growing knowledge of super-Earths and other exoplanets will help us find 'friendly harbors' beyond Earth that one day will allow us to spread life beyond our world."

Photo credit: shutterstock.com


LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

26 ultra-rich people own as much as the world's 3.8 billion poorest

The Oxfam report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency."

Getty Images and Wikimedia Commons
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A new report by Oxfam argues that wealth inequality is causing poverty and misery around the world.
  • In the last year, the world's billionaires saw their wealth increase by 12%, while the poorest 3.8 billion people on the planet lost 11% of their wealth.
  • The report prompted Anand Giridharadas to tweet: "Don't be Pinkered into everything's-getting-better complacency." We explain what Steven Pinker's got to do with it.
Keep reading Show less

People who constantly complain are harmful to your health

Moans, groans, and gripes release stress hormones in the brain.

Photo credit: Getty Images / Stringer
popular

Could you give up complaining for a whole month? That's the crux of this interesting piece by Jessica Hullinger over at Fast Company. Hullinger explores the reasons why humans are so predisposed to griping and why, despite these predispositions, we should all try to complain less. As for no complaining for a month, that was the goal for people enrolled in the Complaint Restraint project.

Participants sought to go the entirety of February without so much as a moan, groan, or bellyache.

Keep reading Show less
Videos
  • Facebook and Google began as companies with supposedly noble purposes.
  • Creating a more connected world and indexing the world's information: what could be better than that?
  • But pressure to return value to shareholders came at the expense of their own users.
Keep reading Show less