What do we mean by Earth 2.0?

Over the past few years we’ve started to make some truly remarkable discoveries. Thanks to the Kepler Space Telescope we’re starting to discover the first Earth-sized planets orbiting other stars in the galaxy. We must tread forward carefully though, calling some of these planets Earth’s twin is dangerous, and we’re at risk of not realising the importance when we find the real thing.

The problems started last year with the announcement of the first Earth-like planet, Gliese 581g. The unfortunate thing is is that this planet probably doesn’t exist. More recently Kepler has discovered Kepler-22b, a super-Earth orbiting a slightly smaller star than our own in the habitable zone, the area where liquid water can exist. We don’t yet know though, given this planets larger size, whether it’s rocky or gaseous like Neptune. Yet the media hype this up and only make a small reference to the uncertainties. Just the other day NASA announced the discovery of the Kepler-20 system. Two of these planets are the same size as the Earth, does this qualify them to be our twin?

Kepler-22b – Rocky or Gaseous? We don’t know yet!

Venus is about the same size as the Earth but yet most scientists would avoid calling it our twin. Firstly there’s no water, then there’s the crushing atmosphere, runaway greenhouse effect creating temperatures of 460°C, it rains sulphuric acid. Twin? I think not.

When we do find a real Earth-twin though what do we really mean? A planet the same size as ours in the habitable zone? No, I think we need to go further, much further. An Earth-twin should also have a similar mass to ours. Too much mass and plate tectonics may not operate on the hypothetical world, meaning the surface doesn’t get recycled and there probably won’t be any life. We need to analyse the atmosphere. The James Webb Space Telescope will be able to provide this when she launches, hopefully in 2018. The gases in the atmosphere should be in a similar abundance to ours. We don’t want another Venus! Does it have a Moon? The Moon stabilises the Earth’s axis so it doesn’t wildly fluctuate that would cause catastrophic climatic changes (new evidence suggests a moon may not be necessary however). Only when these criterion have been met can we even start to think of announcing the discovery of Earths-twin.

Space agencies really should define what we really mean by an ‘Earth-twin’. We must be careful with upcoming reports of new planets, there are going to be hundreds more from Kepler over the next few years. We don’t want to become normalised to these discoveries because we’ll miss the significance when we do find a truly habitable Earth 2.0. That day will be one of the greatest days for science in history, let’s make sure we realise it.

David Cameron and my lack of morality

David Cameron, henceforth to be known as pleb face for the remainder of this post, has enraged me yet again. Not on issues of Europe or the economy but on religion and morality.

Pleb face has stated that ‘The UK is a Christian country’ (a link to the news article can be found here) which is something reminiscent of America being founded as a Christian nation, which of course it wasn’t.  Apparently we in the UK have suffered a ‘moral collapse’ suggesting that all of our morals have gone down the drain. According to pleb face we need to re-instill Christian values and morals to bring us all back to normal.

Sorry but, what a prick! I am deeply offended by these remarks. Why pleb face thinks religious values can sort this out is completely beyond me. Firstly it’s only the minority who seem to have suffered from this ‘moral collapse’. Pleb face actually announced yesterday the measures for tackling troubled families. This is good, it gets to the crux of the issues, this is where part of the problem lays, along with things such as poor education. Get these issues sorted and you’ll find people will have decent morals, rational morals, morals not based on religion. I am a moral person. I wouldn’t murder someone, I don’t steal, I’m courteous, I help other where I can. I treat others how I would like to be treated, none of it based on religion. But according to pleb face I need Christian values. Really?

Secondly we are not a Christian country, we are a secular society. The 2001 census data used is deeply misleading. It has been proved that the majority of people when marking the ‘what’s your religion’ bit of the census tend to put what religion they’ve mainly be bought up with or that they think they are associated with, despite not practicing the religion or even believing in a God at all.

Pleb face also defended the role of religion in politics. Aaaah, we’re turning into America! Religion has NO PLACE in politics. AT ALL.

In conclusion then, I am a moral person that has no religious values. So just treat others how you would like to be treated. It’s got the majority of us doing alright you’ll find.

The Infinite Time Machine

The Infinite Time Machine?

I was watching The Big Bang Theory earlier on, the one with the time machine, and I got thinking. If you traveled back in time and then back to the present, picked up someone and went back to that some moment again, would you have two time machines? If so could you go and use it at the same time as the other? If the answer to this is yes, surely you could end up with an infinite amount of time machines? Or would this be some kind of paradox and be prevented from happening?