Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Naked Scientist: An earthlike planet found! (Planet X revealed)

Looks like I'm returning to one my deepest roots. It has been ages since I last listened to a podcast, mostly due to time constraints, so today I thought, why not? I of course selected the best science podcast out there in the void of the world wide web: The Naked Scientist. The intrigue that captivates me during such a broadcast is astounding. The questions asked, by what I can only assume are vivid fans of the show, are quite frankly deep and outstanding as always.

The first topic that was discussed was about something that I did not expect to hear about for another couple hundred years. A planet not too far way (about 40 light years) has been analyzed to contain a viable atmosphere, optimum water levels and potentially similar life to our own. Such a discovery nearly threw me off my chair.

This Planet X as scientists call the model Earth was detected by observation of the nearby star which emits vast quantities of light. A small irregularity first suggested that a planet exists in that particular solar system. The gravitational tug of the planet from its star is also a sign of its existence. It's about 20 times the radius of earth and does not spin on its axis. This means that one side of the globe will be in sunlight all the time while the other in complete darkness. However there will be areas adequate for living quite comfortably with a nice climate and liquid water on the surface.

If we send a vessel equipped for the journey at this instant in time, it will take a long time to reach it but the rewards for our future generations will be great. It is said that there may many more planets like ours in the Milky Way just waiting to be discovered. About 20 % of all solar systems contain such a planet in its orbit.

From now on I have resolved to listen to these podcasts every week. The website also contains various transcripts of their most famous articles so I would suggest visiting it (http://www.thenakedscientists.com/
My voyage to Poland will be on the 27th of December. I will be there for a week, a change of setting will do me good. Hopefully the European airports will be blizzard-free and open for business.