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Who’s Been Sleeping on MY Planet?

First Goldilocks planet found

keppler-22b-120411Renowned scientist Dr. Stephen Hawking believes we Earthlings should be making serious plans to move elsewhere. He’s worried that we’ve screwed up this planet so badly we should find another one. (Kind of like trying to resolve a problem at home by moving the whole family to another house.)

Still, Dr. Hawking may be in luck – sort of. Astronomers have discovered what may indeed be the first known habitable planet outside of Earth. Keppler-22b lies in what scientists call the Goldilocks zone around its sun – not too close, not too far away.

The planet is about twice the size of Earth, and astronomers are not yet sure whether it rocky, watery or gaseous. The star that it orbits is a little smaller than our sun and a bit cooler.

So far, so good, Dr. Hawking. Just one catch: Keppler-22b is 600 light years away. So if our cousins there could travel at even a third the speed of light, their ancestors would have to have left there around the time of Jesus in order to land here today. So it’s all a bit out of reach until we develop warp drives or whatever.

Meanwhile, the whole notion of abandoning Earth is not only nonsense, but dangerous nonsense. If we can’t take care of our own planet, the worst idea in the universe would be to have Earthlings trampling all over other planets, going to war with their inhabitants or eating them into extinction.

Better idea: quarantine the planet we’re on, at least until our descendants have learned things like the Prime Directive as well as how to build a warp drive.