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  • Writer's picturePatrick Rizio

Getting closer and closer

Above is an artist's conception of what planet K2-18-B might look like. It is a mere 124 light years away. Not much in cosmic terms. It was recently in the news after the James Webb Telescope showed the mixture of gasses on the atmosphere of the planet suggested it might have a global ocean beneath a hydrogen atmosphere. The atmosphere might also contain dimethyl sulfide. In other words, it maybe has chemistry that could support life, or indicate life. Full disclosure, that is a BIG maybe. Astronomers will be conducting further research to confirm or deny the chemical make-up of the planet.

There are basically 2 schools of thought about which planets other than Earth might contain life. Rocky worlds like Earth, or worlds dominated by oceans. As well as having to have liquid water they would need to be in goldilocks zone distances from their star or stars, (not too hot, not to cold), and have certain chemical compositions and combinations present to be considered candidates. K2-18-B could possibly, (again that is a big maybe), meet these conditions. Will we find evidence of intelligent life there? I think not. Will we find evidence of some lesser form of life there? Maybe bacteriological? Possibly.

400 years ago people were being punished for making the outragous claim that the Earth revolves around the sun. In 1992 the first exoplanets were discovered. We now know that most stars have planets. That translates to hundreds of billions of planets in just our galaxy alone. Our visible universe has hundreds of billions of galaxies, and we know our visible universe isn't all there is. To focus on whether or not K2-18-B has some form of life is significant to be sure. But we shouldn't be missing the bigger point. In just about 400 years we've come light years from our starting point concerning our knowledge of the universe. (Actually, from our very concept of reality if you think about it). Do the mind boggling numbers of solar systems indicate intelligent life is out there? It would seem so. One thing's for sure—we're getting closer and closer to finding out every day.

Talk soon,


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