The sad self-obsession surrounding NASA's Kepler-22b discovery
Isn't there something faintly sad about the discovery of a planet whose temperature of 72 degrees automatically leading to the idea that it's "another Earth?"
Here we are, burning up our planet until it is a wasteland fit only for Denzel Washington.
Yet the minute we discover that there might exist another place out there whose average temperature is 72 degrees, we get all excited that it's "another Earth."
We don't even say "another San Diego," which seems more approximate to that average temperature than, say, New Jersey. No, we're excited because there might be more people like us out there. Or, perhaps, because there might be somewhere to which we can escape when we finally blow up this little place.
In case you have spent the last 24 hours staring into the mirror and wondering about buying yourself plastic surgery for Christmas, NASA today, a planet that might house water and therefore might house life as we know it.
With a tiny leap of logic, we are therefore forced to imagine that we might have found our twin.
I know that the current Facebook fun has encouraged so many people to trawl its pages in the hope of finding someone who looks exactly like them. But why are we so obsessed about finding a planet--and, therefore, people--just like us?
Personally, I am faintly tired of people just like us. I would dearly love to communicate and commune with entities that have 10 limbs, 15 methods of sound and vision, and no such thing as hockey.
I want to meet beings who know that Buddha was a bit of a fantasist and that this earth is fourteen eons backward compared to the hundreds of other civilizations that spend their days making sure they never get too close to this one.
I want to listen to other-worldly beings laugh at us and our pathetic, counter-productive ways. I want to learn how beings out there can make themselves entirely invisible and never even contemplate becoming a Kardashian. I want to hear them guffaw at the notion that we would dare to call a planet 600 light years from us "another Earth."
The notion that Kepler-22b is "another Earth" is surely as valuable as the notion that pink is the new black. Or that Justin Bieber is the new Van Morrison.
How sad that we would wish to look at discovery through out own narrow prism, instead of wondering just what forms of "life" beyond ours might exist in worlds beyond ours.