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What should we name Earth’s twin?

plunkett column sig

By
From page A2 | January 23, 2013 |

In the Jan. 7 edition of the Daily Republic (in the editorial section on the Opinion Page), there was an editorial that discussed the probability of astronomers finding one or more alternate “earths” out there in the cosmos. That is, planets like ours that would be able to sustain human life.

The editorial went on to explain that in order for this to work for us, the planet(s) must lie within what is referred to as the “Goldilocks Zone” – being not too hot and not too cold. Isn’t that adorable?

This shouldn’t be confused with the “Red Riding Hood Zone” – all the better to eat you with (AKA a black hole). Nor should it be confused with the “Hansel & Gretel Zone,” the “Rapunzel Zone” or the “Rumpelstiltskin Zone.”

Professional astronomers are confident that NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope will find an Earth 2.0 sometime this year. There are also myriad volunteer amateur astronomers that have made astounding discoveries by closely examining data from NASA spacecraft and files. They’ve already found evidence of 42 alien planets, including one the size of Jupiter (approximately 120 times the size of Earth), that could potentially be habitable for human life.

Basically, they’re searching for Earth’s twin. You know what’s going to happen if Earth discovers that it has a twin? That’s right, the two planets are going to quickly try to catch up on what’s been happening during the past 4.5 billion years (or 6,000 years if you’re a creationist). Then it’s inevitable that Earth and its twin are going to start dressing identically. They’ll do that really annoying twin-thing about finishing each other’s sentences. Heck, they’ll probably even start sporting the exact same haircuts. It’s going to be embarrassing, really.

I believe in UFOs and intelligent life on other planets. I really do, and I don’t think that that makes me crazy. No, there is a virtual cornucopia of reasons as to why I’m crazy, but I don’t believe that the UFO-thingy is one of them.

I’m a numbers guy, so let’s quickly crunch some numbers.

There are an estimated 50 billion galaxies that are visible with modern telescopes. So, the total number of galaxies must surely exceed that number. We’ll be conservative and double that number, making it 100 billion galaxies.

There are on average as many as hundreds of billions of stars in each galaxy, but let’s just call it an even 100 billion.

For those of you keeping score, that would mean that the total number of stars (suns) in the universe would be roughly 100 billion times 100 billion, which equals 10,000 billion, billion. This is a 1 followed by 22 zeros (or 10 sextillion).

Now, how many of those stars (suns) have planetary systems? Well, our sun has eight planets (nine if we could still include poor little Pluto). That’s quite a lot. Some have more, while some have none. For the sake of being ultra-super-uber conservative, let’s say that there is only one planet for every 1 million suns. This would still come out to 10 quadrillion planets (a 1 followed by 16 zeros).

The final equation would be to figure out how many of those planets are capable of supporting life. If we assume that it’s very rare and say that only one planet in a million can support life, then that still leaves us with 10 billion planets in the universe that are capable of producing and sustaining life.

Pretty good odds if you ask me.

The only logistical problem here is: how far away are these other planets? Yeah, those pesky light years are a real pain in the neck. But it was only a mere 66 years between the Wright Brothers’ first flight to Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. Forty years later we’ve got a rover on Mars and we’re taking pictures of the four corners of the universe. Can you imagine what we’ll be doing 100 years from now?

What if another planetary civilization had an evolutionary jump on us by 1,000 years? Or perhaps even a 100,000 years?

Even though there are more questions than answers here, I think it’s really not a matter of if, but when. The really important question is, when we do find Earth’s twin, what should we name it? Maybe Starbucks? Bieber? I’m voting for Plunkett.

What do you think it should be named?

Reach C.W. Plunkett at [email protected]

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 29 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • CD BrooksJanuary 23, 2013 - 6:50 am

    Krypton \S/

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Well maybe.....January 23, 2013 - 7:33 am

    Brooksahoy?......like Chips Ahoy?.....Nahhhh

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • OrJanuary 23, 2013 - 7:44 am

    Velorapper----- A planet of vicious small reptiles that sing in an annoying manner.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Planet...January 23, 2013 - 7:50 am

    Janet...?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Planet...January 23, 2013 - 8:11 am

    RubberDuck10/4......OK My Brain is in a Blender today....somebody else take over!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksJanuary 23, 2013 - 8:40 am

    If for just one second, you could imagine the extraordinary cost over-runs, inevitable delays and probable casualties to develop such a planet, you’d recognize the “super power” it would take to become reality! Just sayin... :)

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  • C.W. PlunkettJanuary 23, 2013 - 1:26 pm

    I agree, CD, but can you also imagine that maybe in 100 years or so, we'll all have our own space vehicles (ala Jetsons) and once we're done trashing this planet, we can all go to another planet and start trashing it! Pretty cool, huh?

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  • CD BrooksJanuary 23, 2013 - 3:48 pm

    Very cool Sir!

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  • Planet....January 23, 2013 - 11:41 am

    Bertha

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • I have found it....January 23, 2013 - 12:48 pm

    Planet.....Eureka

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Teddy BruiseveltJanuary 23, 2013 - 8:27 am

    It shall be called...Firth.

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  • C.W. PlunkettJanuary 23, 2013 - 1:34 pm

    So, we'd name it after Colin Firth? A hollywood actor? Hmmmm.....

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Jack SofalotJanuary 23, 2013 - 8:35 am

    Dear C.W. Plunkett, Are you me? This is exactly the run-down I give to folks who shun the entire "life on other planets" discussion - almost word for word. Now, I must say that you are being a bit conservative regarding the number of stars that might have one or more planets. Already we're discovering buttloads of planets around many suns, but I digress... We should name the new planet: Sitys (pronounced: sit-ee-yus). Which is an acronym for" See, I Told You So

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  • Hillary ClingonJanuary 23, 2013 - 8:57 am

    Planet.....NoParkingAllowed

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  • Snarl SayagainJanuary 23, 2013 - 9:20 am

    Planet....Cosmos.......See wwwcarlsagancom...What a depressing website, I do not like the music.

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  • William ClingonJanuary 23, 2013 - 9:40 am

    Planet....UltraVixen

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  • C.W. PlunkettJanuary 23, 2013 - 1:31 pm

    Yes, Jack, I was waaaaaaaay conservative on my estimates, just to make it sound so utterly possible... which it IS! Concerning you other comment, perhaps we ARE twins! Or maybe just dopplegangers. Clones? Dunno. You sound highly intelligent though. And your name kind of sounds like... uh... well, I won't go there... not right now anyway...

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  • Billions and Billions of LaughsJanuary 23, 2013 - 10:11 am

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjK3Jh1S1o4

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  • Forbidden PlunkettJanuary 23, 2013 - 11:55 am

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BogNQ__nOeI

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • C.W. PlunkettJanuary 23, 2013 - 1:32 pm

    Ooooh... Forbidden Plunkett!! Dude, I am SO digging that one!! Sweet!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • rich giddensJanuary 23, 2013 - 1:22 pm

    If the newly discovered planet is uninhabitable, hostile, rude, disgusting and full of unintelligent lower forms of life then I suggest it be named "California''. Otherwise, it should be named ''America''.

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  • C.W. PlunkettJanuary 28, 2013 - 2:43 pm

    I like the way you think, Rich. LOL...

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Where does the phrase come from U ask?January 23, 2013 - 1:32 pm

    There is an exact unit of volume called the butt........ See Webster's dictionary: Butt: a measure of liquid capacity equal to 126 gallons or two hogs heads........... From another dictionary:............. An English butt is 2 hogshead of 54 imperial gallons each or ~129.7 US gallons (i.e., a UK butt is apparently slightly bigger than a US one)........... A Spanish butt is based on a wine cask and is equivalent to 140 US gallons or ~116.6 UK gallons (i.e., a Spanish butt is bigger still)......... So next time someone says they have a "butt load" of stuff, just remember, that is about two 55-gallon barrels worth of stuff...........StR...Please use the word buttload in a sentence....OK...Local Vinters of Napa and Suisun Valley, please send me a free buttload of your best Vino.....Thanks

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • StRJanuary 23, 2013 - 1:43 pm

    I think everybody has had just about enough of me. So Goodbye Everbody...

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • or Maybe?January 25, 2013 - 2:40 pm

    Planet.....Katocs

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  • The planet Katocs also known as.....January 25, 2013 - 4:13 pm

    AKA....The Planet of Easy Women

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  • C.W. PlunkettJanuary 28, 2013 - 2:44 pm

    Hmmmm... that has a nice ring to it.... :-)

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  • After much thoughtful pondering....January 28, 2013 - 2:48 pm

    Maybe we should consider....Planet...Empyrean or possibly.....Planet.....Yummynumnum

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • OrJanuary 28, 2013 - 2:59 pm

    Planet....Clubapenguin? I think I have lost my Muse.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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