Dec 16 2009

We’ve found Earth episode 9

Published by at under media,space

I can’t believe I’m about to walk down the well-worn path of critiquing science coverage in the traditional media, but here we are.

Super-Earth: Newly Discovered Planet May Have Water – TIME.

Or more accurately – it *is* water. Every exoplanet report that reaches the traditional media tends to be exaggerated to feed the desire for an exciting story, and I think the net result is that the typical dispassionate observer may have concluded several times by now that earth like planets have been found.    For example, the findings that Gliese 581d and e may or may not be in the ‘habitable zone’ of their star triggered similar earth-like stories.   Now this new discovery of a 6.5 Earth mass ball of hot ice is throwing similar keywords.

However my favorite part of the article is this:

<blockquote>a planet 2.7 times bigger than Earth, circling a dim red star called GJ 1214, just 40 light-years away in the constellation Ophiuchus.</blockquote>

Yes, it’s *only* 40 light-years away, we can just stroll over there.  And how to decide whether to use the mass or radius when reporting how much “bigger” it is?  Let’s use the smaller number to increase the earth-like excitement!

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