Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Jim Kaler on Earth

“This lovely thing”: Jim Kaler, Professor Emeritus of Astronomy at the University of Illinois, commenting on Earth as seen in the photograph Earthrise, drawing a contrast between the barren moon and our beautiful blue home. This comment came in the course of a talk on “Other Stars, Other Planets.”

The final speculative thought from Professor Kaler’s talk: since new planets, as we now know, are forming all the time, it may be that we are early witnesses to the life of the universe.

Further reading
Jim Kaler’s website

comments: 2

Elaine Fine said...

There is something reassuring about even the speculative idea of being on the ground floor of this project of life in the universe, and something exciting about the idea that 20 years ago the idea of other planets was only speculative. Now we have photographs and data. Kaler's talk certainly gave a whole lot of perspective to everything.

What we have here is really a thing of beauty among the colliding asteroids, debris, and extreme conditions of the bodies in space that we know about so far.

I'm still holding out for the idea of another "lovely thing" out there: something that is the right temperature and has the right elemental makeup to hold a cloud cover, and sustain a bunch of complex ecosystems.

Michael Leddy said...

I am just feeling very small. : )