Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Kepler 20 mystery

As many of you good folks at the signal know, I am a follower of all things weird and wonderful. Many of the links and stories I post here in the signal have to do with strange discoveries and anomolies and enigmas. Here is another one, buried deeper than normal within the layers of posivitist spin. For our purposes we will call it the Kepler 20 mystery. It has to do with the recent return of data from deep scanning sattelites ('telescopes') that indicate the very probible presence of a planetary system surrounding the star Kepler 20. The 'discovery' of such extra solar systems is a recent development, as as such catches the public imagination. The Kepler 20 data is especially interesting because the bodies detected seem to be the right mass and at the right distance from their star - in the 'Goldilocks Zone'. Obviously the possibility of other Earth-like worlds, even as far as these, is an exciting one. Equally obvious to a critical reader is that this science is in it's infancy and we are not quite sure what we are seeing. These worlds have not really been 'discovered', only their probability mapped; and in some cases something like what we would expect to find - a characteristic wabble in the parent star- is detected by our current instrumentation.It is wise to remember that canals were detected on Mars by then current technology in the 19th and early 20th Centuries. All that said, it is really interesting stuff - and if it pans out could lead to real discoveries in the future.  But buried under all the mutual back patting, name lists, technology awards, and budget justifications is something even more interesting than the new worlds themselves.  Something truly fascinating for those who take a moment to consider it. 

"The planets, called Kepler-20e and Kepler-20f, are part of a five-planet system around the star, and their location challenges current understanding of how planets form, scientists said. In our own solar system, the small rocky planets are closest to the sun, while gaseous giants are on the periphery. But the five-planet system has no such dividing line; big and small planets alternate as one moves away from the star."AP 12.20.2011 

EH? Could it be that our instruments and ideas are flawed, as sceptics will no doubt argue (if they ever clue in - they are busy debunking Santa this time of year) ...
But what if they are not? If these new worlds of Kepler 20 are real enough, then the understanding of how planets form is deeply flawed. That leads us to consider what elements of our current theory are at fault. These elements are our most BASIC laws of physics and nature.This is really spooky stuff! Thoughts, anyone?

Artists impression of Kepler 20F 

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