The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

April 17, 2014

Mike Pound: Will new Earth-like planet have better cable offerings?

When I read that astronomers have discovered the most Earth-like planet yet, I had a couple of deep scientific questions.

First: What’s the Wi-Fi like?

And: Are their TV channels better than ours?

Hey, I didn’t get an “Incomplete” in college astronomy for nothing.

According to an Associated Press story, the planet was discovered by NASA’s orbiting Kepler Telescope. Scientists with NASA have decided to call the new planet “Kepler-186f,” which doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.

What that means is that if there is a Carol King on the Earth-like planet, her song would go like this “I feel the Kepler-186f move, under my feet …”

Clearly, NASA astronomers have no feel for lyrics.

By the way, when NASA announced that it had discovered a new Earth-like planet, the guys over at the NSA said, “That’s nothing. We’ve been spying on it for years.”

Ha! That’s just an NSA joke.

According to the AP story, the planet is 500 light-years from Earth and located in the constellation Cygnus. The AP story said one light-year is almost 6 trillion miles. So, if you do the math, our new bestest planet buddy is … well it’s a long way away.

How long? Well, its area code is 85183274082764038.

The new planet is so far away that if Chris Christie ever visited it we would barely be able to see him.

It’s so far away that the Bravo Channel is at least two years away from launching a “Real Housewives” series from there.

It’s a long way, is what I’m saying.

The AP says the discovery of the planet is a pretty big deal. Apparently, astronomers have been searching for a planet outside of our solar system that closely mirrors Earth for a long time. What the astronomers have been looking for is a place where they can send people who use “OMG” and “LOL” in every text or Tweet they send.

I can see that.

The planet, the AP story says, is about 10 percent larger than Earth and it may contain water, which, as everyone knows, is necessary if a planet wants to have a pool. The newly discovered planet likely “basks in an orange-red glow from its star and is most likely cooler than Earth,” the AP story says.

Well, sure, I could be cool, too, if I got to bask in an orange-red glow.

Elisa Quintana is the lead researcher at the NASA Ames Research Center and she said that she considers the planet to be more like a cousin to Earth than a twin because it circles a star that is smaller and dimmer than our sun. Quintana said it only takes the planet 130 days to orbit its star rather than the 365 days it takes Earth to circle the sun.

What that means is if there is an NBA on the planet, the playoffs would take two years.

Ha. Get it? I’m saying the NBA playoffs tend to take a while.

The AP story says that it’s not clear if the planet has an atmosphere but if it does, it’s probably got a lot of carbon dioxide, which I think is bad. Lisa Kaltenegger, a Harvard astronomer said, “Don’t take off your breathing mask if you ever land there,” which sounds bad but is exactly the same thing my dad used to say about the backseat of our station wagon after a long family vacation.

So far the Kepler Telescope has confirmed 961 planets but only a few dozen are located in “habitable” zones. The rest, the AP story says, are mainly giant gas balls such as Saturn, Jupiter and Rush Limbaugh.

OK, the AP didn’t say that last one.

Do you have an idea for Mike Pound’s column? Call him at 417-623-3480, ext. 7259, or email him at mpound@joplinglobe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mikepoundglobe.

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