The universe described in the bible made sense to the shepards and farmers of 3,000 years ago. It consisted of the Sun and the Moon above the flat Earth, with the stars set as lights in a solid firmament rotating around us, and above the firmament was the glorious realm of Yahweh.
That description was based on limited observations, and now it’s a wee bit outdated. Most of us understand that the Earth isn’t the only world in existence, it’s not the center of the universe, and the universe is — cough, cough — somewhat larger than the bible suggests.
Most creationists dimly realize that their divinely described universe doesn’t exist, and they persevere by double-talking about the inaccuracy of their ancient scrolls. But how long can they go on?
According to the latest tally available from NASA, perhaps not yet updated for the news we’re about to report, there are 2,787 planetary systems out there, with 3,735 confirmed extra-solar planets, of which 153 are terrestrial (i.e., rocky, not gaseous like Jupiter). They don’t give a figure for how many of those are in the habitable zone of their star, but so far it’s a dozen or two. And that tally doesn’t include 121 giant planets that may have habitable moons — see More for Creationists To Worry About.
And it keeps getting worse — for creationists. Today we found this at PhysOrg: Nearly 80 exoplanet candidates identified in record time. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:
Scientists at MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] and elsewhere have analyzed data from K2, the follow-up mission to NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, and have discovered a trove of possible exoplanets amid some 50,000 stars.
In a paper that appears online today in the Astronomical Journal, the scientists report the discovery of nearly 80 new planetary candidates, including a particular standout: a likely planet that orbits the star HD 73344, which would be the brightest planet host ever discovered by the K2 mission.
PhysOrg is getting their information from this MIT press release. They don’t provide a link but this is probably the paper they’re talking about: Planetary Candidates from K2 Campaign 16. Without a subscription, all you can see is the abstract. Okay, back to PhysOrg. They say:
The new analysis is also noteworthy for the speed with which it was performed. The researchers were able to use existing tools developed at MIT to rapidly search through graphs of light intensity called “lightcurves” from each of the 50,000 stars that K2 monitored in its two recent observing campaigns. They quickly identified the planetary candidates and released the information to the astronomy community just weeks after the K2 mission made the spacecraft’s raw data available. A typical analysis of this kind takes between several months and a year. … Such speed will also be a necessity when scientists start receiving data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, TESS, which is designed to monitor nearby stars in 30-day swaths and will ultimately cover nearly the entire sky.
Can you imagine the horror a creationist must feel when he becomes aware of these discoveries? The PhysOrg article is long, so we’ll give you just one more excerpt:
Since the team released its results, astronomers have validated four of the candidates as definite exoplanets. They have been observing other candidates that the study identified, including the possible planet orbiting HD 73344. Crossfield [Ian Crossfield, an assistant professor of physics at MIT who co-led the study with graduate student Liang Yu] says the brightness of this star, combined with the speed with which its planetary candidate was identified, can help astronomers quickly zero in on even more specific features of this system.
“We found one of the most exciting planets that K2 has found in its entire mission, and we did it more rapidly than any effort has done before,” Crossfield says. “This is showing the path forward for how the TESS mission is going to do the same thing in spades, all over the entire sky, for the next several years.”
We can’t imagine what it’s like to be a creationist and be bombarded by news like this all the time. But it’s a problem they inflict upon themselves, so we won’t worry about it.
Copyright © 2018. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.