The New York Times has created an interactive feature tallying all of the exoplanets discovered by NASA’s Kepler Telescope. You should really check out the link, because theirs is animated, and much bigger, and completely awesome, so go check it out.
Although the Kepler telescope is currently dead in the water thanks to some broken gears (although there may be some hope for a resurrection), scientists continue to sift through its data in order to move exoplanets from the “possible” to the “confirmed” category. As of today, we have a total of 1,049 confirmed exoplanets (and counting), which is a drop in a drop in a drop in the bucket for how many are estimated to be out there. Those confirmed 1,049 represent a mere 0.00000001% of the likely 100 billion planets (or more) in just the Milky Way (which doesn’t even count free-floating rogue planets!)
Assuming we continue to fund future missions, the estimates of total planets will certainly change. And as scientists continue to dig through Kepler’s data the number of confirmed planets will definitely continue to rise. Our next steps will be to directly image them (we still don’t know what these exoplanets look like, despite what artists want you to think) in order to analyze the makeup of their atmospheres and whether they have the right chemistry for life (at least as we know it). That will take new tools, and decades of work.
Thanks to planet-hunting missions like Kepler, we are on the cusp of understanding our place in the universe more clearly than ever before in the history of our species. We may be the only living needle in the haystack of planets, or we may not. That distinction isn’t what makes us special. No … what makes us special is that we can know.
Double Bonus: Find out more about how astrobiologists calculate the odds of extraterrestrial civilizations in this episode of It’s Okay To Be Smart: The Odds of Finding Life and Love.
(this is an updated version of a post from earlier this year)
Ten of the Best Storybook Cottage Homes Around the World
These 10 fairy tale inspired cottages with their hand-made details call to mind the tales of the Brothers Grimm and other fantasy stories. All of these cottages are real-life homes from around the world. From stunning cottage houses to mystical stone dwellings, these 10 storybook cottage homes provide inspiration and inspire the imagination.
- Hobbit House - Rotorua, New Zealand
- Winckler Cottage - Vancouver Island, Canada
- Akebono kodomo-no-mori Park, Japan
- Wooden Cottage - Białka Tatrzańska, Tatra Mountains, Poland
- Blaise Hamlet - Bristol, England
- Willa Kominiarski Wierch - Zakopane, Poland
- Forest House - Efteling, The Netherlands
- Cottage in the Hamlet of Marie Antoinette - Versailles, France
- Cob House - Somerset, United Kingdom
- The Spadena House - Beverly Hills, California, United States