Month: May 2024

  • The Great Oxygen Exception


    Our planet is rare and beautiful; blue planets are even more exceptional. Astronomers have discovered 5,502 planets around other stars (known as exoplanets) in the Milky Way. In our solar system, only one other planet is blue, Neptune, reflecting the methane embedded in its ice. Other blue planets have been discovered. HD189733b, for example, orbits its yellow-orange star, HD189733, and NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope measured the actual visible-light color of the planet. 

    An oxygen atmosphere, however, is truly unique, which is why we exist as self-conscious beings, made up of the stuff of the universe, but thinking and reflecting on the universe. We breathe based on plant life, where sentient, self-conscious beings breathe, and this has no precedent across the galaxy. We may never discover any self-conscious forms of life anywhere.

    Oxygen-based life is so exceptional that it has not always been the case even for most of Earth’s existence