February 4, 2009

The Monster & The Beast of Exoplanetology

A little monster ferret that came to our family when exoplanets were all the rave. I almost named her "Exo", but spouse vehemently protested.
I woke up this morning with the voice inside my head : Exoplanetology is a monster.
Then I opened my eyes. And there it was staring me in the face.
Apparently, its not only the Art and the Science of exoplanets. We also need to consider the technology behind exoplanet research. We use computers and software to model exoplanets. We use simulations and visualizations.
We also have the data aspect behind it. In the coming years, petabytes of data will be beamed from high-end telescopes such as Kepler and James Webb Telescope. Such a thing is not to be ignored.
Exoplanet research also involve instruments. Highly technical instruments like new CCD's & astrophotonics. And then it begs the question of how planet-hunting will fare as a subset of Professional and Amateur Astronomy. Will a new class of "affordable" telescopes be developed specifically tailored for exoplanet-hunting?
Then there's the aspect of Thought. How does the discovery of earth-like exoplanets impact the prevailing human worldview? How does the discovery of extra-terrestrial life affect religions? How does the idea of new worlds out there impact the life and culture of society?
As one may realize, the Thought behind Exoplanets reaches all the way to Philosophy and Theology. And it makes me realize that an exoplanet lightyears away may not have any gravitational influence on earth at all. But the knowledge of it has plenty of impact on the human mind and psyche.
And it brings us to the most important beast: How do exoplanets impact the life of a single human being?
My eyes are wide open.
The challenge of Exoplanetology beckons.
The monster awaits.