December 2, 2010

The Exoplanet Generation

Image credit: ESO
I asked my seven-year-old daughter, "What do you call a planet outside our solar sys..." I didn't even finish my question when she excitedly exclaimed, "EXOPLANET!!!"

I laughed. She smiled. And then I realized: I am talking to a child of the "Exoplanet Generation", the young ones that were born from 1992 and onwards. It's the year when the first discovered exoplanet (orbiting a pulsar called PSR B1257+12) was announced. From then onwards, the accelerating rate of discovery defined the pulse of the Exoplanet Generation.

These "ExoGen" kids will grow up in a world very different from our own. When I was seven, i had no idea about other worlds. But the children of the exoplanet generation will bask in the weekly or daily news about the new exoplanet discoveries. They will wake up hearing new discoveries about how other lifeforms in platforms other than carbon may be able to thrive, or how life is possible on planets and moons outside our solar system.

Perhaps, in their lifetime they will witness the discovery of exolife, or be the ones to make the discovery itself, of life on other worlds!

And so, ExoGen kids...Welcome to brave New Worlds!