Discoveries of new planets just keep coming and coming. Take, for instance, the 18 recently found by a team of astronomers led by scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). "It's the largest single announcement of planets in orbit around stars more massive than the sun, aside from the discoveries made by the Kepler mission," says John Johnson, assistant professor of astronomy at Caltech and the first author on the team's paper, which was published in the December issue of The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series.
Some now suspect that there might be more planets than stars in the universe. What was once rare (rare earth, rare moon, rare mars) is fast becoming common stuff. But what is truly amazing to me is a point E.O. Wilson makes in On Human Nature: the brain was not made to open the secrets of the universe. And the universe was not made to be examined. "The essence of the universe, closed though it is for itself, has no barrier to defend itself against the courage to know it," wrote Hegel in 1813. I love the way he worded this strange and even troubling situation: the universe was supposed to be closed. We humans entered the scene like one who accidently walks into the room of a sleeping person.