How do we know if an equivalent of planet earth exists?

Kepler optimism is running high. Scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astophysics have announced their discovery of eight new planets which exist in a ‘Goldilocks zone’ in relation to their star:

One of them, Kepler 438b, is a possible candidate for having water and supporting life.

From a TOK perspective, you might investigate the Kepler telescope – and the methods used for discovering exoplanets. You could evaluate the certainty with which these scientific claims are being made about planets at a distance of 470 light years away. There’s also scope to consider the roles played by reason and sense perception in the production of scientific knowledge.

Real life example:

The discovery of Kepler 438b, a possible candidate for having water and therefore the chance of supporting life.

Knowledge Questions:

  • To what extent is our scientific knowledge certain?
  • In what ways do scientific knowledge claims rely on the use of reason, sense perception and language?

Video Clip -Habitable Zones:

Video Clip – The Kepler Space Telescope:

An artist’s view of Kepler 186f, which experts say has now been pipped as “most Earth-like” known exoplanet


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