Sunday, September 18, 2016

Exoplanet Fatigue?

Oliver Morton thought that the recent Proxima Centauri exoplanet news would be bigger; he ponders why he was wrong: “It will be a long time before you see another exoplanet on a front page”.
Various people suggested to me on twitter that the public has become a little blase about exoplanets, possibly because they have been a bit oversold. (One person suggested that astronomers may have cried wolf too often, which I mention mainly in order to link to this bit of brilliance from Mitchell and Webb). With regular announcements of planets more “earthlike” than the last — but with no evidence that any of them is actually remotely like the Earth — the fact that this one was nearer than any of the others hardly seemed like that big of a step forward.

It is a real challenge in the public communication of science to explain the interesting parts of incremental progress.

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