Topic: Four hundred years ago, Galileo pointed a simple telescope up at Jupiter and discovered moons orbiting around that planet. That was the first time any human had seen such a moon orbiting another planet, and it upended our entire conception of the universe and our place within it – a seminal moment in the history of the enlightenment. It took until just over two decades ago for astronomers to find a planet orbiting around another star. This episode features a conversation with astronomer Dr. Fred Ringwald, of the Department of Physics at California State University, about exoplanets, the possibility of life on some of them, and about the endarkening effect of US politicians refusing to look at facts and actively thwarting the study of our own planet for political reasons driven by short-term profit-seeking.
Image: Chart of Kepler planet candidates as of January 2014. Credit: NASA AMES