An Exoplanetary I Told You So


The Kepler space telescope recently discovered a planet orbiting not one, but TWO suns. This new exoplanet may not be a very nice place,  but conceptually,  it could be a fascinating place.

Luke Skywalker’s home planet of Tatooine may be in a binary system, which explains why there are two suns in the sky as he woefully ponders his future over the swelling John Williams score in that scene that every guy knows by heart: “the future awaits”.

The “I told you so” comes because I wrote a screenplay a long, long time ago about the beings on a planet that orbited a binary system. Their circumstances were not as wild as those on Keper 413-b, where the seasons change with a frightening unpredictability and speed, but there was one clincher: every few thousand years the icy planet’s orbit took it between the two suns, changing it from an ice ball to a fireball. The resident beings had been modified from simple lizardlike animals into highly intelligent, sensitive beings by consciousless meddling humans. Where before they simply dealt with the stunning climatic change at an atavistic level, now they had to face it with sentience. It was a good story, but a crummy screenplay.

Still, you can ignore the prescience, can you? The farther we explore the universe of exoplanets, the more we will find that our wildest fantasies  could actually be memories!

The Curious Case of Exoplanets

Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of

I have discovered a phenomenon about expolanets that is quite beyond logical explanation. There exists a homogenous body of readers, anonymous and unknowable, that absolutely devours information on them.

Who Are They?

Here’s what we know about them: they are older than thirty years. They are men. They are of average income. They have bachelors degrees for the most part, with a small smattering of graduate degrees. Most curiously: they read about exoplanets from their homes.

In the world of other topics, most online readership of other kinds of articles occurs during the day, from work, which is where working people are during the day. Either these gentlemen don’t work, although it’s hard to explain the average income and college degrees, or they read at night.  Are they single? Are there that many single men focused on exoplanets that can’t read at work?

Some Numbers

In the last nine months, I have written and published 16 articles on planetary science. One of the articles was about the atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan. The rest were about exoplanetary discoveries. Between them, the 16 articles generated over 83,500 reads. The Titan article picked up just 66, while the rest went to exoplanets.

At first my thought was that the publisher of the exoplanetary articles did a better job than the Titan publisher: but they are the same company.

My readership numbers gently decline until I publish another article: then they leap through the roof. Older articles leap up in readership right along with the new one. This is a captive audience.

Who Are They?

My audience is focused like a laser on exoplanets, and won’t read anything else. My wife thinks they may be aliens from those exoplanets, looking to see what we’ve learned.  If I were Alex DeGrasse or Stephen Hawking I would think about it, but I’m not.

Is there something larger going on with the search for exoplanets? I’ve often wondered why we would search so hard for planets that might harbor life when we have no hope of getting there.

It ends like a ’50’s science fiction move. We have no hope of going there…or do we?