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There may be no “earth-like” planets out there

This year has been a spectacular one for exoplanets. New discoveries and new insights have truly pushed the gateway to other worlds even further open.

In the past 12 months we’ve gained increasingly good statistics on the incredible abundance of planets around other stars and their multiplicity. We also finally seem to have evidence that our neighboring star Alpha Centauri B does indeed harbor at least one world. It is by any set of standards, a great haul.

But I continue to be a bugged by the claims of ‘habitable’ worlds and ‘Earth-like planets’ that seem to beset many scientific announcements (including I’m ashamed to say my own). In the spirit of closing out the passage of our 4,500,000,000 th or so orbit around the Sun I thought I’d try to set the record straight, because I think we have so much more to look forward to than simply finding ‘another Earth’.

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