“I have lost tolerance for things without meaning. There is no time for them. Does that make sense?” -Sara Seager
The discovery of a potentially habitable planet around the nearest star to our own — Proxima Centauri — has brought up the tantalizing possibility that this might be closest Earth-like world ever found. But it’s important to realize that as much as we’d love to find a world humans could inhabit and colonize beyond our Solar System, there’s a big difference between calling something “Earth-like” and having it actually be like Earth.
An artist’s rendition of Proxima Centauri as seen from the “ring” portion of the world, Proxima b. Winds would appear to originate from the direction of the Sun, always, which would never rise or set. Alpha Centauri A and B (shown) would be visible during the day. Image credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser.
While Proxima b and Earth have many things in common, mass, size, flux received from their star, etc., they also have many striking differences. Some of these would be noticeable at day, others at night, and others still would make a habitable world as we recognize it extraordinarily unlikely, or at least very different from the the ...