The Goldilocks Zone

Author: Yogesh P Rao
"Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning."

-William Arthur Ward

Ever since the beginning of mankind, humans have always been curious : What came first? The chicken or the egg? ; What happens after death? ; What is inside our body? ; But perhaps man has always been ever so curious about one particular question – Who are we? Are we alone? What exists out there in the vast region called “Space”? Well , the answers to these questions are never satisfactory. Yet, the curiosity remains. It persists.

One might have perhaps looked up at the sky and wondered if they could count the stars visible. Its impossible to count with our fingers. There are more stars in the Universe than the grains of sand on Earth. This vast, incomprehensible number leads paths for many possibilities – “Maybe there’s another earth” or “We are not alone!”. It would be impractical to rule out the possibility that we are really alone the same way it would be impractical to blindly believe in “Alien” life. However, research and curiosity might one day pave the way to answer the question, to indeed be Horton.

There is a little story called “Goldilocks and the 3 bears.” In brief, it is the story about a girl called Goldilocks who chooses the “just right” things in a hut belonging to 3 bears – Mama, Papa, and the cub. The girl picks the porridge which is neither too hot nor too cold and also chooses the bed which is neither too soft nor too hard. This story is the basis of the theory “The Goldilocks Factor.”

Earth, our favourite planet to exist in, is indeed habitable as it is not too far from the Sun nor too close. The planet is not too big nor too little. Earth is not too hot nor unbearably cold. We exist because the Earth is in a place which is known as the “Goldilocks Zone.” We live on a planet which is the “just right” porridge or bed for the girl called “Life” to exist or thrive in. This zone is the place where water is a liquid, where the only pressure that one would feel is metaphorical and not atmospheric. So many things went right for Earth so that we could enjoy the taste of Vidhyarthi Bhavan Dosa.

The earlier statement of the number of stars, leads or at least would make one wonder about the possibility – Are there other Goldilocks Zone? Indeed, there are other Goldilocks zones which might have planets in them. There is a factor, called the Goldilocks Factor which determines the probability of “Earth-like-planets.” In fact, there are 15 factors which were put together and led to something called the Drake Equation. It was a complex equation that calculated the number of planets in orbit around a star at the ideal distance for the sustained existence of intelligent life. The number of planets postulated based from the Drake Equation were 1000 to 100,000,000 in the Milky Way galaxy. More recent data from Kepler has put the estimate to around 12-17 billion Earth like planets in the Milky Way.

This does not still answer the question but is enough to excite one on the quest to find extra-terrestrial life. Maybe there are multi-cellular organisms on other planets? Maybe Aliens or even humans? Maybe there are humans like us or even a planet where CTR is better than Vidhyarthi Bhavan? Who knows, a planet where RCB wins every time. The possibilities are limitless. This in no way disproves or completely opposes the statement that maybe we were just lucky, the only life on the only Earth. One can only explore.

But to those who are curious, if there is anyone out there, “We come in peace for all mankind.”

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