We're overdue for another thread, so here it is. (I was hoping Doctor Science could do something with this particular bit of news. But I guess you'll have to make do with me.)
Wednesday, at the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) meetings, scientists had some highs to go with their feelings of concern: NASA has announced that TRAPPIST, the Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope, has found a wonder. In addition to the visuals in the NASA announcement, there is this artist's illustration.
It's a star with seven (7!) earth-sized planets, three of which may be in the zone to possible have liquid water -- apparently the central star is a very dim dwarf. And, since it's only 40 light years away, it's close enough that we may get more than just the bare minimum of information about them. Not just sizes, but actual information on atmospheres and what they are made up of. Perhaps even how planets which are tidally locked to a star can manage to keep an atmosphere circulating and temperatures tolerable.
It never ceases to amaze me how much more we know today about the universe around us than we did when I was growing up. (Admittedly, I'm of an age where I can remember going out into the yard to watch the first ever artificial satellite pass over.) And more information pours in every day. How anyone can fail to have a sense of wonder at it all eludes me -- science is just so damn interesting.