It is a very exciting time to live in. While modern medicine is prolonging human life, advances in technology have made our lives easy. The world has turned into a global village (thanks in large part to the internet and increasing inter-continental trade). The cost of communication has plummeted. Transportation is getting faster and cheaper, with more people travelling now than in any other time in human history.

The planet continues to shrink, but people’s horizons are getting bigger. Hence they strive to explore the heretofore “unknowns”, the most important of them being the exploration of the universe. And each discovery of a new planet or a constellation adds to people’s intrigue.

Perhaps the most intriguing question of all: Are we alone in the universe? Unlikely. The discovery of a new planet by the European Southern Observatory in Chile adds to the increasing body of literature documenting new celestial bodies in outer space. The new planet is one of the most life-friendly planets ever discovered. This, in turn, raises the possibility that there are hundreds of thousands of similar planets in the universe. Odds are that at least some of them support life, a few even advanced life forms.

The discovery of a planet inhabited by advanced life forms will have immense implications. First of all, will “they” resemble the aliens in sci-fi movies or will they be beyond our wildest imagination? Will they be friendly or hostile, advanced or less developed compared to human beings?

I still recall my high-school physics teacher telling us about the Big Bang that gave birth to the universe. The Big Bang theory fascinated me no end, even as it saddened me a little. I could not bring myself to believe that human beings are only sub-products of a much bigger phenomenon beyond their control.

A lot of water has flowed under the Bagmati bridge since and the scientific progress during the time has been simply unbelievable. I am very excited about the endless possibilities of the discovery of “Second Earth”. At the same time, the fact that so little is in our control continues to haunt me. “No one could have stopped the Big Bang,” my physics teacher said. “Not even God.”