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We don't even know our own planet completely yet

NASA recently announced the discovery of an exoplanet near the star CJ357 that, due to its characteristics, could be similar to the earth. The discovery of exoplanets similar to the earth is nothing new, but what is new is that almost simultaneously Facebook announced that we still don’t have accurate maps for large portions of our planet. 

Let's see if we can understand this issue: while we can know that the planet CJ357d (“d” means that it is the fourth planet in its planetary system), about 200 light years from Earth, is in the so-called “habitable zone” and that it could have water, we have not yet been able to make complete maps of Thailand and Indonesia.

TESS cameras (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) made it possible to determine that CJ357d could have an atmosphere dense enough for liquid water to exist on that planet.

But, at the same time, most of the routes in Thailand and Indonesia, according to information published by Facebook, are not yet listed on any map. In fact, the process of creating those maps began ten years ago and it has not completed because the work is done by volunteers and the maps are created manually.

In short, we can study a distant planet with a high degree of precision and, simultaneously, we lack accurate information about large areas of our planet. What a paradox! We see the distant, the remote, but we don’t see what is near to us.

The paradox is not new, although we have now taken it to a cosmic level, and we have involved artificial intelligence. Two millennia ago, a well-known itinerant teacher taught that it is easier to see the straw in another person’s eye than the beam in our own eye.

The same teacher said that we must first remove the beam from our eye before trying to remove the straw from the eye of the other person. With all due respect to that teacher, this teaching could be understood now as the need to know the inner universe before knowing the outer universe, although both actions are, in essence, inseparable.

We know, for example, that the star around which CJ357d revolves has a third of the mass of our Sun and is 40 percent colder than the Sun. But on earth, millions of miles of roads (streets, roads, bridges) worldwide are not yet listed on any map. We know, then, the distant planet, but we don’t our own planet.

Perhaps, without neglecting the exoplanets, we should change the direction of our eyes and look at our own planet and stop seeing it as an accumulation of inert material that we can extract, exploit and discard. Perhaps we should look even deeper within ourselves to discover what leads us to exploit and destroy our own planet. 

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