Excerpt from theregister.co.uk
New research suggests planets similar to Earth are much more common across the galaxy than previously thought.
“Our solar system is not as unique as we might have thought,” says Courtney Dressing, graduate student at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
Ms Dressing bases this assertion on data from the HARPS-North (High-Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher, Northern) instrument on the 3.6-metre Telescopio Nazionale Galileo in the Canary Islands. This is designed to accurately measure the masses of small, Earthish-sized worlds. Once you have mass and volume, as any fule kno, you have density and thus a fair notion of what a given alien world is made of – and this tells you whether it can be much like Earth.
So chuffed are the Harvard boffins with this discovery that they’ve come up with a handy “recipe” for cooking up a world with Earth-esque life on it, thus:
1 cup magnesium
1 cup silicon
2 cups iron
2 cups oxygen
½ teaspoon aluminum
½ teaspoon nickel
½ teaspoon calcium
¼ teaspoon sulfur
dash of water delivered by asteroids
Blend well in a large bowl, shape into a round ball with your hands and place it neatly in a habitable zone area around a young star. Do not over mix. Heat until mixture becomes a white hot glowing ball. Bake for a few million years. Cool until color changes from white to yellow to red and a golden-brown crust forms. It should not give off light anymore. Season with a dash of water and organic compounds. It will shrink a bit as steam escapes and clouds and oceans form. Stand back and wait a few more million years to see what happens.
If you are lucky, a thin frosting of life may appear on the surface of your new world.