"I had an experience... I can't prove it, I can't even explain it, but everything that I know as a human being, everything that I am tells me that it was real! I was given something wonderful, something that changed me forever... A vision of the universe that tells us, undeniably, how tiny, and insignificant and how ... rare, and precious we all are! A vision that tells us that we belong to something that is greater than ourselves, that we are not — that none of us — are alone!" --Ellie Arroway (Contact)
How exciting is this?! We found a planet! Not just any planet either--a planet much like Earth (probably)!
Kepler 22B is the first confirmed planet that NASA has detected that is roughly a little larger than Earth's size and is orbiting its G-type star (the same class as our Sol) within the habitable zone (i.e., the "Goldilocks Zone"). This means that the planet may have water, and if so, then it is almost guaranteed that it will have life (of some kind).
Now, although astrophysicists still don't know for sure if this planet has water, it is one of 48 new potential candidates of Earth-like planets which may.
I think this news is mega-exciting and I am kind of sad to see the media attention surrounding this monumental find so mundane. Sure everyone is reporting on this find--but then nobody is talking about what could be a defining moment in human history. Here we are, staring down at potentially Another Earth. That's just mind blowing.
The only problem is that it's 600 light years away. So there is no way to travel there. But there are ways we could set up a communications relay. Although I am only practicing a bit of wishful thinking, it wouldn't be entirely implausible.
We could build giant hexagonal ring laser relay which, like a series of jump-gates, use a series of highly concentrated lasers to twist and warp space-time and there by bending space-time and artificially generating a wormhole. This technology is already available, so I don't see why we couldn't start planting relay gates such as these in space. Build our own "stargate"!
Yet implementing such a project would take a ton of resources, not to mention the initial problem of being able to travel fast enough to do it within a few thousand years. Warp drive technology is theoretically possible (and also see here), but again we face the challenge of finding an energy source strong enough to warp space enough so that a starship could ride the space time wave faster than light.
Regardless of whether or not we could ever make first contact with an alien race, it seems to me that Kepler 22B represents a dream which all people share--the dream of adventure, of interstellar travel, and of being a part of history. It seems to me, we may already be witnessing history in the making and not even truly be aware of it.