In 1969, a British film, Doppelgänger, was released. The premise is simple: scientists discover a planet on the other side of the sun that looks just Earth: turns out, it is Earth, just a copy of ours, with the people there being copies of us. The primary difference is that the people there have their body parts on the opposite side of their bodies, and most people are left-handed. In the end, our hero, who is from our Earth, dies trying to get back.
The idea of there being a Counter-Earth is a fascinating one, one reason why the original Star Trek had Earth duplicates, although not to the level of people. However, for anyone who doesn’t know, that idea has since been reduced from “theory” to “concept,” since most scientists generally agree that we would have seen that planet a long time ago; I mean, thousands of years ago. We would have seen gravitational effects, and a whole lot more.
Furthermore, the Counter Earth concept, i.e. that we can’t see it, would require Earth’s orbit to be a perfect circle, which both planets on exact opposite ends. Since the Earth’s orbit is actually an ellipse, as I said, we would have seen it.
Now, you probably know all this. What amuses me is humanity’s fascination with meeting someone who looks just like us. I’ll admit it, it gets me too. That said, though, I’d rather not meet another me; a mirror does just fine for me, I’d rather not have a psychological mirror staring me in the face.
For some reason, the idea of having a doppelgänger on this counter Earth developed as well. If such a concept were possible, I’d prefer it be a completely different civilization: it would not only prove that we are not alone in the universe, but it would also force us to look at ourselves, and figure out which qualities we want to project.
I bring this up because a new sci-fi romance film, Another Earth, is being released, which brings up the old concept again, put against the backdrop of a woman in crisis who wins a trip to visit Earth 2 (as it is called). In the film, though, Earth 2 appears to be moving towards our Earth, and the poster depicts it as taking up a significant chunk of sky; larger than that of our moon. Like Doppelgänger, which I wouldn’t mind seeing, there are, well, doppelgängers on Earth 2, and part of the attraction of going there is meeting one’s double.
Cate Blanchett once noted that Western civilization was becoming increasingly “illiterate,” to the point where people were taking films at face value. Like many film fans, I enjoy films as entertainment, but make sure I do my research on the topics if I deem it necessary, which I usually do. I wonder if whoever sees Another Earth, and it won’t be too many people, barring a huge following developing when it’s given its limited release, will start actively looking for the counter Earth.
I hope, I really do, that this film, if it gets enough attention, will draw more people into astronomy, but for the right reasons. After all, if we actually do find Earth 2, complete with doubles for everyone, we don’t want them to think we’re morons.