Planet Declared As 100% Likely To Have Life... Now Can't Even Be Found

from the oops dept

You may recall a few weeks ago, we wrote about the discovery of the first "potentially life-sustaining planet" outside of our solar system, which got some astronomers so excited that one declared the chance of life on the planet to be 100%. Of course, he may want to adjust his optimism a bit downwards as Slashdot points us to the news that another group of astronomers are saying they can't find any trace of the planet:
But at this week's Astrophysics of Planetary Systems meeting, astronomer Francesco Pepe of the Geneva Observatory and the Swiss group reported that he and his colleagues could find no reliable sign of a fifth planet in Gliese 581's habitable zone. They used only their own observations, but they expanded their published data set from what the U.S. group included in its analysis to a length of 6.5 years and 180 measurements. "We do not see any evidence for a fifth planet ... as announced by Vogt et al.," Pepe wrote Science in an e-mail from the meeting. On the other hand, "we can't prove there is no fifth planet." No one yet has the required precision in their observations to prove the absence of such a small exoplanet, he notes.

Astronomer Paul Butler, a member of the U.S. team who is at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C., says he can't comment on the Swiss work because he wasn't at the meeting and the data are unpublished. He notes, however, that more observations will likely be needed to solidify the existence of Gliese 581g. "I would expect that on the time scale of a year or two this should be settled."
So, perhaps before we declare it 100% likely to have life, we should make sure it actually exists.

Filed Under: astronomy, habitable, planets


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  1. identicon
    CrushU, 13 Oct 2010 @ 3:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: To quote Peter Walker

    Plugs on a computer are called male or female, are they physical beings?

    Christ referred to God as His Father.

    Yet, for quite some time, authors referred to gender-neutral parties as 'he'. You think the Bible is an exception to this? Christ walked the Earth at a time when women were treated ... not well. In that context, it makes sense to refer to a 'Father', not a 'Mother'. It's also possible Christ meant something else, but found the best way to convey the concept as referring to a 'Father'.

    The Bible itself is a paradox; It claims that itself is reliable, how can that be possible? It's circular reasoning!

    Many suppositions made in the Bible have been proven true by archaeology and physics. That is, unfortunately, the best concrete reasoning provided for the Bible being true available to outside testing. There is STILL debate on whether parts of the Bible were literal or figurative, so the debate doesn't end just on 'Is the Bible true?'.

    On the plus side, the Bible says that all of Creation reveals God in and of itself. Christ Himself stated that if He were to try and prevent people from stating He is Lord, the rocks themselves would cry out to affirm this fact. (That'd be one of those 'is that literal?' passages.)

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