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Science in Washington, D.C., says he can't comment on the Swiss work because he wasn't at the meeting and the data are unpublished.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. icon
    TheOldFart (profile), 13 Oct 2010 @ 5:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Wow

    "Having said that, evolution as the theory currently stands doesn't do the complete job either. There's just too much missing information...."

    Huh? Missing information does not mean the theory is incorrect. It doesn't even imply that the theory might be incorrect.

    It took a long time to fill in the details of quantum theory. There is still a lot of missing information. No one thinks that quantum theory is wrong because there are things we don't know or how things we do know actually fit into the theory. The theory is falsifiable, the theory allows scientists to make fantastically precise predictions that have repeatedly been validated.

    Likewise the theory of relativity. Einstein never thought we'd be able to actually observe gravitational lensing. He and Bose predicted the Bose Einstein condensate 60 years before we had the technology to actually create it. Those predictions were *spot on*.

    The theory of gravity works. The theory of relativity works. Quantum theory works. Evolutionary theory works, it's falsifiable, it makes predictions. Gaps in our knowledge of any of those areas do not invalidate those theories and they certainly don't open the door for suggesting that invisible beings are responsible for any aspect of them, something that the OP insists is not just a possibility but an absolute certainty.

    BTW, ID is not anything different than creationism, it is precisely the same thing. They simply did a search for "creation" in their ridiculous "literature" and swapped that term with "intelligent design". That was what the court case (I believe in PA) was all about, the judge found that it was an attempt to whitewash creationism.

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