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Science in Washington, D.C., says he can't comment on the Swiss work because he wasn't at the meeting and the data are unpublished.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
    Karl (profile), 13 Oct 2010 @ 8:56pm

    Re: Flame on!

    And yet these are the same people that will claim with a straight face that evolution is the end-all, be-all, no-argument, for-absolutely-certain ONLY answer for life on earth.

    Ha, I was wondering how soon this thread would turn into anti-science proselytizing. I couldn't decide whether it would be from a religious fundamentalist, or some Lacan-quoting postmodernist philosopy major. Turns out it's in the first post! And not just against science, but against evolution at that!

    Of course, RD is correct. Evolution is a myth. the universe was created on September 21, 1897, by Santa Claus. If there is evidence of the universe which predates that, it's only because Santa put it there.

    Now, I know that there are a lot of doubting Bumbles out there, who won't believe that an old man in the sky with a white beard could be the Creator of the Universe. So I'll prove what I say is true.

    A physical being limited in space and time could not possibly deliver presents to all the children in the world in one night, no matter how many reindeer disciples He has. So logically Santa must be pan-dimensional. This would also explain why He can be ringing a bell on a street corner, while I am also sitting on His lap inside the local shopping mall.

    Similarly, in order to produce enough toys for the whole world, He would have to have a massive factory. Since we have flown over the North Pole without seeing any evidence for it, it must therefore exist on a higher plane of existence. A factory cannot run without raw materials, which means that Santa must be able to generate matter out of the void.

    Santa must also be omniscient, because otherwise, He would not know who to put on His list, which He checks twice, of who's been naughty and nice. Obviously He is older than the human lifespan, so He is likely immortal.

    These beliefs are propped up by empirical evidence. For instance, my letters are answered on Christmas morning in the very real form of gifts under the tree. Sometimes I don't get what I ask for, like that one time when I asked for a Transformer but received a Gobot instead, but I chalk this up to a test of faith. Besides, I am only a limited human, so cannot comprehend the wisdom of Santa's actions.

    Other people have proposed different ways in which those presents could get under the tree, like the "Consanguineal Model of Gift Distribution" (and related theories like the "Stocking-Stuffer Hypothesis"). But those people are fools, whose beliefs are based on faith as much as mine. Mired in nonsense theories that were abandoned in Ptolemy's time, they can't even prove with any certainty that Santa doesn't exist! Their real agenda, obviously, is to eliminate the idea of Naughty and Nice, and make the world bow down to their Clausless beliefs.

    I hope they burn in Hanukkah for all eternity.

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