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Science in Washington, D.C., says he can't comment on the Swiss work because he wasn't at the meeting and the data are unpublished.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
    Gabriel Tane (profile), 14 Oct 2010 @ 6:38am

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

    Yup... I was waiting for that. And I'm going to take them in reverse order because the second part is shorter to address...

    1) I did not say that god does not exist... I was calling into question your assertion that YOUR INTERPRETATION is the correct one.

    2) You say that your interpretation is backed up by the bible. This is just more of the circular logic that does NOT answer the question. I say "why should I take you at your word... I don't know you". And your answer is "read these words written by someone else you don't know". So, of course I say "Why should I believe these other people I don't know?" And you answer "because this book says it's true". That's worse than when my dad always told me "because I SAY so!"... I say 'worse' because I now understand his use of that was because he didn't feel like explaining or felt he didn't need to. Most religious advocates I speak to (such as yourself) use the "because I say so" only because it's the only proof you have... and when it fails (which it usually does), you only have "because this BOOK says so!"

    It's a book written by (have scholars agreed on who wrote it yet?) people LONG ago telling stories they HEARD from other people who heard them from still others, has been translated through multiple languages, and is riddled with contradictions and illogical statements.

    You're right in the assertion that taking this book at face value is a leap of faith... and you're welcome to yours. I truly do wish I had that kind of welcoming faith. But I need more evidence... more proof. And the bible only brings more questions than it answers.

    I am not calling into question the validity of your faith, or your interpretation of the universe. I'm calling into question your assertion that everyone else who disagrees with you is wrong when you bring no evidence (sorry, the bible is not evidence) to back up your statement.

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