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Science in Washington, D.C., says he can't comment on the Swiss work because he wasn't at the meeting and the data are unpublished.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
    TDR, 14 Oct 2010 @ 6:39am

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

    Because most of the supposed "errors" people find in the Bible aren't errors at all, but rather misunderstandings of how God works, misunderstandings of Scripture, of the culture of the day, etc. There have been entire, pages long documents written explaining how these "errors" really aren't such at all. Rather, just people misunderstanding or taking things out of context or not being familiar with the setting of the time and how things were back then or, as I said, God's nature and how he really works.

    For instance, the lineage issue I just addressed is one such "error" sometimes brought up. Another is David's census of Isreal. In one book of the Bible, it says God inspired him to do it. In another, it says the devil tempted him to do it. Some take that as an "error" because it never occurs to them that both could have happened at the same time. Which they did. Those two books of the Bible were written at different times, one before the exile to Babylon and one after, and both are true. A thing can be done for different reasons, good or bad, and the motivations can come at the same time. That's all.

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