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Science in Washington, D.C., says he can't comment on the Swiss work because he wasn't at the meeting and the data are unpublished.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 @ 6:47am

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

    Because if you look in depth at the different believe systems, you'll find similar flaws in nearly all of them, save one. Because its approach is diametrically opposite to the rest. Most world religions are about how man can become God, but only the Christian faith speaks of God becoming man, dying, and coming back to life again. Only the Christian faith speaks of a truine God - something not found in any other faith. A God that is, to say, 3 Whos in one What. We, as humans, are one person and one being. But he is 3 persons in one being, separate yet one.
    Post hoc, ergo propter hoc. There are many similarities and differences between any and all religions when you line up any selected facets and compare them. That does not validate or invalidate any of them. And if you read a lot of the ancient myths, they're not about how man can become god... they're about how the gods are the image of perfection that man can NEVER achieve except in cases of heroes, which served to show what man COULD be if he tries hard enoug... sound familiar? The difference is that most ancient myths believed their gods to possess the flaws that humans do when it comes to things like greed, lust, arrogance, etc. Most books I've read on it think that these traits were included to add that sliver of a layer of attainability. If it were true perfection, it would not be the uplifting example of excellence to hope for... it would be a constant reminder of failure.

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