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Science in Washington, D.C., says he can't comment on the Swiss work because he wasn't at the meeting and the data are unpublished.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
    Dark Helmet (profile), 14 Oct 2010 @ 8:38am

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

    "You say you believe in God yet you don't believe that a God that can create all this can get his word out."

    I do believe it could. I also believe that it could decide not to. I believe it could have allowed free will to reign and that man created much of the belief structure we now call religion. Given the way religion has been used as a social control mechanism in the past, I don't see this as particularly unlikely. Given that the book you're talking about was in fact written and managed by man, it seems likely that it is flawed. That could be completely wrong, but neither I, nor you, nor anyone else knows for sure.

    "How do we know the Christian God is "the" God? I will tell you how I know..."

    Again, profound respect for faith here, so I don't doubt you experienced anything you related. I also don't have a problem with it. I think some/all of it can be explained in other ways (social needs, chemical reactions in your brain, psychology, etc.), but that could all be wrong too. You at least sound like you care about your faith, which is awesome. I don't have a problem with that. My only problem is with you saying you "know" the Christian God is "the" God. Sorry, that isn't true. You don't know. You believe, which to me is far more powerful anyway....

    "Until you have been saved, you will not truly know the truth of scripture."

    I imagine the followers of David Koresh or Al Quaeda would say the same thing. That isn't convincing, sorry....

    "I can't quote the verses off hand"

    Acts 1:8

    "So there is no arrogance in my stating my beliefs, only confidence in the truth."

    In your confidence is your arrogance. Faith is beautiful. Treating faith as fact is horrendous....

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