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Science in Washington, D.C., says he can't comment on the Swiss work because he wasn't at the meeting and the data are unpublished.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
    DNY (profile), 14 Oct 2010 @ 9:15am

    Re: Re: Re: To quote Peter Walker

    Thor? Too cute by half. I hope you realize that while some folks who call themselves monotheists may be one-god pagans, the ones you really have to engage in debate agree with you that there are no beings of the sort pagans called "gods" (we Christians were persecuted by the Romans on the charge of atheism), rather, we are firmly convinced that the ground-of-all-being, while absolutely transcendent, and properly unlike anything in our ordinary experience, is in some improper way more like a person than any other sort of thing, and ought be related to personally.

    If you want evidence for our position aside from the testimony of ancient texts, I would suggest that fact that the world is most well-described by mathematics suggests a kinship between the reason for existence and a mind.

    Now, some of us are also firmly convinced on the basis of events in the ancient Near East, that the ground-of-all-being (the Existing-One as he named Himself in the ancient texts you so scorn) transcends the distinction between unity and multiplicity, being at once the One God and the All-Holy Trinity, went to the trouble of assuming our nature in the person of the Son to fix the rather wretched relationship we'd vis-a-vis that same ground-of-all-being we'd gotten ourselves into (the technical name for which is "sin"), and so forth. But that is neither here nor there in considering the proposition "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."

    (Incidentally, I know you're not a Thor-worshipper. If you were you'd attribute the creation to Odin, Vili and Ve, who slew Ymir and fashioned the world out of his body. It's all there in the Eddas.)

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