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Science in Washington, D.C., says he can't comment on the Swiss work because he wasn't at the meeting and the data are unpublished.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 @ 10:17am

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

    Not to butt in on this (which I am reading with avid enjoyment!)... but now you're talking about faith as (I think) Dark Helmet meant. DH, correct me if I'm wrong.

    Faith IS believing. What we've been arguing is that faith is not PROOF... or at least not proof for anyone but one's self.

    But I do want to sidetrack a bit on another of your statements... I just wanted to interject my interpretation of Jesus saying "no one comes to the Father but by me" and ask your opinion on it (anyone, really). Considering the poetic and symbolic language used in the bible, could he have not meant "you won't reach heaven and stand with god unless you live the life I'm preaching and strive to be like me"? This is my personal belief here, but I think god would be more worried that we get the message he and his son are teaching and live the right kind of life than to symbolically accept Jesus' divinity.

    Finally, I want to say that I've enjoyed reading and participating in these discussions. They have been very informed and informative without any anger or hate. I hope everyone else is getting something out of this like I am. Anytime I can hold my views up to someone else's and see them contrasted by other perspectives, I feel a bit stronger in what I believe... even if what I believe has to be modified a bit under these new lights.

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