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Science in Washington, D.C., says he can't comment on the Swiss work because he wasn't at the meeting and the data are unpublished.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 @ 10:26am

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

    "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."

    It's not proof to one's self either. Rather, it's the taking of an idea, recognizing that you can't proove or disprove it, and choosing to believe it anyway. In spiritual matters, that's way more powerful than saying you "know" something for fact. If you know it as fact, then what power is there in faith?

    "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"?"

    Look, there's a lot of history and false history surrounding Christ, as you'd expect with someone so important. There's evidence that his words have been totally taken out of context and that he was actually something far different from the way we interpret him. There's evidence that he's EXACTLY how we interpret him today. There's evidence that he's somewhere in between.

    The question I ask myself, one which you seem to be doing as well, is "what's important?"

    I choose to believe that any God that may be out there cares far more about people being good than believing in a guy named Jesus. Christians interpret his words to mean that unless you accept Jesus Christ as THE savior, you're doomed to hell. To me, that's silly, and any God that created that system would be evil, as there are many peoples in the world that have never HEARD of Christ. I wouldn't want to believe in that God....

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