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Science in Washington, D.C., says he can't comment on the Swiss work because he wasn't at the meeting and the data are unpublished.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 @ 1:10pm

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

    "If the bible isn't all true, then how could we know what is and is not true? What hope would there be for anyone? "


    That's an easy one... have faith. You yourself said that you came by your faith on a personal level with god. How is that tied to the book? If you found something in the book that truely made you doubt it's validity, would that also invalidate your belief in your god? I would hope not!

    The whole of the argument has been the validity of saying "my religion is fact at the exclusion of all others" or "at the exclusion of all evidence to the contrary". I think we've now agreed that religion and faith should exists where fact does not. ESPECIALLY where fact does not.

    So why does the bible have to be divinely accurate? If it does have flaws (which I believe it does) those flaws could EASILY (and most likely) lie with the fact that they were written down after being oral tradition, or written down long after the fact; then translated thru multiple languages, then 'edited' by a group of religious big-wigs long after the events took place.

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