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Science in Washington, D.C., says he can't comment on the Swiss work because he wasn't at the meeting and the data are unpublished.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
    TheOldFart (profile), 14 Oct 2010 @ 7:27pm

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

    Why oh why oh why can religious people never take the time to read, consider or understand basic concepts like Pascal's wager?

    You just wait, when you find out the Easter Bunny really exists he's not going to give a fried egg whether you genuflected the correct number of times or sacrificed the proper number of oxen or went to church every Sunday.

    Are you afraid now? Are you scared that it doesn't matter to the Easter Bunny?

    That's *precisely* how much concern I have over what a god might think. It's an imaginary being, it's a story, a legend, a mythical creature, a movie character, it doesn't exist, it doesn't think, it doesn't have any plans for your or me and it sure as hell has no power over me or anyone else, unless they're dumb enough to think "right, well, I've heard about this invisible being and I better obey whatever it is they currently think he wants me to do even though I can never know what it is he wants me to do".

    If I believed he existed, I would reject him anyway for being the horrific piece of crap that he would have to be to allow children to suffer and die and allow such horrific things to not only happen naturally but to allow them to occur in his name.

    Go search youtube for "Harlequin baby". That's your invisible being in action. Wow, that's the kind of invisible being I'd choose to bow down before, yesiree. That's who I want to follow. Yeah, someone that'd do that to a child, or by inaction allow it to happen. Great moral example there.

    There are roughly 3,000 gods, historical and current. Are you *sure* you picked the right one? Positive? Because if not, you better think about what the real god thinks about your statements and actions. Maybe you better study up on the other 2,999 gods that you know nothing about?

    To quote Stephen Roberts: "I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours"

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