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Science in Washington, D.C., says he can't comment on the Swiss work because he wasn't at the meeting and the data are unpublished.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), 13 Oct 2010 @ 12:45pm

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

    "I don't claim to know the mind of God."

    Good start....

    "But the bible is how you can know something about why God did the things he did."

    Er, not really. The Bible will provide you with a many-times-interpreted by many different men, minus several books that didn't make the "cut" for a variety of reasons (some of which had to do with claims of accuracy, some political), of why God did some stuff, although most of it is like quadruple hearsay (This guy knew one guy who's brother told him that God appeared in a dream....). That's very different from "know".

    "As for the claim that the bible can't be right because it was written by man...."

    Uh oh.

    "if God can create all of this"

    This being a world that includes flaws and imperfections....

    "then surely that God can get a book written to say what he wants it to say."

    Sigh. This is where the hardcore religious folks lose me. I ask them, if their version of God is correct, why it lets things like murder happen. "Because," they tell me. "God gave us free will, and man is imperfect, so we routinely do messed up stuff."

    So I say "ok", then we can assume the bible follows those same rules. "No, no, no," they say. "The bible is perfect." But wait, it was written by man? "Yes". And man is fucked up? "Yes". Then the bible might be fucked up too? "No."

    Awesome. You want proof that the bible, at best, has been unduly influenced by man? It's actually really easy. Despite the fact that the bible indirectly tells us that the heavenly God is purely spirit, with no physicality, God is referred to as male throughout the Bible. Imagine that. A bunch of male priests (other than a few outliers) took an asexual being and made it male. Huh. So they took what should be called "it" and made it male.

    How is that "perfect"?

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