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New Study Shows Solar System Is Uncommon

kdawson posted about 6 years ago | from the isn't-that-special dept.

Space 290

Iddo Genuth writes "Research conducted by a team of North American scientists shows our solar system is special, contrary to the accepted theory that it is an average planetary system. Using computer simulations to follow the development of planets, it was shown that very specific conditions are needed for a proto-stellar disk to evolve into a solar system-like planetary system. The simulations show that in most cases either no planets are created, or planets are formed and then migrate towards the disk center and acquire highly elliptical orbits." The research was published in Science magazine; here's the paper on ArXiv (PDF).

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Great! (5, Funny)

vigmeister (1112659) | about 6 years ago | (#24839983)

Ever since mothers were allowed into academia, all their research has been telling us is that we are SPECIAL.

Cheers!

Re:Great! (5, Insightful)

tomtomtom777 (1148633) | about 6 years ago | (#24840005)

I wouldn't read it like that

Space is still the big unknown. If this "shows' anything, it seems more probable that this 'shows' that the simulations aren't complete enough yet.

If they would deduce this from actual statistical data, it would show something, but deducing this from simulation seems a a bit to trustful to the current state of science if you ask me

Re:Great! (5, Insightful)

4D6963 (933028) | about 6 years ago | (#24840111)

I agree. Basing conclusions off simulation models is risky, mainly considered how in the domain of planetary simulations, well established models get entirely questioned every once in a while.

And at this point even actual statistical data is hard to use to conclude anything about our solar system, because of our limited observation capabilities, what we know has a heavy statistical bias.

Climate Science (5, Insightful)

bencollier (1156337) | about 6 years ago | (#24840143)

I dislike pointing this out, but that's an interesting parallel with climate science. I remember hearing recently (on Slashdot?) that climate models primarily base their data on one or two sources that, if altered slightly, would throw the simulations pretty severely, one way *or* the other.

Re:Climate Science (4, Informative)

asc99c (938635) | about 6 years ago | (#24840335)

It's an interesting parallel with anything where you base a conclusion off a simulation. But with climate science there are very significant differences.

With our own planet we have reasonable records of how conditions changed in the past and the results of that. We've got extremely detailed recording of the current situation and the recent past. We've got firmly established science showing why those changes would cause those results. The world's climate is a little chaotic and the simulations match that state of affairs.

When modelling planetary discs, we're nowhere near as sure of the physics. We can only get decent observations of our own solar system, and there isn't a disc of dust to observe. Even the best telescopes can barely see the discs of dust around stars. We could barely detect our own solar system around another star, let alone watch it form.

Re:Climate Science (3, Interesting)

peragrin (659227) | about 6 years ago | (#24840535)

Actually no we don't have a lot of reasonable data. We have a few hundred point sources from before 1920, and it slowly goes up from there. indeed according to climatologists this past summer should have been warmer than average, yet instead it was cooler. climatologists will need to be right more than 50% of the time if they want me to believe them. Heck just this past weekend the only thing they predicted correctly was the daily highs and lows. They were so far off the mark with wind, clouds and rain that it isn't even funny.

The Farmer almanac predict a cold winter,for most of the USA, while climatologists say it will be warmer than normal. Yet the track record of climatologists is horrible, the farmer's almanac is right about 80% of the time.

Re:Climate Science (4, Insightful)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 6 years ago | (#24840611)

climatologists will need to be right more than 50% of the time if they want me to believe them. Heck just this past weekend the only thing they predicted correctly was the daily highs and lows.

And you'll need to stop confusing climatologists with meteorologists.

Re:Climate Science (5, Funny)

sleeponthemic (1253494) | about 6 years ago | (#24841095)

climatologists will need to be right more than 50% of the time if they want me to believe them. Heck just this past weekend the only thing they predicted correctly was the daily highs and lows.

And you'll need to stop confusing climatologists with meteorologists.

What does a meteor have to do with this weekends weather?

Leave science to the scientologists I say..

(They're the authentically named 'ologists for the job).

Re:Climate Science (4, Informative)

vidarh (309115) | about 6 years ago | (#24840775)

Climatologists are now working with reasonable proxy data for the last 1300 years, not just "a few hundred point sources". These proxies are things we can measure today but that reflect past temperatures, such as sediments, growth rate of coral etc.

Re:Climate Science (2, Interesting)

Vidar Leathershod (41663) | about 6 years ago | (#24840849)

Growth rate of coral. Wow, talk about drinking the kool-aid. How does anyone know what else might have affected the growth rate of coral at the time? And "sediments"? I know this is difficult for people who want/need to believe in the latest fad, but you can't tell someone what the temperatures were without a measurement of said temperatures with an accurate temperature measurement device installed and calibrated to our modern specifications being used by people of whatever time period you are wondering about.

It never fails that when someone questions a foolish, oft-wrong authority that a response from the crowd of "Defense! Defense!" is heard. It's like the Zero-population gain folks, with their Malthusian scenarios. It doesn't matter how many times they're wrong, someone will try and take a micro-sample somewhere to use for evidence.

We have no reasonably accurate measurement of temperature before the existence of reasonably accurate measurement devices.

Re:Climate Science (4, Informative)

asc99c (938635) | about 6 years ago | (#24840963)

Growth rate of coral is one data point. You can also look at ice cores, tree rings, stalactites, isotope analysis of rocks. And sediments can refer to all kinds of interesting information, both organic and inorganic in nature.

You might be able to cast doubt on coral growth rings, but when everything is pointing in the same direction, you've got to pay attention to the most obvious reason for that.

Re:Climate Science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24841031)

Awesome, so given the past performance of the London Stock Exchange, you could predict it's future performance? AWESOME!! Where do I sign?

Even assuming that the data you have is perfect, it doesn't mean the result of a simulation is going to be perfect. In the case of your proxy data for global(???) temperature...is it at all possible that other factors affect the growth rate of coral? Or that maybe just maybe fluctuations in the rate of deposition of sediment may have a looser correlation with temperature fluctuations than you think? Maybe?

I'm not a climatologist, or even a statistician, but I would have thought that just collating more and more "probably correct" data points doesn't necessarily make them more accurate, especially when you're plugging them into a simulation...

Re:Climate Science (1)

Splab (574204) | about 6 years ago | (#24841021)

Sigh. Why does people still insist on thinking global "warming" means it gets warmer?

No we have no conclusive fact that humans are the ones causing _climate change_ but the climate change is very real.

Travel around Europe and all will tell you same, weather isn't as it used to be.

It might be that we have no chance of changing the course - perhaps the sun is getting warmer and we can do squat about that - but what if taking the bike/public transport, turning off your equipment instead of standby did make a difference? You lost nothing and the world gained everything.

Re:Climate pander (1)

noshellswill (598066) | about 6 years ago | (#24841037)

So ... climate "science" is SPECIAL, eh? Hehehe. Not TOO self-serving a viewpoint, but just self-serving enough! Next we discover that climate SCIENTISTS are not moved by self-interested scare tactics, donot cherry-pick data and cannot be bothered with statist pander. And that virgins have lots of babies.

Re:Climate Science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24841121)

We have maybe 100 years of consistent weather records from sources in North America and Europe. If we estimate approximately 4500 years of human history (based on old kingdom Egypt), then that's 2.2% of recorded history that has detailed weather records. If we assume a 4.5 billion year life of the Earth, then we no longer have a percentage.

Weather systems are extremely complex and we're only just beginning to understand them. Let's not make of the mistake of scientific arrogance when we don't have enough data to back up our claims.

The best we can say at the moment, is that we're noticing a warming trend. We have no idea, what the effects of the trend will be, nor do we have a firm grasp on what's causing it.

Re:Climate Science (1)

Candid88 (1292486) | about 6 years ago | (#24840341)

Whilst I see the comparison there are some major differences. We have climate records going back thousands of years and more (ice samples, tree rings, fossilized plant growth, crystal growth, geological formations etc.) and the ability to perform direct observation on the climate.

Other solar systems however are an almost complete unknown. We have no past data to validate anything against and we have only recently started indirectly detecting the existance of extra-solar planets through very complex means.

I don't think the two can really be directly compared.

Re:Climate Science (4, Interesting)

v1 (525388) | about 6 years ago | (#24840781)

That sort of situation is commonly called "the butterfly effect". As the saying goes, a butterfly flapping its wings over a highway in australia could be the deciding factor as to the path of a hurricane in the gulf three weeks from now.

While that's a little extreme, it's meant to illustrate the point of highly interactive systems that are "extremely sensitive to initial conditions". For example, a single microbe that hitchhiked on Spirit or Opportunity could lead to the terraforming of mars a millennia later.

Weather has always been considered highly sensitive to initial conditions, meaning very subtle differences in the weather conditions today can have a profound effect on the weather a week later. The interesting thing about weather is that it doesn't take a millennia to change things miles away, it can do it in a couple hours.

Re:Climate Science (1)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | about 6 years ago | (#24841057)

I don't know what data sources you're talking about, but that doesn't appear to be the case for the climate models I'm familiar with. You need a pretty large change in radiative forcing to significantly alter the simulation output, at least on the large scales that such models are typically used for (global and continental multidecadal trends). Alternatively, you can monkey around with the feedbacks, which is why the models have climate sensitivities which range over maybe 2-4 degrees. But to get a feedback effect stronger than that, you have to start making changes big enough that the models stop agreeing with observations.

Re:Great! (2, Informative)

Tom (822) | about 6 years ago | (#24840515)

I disagree. Simulation is a good method to check your basics and verify patterns. Like all things, it's a tool that you need to know how to use and what to use it for. Only in very well understood fields do simulations give you good numbers to work with. But even in poorly understood fields, then are a way to check your theories, by letting them "run" and see if the results coincide with the expectations and/or actual observations.

So if, for example, you have a theory about how planets are formed, and put it into a simulation, and your simulation comes up with a result that no matter what you tweak in variables, there are never planets formed like we see them in our solar system, then you know your theory is false because there is at least one case where it did happen.
Likewise, if it shows that systems like ours are formed x% of the time, you can try to match it against observations. For large values of x, you would expect to find a few samples in the observable space around us.

Re:Great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24840899)

So if, for example, you have a theory about how planets are formed, and put it into a simulation, and your simulation comes up with a result that no matter what you tweak in variables, there are never planets formed like we see them in our solar system, then you know your theory is false

Or that the simulation is wrong. Right?

Re:Great! (3, Interesting)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | about 6 years ago | (#24840933)

Number of Planetary systems we have completely explored - None! - We found a new (dwarf) planet Eris 2,500 kilometres in diameter and 27% more massive than Pluto in 2003

All the other planetary systems we have found have massive sampling bias (we can only detect large planets, and easily detect close orbiting large planets)

All of the systems like ours are undetectable or nearly undetectable at present

It's a black swan problem - Until the 17th century a black swan was a metaphor for something that did not exist ... then Australia was discovered along with Cygnus atratus

Re:Great! (2, Insightful)

khakipuce (625944) | about 6 years ago | (#24840777)

It is always difficult (impossible?) to extrapolate from a single point. We don't know the shape of the curve or the direction to draw it in.

Add to that a lot of speculation about planetary formation and who can have any degree of certainty about where our solar system sits in the scheme of things.

We need to observe many more planetary systems before we have a clue.

Re:Great! (0)

beakerMeep (716990) | about 6 years ago | (#24840115)

I don't usually like post this, but for this SPECIAL occasion:

whooosh!

Re:Great! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24840155)

I lost my virginity to a retard.

I wanted my first time to be SPECIAL...

Re:Great! (1)

digitalchinky (650880) | about 6 years ago | (#24840411)

Space may be unknown, but by commonly accepted theories the universe is also pretty damn big. Some people even throw around the word 'infinite' Regardless, even if space is some twisted doughnut shape, there are still a few hundred billion other galaxies out there that we can see just in the visible universe. This little fact, at least in my tiny world, equates to a rather large potential for similar types of solar system being out there.

I concur with the parent poster. This makes us very much not special at all.

Re:Great! (3, Funny)

I cant believe its n (1103137) | about 6 years ago | (#24840557)

If this "shows' anything, it seems more probable that this 'shows' that the simulations aren't complete enough yet.

Of course. They did not even mention Great A'Tuin, so how could their model be complete?

Re:Great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24840637)

And if the study had shown that it was common, you would have said that the simulations are good enough.

It's the eyes and so forth.

Re:Great! (2, Insightful)

Dahlgil (631022) | about 6 years ago | (#24840731)

Hehe. Yes, if the computer models show something other than what we already know to be true (that we can't possibly be special...because you know what that would mean), then their models must be incomplete and reworked until such time as they agree with what we know to be true.

Re:Great! (1)

SectoidRandom (87023) | about 6 years ago | (#24841059)

I wouldn't read into the article title so negatively "uncommon" when talking about stars is a pretty big number.

Also if you read the linked PDF with the paper, the graph shows what kind of numbers they are talking about, about 6 out of 100 simulations resulted in solar system like configurations.

M

Re:Great! (1)

Das Modell (969371) | about 6 years ago | (#24840741)

Ever since mothers were allowed into academia, all their research has been telling us is that we are SPECIAL.

You mean like this [slowdays.org] ? Or...?

What is rare? (5, Insightful)

kinabrew (1053930) | about 6 years ago | (#24840047)

If even one thousandth of one percent of stars form solar systems similar to this one, that would still be quite significant.

Re:What is rare? (2, Funny)

RuBLed (995686) | about 6 years ago | (#24840073)

Maybe our solar system is a pre-BC (Before Creation) universe drop; nobody is farming those anymore...

Re:What is rare? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24840195)

pre-before-creation? As opposed to pre-after-creation or pre-during-creation?

Re:What is rare? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24840267)

As opposed to post-after-creation and post-before-creation.

Re:What is rare? (2, Funny)

xonar (1069832) | about 6 years ago | (#24840697)

Whoosh!

Re:What is rare? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24840797)

seconded, and emphasised,

WOOOOSHHH

Re:What is rare? (1)

weber (36246) | about 6 years ago | (#24840313)

You're quite right, but having a planet similar to ours is only part of the equation of getting in touch with E.T. You'll also have the probability of (sufficiently) intelligent life arising - and creating technology. On top of this you'll have to factor in the distances, if we ever want to visit each other: the less the probability of a technological advanced civilization arising, the larger the probability of the distance to them being large.

Re:What is rare? (3, Funny)

Awptimus Prime (695459) | about 6 years ago | (#24840709)

This is assuming the "E.T." is made of meat, like us, which I feel is a common mistake we make when thinking of what could exist elsewhere.

I blame Star Trek.

Re:What is rare? (1)

Neuropol (665537) | about 6 years ago | (#24840329)

exactly. And the general tone of this article seems to want to steer people from thinking just that, when in fact just the opposite, as you've stated is true. Planetary systems are not uncommon, maybe the ones that have the exact same properties and chemical energy structures as ours, but most certainly not entirely uncommon. That's absurd.

Re:What is rare? (2, Insightful)

antirelic (1030688) | about 6 years ago | (#24840489)

1/1000th of 0.01%

I think that statistic is a bit hopeful. My current understanding of how the "earth" came to be a hospitable place, is due to a cosmic collision on such a scale that it changed the entire ecosystem of earth. The impact was so massive that it made the event that caused the dino's to be wiped out to look like a pin prick.

I'm sure cosmic collisions of that size occur all the time (speaking astronomically), but what are the chances that "large objects" (earth sized), at the right distance from their host start, made up of earth like (at that time) materials get smacked by a large sized object with those type materials, and finally end up with the type atmosphere that is conducive to life (as we know it)? Earth isnt an evolutionary phenomena (from the current explanation) but was created by an accidental collision, and then evolved into what it is today (though I'm sure other series of cosmic impacts also shaped earth to what it is today, but I digress).

So considering how truly random earth is... just try and keep that in mind and now put TIME into the equation. What if impacts like this only happen once every... dunno... say 500 million years? Life could have "come and gone" and dozens of remote planets BEFORE THE EARTH WAS MADE (earth age, 4.6 billion, Universe, 13.7 billion, life on earth, 500 million).

Lets not even get started on how random the chances are for the creation of life. Mix that with how random the chances are that you get an earth... and we are talking random. More random than 1/1000th of 0.01%. Albiet, Time and Space are vast, our observation capabilities are extremely limited, and our understanding of origins is also very limited....

Re:What is rare? (1)

albyrne5 (893494) | about 6 years ago | (#24840683)

So, I'm confused - your point is the Earth is rare or not?

ok. (1, Insightful)

thhamm (764787) | about 6 years ago | (#24840051)

but keep looking, please.

Have you every programmed a gravity sim? (1, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | about 6 years ago | (#24840053)

And just tried to have a bunch of objects follow nearly circular orbits? Those orbits don't grow on trees, for sure.

It's almost amazing that we have so many planets in our solar system with nearly circular orbits. I would think that, if your orbit is too elliptical, it would make life much more difficult to form.

If the earth's winter took it out past mars and the summer in towards mercury, our oceans would boil and then rain down on us again and freeze, every year. That would suck, for sure.

Re:Have you every programmed a gravity sim? (4, Informative)

4D6963 (933028) | about 6 years ago | (#24840099)

I'm entirely missing your point about programming gravity simulations (disclaimer : I have programmed a solar system simulator), and why it should explain the (according to you) rarity of nearly circular orbits. Planetary systems starting off as accretion discs with every original object have a nearly circular orbit, I don't see why planets should keep it, at least for a while.

Re:Have you every programmed a gravity sim? (2, Insightful)

OolimPhon (1120895) | about 6 years ago | (#24840237)

Have you actually tried running your simulation for (simulated) four billion years? Don't you think that over a long period of time the various objects would act on one another to even their orbits out? That's the way I understood our current setup arose.

Re:Have you every programmed a gravity sim? (1)

mcvos (645701) | about 6 years ago | (#24840621)

Have you actually tried running your simulation for (simulated) four billion years? Don't you think that over a long period of time the various objects would act on one another to even their orbits out? That's the way I understood our current setup arose.

You mean accidentally reaching a circular orbit again after the orbit had already become elliptical? I think that'd be extremely unlikely. When various objects act on one another (as they invariably do), they're most likely to become more elliptical, not less.

Re:Have you every programmed a gravity sim? (1)

albyrne5 (893494) | about 6 years ago | (#24840689)

Citation please? Or explanation? Something other than claim asserted by appeal to your personal beliefs?

Re:Have you every programmed a gravity sim? (1)

Aenoxi (946506) | about 6 years ago | (#24840307)

*Earth's* winter?

I'm guessing you've never crossed the equator then? Ho hum. Check out the temperatures in Sydney at Christmas.

You do know that axial tilt is the main cause of the seasons on Earth rather than the eccentricity of its orbit?

Re:Have you every programmed a gravity sim? (1)

tjstork (137384) | about 6 years ago | (#24840343)

You do know that axial tilt is the main cause of the seasons on Earth rather than the eccentricity of its orbit?

Grumpy.

God, can people on slashdot ever see the forest for the trees? i mean, this whole board is filled with tree counters and tree branch counters and not a one of you can actually ever see the forest!

sigh.

don't you think, if the earth's orbit carried it out past mars, that maybe, just maybe, the orbit would take precedence over the tilt of the earth when determining "seasons"? That the axial tilt matters more than the eccentricity says that the earth's orbit isn't very eccentric.

THINK!

Re:Have you every programmed a gravity sim? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24840561)

Heh, I think you're expecting a bit too much :).

In the short term, it's a good thing - you get to be a one eyed man in the land of the "blind".

In the long term, it's a bad thing - it's hard to sustain decent systems with too many "blind" people around.

Re:Have you every programmed a gravity sim? (5, Funny)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | about 6 years ago | (#24840661)

Did you now that the Earth does in fact have an elliptical orbit, and that in January it is actually three million miles closer than it is in July?

Did you also know that the primary reason there is solid carbon dioxide on Mars is the density of the atmosphere, and not the distance to the sun?

Did you also know that if your mommy was any uglier, or your daddy wasn't drunk, you wouldn't exist? It's true! The existence of life is contingent on many factors.

And besides, Charley's in the trees, man, he's in the freakin' trees!

Re:Have you every programmed a gravity sim? (1)

Aenoxi (946506) | about 6 years ago | (#24841097)

Hmmm. By and large, *thinking* before *you* post helps you to make your point more clearly. That way the grumpy folk don't have to pick their way through your careless and imprecise language in order to understand your meaning.

Indeed, if you took more notice of the trees once in a while, you might actually read what other people write before over-emoting in response.
Notice, for instance, the emphasis deliberately placed on the phrase "Earth's winter" in my post? See there it is, hidden in full sight in the first line.

My point (in case the reference to Sydney passed you by) was that *Earth doesn't have a winter*. Hemispheres of the Earth do. As we define them in this reality, 'winter' and 'summer' are effects of the axial tilt therefore there can be no such thing as *Earth's winter*

Your initial post referred to "Earth's winter taking it out past Mars", did it not? But "Earth's winter" could not carry it out past Mars because: (i) "Earth's winter" doesn't exist (see above); and, more fundamentally (ii) any season is a consequence of solar radiation incident upon the planet *not* a driver of orbital dynamics - winter (of any kind) can't *take* Earth anywhere.

See how a posting without thinking lead to poor phrasing which hindered the point you were trying to make?

Now after all that sighing and harumphing you finally rephrased yourself and properly enunciated your original point. And, guess what? It's actually a reasonably sensible point. Yes, if the Earth's orbital eccentricity were substantially greater, it might indeed have a comparable or greater effect upon the climate than axial tilt (though, as others have pointed out, climate is not merely a linear function of instantaneous distance from the Sun). Indeed, our definitions of 'seasons', 'winter' and 'summer' might well be different in such an alternate reality. Fortunately for our health (but unfortunately for the clarity of your post), we don't live in that reality.

So please, enough of the name calling. Just THINK before you post and the grumpy people will go away. Hell they might even agree with you and mod you informative.

So, you've simulated our Solar System? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24840867)

How'd you simulate Uranus?

:-)

probabilties (1, Insightful)

ramul (1103299) | about 6 years ago | (#24840061)

well luckily the universe is big enough that we dont really need it to be a very common occurrence

depends how you look at things (1)

Mathinker (909784) | about 6 years ago | (#24840271)

Maybe you should instead have said "well luckily the universe is big enough that even if it is a fairly common occurrence we'd still be relatively safe"?

Re:probabilties (1)

mcvos (645701) | about 6 years ago | (#24840647)

well luckily the universe is big enough that we dont really need it to be a very common occurrence

We don't need anything at all in this respect. It's clear that at least one solar system among many billions of billions is suitable for life, and that's all we need.

But it is interesting to find if there might be other life out there somewhere, and if our kind of solar system is extremely rare, it's a lot less likely that we'll ever discover other life, even if it does exist.

Under which model? (5, Insightful)

Xiroth (917768) | about 6 years ago | (#24840081)

I have to ask: Under which solar formation model was this conclusion drawn? Because from what I understand, there are a number of competing theories, none of which have come anywhere near being conclusively proven. I actually studied under the creator of one of the models, Andrew Prentice [wikipedia.org] , and was in a position to watch as the predictions of various hypotheses were proven true or false. We've got a long way to go in the field, from what I understand.

Very true (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | about 6 years ago | (#24840389)

Anybody who has been following this stuff knows that it is a field in very active development. One problem for all models is that you need more than one actual example to test the model - which is one of the things that makes climate prediction so challenging.

The article linked to also seems to have been written with Creationist bias, because it suggests our solar system is "unique". The authors don't claim that, and if they did it would be junk, not science.

Re:Under which model? (5, Funny)

rasman1978 (1158339) | about 6 years ago | (#24840853)

You were an apprentice under A. Prentice?

Re:Under which model? (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 6 years ago | (#24840935)

I have to ask: Under which solar formation model was this conclusion drawn?

No idea, but I'm at least sure there's a selection bias on who gets headlines with models leading to spectacular conclusions == publicity and more research money. I really doubt this hunk of rock is really that special, yes we have a large gas giant in a distant orbit, yes we are in the right orbit, yes we have a magnetic field and yes we have a satellite, surely not many planets have that but... there's also a farking great universe out there. Maybe our closest neighbors aren't habitable, but if we could hop around the galaxy I'm sure there'd be plenty habitable planets.

special. (2, Insightful)

bronney (638318) | about 6 years ago | (#24840105)

The question isn't whether it is special, but HOW special. And TFS failed to even give a fake number to calm us data freaks down.

Exactly! (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 6 years ago | (#24840129)

The question isn't whether it is special, but HOW special.

Exactly. What's the probability of forming a "solar system like" planetary system ? 1:10? 1:1000? 1:1000000? 1:1000000000? The first two would still give us "lots" of hits inside our galaxy, while still being "uncommon".

Dangit, get some more planet-finding telescopes out there, on the double! We need data to back up the hypothesis.

Re:Exactly! (1)

laejoh (648921) | about 6 years ago | (#24840187)

I don't know the question (nobody does) but I do know the answer. It ain't 1:10, 1:1000, 1:1000000? or 1:1000000000 but a nice 42. Pretty improbable, isn't it?

Re:Exactly! (1)

phillous (1160303) | about 6 years ago | (#24840859)

ignorant fool.
the question was 6*7. The reason the answer was 42 was that the question they asked was "what is the answer to the ultimate question of life blah blah blah". The last question asked throughout all of time was 6*7 (if you actually ever listend to the original radio show or watch the original tv series).

The only thing commical about "42" is that the people who asked the question asked the wrong question. You just make yourself look dumb by knowing the answer when you dont know the question either.

bah

in perspective (1)

Dtyst (790737) | about 6 years ago | (#24840139)

As there are 10 million to 10 trillion stars in one galaxy and probably over 100 billion galaxies, it doesn't have to be that common and yet there would/could be millions of solar systems similar as our. Of course finding one close to our planet could be bit harder then expected before.

Re:in perspective (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 6 years ago | (#24840149)

Of course finding one close to our planet could be bit harder then expected before.

I would assume that once traveling 5 lightyears is feasible, so would be 50 or 500 lightyears.

Re:in perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24840759)

You might assume that, but you'd be on very questionable ground. As a (bad) analogy, take a runner; once you're able to continuously run five miles, do you think you'd also be able to continuously run 50 or 500 miles?

Re:in perspective (1)

stjobe (78285) | about 6 years ago | (#24840785)

Nah, Jump-1 is 3.26 lightyears and there's no way to go over Jump-6, even with TL-15 technology, so "50 or 500 lightyears" is right out.

Re:in perspective (1)

mcvos (645701) | about 6 years ago | (#24840897)

Of course finding one close to our planet could be bit harder then expected before.

I would assume that once traveling 5 lightyears is feasible, so would be 50 or 500 lightyears.

That depends a lot on what you consider feasible. At 0.1c, a 5 ly journey can be completed within a human lifetime. With 50 or 500 ly that won't work. And while communication with a 10-year lag is annoying, it's not as bad as a lag of several generations.

If we ever invent warpdrive that uses negligible fuel, 500 ly might be a breeze, but in general, orders of magnitude do matter.

Re:in perspective (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 6 years ago | (#24841011)

At 0.1c, a 5 ly journey can be completed within a human lifetime.

But the spaceship would still need to be virtually self-sufficient, and also be able to cope with changes of the crew due to, um, human activities (e.g. dying, procreation, etc). It'd have to be a generation ship, and having it travel farther would mostly mean either more stops for picking up fuel and other raw materials, or loading it with more of the same before it is launched.

Re:in perspective (1)

pedestrian crossing (802349) | about 6 years ago | (#24841081)

Our galaxy is 100,000 light-years in diameter. The nearest galaxy of any size is over 2.5 million light-years away.

Heck, the distance to the next arm of our own galaxy is 6,500 light-years.

There aren't very many stars within 500 light-years of earth...

if our solar system is uncommon... (5, Funny)

Brain Damaged Bogan (1006835) | about 6 years ago | (#24840171)

... then what chances do we have of finding a solar system populated entirely by hot large-perky-breasted nymphomaniac supermodels that love nerds?

Re:if our solar system is uncommon... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24840239)

Almost guaranteed if those Japanese simulations are to be trusted.

Re:if our solar system is uncommon... (4, Funny)

freedom_india (780002) | about 6 years ago | (#24840425)

Lets say... zero.
If you cam't find a girl on Earth, what are your chances against alien supermen? particularly someone who is built like Gort?
In a bar fight, you can only win at ASDF keyboard battles.

Re:if our solar system is uncommon... (1)

I cant believe its n (1103137) | about 6 years ago | (#24840625)

... then what chances do we have of finding a solar system populated entirely by hot large-perky-breasted nymphomaniac supermodels that love nerds?

According to my simulations: 100%. These simulations are of course, more of a holodeck nature than a pure mathematical model.

If you think thats rare.. (5, Funny)

Layth (1090489) | about 6 years ago | (#24840177)

Just what are the odds that every alien encounter will be with bipeds that have vocal communication!

Re:If you think thats rare.. (4, Funny)

4D6963 (933028) | about 6 years ago | (#24840233)

Very thin. Most aliens species communicate by genital contact. You heard me! SO WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR TO GIVE ALL YOUR MONEY TO SETI?!?

Re:If you think thats rare.. (1)

laejoh (648921) | about 6 years ago | (#24840349)

Like these [wikipedia.org] guys? Vocal communication can be "a muffled musical piping, he said, not unlike that of the wind in the mountain caves, yet somehow disturbingly different."

Re:If you think thats rare.. (1)

Prof.Phreak (584152) | about 6 years ago | (#24840711)

...and speak english no less.

if i had a nickle... (1)

xristoph (1169159) | about 6 years ago | (#24840225)

for every time someone has put up a hypothesis about whether our solar system/planet is special or not! As long as we're not "out there", and with our very limited methods of observation, there are just too many and too big unknowns to take any hypothesis in this area seriously. Generally, estimations range between one and a few million (or billion) similar solar systems / other intelligent civilizations in the universe.

universe (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24840287)

When will the retards understand that simulations of a system where you dont know a billion of millions of the factors are useless

Dupe from 3 weeks ago (4, Informative)

Dan East (318230) | about 6 years ago | (#24840347)

Solar Systems Like Ours Are Likely To Be Rare [slashdot.org]

KentuckyFC writes
"Astronomers have discovered some 250 planetary systems beyond our own, many of them with curious properties. In particular, our theories of planet formation are challenged by 'hot Jupiters,' gas giants that orbit close to their parent stars. Current thinking is that gas giants can only form far away from stars because gas and dust simply gets blown away from the inner regions. Now astronomers have used computer simulations of the way planetary systems form to understand what is going on (abstract [arxiv.org] ). It looks as if gas giants often form a long way from stars and then migrate inwards. That has implications for us: a migrating gas giant sweeps away all in its path, including rocky planets in the habitable zone. And that means that solar systems like ours are likely to be rare [arxivblog.com] ."

whoami (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24840387)

steve bawlmer

Let's define "common" (3, Funny)

Spit (23158) | about 6 years ago | (#24840415)

Modelling has indicated that the solar-system isn't as common as previously thought. Scientists estimate that only 2^2340987890 similar solar systems exist in the local group.

Special one (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24840431)

Research conducted by a team of North American scientist shows our solar system is special

... therefore, God created this solar system specially for man, which is the center of the Universe.

I love this based-on-new-studies "science".

Just because we can't see (yet) any other kinds of solar systems, doesn't necessarily mean ours is "special" !

Re:Special one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24840793)

If there's any life in any of the other solar systems then they haven't contacted us either. Which makes me think it's either a very slim/no chance of life on other planets or they're not returning our calls.

Re:Special one (2, Informative)

Spatial (1235392) | about 6 years ago | (#24840825)

They always do that. That's the typical idiotic phrasing in science stories, not the fault of the scientists.

Re:Special one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24840939)

Nor does it mean that ours isn't "special". Which is entirely probable.

Pot / kettle... (1)

WoollyMittens (1065278) | about 6 years ago | (#24840455)

Personally I'd have a another close look at my simulation before passing judgment over all the stars in the universe and concluding that we're "special".

How does study compare with observed results (5, Interesting)

jools33 (252092) | about 6 years ago | (#24840493)

From what I've read here: http://exoplanets.org/aasjune07s/pr_280507.htm [exoplanets.org] there have been some 236 exoplanets detected to date. I believe that they have the ability to see if these exoplanets are in highly eliptical orbits or not - so how does this simulation tie with the observed reality?
The description of Gliese 436 for example seems to also be an exception to this simulation model - so if out of 236 finds we are already finding systems similar to sol - then this simulation model must be at fault or?

and (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24840533)

and bee's can't fly

old study shows man'kind' slow to catch on (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24840543)

the design of the universe is perfect. maybe if we just played our role as it was intended.... (love thy neighbor etc...)? fear is unprecedented evile's primary weapon. that, along with deception & coercion, helps most of us remain (unwittingly?) dependent on its' greed/fear/ego based hired goons' agenda. Most of yOUR dwindling resources are being squandered on the 'war', & continuation of the billionerrors stock markup FraUD/pyramid scheme. nobody ever mentions the real long term costs of those debacles in both life & the notion of prosperity, not to mention the abuse of the consciences of those of us who still have one. see you on the other side of it. the lights are coming up all over now. conspiracy theorists are being vindicated. some might choose a tin umbrella to go with their hats. the fairytail is winding down now. let your conscience be yOUR guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. there are still some choices. if they do not suit you, consider the likely results of continuing to follow the corepirate nazi hypenosys story LIEn, whereas anything of relevance is replaced almost instantly with pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking propaganda or 'celebrity' trivia 'foam'. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on yOUR brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

http://news.google.com/?ncl=1216734813&hl=en&topic=n
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/31/opinion/31mon1.html?em&ex=1199336400&en=c4b5414371631707&ei=5087%0A
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/29/world/29amnesty.html?hp
http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/06/02/nasa.global.warming.ap/index.html
http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/weather/06/05/severe.weather.ap/index.html
http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/weather/06/02/honore.preparedness/index.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/01/opinion/01dowd.html?em&ex=1212638400&en=744b7cebc86723e5&ei=5087%0A
http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/06/05/senate.iraq/index.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/17/washington/17contractor.html?hp
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/03/world/middleeast/03kurdistan.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin
http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/080708/cheney_climate.html
http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20080805/pl_politico/12308;_ylt=A0wNcxTPdJhILAYAVQms0NUE

is it time to get real yet? A LOT of energy is being squandered in attempts to keep US in the dark. in the end (give or take a few 1000 years), the creators will prevail (world without end, etc...), as it has always been. the process of gaining yOUR release from the current hostage situation may not be what you might think it is. butt of course, most of US don't know, or care what a precarious/fatal situation we're in. for example; the insidious attempts by the felonious corepirate nazi execrable to block the suns' light, interfering with a requirement (sunlight) for us to stay healthy/alive. it's likely not good for yOUR health/memories 'else they'd be bragging about it? we're intending for the whoreabully deceptive (they'll do ANYTHING for a bit more monIE/power) felons to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather', as well as a # of other things/events.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=weather+manipulation&btnG=Search
http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=video+cloud+spraying

dictator style micro management has never worked (for very long). it's an illness. tie that with life0cidal aggression & softwar gangster style bullying, & what do we have? a greed/fear/ego based recipe for disaster. meanwhile, you can help to stop the bleeding (loss of life & limb);

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/28/vermont.banning.bush.ap/index.html

the bleeding must be stopped before any healing can begin. jailing a couple of corepirate nazi hired goons would send a clear message to the rest of the world from US. any truthful look at the 'scorecard' would reveal that we are a society in decline/deep doo-doo, despite all of the scriptdead pr ?firm? generated drum beating & flag waving propaganda that we are constantly bombarded with. is it time to get real yet? please consider carefully ALL of yOUR other 'options'. the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption. fortunately there's an 'army' of light bringers, coming yOUR way. the little ones/innocents must/will be protected. after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit? for each of the creators' innocents harmed in any way, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available. 'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet, & by your behaviors. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable. some of US should consider ourselves somewhat fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate. it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc.... as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis. concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order. 'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continue on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US. gov. bush denies health care for the little ones;

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whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids;

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& pretending that it isn't happening here;

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all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

(yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles. talk about reverse polarity;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3046116.ece

Doh! (0, Troll)

PrayingWolf (818869) | about 6 years ago | (#24840547)

Doh! Ofcourse its "special" - Its created that way!

Ever wonder why all the planets have such different composition? The moon could not have come from the same lump as Earth, nor could the other planets. This is a divine hint: "I'm here, are you listening?"

Re:Doh! (1)

albyrne5 (893494) | about 6 years ago | (#24840745)

OK, I'm hoping for sarcasm. Please tell me that was sarcasm?

So we're a green trash drop ? (0, Offtopic)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 6 years ago | (#24840555)

Only uncommon. I would have thought our solar system is at least rare, if not epic. Maybe even legendary!

Is it just me, or does this change every 2 months, (2, Insightful)

w4rl5ck (531459) | about 6 years ago | (#24840739)

... currently?

It's just "educated guessing", nothing more.

Incomplete conclusion (4, Interesting)

HuguesT (84078) | about 6 years ago | (#24840835)

The article says that for a wide range of parameters protoplanetar disks produce a solar system-like outcome relatively rarely.

The research says nothing about the distribution of parameters in real situations, i.e. is the range of considered parameters realistic?

This is nice research but only preliminary.

"accepted theory" (4, Interesting)

JetScootr (319545) | about 6 years ago | (#24840879)

contrary to the accepted theory that it is an average planetary system.
IIRC, ours is considered typical only because no data existed to show it wasn't. That doesn't make the idea into a 'theory'. Discoveries of extrasolar planets and improved models on more powerful supercomputers are bound to evolve this "Unintelligently Defined Theory" into a better creation story.
;)

They may be uncommon... (4, Funny)

fireheadca (853580) | about 6 years ago | (#24841007)

...but slashdot articles about it aren't.

Given the limits of our technology... (2, Insightful)

Ngarrang (1023425) | about 6 years ago | (#24841087)

Given the limits of our technology to detect extrasolar planets, how are "they" able to make this conclusion, especially when it is based on simulation? We are able to detect Jupiter-sized planets right now, yes? How about we wait for some better technology that can detect Earth-sized planets more accurately before we go rushing to the idea that we are "special". While the that idea intrigues me, it would certainly make the galaxy a more boring place.

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