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Kepler Finds Five More Exoplanets

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the nice-places-to-visit-but dept.

NASA 102

Arvisp was one of several readers to send news of five new exoplanets discovered by the Kepler space telescope. In addition to the new "hot Jupiters" — the easiest targets to find — Kepler's early data has turned up some oddities, including something that is too hot to be a planet and too small to be a star. And one of the exoplanets is so fluffy that "it has the density of Styrofoam." The real news is that Kepler works as designed, and the scientists running it are fully confident that it will find Earth-like planets in some star's habitable zone, if they are out there to be found. Here is NASA's press release.

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yay ! Science :) (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30649518)

Yay a new planet :)

Re:yay ! Science :) (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30650374)

dear mod I am not a troll
thank you

But Why? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30649534)

Sure, finding habitable planets is cool. But what are they going to do once they've found one? Tick a box? Celebrate humanity? It seems like a waste of money to me. Really interesting stuff - but for what?

Re:But Why? (5, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30649580)

Sure, finding habitable planets is cool. But what are they going to do once they've found one? Tick a box? Celebrate humanity?

Perform spectroscopy experiments to see if the planet has more in common with ours than just mass and relative distance from its star?

As part of the long, long process of answering one of the most amazing questions in humanity's existence: Are we alone in the universe? Is life unique to our planet, extremely rare, or as common as the stars themselves?

You might have you own theories one way or the other, but a theory isn't an answer. This is about evidence.

Re:But Why? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30649784)

You might have you own theories one way or the other, but a theory isn't an answer. This is about evidence.

The word you were looking for was "hypothesis".

Re:But Why? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30650028)

No it wasn't. I was looking for the non-technical common-English word "theory". Because the (colloquial sense) theories of most people and I'm certain the OP regarding alien life are not as well-formed as a scientific hypothesis.

Re:But Why? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30650218)

No it wasn't. I was looking for the non-technical common-English word "theory".

But why would you use non-technical version of a word in Slashdot? Even more so, the non-scientific meaning of the word in the science subdomain? ;)

Re:But Why? (2, Funny)

Gruff1002 (717818) | more than 4 years ago | (#30650352)

Why bicker? We know what was meant, get a life.

Re:But Why? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30650530)

Obviously we don't, otherwise the word "hypothesis" would not have been suggested, now would it?

Re:But Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30650862)

In order to suggest the word, the meaning must have been known, or at least the poster found it to be the most possible meaning of the many meanings that he could think of - any way logic would state that he knew what he meant.

Re:But Why? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30651848)

Obviously we don't, otherwise the word "hypothesis" would not have been suggested, now would it?

Actually that implies that you do understand my meaning, and thought "hypothesis" was a better word for expressing it.

Re:But Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30662376)

Obviously we don't, otherwise the word "hypothesis" would not have been suggested, now would it?

Actually that implies that you do understand my meaning, and thought "hypothesis" was a better word for expressing it.

Precisely. And the better word wasn't "hypothesis" it was "conjecture" or "speculation".

Re:But Why? (1)

inamorty (1227366) | more than 4 years ago | (#30652326)

Stop literally being an asshole!

If you like data . . . (4, Interesting)

Greg Hullender (621024) | more than 4 years ago | (#30650076)

Check out these pics of transits from the presentation. http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/414829main_3_transit_light_curves.jpg [nasa.gov]

--Greg

Re:If you like data . . . (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30650502)

Uh. Oh yeah. That's the stuff. Graph that flux, baby. Graph it good.

Re:If you like data . . . (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30655114)

Stop signing your posts, it makes you look like a tool.

Re:But Why? (1)

mewshi_nya (1394329) | more than 4 years ago | (#30649586)

We can always go to other planets.

I dunno what else we can do with this stuff, but DAMN it's cool to know :)

Maybe this will help us better understand earth?

Re:But Why? (4, Funny)

symes (835608) | more than 4 years ago | (#30649662)

just what are you suggesting here? if it wasn't for projects like kepler we'd have hoards of astrophysicists wandering the streets bothering people with their telescopes.

Re:But Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30650586)

I can picture it now. "Hey baby, wanna see my 8" refractor?"

Re:But Why? (3, Funny)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 4 years ago | (#30651728)

Actually...yeah. I mean, assuming the image is any good. How'd you manage to keep the chromatic and spherical aberration bearable at that aperature?

Re:But Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30653300)

ooooh yeah, nice curves!

can think of two main reasons (4, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30649810)

Obviously the reason it makes headlines is that the question of how many human-habitable planets there are, and what kinds of properties they have, is tied to the question of whether anything vaguely like earth-like life exists elsewhere in the universe.

However a good deal of astronomers are also just interested in everything about the cosmos: what's out there, how does it work, how does it relate to other things, what kinds of variations are there, etc. From that perspective, this particular kind of thing, "exoplanet", is a class of far-away object we don't have a lot of examples of and can't give particularly confident accounts of (how and how often they form, their distribution, etc.). Even if there was no tie-in to human habitability, there are a number of astronomers interested in collecting more data on and clarifying our understanding of basically any class of "thing we don't yet know everything about".

Re:can think of two main reasons (1)

GradiusCVK (1017360) | more than 4 years ago | (#30651204)

there are a number of astronomers interested in ... any class of "thing we don't yet know everything about"

The thing I love about science is that it gives us a reliable, efficient method of increasing our knowledge about the universe. The thing I love about the universe is that it gives us an infinte number of things to learn about it. Indeed, there is no class of "thing we do know everything about". 1+1=2 used to be so simple, until the day someone discovered 1=0.999...; that changed the whole meaning of 1+1=2. Some people (probably most /.ers and all hard scientists) love to learn and discover - people like the GPP will just never get it.

Re:can think of two main reasons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30655394)

Some people (probably most /.ers and all hard scientists) love to learn and discover

The summary of why most scientists do what they do:

"Because it's there."

Re:can think of two main reasons (1)

orkysoft (93727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30659692)

Exactly. The people who don't get this should go back to Digg.

Re:But Why? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30650364)

Well, for one thing perhaps we could stop hearing the same tired lines from the population control Nazis (a.k.a. "Progressives). Question for "progressives": Why is it that your answers to society's problems always amount to killing or sterilizing part of the population, then strangling the rest with onerous regulations? Why do you hate individual liberty and self-determination so much? Why can't you dream of a humanity that is capable of reaching and expanding into the stars? You constantly praise yourselves for being so open-minded, but you are some of the most closed-minded fucks I've ever met.

Re:But Why? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30653536)

Who is saying this in particular? Name names, please.

Re:But Why? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30653852)

Obama's Director of the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy (a.k.a. Obama's science czar) John Holdren, for one.

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/More-Holdren-Traditional-family-is-obsolete-50807107.html [washingtonexaminer.com]

http://www.google.com/search?q=american+eugenics+movement [google.com]

In particular, read http://hnn.us/articles/1796.html [hnn.us] and note the following paragraph:

"In an America demographically reeling from immigration upheaval and torn by post-Reconstruction chaos, race conflict was everywhere in the early twentieth century. Elitists, utopians and so-called "progressives" fused their smoldering race fears and class bias with their desire to make a better world. They reinvented Galton's eugenics into a repressive and racist ideology. The intent: populate the earth with vastly more of their own socio-economic and biological kind--and less or none of everyone else."

This is why I want to puke when someone tells me they are a "progressive." Fucking racist pig is what they are.

Re:But Why? (2, Insightful)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 4 years ago | (#30650496)

If there are not many planets that show signs of possible life at all, then there are going to be very few where life has even possibly developed our kind of intelligence. There would be even fewer where there might be a technological civilization. Looking for a signal or sending one becomes a real needle in a haystack operation. If we could afford to send just a few signals, say by high powered laser, there would still be no point in funding it, because we would still need to send those signals to literally tens of thousands of near stars just because we haven't narrowed our search. If we could only afford to listen, we might be deciding to commit to a project that would have to run for hundreds of years, and the human race has been pretty reluctant to try such long term feats, and not real good at keeping civilizations going long enough to finish them.
        On the other hand, if planets in vital zones are common, designing instruments to specifically look for signs of life on them makes more sense. If we find evidence of life, we can then look at other, easier to detect factors, such as how old the related stars are, and we end up with a list of places that might have advanced lifeforms with intelligence, and even technology such as radio. There's a fair chance we could work through that list in just a few years. It becomes a small enough project we could tackle it with what resources we have, and the people who start the project would live long enough to see the answers.
        The payoff could still be huge! Just as huge as a more scattershot approach, for much less time and money. Imagine if we found ourselves talking with a civilization that had already figured out fusion power, or foolproof ways to keep nuclear war from happening, or some other technology we won't invent by ourselves for a hundred years, a thousand years, or more. That's the potential big payout. The next tier down might be things such as just finding a civilization that has already passed through a long industrial pollution phase and cleaned up its old toxic waste dumps and such. Just knowing that they managed not to kill themselves off with some of the things we worry about is pretty valuable even if we don't know the details. Maybe we find aliens that are really good at physics, but don't know as much about industrial chemistry as we do. They want to trade how to make flying cars for our advanced secrets of how to make paint that weathers well in sunlight.

Re:But Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30651370)

there are going to be very few where life has even possibly developed our kind of intelligence

What makes you think we are that advanced on a galactic scale? We haven't even worked out how to stop killing one another for the resources on our own little scrap of a planet.

Re:But Why? (1)

grimJester (890090) | more than 4 years ago | (#30653218)

It's unlikely there are other civilizations in our galaxy. Traveling end-to-end with 0.1 c would take just a million years and the galaxy has been here for 10 000 times that time. Unless we kill ourselves somehow, we'll colonize the galaxy in the next few million years.

Re:But Why? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30653872)

Technological civilizations*

With all the complications brought by extinction-level events and lack of capability to spread.

Re:But Why? (2, Funny)

Yoozer (1055188) | more than 4 years ago | (#30653738)

What if we find aliens who want To Serve Man [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:But Why? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30653368)

People like you are the reason humanity will probably destroy itself.

Due diligence (4, Funny)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 4 years ago | (#30649540)

something that is too hot to be a planet and too small to be a star

And I'm guessing they've already ruled out the obvious [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Due diligence (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#30650194)

Not fire lord, space lord [youtube.com] .

Re:Due diligence (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30650308)

Time lord?

Re:Due diligence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30651138)

Gay lord?

Conservative Approach (5, Interesting)

Greg Hullender (621024) | more than 4 years ago | (#30649616)

They're being extremely conservative here, double-checking every claimed discovery using grround-based telescopes. That's a very sensible way to begin; they'd hate to announce some planets and then have to retract a few later!

As they get more verified examples under their belts, I expect they'll get a bit bolder. I certainly hope so, anyway. Earth-sized planets will be hard to double-check (Hubble could do it, but nothing on the ground), and large outer planets can't be double-checked at all, since they just make one pass and the next could be decades away.

--Greg

Re:Conservative Approach (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30649694)

Your signature makes you look pretentious.

Re:Conservative Approach (4, Interesting)

Elder Entropist (788485) | more than 4 years ago | (#30650696)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think they need to see two transits to see the complete dip of light and a second for confirmation and orbital period. As the project has been running for six weeks, they have only results for planets that orbit their star in 3 weeks or less. Detecting Earth size planets in the habitable zone could take years before they make two transits. Detecting Earth itself would take 2 years.

Re:Conservative Approach (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30651718)

It doesn't need to be confirmed with the same method. It could be detected by transit, but then confirmed by the way it perturbs the star's motion (which is the method we used to detect the first known exoplanets). Perhaps the reason it's found some so quickly is that the Kepler observations were were the confirmation, and the presence of the planets were already known.

Re:Conservative Approach (2, Insightful)

dryeo (100693) | more than 4 years ago | (#30651970)

According to the fine NASA press release, they want to see 3 transit events so more like 3 years for a planet in the habitable zone around a Sun like star.

They've found it!!! (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 4 years ago | (#30649636)

it has the density of Styrofoam

The Clangers home world! [youtube.com]

Yeah,uh... (5, Funny)

flyneye (84093) | more than 4 years ago | (#30649688)

The one with the density of styrofoam actually is styrofoam. Thats the one I worked so hard on my sophomore year for Mr. Nixs earth science class.
It turned up missing and I got a D for the quarter. I actually don't need it anymore so you're welcome to use it as a planet or whatever.
I doubt it will sustain life, but it will hold a hatpin, which I suspended it from.

Re:Yeah,uh... (1)

SpurtyBurger (1400111) | more than 4 years ago | (#30652974)

I think this could be God's bath sponge, actually.

In the 80"s i was promised (1)

JoshDD (1713044) | more than 4 years ago | (#30649766)

aliens and other planets to some day be visited and I want it all now damnit.

Re:In the 80"s i was promised (2, Funny)

chill (34294) | more than 4 years ago | (#30650202)

Dude, chill. Check a couple stories back and you'll see they're just getting around to the flying cars everyone was promised would be here by now back in the 50s and you're bitching about 80s promises!

Relax and check back in another 20-30 years.

Pretty good for a dead european white male (-1, Troll)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#30649812)

Kepler? I thought he died back in the 1600s. He's still around, and still looking through telescopes?

Oh, I get it, this must be some new science thing. It was just poorly explained in the summary, which is usual for Slashdot. If they discover more planets, it's really going to screw up astrology (which Kepler studied intensively). Did NASA take these considerations into account?

Re:Pretty good for a dead european white male (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30649926)

shut the fuck up idiot.

Re:Pretty good for a dead european white male (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30650898)

i hope you enjoy sucking on that troll dick. you bitch ass cunt shit. you suck and you're a fucking retard. every one of your posts are dumb and you just need to go the fuck away for once and for all.

If You're At All Interested In Not Knowing (1)

mindbrane (1548037) | more than 4 years ago | (#30649824)

Yale uni has astr160 [yale.edu] available Online. Professor Bayiln gives hot inner planets and black holes a good going over and folds them in with dark matter and dark energy to suggest whatever is cooking out there possibly ain't like noth'n we've been served before. It's a low maths, freshman course but doesn't shy away from anything. Professor Baylin is interesting, well spoken and easy to listen to. The production values on all the Yale courses are head and shoulders above that offered by mit and Berkeley, and, the Yale stuff comes with full html transcripts and added resources.

Re:If You're At All Interested In Not Knowing (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655168)

There's actually quite a few lecture series for Astronomy (and lots of other topics) on iTunes University. I'd highly recommend it.

Truthfully, this to me seems like an EXCELLENT idea for government funded projects. Tons of Universities receive public funding - seems like it shouldn't cost too much to just have the lectures for various topics filmed in this style and released free to the public. If bandwidth was a problem then this would be the absolute perfect place for Bittorrent. You won't get a degree by watching it, but you could become educated.

PS - for traditional podcasts AstronomyCast and Slacker Astronomy are both good too. AstronomyCast usually is a bit more basic in nature but still has good info.

What about what we don't know yet? (2, Interesting)

TroshBogre (1133113) | more than 4 years ago | (#30649886)

"...the scientists running it are fully confident that it will find Earth-like planets in some star's habitable zone"

Good to see that we're keeping a nice and closed mind about any lifeforms that might be outside the box. Just because we're so stuck on the definition of life that works here on our planet doesn't mean we won't find a lifeform that completely redefines "habitable zone".

Re:What about what we don't know yet? (1)

TroshBogre (1133113) | more than 4 years ago | (#30649976)

Wow, I must be in a foul mood. That just sounded terrible, ha!

My point is that our definition of habitable is going to change dramatically as we get more information. My knee jerk reaction to the summary was how limiting the thinking was to narrow what was possible to a tiny fraction of what was out there. Our concept of lifeforms and "earth-like lifeforms" are distinctions of their own and I hope I'm around to see how they get applied to whatever is discovered.

Re:What about what we don't know yet? (4, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30650056)

> My point is that our definition of habitable is going to change dramatically
> as we get more information.

In the meantime, however, we must work with what we have. How likely are we to find anything interesting if we just look around randomly?

Re:What about what we don't know yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30651712)

In the meantime, however, we must work with what we have. How likely are we to find anything interesting if we just look around randomly?

We are looking around randomly... there is no reason to choose one region of deep space to look at over any other, except for systemacity.

Re:What about what we don't know yet? (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30650254)

They're looking for any and all planets they can detect. The habitable-to-life-as-we-know-it ones are interesting for obvious subjective reasons, and also because if we've got any chance of detecting evidence of life from this far away it's not going to be some kind we haven't ever thought of before.

Re:What about what we don't know yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30650326)

Given that they don't search for lifeforms, but for planets, I'd say they do exactly the right thing.

Habitable planets are interesting not only because they might contain extraterrestrial life, but also because they are, well, habitable (for us). This might be useful in the future.

As for general lifeforms, I hate to point that but there is no way to look for them. The reason is, of course, that we don't know what are they. So those guys are looking for planets with liquid water and oxygen rich atmosphere (our environment) and SETI are looking for electromagnetic communication (our communication method), but can you suggest a way we'll find organisms made of high energy matter on neutron stars, communicating using gravity waves? (or any other crazy idea you have for other kinds of general lifeforms).

Re:What about what we don't know yet? (1)

PieSquared (867490) | more than 4 years ago | (#30651450)

Here's the thing... if you start out assuming that life might be radically different, you finish with "and that's why it's impossible to detect life with modern telescopes." On the other hand if you assume at least some life is like our own, you can find an earth sized planet in the habitable zone and then see water and organic molecules and conclude that there's probably life. In the mean time our telescopes will improve, and maybe eventually we'll be capable of taking a broader look with some hope of results.

Re:What about what we don't know yet? (1)

IrquiM (471313) | more than 4 years ago | (#30652802)

Thing is - you don't know what to look for, so you don't know if you find it or not. So why not concentrate on the things you already know before broadening the horizon when it comes to stuff like this?

Re:What about what we don't know yet? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 4 years ago | (#30658444)

Good to see that we're keeping a nice and closed mind about any lifeforms that might be outside the box. Just because we're so stuck on the definition of life that works here on our planet doesn't mean we won't find a lifeform that completely redefines "habitable zone".

You know, this particular thing comes up quite often around here when the topic of looking for exoplanets comes up, and it always strikes me as somewhat silly.

Yes, of course, there could be life forms 'outside of the box' of the habitable zone -- me, I'm betting on it in a vast universe. But, given that we don't have the vaguest &^%$*&^ idea of how to search for something so alien as to be unimaginable ... how, exactly, would you design an experiment to look for something we can't even conceive of? What would your criteria be?

The fact of the matter is, we can only really spend time looking for things in what we call the habitable zone because there's simply no basis to look for other things. Sure, we could look at all of the flaming hot, sulphurous worlds, or the icy frozen methane worlds. But, what exactly would we be looking for and how?

You either narrow your focus to what you can understand, or you flail about randomly. It's not so much that we have closed minds about the habitable zone, it's merely that we have no basis to look for anything else. Once you go outside of the realm of the science you have to work with, you're making shit up as you go, and then it becomes fiction.

Cheers

Wait a minute!?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30649890)

Didn't he die on CSI?

density of Styrofoam (2, Informative)

ganhawk (703420) | more than 4 years ago | (#30649892)

IIRC the density of the planet is not the same throughout. If that is the case, the comparison is pretty misleading. It could very well be a rocy core with a very thick layer of some light gas.

Re:density of Styrofoam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30650562)

It could be a planet made entirely out of little styrofoam balls.

Re:density of Styrofoam (1)

aaron alderman (1136207) | more than 4 years ago | (#30651160)

Starbucks planet?

Mote Exoplanets will always be found. (2, Interesting)

Froeschle (943753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30649916)

"....if they are out there to be found." They are out there whether we can find them or not. What I find really strange is why just prior to the fist exoplanet being discovered that scientists bothered debating the existence of exoplanets in the first place.

Re:Mote Exoplanets will always be found. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30650510)

This is because there is no good philosophical argument why they should exist. There is no argument why the probability of life shouldn't be negligible (and it might be because planets can't form in the habitable zone).

Think of a box containing billions of balls, some black and some white. If you pull a random ball, and it's white, you have a good reason to believe that the box contains significant amount of white balls. However, if you pull random balls until you get a white one (say, if you get a black ball, put it back in), and you don't know how many iterations you had (this is a crucial point) then you have no reason to believe there is more than one white ball. This is where we stand, we are the white ball, existence of life.

Re:Mote Exoplanets will always be found. (2, Interesting)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30650702)

Actually, there is a very good philosophical reason to suspect exoplanets should exists: the mediocrity principle [wikipedia.org] .

That is, we are not a very special and unique snowflake. We're not in a privileged position in the universe. There are billions of planets just like ours.

Re:Mote Exoplanets will always be found. (3, Insightful)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 4 years ago | (#30651086)

The problem is we haven't found billions of planets just like ours - only a handful so far - and 'like ours' in a very vague sense. We are yet to find a planet that is within say 10% of all the parameters of ours. I don't know if there is a reason to suggest that our planet is unusual but until we can find another one the philosophers get to wax lyrical.

Re:Mote Exoplanets will always be found. (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 4 years ago | (#30651240)

The problem is we haven't found billions of planets just like ours - only a handful so far - and 'like ours' in a very vague sense. We are yet to find a planet that is within say 10% of all the parameters of ours. I don't know if there is a reason to suggest that our planet is unusual but until we can find another one the philosophers get to wax lyrical.

I'd say we haven't found them because our technology has just gotten to the point were we are able to detect planets. Just be sheer numbers of possible starts, we're bound to find a lot more.

I can't wait until they definitively discover life (hopefully intelligent) so I can go to these young earth creationists and say 'in your face, you nutbar. In - your - face!'

Re:Mote Exoplanets will always be found. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30651540)

Are you aware that "young earth creationsm" doesn't rule out other inhabited worlds?

Re:Mote Exoplanets will always be found. (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 4 years ago | (#30654410)

So other planets and the rest of the universe have bee around for billions of years but we've only been here for 8000?

Re:Mote Exoplanets will always be found. (1)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 4 years ago | (#30662532)

If you have some experience dealing with them you will know that there exists no possible set of evidence that will change their mind. Given the overwhelming evidence in existance today why would that change their minds? It would be another Satan's trick, or an alternative interpretation of the same evidence etc etc. I'm willing to bet many would even claim that it proves them right.

Re:Mote Exoplanets will always be found. (3, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30652264)

Honestly, we can only see the nearest handful of stars compared to all planets in all galaxies. If we found even just one planet like earth, the fact that there are two such planets within proximity of each other is strong evidence there really are billions. We're finding lots of the planets that are easy to detect, what you're saying is a bit like searching through the sand with a coarse masked net and concluding there's only big rocks. Even an earth-style Jupiter would be very, very hard to detect despite its size because it has an orbital period of 12 years. They'd like 3x for confirmation, that's 36 years at the earliest. An earth-like planet goes faster but requires a lot higher resolution, and 3x1 year for confirmation is not particularly fast. I imagine by 2100 they'll look back at this discussion and laugh, of course there's pebbles where there's rocks. The only real reason not to think so is that some people have a very strong emotional investment in the earth and humanity being special.

Re:Mote Exoplanets will always be found. (1)

Elder Entropist (788485) | more than 4 years ago | (#30657500)

Kepler also requires the orbital plane to be just right in relation to Earth so the planet occludes the star. More distant planets would require even more precision in the orbital inclination to do so. Something the disance of Jupiter would need almost a precise 90 degree orbital plane of the system to Kepler angle.

Re:Mote Exoplanets will always be found. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30652460)

We are yet to find a planet that is within say 10% of all the parameters of ours.

Pauli exclusion principle? :)

Re:Mote Exoplanets will always be found. (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 4 years ago | (#30658646)

The problem is we haven't found billions of planets just like ours

Because we can only see so many from our vantage point and with our current technology.

Since there's billions and billions of galaxies, each will billions and billions of stars, and we can't see into any of them, we have no way of looking there. We're looking at stuff that (on a galactic scale) is relatively close. That's kind of like standing on a street corner in a small town in rural Iowa and claiming that people with different skin colours don't exist -- you can't see 'em from where you're standing, so therefore they must not exist.

People around here forget that it's really only within the last 15-20 years or so that we've been able to find any exoplanets -- in that time, we've gone from thinking that any form of planet was likely quite rare. The fact that we've not found a huge number of planets exactly like ours is a matter of the scale of what we're looking at.

For those of us who remember what detecting a planet orbiting a distant star was a pipe-dream, lamenting the fact that we've not found that one perfect planet is kind of like whining that the Wright Brothers didn't achieve super-sonic speeds. We've come a long way in the last few decades, but we still have a long way to go. For me, Drake's equation makes more sense with each passing year.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Cheers

Re:Mote Exoplanets will always be found. (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656844)

However, I'd say that that principle is mooted as far as the existence of planets by the anthropic principle. Assuming life requires a planet to develop on (we have no counter-examples to state otherwise,) then of course we have planets here, but thats no guarantee that they are common. Even if there were only 1 star in the entire galaxy with planets, we'd still develop on that one and think of planets as 'normal'.

Given the sheer scale of the universe I'm sure no one seriously thought there were no other planets out there, but it was perfectly reasonable to guess that they were so rare we might never find one. Same as I can't comprehend that we're the only intelligent life out here, but that doesn't necessarily mean that we'll ever contact another species, because it may be so rare that the intersection of two civilizations is incredibly unlikely. Without any more information than our singular data point, its impossible to really know.

Re:Mote Exoplanets will always be found. (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 4 years ago | (#30657634)

The amount of planets similar to Earth is not subject to philosophical reasoning. Either they are out there, or they aren't, principles won't make any difference.

Re:Mote Exoplanets will always be found. (1)

Deltaspectre (796409) | more than 4 years ago | (#30650546)

Good lord, the Moties are real!?

WooHoo! (3, Funny)

rcamans (252182) | more than 4 years ago | (#30649986)

Now we might actually have a chance of finding intelligent life in the universe!
And if we can get them to come to Earth, we could even have intelligent life on Earth!

Re:WooHoo! (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30652514)

Heh, reminds me of an old sig I used to have "Most people are looking for intelligent life in space. I haven't given up Earth yet." or something to that effect.

Re:WooHoo! (1)

z4ns4stu (1607909) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655346)

I always liked Calvin's quote that, "the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us."

Something I don't understand about the hot one. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30650178)

They say they know it is hotter than the star because the light curve dips more during occultation than during transit, but how do they know which is which other than by which dips most?

Wait... I guess I see how they *might* be doing it.

But it won't work for an object hotter than the primary. Hmmm.

Re:Something I don't understand about the hot one. (1)

alexibu (1071218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30650376)

I could guess that they are determining temperature by finding the peak wavelength of light using Planks law [wikipedia.org] .

If there was a smaller body in front of the bigger body, the spectrums are added ( or spectrum of big one * (size of bigone - size of small one) + spectrum of small one * size of small one) which might move the peak wavelength slightly. This would work for both a hotter and colder small body, and tell you size and temperature, given sufficient precision in wavelength and amplitude.

Re:Something I don't understand about the hot one. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30650462)

I could guess that they are determining temperature by finding the peak wavelength of light using Planks law [wikipedia.org].

As I understand it they aren't doing spectra: just light curves (on 145,000 stars at once!)
Kepler [wikipedia.org]

Re:Something I don't understand about the hot one. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30650414)

Ok. I see it now.

Extinct? (1)

Revenger75 (1246176) | more than 4 years ago | (#30650348)

We’re going away. Pack your shit, folks. We’re going away. And we won’t leave much of a trace, either. Thank God for that. Maybe a little styrofoam. Maybe. A little styrofoam. The planet’ll be here and we’ll be long gone. Just another failed mutation. Just another closed-end biological mistake. An evolutionary cul-de-sac. The planet’ll shake us off like a bad case of fleas. A surface nuisance.

A long time in the future, from a George Carlin far, far away on the planet Liked-Their-Coffee-Way-Too-Much

I know what the hot one is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30650548)

A galactic nuclear waste dump. Well it was, until an alien race known as the Iraliens reprocessed it into the largest nuclear bomb ever.

Known Earth-Like planets (1)

ilyag (572316) | more than 4 years ago | (#30650640)

Just to throw this out there: there are already some known reasonably Earth-like planets out there [wikipedia.org] . Here's the best one [wikipedia.org] . Of course, so far there aren't that many...

Pretty impressive for a guy dead ~400 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30650710)

I had no idea his telescope was that good, or that zombie Kepler was still doing astronomy after all this time. Also impressive is ... oh, wait a sec.

Anonymous Coward (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30650812)

You see...we're all in a big Christmas tree,and...Nobel Laureate,Al Gore.

Fluffy the Planet... (1)

number1scatterbrain (976838) | more than 4 years ago | (#30650814)

Somehow, you knew that there was a planet "just for girls"...

wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30651000)

amazing for a guy who's been dead for 380 years!

Guaranteed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30651418)

"The real news is that Kepler works as designed, and the scientists running it are fully confident that it will find Earth-like planets in some star's habitable zone..." ...whether those planets are there or not.

Density of styrofoam? (1)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 4 years ago | (#30652610)

In the future could we mine this planet for packing material?

Styrofoam planet a Jupiter brain candidate? (1)

hanschri (1713596) | more than 4 years ago | (#30652902)

Quoting wikipedia:
Jupiter brain

A Jupiter brain is a theoretical computing megastructure the size of a planet. Unlike a matrioshka brain, a Jupiter brain is optimized for minimum signal propagation delay, and so has a compact structure. Power generation and heat dissipation are formidable concerns for a Jupiter brain implementation.

While a rigid solid object the size and mass of a rocky planet or gas giant could not be built using any currently known material, such a structure could be built as a low-density lattice with a mass comparable to a large moon or a small rocky planet but a far larger volume, or as a solid but non-rigid structure with the mass and density of a planet (as long as the internal heat gradient is carefully controlled to prevent convection).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matrioshka_brain [wikipedia.org]

Re:Styrofoam planet a Jupiter brain candidate? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30653846)

And it's even very close to a star for efficient energy capture...

Re:Styrofoam planet a Jupiter brain candidate? (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 4 years ago | (#30659058)

Is there any candidate composition for it already? I mean, Jupter is slightly more dense than water [wikipedia.org] . I don't know what to make from that description of a brain, it could have all the way from the density of a nebula to a rock. But from power generation/dissipation requirements, I guess it would be composed by rotating layers of satelites. At that format, it would tend to be rocky dense, not gas dense (and cilindrical, instead of spherical).
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