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Recently Discovered Habitable World May Not Exist

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the that's-not-so-hot dept.

Space 231

sciencehabit better let Greg Dean know that "Two weeks ago, U.S.-based astronomers announced the discovery of the first Goldilocks planet circling another star: just the right size and just the right temperature to harbor alien life. But yesterday at an exoplanet meeting in Turin, Italy, Switzerland-based astronomers announced that they could find no trace of the prized planet in their observations of the same planetary system."

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231 comments

Theory... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33877302)

Aliens stole the planet because they noticed us eyeing it and that we're already wrecking the one we have...

Re:Theory... (4, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877348)

"Attention: Discovery by 5078-G-3-BLUE confirmed. All cloking screens up!"

Re:Theory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33877528)

What kind of a commie mutant traitor conspiracy does it take to turn a whole *planet* invisible?

Re:Theory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33878048)

Discovery by 5078-G-3-BLUE confirmed.

The planet is 20 light years away, it would take 40 years to confirm discovery, not a week! What is this, a joke or something?!!!

Re:Theory... (3, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878134)

The planet is 20 light years away, it would take 40 years to confirm discovery, not a week! What is this, a joke or something?!!!

Sometimes getting a clue takes that long also ;-)
   

Re:Theory... (1)

flyneye (84093) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877706)

Schrodingers cat may or may not have batted it across the Milky Way, seems to depend on if someone actually had a scope on it or not.

Recently undiscovered? (4, Funny)

Trip6 (1184883) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877304)

New scientific term

Re:Recently undiscovered? (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878420)

New scientific term

Wasn't that a Startrek film? Startrek VI - The Recently Undiscovered Country. (I wonder what recently undiscovered translates to in the original Klingon)

Alternative new terms: never-will-be-discovered, goldi-no-locks, goldi-unlocks, goldi-not-there, goldi-byebye, goldi-cried-wolf.

Or perhaps we could just add a new zone: The imaginary zone (Pity Superman's already taken The Phantom Zone)

Planet exsists..planent doesn't exist.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33877314)

quantum planet?

little green men called DIBS (1)

Phizzle (1109923) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877318)

and cloaked the planet!

Re:little green men called DIBS (2, Interesting)

Literaryhero (1379743) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878470)

So we found this planet by measuring gravitational changes on light. If the planet were in fact cloaked, then wouldn't that be akin to just turning off the gravity for the whole planet? How could they keep everything from floating away? I guess this fancy pants alien technology is just too advanced for me to understand.

Re:little green men called DIBS (2, Interesting)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878620)

    Don't underestimate the possibilities of mythical and theoretical equipment.

    Look at Star Trek, since others have used that imaginary universe in this thread already. Cloaking shields to make a ship or planet disappear. Sure, perfectly rational. The ships in the Star Trek universe have gravity plating. If you can create it, you can negate it. Why not? The good old "suspension of disbelief" stands firm. But why stop there. What if the planet (if it was one) were in a trans-dimensional state, where it could be seen but only sometimes has a physical presence.

    Or to step into one of my favorite imaginary universes, what if it was an object such as the Tardis. Hell, not only can it show up at any place, at any time in the universe (and sometimes alternate universe), but it can tow objects as large as a planet when needed. And of course, the door isn't a door, it's a transdimensional portal, so you're not stepping inside, you're stepping through. The physical "inside" isn't inside, it's actually somewhere else. Well, unless it's convenient for it to be effected by outside forces and the occupants are thrown around in a Star Trek like drama (Everyone lean left. Everyone lean right. Now fall down.)

 

Uhh ohh (3, Funny)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877332)

Uhh ohh, I think the earthlings are looking our way, quick hide!!

Crap they saw us. Keep hiding maybe they'll go away.

Re:Uhh ohh (2, Insightful)

notionalTenacity (1526919) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878058)

The planet is light years away. They couldn't possibly have reacted to anything we've done in the last few weeks. Or indeed, the last 40 years.

Re:Uhh ohh (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33878138)

I bet you're a real hit at parties.

Re:Uhh ohh (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878424)

You assume that what we take as hard rules of physical reality even remotely approximates how the universe actually functions.

Re:Uhh ohh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33878430)

If you believe this speed of light BS, yes. But what if they have FTL drive, wormholes, ansibles, or pony express?

Re:Uhh ohh (1)

no1home (1271260) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878528)

Sure they could-
Assumption: They have the ability to cloak an entire planet.
*Secondary assumption: With that level of technology, they likely have FTL communications and FTL travel.
Therefore: They have spies here who passed our discovery of them to their home, thus causing their leaders to hide the planet.

*It is true, of course, that the secondary assumption does not necessarily follow from the first assumption, but we're guessing here anyway and it's a pretty reasonable assumption.

What would Carl Sagan say...? (-1, Troll)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877336)

Heres the thing, I am NOT gay. Im STRAIGHT but you dont see me going around advertising it. You dont see me celebrating STRAIGHT pride. And gloryholes are out of the question because theres a chance it might be a guy on the other hand thats how straight I am. I cant help but feel this is the worst court decision in American History. Exactly what is accomplished by gay guys telling us there gay? The illusion is that this is the greatest step for equal rights since we freed all the slaves, when really all it does is give gays the go ahead to tell me how much they admire my incredible hulking body. It will lead to a world where everyone says I love your hot manly body and we should get gay. I do NOT want some guy trying to score with me in a foxhole which for straight men is are most primal fear. These guys cant even go 24 hours without sex and on the 25th hour they may make a move. Bottom line Im tired of activist judges making decisions like in this case, or in the People vs Larry Flynt, or in any case where the outcome goes against my religious beleifs. Its hard to teach my daughter the value of keeping the faith when you have the courts telling perverts they are allowed to do as they please. Just remember that the Bible says and I quote "Thou shalt NOT be gay" so you might be allowed in the military but you will NOT be allowed into the kingdom of heaven. And for the record I am NOT homophobic I wont fight clubs being built in gay districts or wherever will keep them away from around are schools and churches, but as far as the idea of gays in the military lets keep it alien. Jobs where you get shot at every day are tough enough without the chance of getting shot in the face with ejaculate.

Re:What would Carl Sagan say...? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33877438)

yeah, no shit. People talk about homosexuality in abstract terms. True conversastion:

Girl: bleh bleh gay right bleh bleh proud of my gay friend bleh bleh

Me: Have you ever had anal sex?

Girl: You can't stick a cock in my ass, that's disgusting and you're a sick pervert sexual freak deviant.

Re:What would Carl Sagan say...? (5, Funny)

KevinKnSC (744603) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877446)

That doesn't really sound like Carl Sagan at all.

Re:What would Carl Sagan say...? (4, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877522)

Yeah, if Carl Sagan were alive, he'd say

"HELP!!! GET ME OUT OF THIS BOX!!! IT IS SO DARK AND COLD!!!! HELP!!!!"

(stupid lameness filter) Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.

Re:What would Carl Sagan say...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33877784)

Don't gimme that, "Mary", we got pictures of you at that party. The one we showed your wife when you didn't pay is posted over at http://www.goatse.cx/ [goatse.cx] .
You didn't pay again this month, now everyone can see the depth of your situation.

}O{

Re:What would Carl Sagan say...? (-1, Offtopic)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878126)

You raise some interesting questions...

First, how many times has a gay guy come up to you and told you how much he admires your "incredible hulking body"? Is it more times than you've told a woman how much you admire her body?

What makes one person inherently better than another? Why can one person live their life stress-free, while another must hide who they are?

What sort of belief system requires that you attack peaceful people and derail conversations, just to comment that you hate your fellow man?

Where does the Bible actually contain the quote "Thou shalt NOT be gay"? How can such a statement be a quote, when the Bible was written in Hebrew and Greek? How many times has the word "gay" changed meaning over just the past few centuries?

By what stretch of the imagination does your desire to "keep them away" not fall into the category of homophobic?

Why should any citizen who appreciates the freedoms of American society not be allowed to serve that society to the maximum extent possible?

Finally, why is there so little punctuation?

Re:What would Carl Sagan say...? (-1, Offtopic)

volcan0 (1775818) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878730)

I'll bite to the topic because I have nothing better to do: Actually, the Church was not against homosexuality until the black plague in europe, where 50 to 75% of the population died ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Death [wikipedia.org] ) and there was a need to repopulate. The Church then outlawed / banned any sexual conduct that did not result in procreation. I am sorry for not having any hard evidence, but here's a link which I found trying to get some supporting evidence to my claim: http://www.tobyjohnson.com/biblesays.html [tobyjohnson.com]. With the Church having full control of the dissemination of information until recently, it's really hard to prove or disprove anything on the subject, but given their habbit of censoring information and modifying reality to fit their credo, I tend to give credit to that version of the events.

Re:What would Carl Sagan say...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33878602)

Heres the thing, I am NOT gay. Im STRAIGHT but you dont see me going around advertising it.

Unfortunately, we do.

that was close... (5, Funny)

gumbi west (610122) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877342)

Glad this story came up before we launched a probe for a 400,000 year flight. Wow would that have been a letdown.

as if a million voices were suddenly silenced (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33877352)

I sense a great disturbance in the force...

Re:as if a million voices were suddenly silenced (1, Informative)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877418)

Obi-Wan: I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

Re:as if a million voices were suddenly silenced (0, Troll)

Jello B. (950817) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877764)

I love how on Slashdot a correction of a Star Wars quote gets modded informative. wait, no i don't. nobody gives a shit

Re:as if a million voices were suddenly silenced (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877888)

If that where true, you wouldn't have replied. clearly you do care.

Re:as if a million voices were suddenly silenced (1)

danny_lehman (1691870) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878180)

GALACTUS APPROACHES!

and also, the 'fantastic 4: rise of the silver surfer' remastered-3d version is set to debut to the general populous in about 400,000 years.

Negligent fools (5, Funny)

MarkRose (820682) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877404)

Their planet was cleared to make way for an interstellar highway. They should have visited the local planning office!

Re:Negligent fools (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33877806)

Which was on Earth, of course, and the documents were located at the bottom of a locked filing cabinet in a disused lavatory behind the sign marked 'Beware of the Leopard'.

Re:Negligent fools (0, Redundant)

Cussin_IT (1143215) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878574)

Bolocks.
I think you'll find that the local planning office was at Alpha Centari, and presumably said hyperspace bypass is heading in the direction of earth

sigh (4, Insightful)

dtml-try MyNick (453562) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877454)

This is the third time a "habitable" planet was discovered in the Gliese system that turned out to be not so habitable, if it exists at all.

Great going.

Re:sigh (1)

Cylix (55374) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877936)

It's obvious they keep moving their planet after it has been discovered.

We need a global echelon network to find the interstellar spies hiding among us.

Once we can plug the leak we can finally launch a ship to take all the oxygen from their planet.

Re:sigh (4, Interesting)

siddesu (698447) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878036)

Don't be too depressed.

Considering the distances and the sizes involved, I'd say it is a huge improvement that we can even try to attempt detecting planets at light year distances.

It was only 120 something years ago when Schiappareli "discovered" the Martian canals, and stirred the great debate about civilization there.

Re:sigh (0, Redundant)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878316)

It was only 120 something years ago when Schiappareli "discovered" the Martian canals, and stirred the great debate about civilization there.

Obviously the Martians went to Gliese 581 after we discovered them. They've just realized that they didn't move far enough away.

Data Sets (5, Insightful)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877458)

Well it looks like the U.S. astronomers used two sets of data gathered from different time periods for their analysis. Meanwhile, the Swiss astronomers used a third set of data gathered over a different time period for their analysis. I would think the first thing that should be done would be to swap data sets. Have the U.S. astronomers run their analysis on the Swiss data set with their tools, and have the Swiss astronomers run their analysis on the U.S. data sets with their tools. After all is said and done, compare the results yielded by each data set. If only the U.S. astronomers are finding the gravitational wiggles, then it means that either their tools are inducing some kind of experimental error, or the Swiss tools are missing some critical component. At which point the tools and methods between the two groups should be compared and contrasted to observe differences.

If, however, U.S. analysis of the Swiss data sets similarly yields a no planet result, and Swiss analysis of U.S. data sets yields a planet exists result, then you can conclude that the problem is in the data, and not the analysis being done. So, the moral of the story to both teams is to send their data to each other. For bonus points, both parties can publish all of their data so that a few third parties can conduct their own analysis. This is what science is all about after all folks!

Re:Data Sets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33877722)

It's what science WAS all about before the GOP fucked this country.

Re:Data Sets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33878042)

Here ya' go, have a heapin' helpin' of STFU.

Re:Data Sets (4, Informative)

dasdrewid (653176) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877734)

US astronomers used their published data (henceforth called 'A') and the Swiss published data (henceforth called 'B'). The Swiss used their published data B and their unpublished data (henceforth called 'C'). So we've tested A+B and B+C. We'll see what the deal is when we can do A+B+C...

Re:Data Sets (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33877948)

A+B+C, its easy as 1-2-3...

Re:Data Sets (1, Funny)

syousef (465911) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878432)

A+B+C, its easy as 1-2-3...

If they've got it wrong it'll put the Doh! in Doe-Rae-Me!

Re:Data Sets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33878368)

US astronomers used their published data (henceforth called 'A') and the Swiss published data (henceforth called 'B'). The Swiss used their published data B. Clearly the Swiss should now use the US published data (A), which would give us A+B+B+A, which is clearly a perfect data set.

QED bitches.

Re:Data Sets (0, Redundant)

NemoinSpace (1118137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878052)

If, however, U.S. analysis of the Swiss data sets similarly yields a no planet result, and Swiss analysis of U.S. data sets yields a planet exists result, then you can conclude...

that neither group is good at metric conversions!

Significant digits? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33878558)

It could be this.

If your data set resolves down to 1x10E-16 and their data set resolves down to 1x10E-12, the 1x10E-12 data is obviously not going to yield the same findings. It's going to miss a lot of detail, and perhaps be useless when run through your analysis process. Such a thing could be an issue with the scales involved, but whether or not that's the case - who knows?

Romulus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33877498)

Clearly the Romulans have vastly improved their cloaking technology, and do not appreciate our feeble attempts at espionage.

Ork! (-1, Redundant)

chill (34294) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877532)

Mork's planet! If anyone remembers the 70s sitcom Mork & Mindy. Orkians were such big chickens they sometimes had to hide their entire planet.

Re:Ork! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33877850)

Hiding planets would also be in character for Larry Niven's Puppeteers, if they had the technology to do so.

Re:Ork! (1)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878522)

Well, moving the planet out of the solar system effectively hid it. Who looks for a habitable planetin interstellar space? The real question is there they got the trillions of stars to purchase the reactionless drives from the Outsiders that let them accelerate the 6 planets to .9c...

Lucy ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33877570)

... you've got some 'splainin' to do.

Destroyed..by the Empire (0, Redundant)

jdigriz (676802) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877612)

I think they can be justifiably proud of this technological terror they've constructed.

Re:Destroyed..by the Empire (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877766)

If only they didn't cut corners on 'needless' pork...like exhaust cover vents

The Swiss (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877720)

using only there own unpublished data set can't fin'd the planet.

OK. Nothing really changed here. They needed to do more research to confirm the data. They still need t do that.

This IS Gliese 581g! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33877776)

Maybe it moved. Did they try looking outside the Goldilocks zone, where Gliese 581h used to be?

I know the problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33877816)

You're looking in the wrong century! Y'know, light-speed travel, space-time relativity, and all that. Try turning your observatory telescopes a fraction of a degree...thattaway. There. That's where the light appears to be coming from now.

Our position is correct... (2, Funny)

gratuitous_arp (1650741) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877838)

"It's not on the charts... what's going on?"
"Our position is correct, except... no Goldilocks..."
"What do you mean? Where is it?"
"That's what I'm trying to tell you, kid. It ain't there."

welcome to astronomy (-1, Troll)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877866)

Saw this coming! It's amazing how they can assume the temperature and composition of something, how it spins, what its orbit is like just like we were there. By the way, barely know all that about our own planets in the solar system. Then suddenly oops, it's not even there and oh by the way, we don't have a way to really even detect planets for sure. Just like when they said, "hmmm, we made a measurement of all the mass in the universe, and by measurement we mean complete guess. It doesn't match up with what we can see, as we have counted and seen every object in the entire universe and also know its density. The remaining matter must be some sort of unknown, unexplainable material that breaks every law of physics called dark matter and certainly not merely a miscalculation or matter that literally has no radiation emitted from it or bouncing off ot and dark energy is clearly made of leprochaun magic."
For more classic space blunders, look up...ANYTHING related to space!
The obvious explanation is that they can look at the sky with limited tools and when they get done doing all they can possibly do, they're bored so they start making crap up and convincing people it's real to get more grants.

Re:welcome to astronomy (1, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877912)

You're a clueless prick.

I wish the amount of letters someone could type in a reply was based on whether or not the person read anything past the head line. That I would never see this nonsense again. Not that i expect much from someone who calls themselves a 'windows expert'.

That's no Planet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33877880)

That's a Battle Station!

Our position is correct, except...no, Alderaan! (1)

odinjurkowski (879144) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878100)

Thats what I'm trying to tell you, kid. It ain't there. It's been totally blown away.

Er, what's the point again? (2, Interesting)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878236)

Discovering new habitable planets while seemingly not researching ways to get us there is kind of like going to a whorehouse with no money. You usually end up very pissed off that all you could do is look.

Prioritization usually has value. This would be no exception.

Pandora's Star (1)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878274)

Sounds like the plot of Peter F. Hamilton's novel Pandora's Star. Basically a Star being observed by an astronomer goes goes out suddenly, it turns out it was enveloped in a solar-system sized impenetrable black barrier. Some alien entity did so to wall-in a potentially dangerous civilization intent on expanding to other systems. In this case the planet may have been sealed off.

Now given this star system is 20 light years aware they must not have liked something they saw in our leaked radio or TV from 1980, been deeply offended and immediately dispatched their interstellar battle fleet. Cue dyson barrier locking them down.

It may have been the original Battlestar Galactica, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080221/ [imdb.com]

Re:Pandora's Star (1)

XanC (644172) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878444)

If it's 20 light years away, and this is a reaction to us, then it would have to be from 1970. Not sure where you're getting 1980. 1990 would have been the easy error.

Re:Pandora's Star (1)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878456)

Wall off a solar system and the inhabitants can live. Wall off a planet and everybody on it dies from the lack of sunlight so you might as well just blow them up.

Coverup! (4, Funny)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878572)

"Sir, about that planet, we've detected a flash of light [foxnews.com]."
"Captain, are you telling me they're testing nucular bombs?"
"No sir, just a flash of l--"
"Do you have any idea what the public will do when they discover the aliens are testing WMDs and we have no plan for dealing with them?"
"Sir, I was mistaken. There was no flash of light."
"Not good enough, captain."
"Sir, I was mistaken. There was no planet."
"That's more like it."

Perhaps the US astronomers borrowed a page... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33878748)

from Global Warming scientists and fabricated data to suit their pre-formed conclusions.

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