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Kepler Confirms Exoplanet Inside Star's Habitable Zone

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the book-your-vacation-early dept.

Space 257

astroengine writes "Plenty of 'candidate' exoplanets exist, but for the first time, Kepler has confirmed the existence of an exoplanet orbiting its Sun-like star right in the middle of its 'habitable zone.' Kepler-22b is 2.4 times the radius of Earth and orbits its star every 290 days. 'This is a major milestone on the road to finding Earth's twin,' said Douglas Hudgins, Kepler program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. 'Kepler's results continue to demonstrate the importance of NASA's science missions, which aim to answer some of the biggest questions about our place in the universe.'"

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Take that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38269148)

...oh deniers of the science. It works bitches,

Re:Take that... (5, Insightful)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269518)

Sure, because the science deniers are swayed by evidence.

Re:Take that... (2)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269770)

But surely everyone can accept that all planets have an evil twin?

Re:Take that... (5, Funny)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270412)

I really hope we find the Earth evil twin. Surely it will be a world swamped by corruption, hunger, war and incompetence.

Oh wait....

Re:Take that... (5, Insightful)

adonoman (624929) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269556)

This is a terrible example of science working, if you're trying to portray science as useful. All this is, is a set of data, that according to our current scientific theories shows a very high probability that there exists a planet 600 light years away that stands a good chance of having liquid water.

When we land there and find that there is indeed such a planet, that's when we say: "Take that oh deniers of the science. It works bitches,"

If you're trying to show that science works, stick with examples where science has made seemingly outlandish predictions that later turned out to be true. Like the relativistic effects that need to be dealt with for GPS to work. Or go with the daily grind of science that is pumping out useful technologies in the form of airplanes, computers, plastics, and medicine.

Re:Take that... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38269836)

If you're trying to show that science works, stick with examples where science has made seemingly outlandish predictions that later turned out to be true.

Best example of this: radio waves. Hertz tried to prove that Maxwell's equations were bogus, because if they were correct there would be ridiculous things such as electromagnetic waves between antennas. It works, bitches!

Re:Take that... (4, Informative)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270158)

Best example of this: radio waves. Hertz tried to prove that Maxwell's equations were bogus, because if they were correct there would be ridiculous things such as electromagnetic waves between antennas. It works, bitches!

Wrong. Hertz created setups to deliberately try to prove that electric fields (and magnetic, but same thing) move at a speed less than infinite, to prove that Maxwell was right, not that he was wrong. Hertz also showed that light was an electromagnetic wave (or, rather, that they traveled at the same speed), and speculated that you could create light directly by ultra-high-frequency AC currents.

Re:Take that... (5, Insightful)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269808)

I seem to have missed all those people out there who think science doesn't work.

I know people skeptical of man-made global warming. I know of many others that aren't hard-core Darwinists (to various extents; not all Young Earth Creationists).

I know of absolutely no one who denies all of science as a discipline of knowledge. Definitely as a discipline which claims total knowledge, but not as a valid path of knowledge of the natural world.

I guess that's a long way around the barn to say "you are arguing with a straw man."

Re:Take that... (5, Insightful)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270400)

The issue is that those who are "skeptical" of "man-made global warming" (with a few rare exceptions), and those who "aren't hard-core Darwinists" (a euphemism for "intelligent design", I take it?) by necessity have to reject science as a methodology in order to maintain their beliefs. They accept "science" as the name for a field which gets them useful toys, while completely rejecting the way in which it functions.

Also, the word "Darwinist" is asinine. It's a perfect illustration of the difference between people who take things on faith, and those who try to maintain a scientific approach to life in general. For the former, an idea is necessarily tied to the person who proposed it, and its validity hinges entirely on the character and reputation of that person. For the latter, the individual is irrelevant. Calling someone a "Darwinist" is as absurd as calling them "Newtonist", "Einsteinist", "Maxwellist", or "Saganist". It's a word which has been manufactured by theists for the sole purpose of framing the debate in a way with which they're comfortable; as the weighing of the opinions of prominent figures, rather than an honest, objective analysis of the data.

Re:Take that... (4, Insightful)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270970)

"by necessity have to reject science as a methodology"

Not at all. They just disagree with certain conclusions or in the case of man-made global warming think the case is inadequate so far.

That's not disagreeing with science as a methodology. Although evolution as a historical science is a hell of a lot different than physics, chemistry, or straightforward biology in the methodology department. That's not a fault. That just has to do with dealing with the past and not being able to run experiments.

Re:Take that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38271046)

The issue is that those who are "skeptical" of "man-made global warming" (with a few rare exceptions), and those who "aren't hard-core Darwinists" (a euphemism for "intelligent design", I take it?) by necessity have to reject science as a methodology in order to maintain their beliefs. They accept "science" as the name for a field which gets them useful toys, while completely rejecting the way in which it functions.

I disagree in the instance of androgenic global warming. It's just that science doesn't have all the data on that yet, nor do we know the models are correct. As to the rest, well, pretty much yeah.

Re:Take that... (2)

gomiam (587421) | more than 2 years ago | (#38271094)

I'm afraid you miss the mark in this case. Lamarckist evolution and darwinist evolution are somewhat different ;). The fact that lamarckism is wrong isn't relevant to the discussion: darwinism is a valid term even in scientific circles, although it is today conflated with evolutionism (quite rightly so, since it is basically correct).

This may be a bit like the hacker/cracker terminology discussion, though.

Re:Take that... (2, Interesting)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270684)

People are happy to trust scientists because for the most part, they have no idea what the scientists are saying. This is true up until the point the scientist says something the person disagrees with. "What do you mean human's evolved from apes!? You're a lunatic!" At this point the scientist is no longer an authority but a crackpot.

Silly artist's conceptions. (5, Funny)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269182)

Scientists don't yet know if Kepler-22b has a predominantly rocky, gaseous or liquid composition, but its discovery is a step closer to finding Earth-like planets.

Sure they do! Just look at the picture right next to the article [nasa.gov] ! Man, who gets paid to Photoshop these spheres in front of bits of nebulae all day? That must be an interesting job.

Re:Silly artist's conceptions. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38269462)

It doesn't look that great to me. They should have outsourced that to Iceland [eveonline.com] .

Re:Silly artist's conceptions. (4, Funny)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269706)

Aren't they all reproductions from the covers of Analog?

Re:Silly artist's conceptions. (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269790)

I think they just hired on whoever made the old sci-fi magazine covers. Some poor sod with an addiction to airbrushing spheres over and over and over again, whom they finally replaced in the late nineties with his son, a man obsessed with Photoshopping spheres over and over and over again. Every now and then, a rocket, ring system, or black hole. Yee-haw. [blogspot.com]

Re:Silly artist's conceptions. (5, Funny)

fortapocalypse (1231686) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270564)

Artist: "So what should this thing look like?"
NASA engineer: "It's 600 light-years away. How the @#$% should I know!"
Artist: "Picking a planet from an old Star Trek episode at random then."
NASA engineer: "Ok. But no funny stuff. Save the stars, rainbows, and unicorns for your acid trips."
Artist: "Nebulous clouds in the background- check."

Re:Silly artist's conceptions. (1)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270300)

I'm sure they're paid to photoshop all sorts of things, not just spheres in front of bits of nebulae.

Of course, from the quality of the photoshop, it looks like an intern did it.

600 light years... (1, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269202)

Mr. Sulu, set a course for Kepler 22b, warp 3, I'll be in my quarters looking over the latest Toupees Monthly.

Someone better start working on this faster than light drive. Of course, should we get there we'll probably find it a very tough planet to stand erect on.

Re:600 light years... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38269392)

Mr. Sulu, set a course for Kepler 22b, warp 3, I'll be in my quarters looking over the latest Toupees Monthly.

Someone better start working on this faster than light drive. Of course, should we get there we'll probably find it a very tough planet to stand erect on.

I stood erect in your mom last night.

Re:600 light years... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38269432)

It says that this planet's radius is approximately 2.4 the radius of the Earth, but it doesn't say anything about its mass or density. How much you'd weigh depends on the mass of the planet in addition to its size.

Re:600 light years... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270046)

It says that this planet's radius is approximately 2.4 the radius of the Earth, but it doesn't say anything about its mass or density. How much you'd weigh depends on the mass of the planet in addition to its size.

Earth size and not rocky means it's going to be largely composed of frozen gas. Not the ideal place to set up shopt after a 600 ly journey, but also not likely to be in the Goldilocks zone, which Kepler 22b is supposed to be in. Question is, does it have water vapor in the atmosphere? When the plant passes in front of a star they can usually get a pretty good spectrum to tell them what's there. Have to wait and see.

Re:600 light years... (2)

Megahard (1053072) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269474)

Agreed. If it's the same density then 2.4x radius would be 14x the mass. I'm trying to picture a planet with intelligent pancake beings.

Re:600 light years... (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269622)

> If it's the same density then 2.4x radius would be 14x the mass.

And have about 2.4x the surface gravity. Humans could survive that.

Re:600 light years... (3, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269734)

I have a feeling that they couldn't for very long. It's one thing to endure high G stress for a few minutes to get accelerate to high velocities, but for long periods of time? I can well imagine that being subject to 2.4g for days or weeks would probably lead to all sorts of nasty physiological effects. I'll wager your heart would be heavily stressed, and there would be a tendency for blood to pool.

Re:600 light years... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270410)

I weigh about 150 pounds, I see people who weigh more than twice as much as me every day, and they seem to be able to walk ok (although the fatsos my age are using canes and walkers because their knees are shot). I would imagine that you would simply get used to it after a while, and would bet that you would wind up looking like a weightlifter if you lived there very long.

Re:600 light years... (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270872)

Those are not really equatable situations. We're talking about long-term exposure to a level of gravity nearly two and a half times what every system in our body has evolved to.

Re:600 light years... (3, Interesting)

RMingin (985478) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269736)

Yeah, but that's not a very happy version of "survive". At constant 2.4G, you'll have major circulatory, digestive, and bone strength issues. On the other hand, after a few hundred generations, we'd have dwarves that would look right at home in a Tolkien story. Probably be incredibly strong and durable, too. Homo Sapiens Khazad.

Re:600 light years... (5, Insightful)

tgd (2822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269692)

Agreed. If it's the same density then 2.4x radius would be 14x the mass. I'm trying to picture a planet with intelligent pancake beings.

Or they'd have a stronger physiology. Or live in the water. Or perhaps a thousand other options we haven't thought of.

Re:600 light years... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38269778)

But still constrained by the Periodic Table of Elements and the properties of matter. Unless you think it's different out there?

Re:600 light years... (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269862)

Agreed. If it's the same density then 2.4x radius would be 14x the mass. I'm trying to picture a planet with intelligent pancake beings.

Or they'd have a stronger physiology. Or live in the water. Or perhaps a thousand other options we haven't thought of.

Like the difference in atmospheric pressure - assuming, for the fun of it, a similar composition to Earth's atmosphere, N, O, Ar, CO2 and so on. Takes smaller amount of breathing as a lungful of air presents more O2 than Earth's at sea level. Of course, hoofing around, feeling more weight on your legs could tend to favor smaller humans, with subsequently less mass. Imagine your heart trying to get that blood to your brain when you are 6'2".

Re:600 light years... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38269748)

Comes out to 5.76x Earth gravity. *Smush*

Re:600 light years... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38270480)

Comes out to 5.76x Earth gravity. *Smush*

At the same density of the Earth, it comes out to 2.4x Earth gravity

Re:600 light years... (3, Informative)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270146)

Agreed. If it's the same density then 2.4x radius would be 14x the mass. I'm trying to picture a planet with intelligent pancake beings.

Hal Clement did a nice job in Mission of Gravity [wikipedia.org] . The planet Mesklin has 3 g at the equator and 700 g at the poles. Nice read. Clement knows his physics, so it is quite interesting on that level as well.

Re:600 light years... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38270968)

Agreed. If it's the same density then 2.4x radius would be 14x the mass. I'm trying to picture a planet with intelligent pancake beings.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mission_of_Gravity

Re:600 light years... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38269844)

Of course, should we get there we'll probably find it a very tough planet to stand erect on.

That really depends on if they'll let Scarlett Johanson go with me or not.

More info about the star? (4, Interesting)

Liquidrage (640463) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269214)

I've looked a bit this morning and can't find anymore info about the star itself. What its apparent magnitude it? What constellation its in? Etc. All I can figure out is its referred to as Kepler 22 which only makes sense in relation to the program. But I'd love to be able to try and see the star through a telescope.

Re:More info about the star? (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269346)

I would look it up and try to tell you... but everything's hosed from all the traffic. That information will probably come out later. Notably, sites like The Habitable Exoplanets Catalog [upr.edu] aren't updated to include it yet.

Re:More info about the star? (4, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269506)

I've looked a bit this morning and can't find anymore info about the star itself. What its apparent magnitude it? What constellation its in? Etc.
All I can figure out is its referred to as Kepler 22 which only makes sense in relation to the program. But I'd love to be able to try and see the star through a telescope.

Go to the exoplanet encyclopedia website instead of a place that headlines "Psychics and Missing Babies -- Dissecting the Blame Game" and "Top Tips from 2011 to Help Earth, Economy: Photos"

http://exoplanet.eu/star.php?st=Kepler-22 [exoplanet.eu]

Son of a B, e.eu has got nothing. Simbad's got nothing. There is nothing at all other than it exists and there are press releases all over along with fluffy talk about the release. But even the "official record" has nothing. Give it time and it'll get populated. Heck by the time you read this, e.eu might have data.

This is what Kepler-16 looks like on simbad, someday we'll have this level of data for -22

http://simbad.u-strasbg.fr/simbad/sim-id?Ident=Kepler-16 [u-strasbg.fr]

I donno what a simbad is, a friend of mine went around calling it "sinbad" like the sailor for a while. Which is probably a cooler name, at least in the US.

Re:More info about the star? (2, Insightful)

dissy (172727) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270100)

I donno what a simbad is, a friend of mine went around calling it "sinbad" like the sailor for a while. Which is probably a cooler name, at least in the US.

According to the documentation for the app that the web interface talks with:

SIMBAD is the acronym for:
Set of
I dentifications,
M easurements and
B ibliography for
A stronomical
D ata

Re:More info about the star? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38269642)

The article says it's a G-Type star just like our sun except a bit dimmer and cooler.

Re:More info about the star? (5, Informative)

Jesse_vd (821123) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270190)

I'm no expert on this but I've got an awesome app on my iPhone called Exoplanet. It's always got new planets like this one before I even read about them.

The host star is KIC10593626

It's mass is 0.97 solar masses
It's radius is 0.98 solar radii
It's 587.1ly away
Stellar Metallicity is 0.000[Fe/H]
Spectral type is G5
Magnitude (V) 0.000
Right ascension is 19h 17m 70s
Declination is +47* 52' 90"

Hope that helps you, And please tell me if you think this would be visible through a telescope. There's a dark sky preserve near here with a 20" telescope that I've been meaning to visit

Re:More info about the star? (4, Informative)

Liquidrage (640463) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270558)

Thanks. If it is KIC10593626 then you should see it np at that site assuming it's visible from where you are since it's apparent magnitude is almost 12. http://palebluedot.whitedwarf.org/stars/10593626 [whitedwarf.org] I have a MK-66 which is a 6" Mak-Cass and can see up to about magnitude 12 in my yard on a good night, and about 15 at a dark spot. A 20" on a dark site should go well beyond that in the high teens.

Re:More info about the star? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38270450)

All the info I have right now: .97 solar masses .98 Solar radii
G5
RA 19h 17m 70s
DE +47 52' 90"
In Cygnus

Does it support (our kind of) animal life? (1)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269254)

So, when will we be able to get a spectrographic reading on its atmosphere to see if there is free oxygen there? If an amateur using a 10" scope can see the dust around another star, is there any way the very best techniques using twin 10 meter scopes with' anti-aberration lasers can block out enough of the stars light to see just the planet's atmosphere?"

Re:Does it support (our kind of) animal life? (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269710)

So, when will we be able to get a spectrographic reading on its atmosphere to see if there is free oxygen there? If an amateur using a 10" scope can see the dust around another star, is there any way the very best techniques using twin 10 meter scopes with' anti-aberration lasers can block out enough of the stars light to see just the planet's atmosphere?"

No. Not even close. Yet.

better space probes have been proposed (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270268)

Basically you'd have to use very clever occluding telescopes and/or very wide inferometry to get a spectrogram separate from the star. But clever designs have been proposed recently. I dont think any made the 2010s budget due cost and technological immaturity.

habitable maybe (4, Funny)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269274)

but you wouldn't wanna spend your vacation there... big planet, heavy gravity... girls there are probably built like East European wrestlers with thunder thighs that could swat you like a fly.

Re:habitable maybe (5, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269304)

Did you have to Rule 34 the thread already?

Re:habitable maybe (1)

kallisti5 (1321143) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269354)

we all knew it would happen.

Re:habitable maybe (3, Interesting)

FTWinston (1332785) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269464)

If it had a density equal to that of Earth's, it'd have a surface gravity only 1/3 higher than Earth's, by my calculations. We could probably tolerate that without needing thunder thighs. Of course if its atmosphere is comparible to Earth's, then the greenhouse effect would presumably warm the surface to ~20C higher than you'd expect from its orbit alone, as happens with Earth. And an average surface temperature of over 40C sounds a bit sweaty ... though I imagine the poles could be a bit more tolerable.

Re:habitable maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38269838)

though I imagine the poles could be a bit more tolerable.

For their sakes, I hope the Poles on Kepler-22b aren't surrounded by Germans and Russians.

Since they named the planet after Kepler, I'm not holding out much hope.

Re:habitable maybe (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269466)

Oh, so they've located Amazonia [theinfosphere.org] ?

Re:habitable maybe (2, Informative)

shadowrat (1069614) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269858)

I think a high gravity environment is unlikely to produce massive beings. That extra mass would be self defeating. The largest creatures on our planet require water to support them. They'd likely be very small. High gravity worlds are more likely to produce hobbits. Plus the gravity pulls all the hair down, causing it to grow from their feet.

What do we do now? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38269306)

There is an exoplanet that may be habitable but it is far, far outside our reach.

What do we do now? Shoot radio broadcasts in that direction? Start building a probe?

Re:What do we do now? (5, Insightful)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269398)

Bemoan our lack of FTL transit and paw desperately at the sky, while our sad little mudball continues to shout itself to pieces over meaningless displays of tribalistic self-importance, treats the future as its greatest enemy, and continues to believe that such is the best course of action.

Re:What do we do now? (4, Funny)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269552)

(Also, state the obvious to farm karma.)

Re:What do we do now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38269876)

FTL transit? Let's start with FTL communication. Where are we on that?

Re:What do we do now? (2, Insightful)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269974)

Bemoan our lack of FTL transit and paw desperately at the sky, while our sad little mudball continues to shout itself to pieces over meaningless displays of tribalistic self-importance, treats the future as its greatest enemy, and continues to believe that such is the best course of action.

You know the difference between a pessimist and an optimist?

Pessimists suck :(

Re:What do we do now? (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270122)

Look on the bright side: they'll all be dead in fifty years, and progress will resume. The children of the eighties and nineties have relatively little interest in perpetuating their parents' dystopia.

Re:What do we do now? (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270768)

FTL communications and travel have less connection to reality than people who throw rocks at cars on a Saturday.

Re:What do we do now? (0)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270980)

I'd like to believe that, but see no indication of it. The "occupy" movement is largely children of the eighties and nineties, as are most truthers. Religiosity is down, but conversion to crazy fringe factions is up. And the whole thing is a bit slanted by the fact that most first-world nations have declining birth rates; even if our new generations were the most rational ever, they'll be living in a world awash in the craziness of other cultures.

Don't get me wrong - I think we're generally headed in the right direction, and things do tend to get better over time ... but I'd be hesitant to consider "the children of the eighties and nineties" as some sort of panacea. We're all still human beings, with the same frailities, insecurities, and misfiring instincts that our species has always had to struggle with. I don't expect to see any major improvements in human nature during my lifetime.

Re:What do we do now? (1)

FutureDomain (1073116) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270432)

Nah, we'll just lobby our congresscritters to pass a law increasing the speed of light, since that's what we always do when we don't like something.

Re:What do we do now? (2)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269402)

What do we do now? Shoot radio broadcasts in that direction?

Yeah, we could do that.

Start building a probe?

No, it would take literally millions of years for a probe to get there using current technology. Better bone up on R&D and try to invent fusion rockets or warp drive first.

This just in... (1)

kallisti5 (1321143) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269330)

Chevron and Conoco Phillips entering the space race.

Re:This just in... (3, Funny)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269434)

It's hard to see how their talents would apply. What are they going to do, lobby for c to be relaxed?

Re:This just in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38269582)

Mere "physics" cannot thwart the lobbying power of US corporations.

Re:This just in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38270132)

Hey, you never know.... [slashdot.org]

"On February 5, 1897, 111 years ago today, the Indiana legislature very nearly passed a bill 'introducing a new mathematical truth,' that would have erroneously established pi as the ratio 'five-fourths to four' or 3.2. The story explaining the rationale behind the bill and how they were prevented from legislating it when a real mathematician intervened is quite interesting, because the man who discovered the 'new mathematical truth' wanted to charge royalties, which could have made pi the first form of irrational property."

Re:This just in... (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270788)

When corporations go to space, it won't be to magically go 600 light years, it'll be to the asteroids and moons for resources.

Habitable Planets (5, Interesting)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269428)

Many of you may already be aware of this, but it is likely that going forward we will find these "goldilocks" planets with more regularity. Kepler luanched in 2009 with first observations in Jan 2010 and discovers planets using the transit method. Basically, a planet blocks part of its home star's light, and sensitive instruments can pick up on this difference in light. Two transits create a pattern to follow up on, the third transit is considered confirmation of the existence of a plant. So almost 3 earth years of observations means finally being able to detect planets with year long orbits (slight error in logic, depending on when you catch the planet in the act...)

So we are getting to the point where the data should start pouring in on planets more similar to our own. In another 12 months, I would expect to see hundreds if not thousands of planets similar to our own. That is when I think things get interesting. Say we find only 100 "habitable" planets... follow-up observations should give us an idea about the existence or nonexistence of life. Is it common? Is it uncommon? Are we just one of millions of life bearing planets? Are we an outlier? The mind boggles at what we will learn.

This is an interesting time to be alive :)

Re:Habitable Planets (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269630)

And... how come we haven't heard from any other civilizations on any of those planets?

Re:Habitable Planets (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38269774)

They're hundreds of light years away and we've only been communicative for less than a century. Given the inverse square law, communication between systems will probably need to be very intentionally focused with high gain antennae. In order for a message to have been sent to us that we can pick up, someone else would have had to see our planet in the habitable zone, see the oxygen levels in the atmosphere and attempt contact. They may have done so 50 times already, and would have gotten nothing back-- because we have to do the same with them to know which star to listen to and we're *still* not at that point.

tldr; physics.

Re:Habitable Planets (1)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269812)

Communication takes two parties. The failure may be that we are not capable of receiving or deciphering what they are sending.

Or, if their civilization is sufficiently advanced they already know we are stupid and boring. When is the last time you sat down and introduced yourself to a rat?

Re:Habitable Planets (1)

doug141 (863552) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270526)

When is the last time you sat down and introduced yourself to a rat?

There was this one town hall meeting...

Re:Habitable Planets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38270608)

A few weeks ago when I got a new pet.

Re:Habitable Planets (4, Funny)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269894)

And... how come we haven't heard from any other civilizations on any of those planets?

They received a bunch of broadcasts containing our political debates, and concluded that there is no intelligent life on this planet.

Re:Habitable Planets (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270004)

I'll buy that.

Re:Habitable Planets (1)

doug141 (863552) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270582)

They received a bunch of broadcasts containing our political debates, and

... their preemptive strike in en-route.

Re:Habitable Planets (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38271282)

Well, this one is 600 light years away, so Christopher Columbus hasn't been born yet in their frame of reference. I hope they aren't eagerly tuning in to see how well we'll run the planet for the last 600 years, how embarrassing that would be.

Re:Habitable Planets (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38269802)

All the Christian Republicans will defund it before that happens.

Re:Habitable Planets (3, Informative)

HappyHead (11389) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269816)

Say we find only 100 "habitable" planets...

Considering how very small the patch of sky Kepler is watching actually is, if we find 100 "habitable" planets in it, and then extrapolate that across the rest of the sky, the number of potential habitable planets would be huge. Of course, right now there are only around 54 or so habitable zone candidates, out of 1000 "planet" candidates, and all of them are still waiting for confirmation. Still, if even half of those are valid, then that indicates a massive number of qualifying planets in the galaxy.

For the interested, here's a link to a NASA graphic of Kepler's search zone:
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/kepler/multimedia/images/kepler-target-in-the-milkyway.html [nasa.gov]

Re:Habitable Planets (1)

lorinc (2470890) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270148)

This is an interesting time to be alive :)

It is always an interesting time to be alive. :)

Oh the irony... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38269456)

...to spend a ton of time, effort, and research to find Earths twin, only to find the race of carbon-based life forms living there has completely fucked up the entire planet by abusing its natural resources.

"Well shit. NASA, you're not gonna believe this...we found alien life alright...and they're as fucked up as we are."

Re:Oh the irony... (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269576)

Haha an ending worthy of a Twilight Zone episode.

Re:Oh the irony... (1)

Aryden (1872756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269592)

Yes but we could murder them all and take what little Oil resources they have left. I mean, that's what we do now right?

Re:Oh the irony... (3, Funny)

xero314 (722674) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269746)

Oh the irony to spend a ton of time, effort, and research to find Earths twin, only to find the race of carbon-based life forms living there has completely fucked up the entire planet by abusing its natural resources.

That's pretty much how the inhabitants of the alien planet our going to feel when they discover us. Or maybe they already have, but are smart enough to stay away.

I wonder if THEY have found us? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38269564)

Could there be a Kepler-equivalent device orbiting 22-b looking our way, saying that we're 22-b twin that looks like a good match.

Who'll get FTL drive first ...

Re:I wonder if THEY have found us? (3, Insightful)

malilo (799198) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269762)

Given the billion-year timescales to evolution, I'd say the likelihood of such synchronicity is exceedingly small. Unless they've known about our planet for millions of years and have come to the conclusion that no possibility exists for technology allowing a visit.

Time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38269672)

A year on Terra is obviously longer than a year on Kepler-22b. Assuming we're able to someday inhabit these planets, how will our perception of the passage of time being a sign of wisdom/experience/temporal-distance-to-death/etc. change as a species?

Re:Time. (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270072)

Not a whole lot. Clocks will just mean less to the world around us. Like DST, only moreso.

"...right in the middle of its 'habitable zone'... (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269714)

Looks like the inner edge to me. With that much mass I suspect that it is Venusian (or maybe a boiling water planet).

did not rtfa (0, Redundant)

tesdalld (2428496) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269744)

I'm sure its only 5000 light years away, i'll go pack my bags.

Re:did not rtfa (1)

tesdalld (2428496) | more than 2 years ago | (#38269940)

i read the full article... 600

Please don't cut our funding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38269906)

Translation: "In this era of financial armageddons, please overlook the ever-harmless, insightful NASA endeavors when deciding where to cut government spending (our research isn't for offense^H^H^H^H^H^H^H defense, no really). Remember we do things that are important, like finding this planet that seems a little like earth."

Planet (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38270570)

It's an ugly planet, a bug planet

Important? How? (-1, Flamebait)

Shotgun (30919) | more than 2 years ago | (#38270812)

Kepler's results continue to demonstrate the importance of NASA's science missions, which aim to answer some of the biggest questions about our place in the universe

So the "importance" of NASA is to sate some geeks curiosity? They've discovered that our solar system isn't completely unique in the whole of the universe. They've discovered that there are, in fact, other planets. Now what? Everybody says, "Woohoo!" and goes home? I just don't see how this has any importance, whatsoever, because I don't see how it can have any measurable effect on any decision made by anyone on this planet in the foreseeable future.

Re:Important? How? (1)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 2 years ago | (#38271084)

Now what? Everybody says, "Woohoo!" and goes home? I just don't see how this has any importance, whatsoever, because I don't see how it can have any measurable effect on any decision made by anyone on this planet in the foreseeable future.

If you don't already see the importance in discovering life outside of our own planet, then I doubt you ever will. Go out into the world sometime, enjoy it, and see if you don't come back wanting more life in this universe. (Please note, I said 'into the world'. The 'world' is not just the human world. The human portion of this world is only the tiniest fraction of the greater whole. As Ed Abbey would say: Go to a national park, park your car, get out, and crawl on your stomach across the rocks and plants. Maybe, just maybe, then you'll learn something. He and I both doubt you will, but if you do that long enough your chances are better.)

Make it so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38271238)

Number one! Assemble an away team!

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