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Other Solar Systems Could Be More Habitable Than Ours

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the mars-isn't-pulling-its-weight dept.

Space 143

SternisheFan sends word of new research out of Ohio State University into the possibility of life arising in other star systems: "Scattered around the Milky Way are stars that resemble our own sun—but a new study is finding that any planets orbiting those stars may very well be hotter and more dynamic than Earth. That's because the interiors of any terrestrial planets in these systems are likely warmer than Earth—up to 25 percent warmer, which would make them more geologically active and more likely to retain enough liquid water to support life, at least in its microbial form. ... 'If it turns out that these planets are warmer than we previously thought, then we can effectively increase the size of the habitable zone around these stars by pushing the habitable zone farther from the host star, and consider more of those planets hospitable to microbial life,' said Unterborn, who presented the results at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco this week."

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So, maybe like Venus? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42185637)

It seems to me the 'habitable zone' is a pretty fine line. Regardless of the size of the star or the composition of the planets, there's always going to be a particular distance where things work. Off by a little either way, and forget it. This might affect the distance, but it's doubtful it would affect the width of the habitable zone.

Re:So, maybe like Venus? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42185685)

Venus is not uninhabitable due to its proximity to the Sun.

Re:So, maybe like Venus? (1)

Deadstick (535032) | about a year and a half ago | (#42185715)

Then what is it uninhabitable due to?

Re:So, maybe like Venus? (3, Interesting)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year and a half ago | (#42185797)

The atmosphere. Move Venus out to the orbit of Earth or even Mars and it would still be way too hot and toxic.

Re:So, maybe like Venus? (0)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | about a year and a half ago | (#42185951)

It appears to be most likely that Venus' uninhabitability is most likely to be caused by our star, Sun. What else?

The reason Earth is habitable to us is because of plants, where the precursors had other shit to deal with. In large, the plants made the atmosphere of Earth we know of today. That is no big news.

Life never thrived on Venus. And?

The Sun is the culprit.

Re:So, maybe like Venus? (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186317)

Life never thrived on Venus.

Do you have any evidence to support this? We don't even know if there is life currently living on Venus, much less in its ancient history. It's doubtful that anything resembling earth-like life lives on Venuses surface, but there could be certainly be life we don't understand yet. It also likely had vast oceans in it's past that have dried up... And as far as earth-like life, the atmosphere of Venus is almost identical to earths pressure and temperature at about 50 to 60km up... although it's almost pure CO2 so it would have to be plant life.

This idea that to support life a planet must resemble our own is getting old. Our planet is as unique and the life that evolved on it... I think we'll find that nearly every planet we find life on will be equally as unique.

Re:So, maybe like Venus? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42186565)

Perhaps its more precise to say that "the right kind" of life never existed on Venus. It is believed that Earth was quite similar to Venus a billion of years or so ago. Luckily some very basic plant/microbial life developed that converted much of Early Earth's atmosphere to what we consider "rocks" today. Without this our planet would have suffered much the same fate as Venus did millions of years ago. It is possible that some form of life existed/exists today, but current evidence suggests if it exists at all it is likely not really thriving. If it were we would likely have seen evidence of it on surface photos or orbital surveys.

I fully agree that life is likely far more diverse than our own, capable of existing in environments that would reduce us to a pile of burning/freezing/dissolving mush. But in our own solar system I think it has been found that at least in the inner solar system Earth is the only planet with a significant biosphere. With Mars and Venus at most hosting some sub-surface/high atmosphere microbes/small organisms. Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus & some of their moons are now the only hope we have of finding significant biospheres. But life in/on those planets would be far different from what we are used to.

Re:So, maybe like Venus? (2)

Nostromo21 (1947840) | about a year and a half ago | (#42187045)

Last I checked, carbon-based life require amino acids to even get started. But that's only for carbonites like us that we know of. Lots of sci-fi (& some fact) has postulated non-carbon base life, with elements such as silicon, boron & even metal based:

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

First off, we would have to define & agree on what exactly constitutes 'life', which sounds a lot easier than it actually is. And don't even get me started on 'intelligence' or 'sentience', which complicates the topic no end.

Re:So, maybe like Venus? (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year and a half ago | (#42188319)

Life similar to Earth's can't exist near the surface of Venus. It's too hot for the kinds of chemicals we're made of to be stable. (approx 480C). The upper atmosphere is the right temperature but there's too little water (20PPM). In fact, there's too little hydrogen of all forms. You couldn't form many of the molecules that life is made of. Something must have happened to the hydrogen though. I assume it's somehow bound in the surface rocks.

Re:So, maybe like Venus? (1)

danlip (737336) | about a year and a half ago | (#42187729)

If there is life on Venus it never learned to use photosynthesis to store energy from the sun by converting CO2 into higher energy molecules - if it had there would be a lot less CO2 and a lot more O2. I find that hard to believe, it's an awfully valuable resource, and life has a way of figuring out how to use all resources available. On the other hand, I find it very easy to believe that the initial spark of life comes from a set of extremely unlikely coincidences and many planets, even with ideal conditions, won't have life.

Re:So, maybe like Venus? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42188599)

E.g. Venus is hotter than Mercury, even though Mercury is closer to the sun

Re:So, maybe like Venus? (1)

raydobbs (99133) | about a year and a half ago | (#42185813)

Overactive volcanic activity has produced a crushing atmosphere in Venus' case - which mixed with its solar exposure, makes it unable to support life as we know it.

Re:So, maybe like Venus? (1)

Vendetta (85883) | about a year and a half ago | (#42185815)

I think it's the crushingly heavy atmosphere and the green house gasses, etc. But I'm not 100% sure about that.

Re:So, maybe like Venus? (1)

steviesteveo12 (2755637) | about a year and a half ago | (#42185823)

Its noxious and thick atmosphere. It's hotter than Mercury as a result.

Re:So, maybe like Venus? (1)

allcoolnameswheretak (1102727) | about a year and a half ago | (#42185839)

Runaway greenhouse effect. Basically the fate Earth will end up in.

Re:So, maybe like Venus? (2)

LordLucless (582312) | about a year and a half ago | (#42185903)

Yes, we should take a lesson from this! Just look at what happened to Venuvian civilization after they started burning all their fossilized Venuvian dinosaurs!

Re:So, maybe like Venus? (1)

allcoolnameswheretak (1102727) | about a year and a half ago | (#42185993)

Who knows what we might find under Venuvian rock and dirt. We haven't really dug around there yet.

Re:So, maybe like Venus? (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about a year and a half ago | (#42187169)

Who knows what we might find under Venuvian rock and dirt. We haven't really dug around there yet.

Venuvian plastic garbages?
 
Venuvian disposable diapers??

Re:So, maybe like Venus? (1)

dryeo (100693) | about a year and a half ago | (#42188751)

The Sun gets more dense due to converting hydrogen to helium which causes it to put out more heat. In perhaps a billion years the oceans boil, water vapour makes the greenhouse effect higher, limestone and similar C sinks break down, CO2 content goes up, water disassociates into hydrogen and oxygen, hydrogen is lost, oxygen combines with carbon and Earth ends up much like Venus.

Re:So, maybe like Venus? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42185987)

Unless all humans agree to forsake sanitation, hygiene and shelter.

Everything is political because humans are a political species.

Re:So, maybe like Venus? (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | about a year and a half ago | (#42187485)

Unless all humans agree to forsake sanitation, hygiene

Well, slashdot's a start, isn't it?

Re:So, maybe like Venus? (5, Informative)

osu-neko (2604) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186151)

Runaway greenhouse effect. Basically the fate Earth will end up in.

No. There's been times in the past when the CO2 levels in our atmosphere were twenty times higher than they are today. The rise since the Industrial Revolution is nothing compared to back then. Of course, back then we had "tropical" climes north of the Arctic Circle, but it didn't lead to a Venus-like runaway greenhouse effect. No, the true horror will be men wearing Speedos on the beach in Point Barrow...

Re:So, maybe like Venus? (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186309)

You shouldn't feed trolls like allcoolnameswheretak. He was either joking or just full of shit. You're quite correct though, the Earth is colder, with more ice, than during most of its history.

Re:So, maybe like Venus? (3, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186751)

I believe the GP was talking about a natural runaway GH effect, this is the fate of the Earth when the oceans evaporate in ~0.5 billion yrs from now. Venus and Mars also had oceans in the distant past. The water vapour is split by solar radiation and the hydrogen is lost to space, the oxygen is then free, oxygen doesn't like being free so it binds with carbon, sulphur, nitrogen, etc.

Of course, back then we had "tropical" climes north of the Arctic Circle

If you think the entire planet was like Hawaii back then, you're sadly misinformed.

Re:So, maybe like Venus? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year and a half ago | (#42188287)

the true horror [of global warming] will be men wearing Speedos on the beach in Point Barrow...

Now there's a threat that conservatives might finally relate to.

in other news (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42185673)

scientist discover that the universe is big?

Re:in other news (1)

Kenja (541830) | about a year and a half ago | (#42185849)

Well... big compared to what? That's the major issue, when you get into talking about the size of the universe, if it ends, what is outside of it, you start to get into murky waters. To make things even worse, we are very limited in our ability to comprehend things. Just as there are an infinite number of points in a line, lines in a plane and planes in a cube, there is an infinite amount of time and 3D space in the smallest possible amount of fifth dimensional space.

More habitable? (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year and a half ago | (#42185701)

For life in general, maybe. Possibly. But not us. Humans require a very delicate balance of things that while any one of them is quite common, there's not a lot of evidence that all of them together is. Oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere in the right concentrations, and a lot of H2O? Probably not hard to come by. Strong and uniform magnetic field to trap the atmosphere and deflect solar radiation? Hard to observe empirically; It could be very rare by some accounts. Presence of a moon or other astronomical event to keep the planet spinning on a single axis and not two? That's somewhat common, though limited evidence suggests the closer you get to a star, the less moons will be in orbit around each planet, so there is that. Stable rotation of the planet at a speed sufficient to prevent one side or another from burning up? Again -- evidence points to a moon being a good promoter of this, and not that uncommon. But we have no direct observation of how fast (most) of the planets detected so far in the habitable zone rotate.

And lastly, let's not forget: We're rendering our own planet increasing inhospitable to life by the year. It may be that, in the future, we look for the presence of global warming as an indicator of alien life, as we frantically work to either save our planet, or try to find a new one to destroy.

Re:More habitable? (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#42185911)

You might want to add plate tectonics to the mix. There's a nice book [amazon.com] covering specifically all these issues.

Re:More habitable? (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186119)

Are we making earth less hospitable, or just less hospitable to the life that currently dominates? Sure the changes from global warming will cause humanity a great deal of trouble, but let's say humanity dies out but the increased temperatures stay in effect - wouldn't life just adapt to them eventually - it's just a few degrees.

Re:More habitable? (1)

Elldallan (901501) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186521)

if it's just a few degrees even humanity in it's current shape could easily survive.
What will kill us isn't the rise in temperatures, it's most likely the wars over increasingly limited resources such as arable land, toss in a bunch of nukes and those acres won't be arable/hospitable for long.

Re:More habitable? (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186637)

Will there be less arable land, or will it just be located further north?

Re:More habitable? (1)

Bucc5062 (856482) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186643)

while that is a big picture view, I'd think taking an attitude that while we are the top species, we'd at least consider the idea that pooping in our own house is not a good thing to do.

Re:More habitable? (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186707)

I completely agree. But let's not confuse a warmer planet with one that is less hospitable to life. We are messing things for ourselves and many species currently alive. But we are also making it better for some of the other species.

Re:More habitable? (1)

cusco (717999) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186853)

I do **NOT** want to make Earth more pleasant for mosquitoes...

Re:More habitable? (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about a year and a half ago | (#42187229)

You speciist!

Re:More habitable? (2)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186839)

As George Carlin put it; "The Earth doen't need saving, it's the human's who are fucked".

Re:More habitable? (2)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186919)

Oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere in the right concentrations

You may be surprised to know that life itself created our modern atmosphere, there was virtually no free oxygen for several billion years but there was life pretty much as soon as the things cooled down enough to allow oceans to form. Life put the oxygen in the atmosphere, the concentrations we have today are not just "luck".

Error, error (4, Informative)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year and a half ago | (#42188001)

Sorry, lots of things wrong with that post.

It's physically impossible for an object to spin on two axes - if you try you just get it spinning around some intermediate axis. What a moon does is gravitationally "knead" it's parent planet, causing tides in the atmosphere, oceans, and rock. That causes the planet to heat slightly, and may promote the development of life in other ways (tide pools may have played an important role in the early development of life on Earth).

Also a moon will *slow down* its planet's rotation, not speed it up. That tidal heat dissipates energy until the planet is tide-locked with it's moon - in our case we'd have about 12 days per year. The same effect happens in the other direction as well, which is why only one side of the moon is visible from Earth. The sun has a similar effect, though weaker since the sun is much, much further away. Venus and Mercury likely have such long days because they're considerably closer to the sun and so the tidal forces are much greater - given enough time they'll be fully tide-locked and have permanently light and dark faces.

Finally, finding a new planet for us to move to in order to escape the consequences of our actions is not a realistic option - Mars is a likely a viable terraforming candidate, but it'd likely be far easier to repair the damage to our own planet than make that desolate planet green, not to mention it would likely take at least several, and we probably don't have that kind of time if we don't get our act together. Even if we managed the terraforming, transporting several billion people interplanetary distances would likely be beyond our capacity in a relevant timeframe - we're currently adding hundreds of thousands of new people every day. We might be able to create colonies which would be nice for the rich, powerful, and highly desirable, but the vast majority of the population will have to deal with the consequences.

So then global warming is a good thing (1)

grantspassalan (2531078) | about a year and a half ago | (#42185703)

because a warmer Earth would be more habitable than the one we have now. After all, the internal blood temperature of mammals is in the neighborhood of 100 F or a little less or little more, which is the temperature for which biological processes are optimized. Hurrah for global warming, bring it on!

Re:So then global warming is a good thing (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42185899)

Yes, warmer is better.
Far more people die from the effects of cold than of heat.
Humans do well in historic periods of warmth.

When the earth is in a cold spell, people die, starve, and crops fail.

I agree...bring it on. The few degrees that the warming alarmists project (based on sketchy computer models)
would have benefits that off-set some of the alleged harms.
Humans live under conditions with 100 degrees temperature range, and the temperature varies 30-40 degrees in a day.

Organisms evolved in hotter times, and will survive in them again.

Re:So then global warming is a good thing (1)

Elldallan (901501) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186547)

Yers but there were a lot fewer humans in those hotter times, there was plenty of land to spread out over, what will happen when dryspells cause starvation and famine? War will happen and as soon as a nuclear capable nation will be involved things will go from bad to hell in 0 seconds flat.

Re:So then global warming is a good thing (2)

cusco (717999) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186881)

This is already historically the warmest period that humans have lived through. For most of our existence the human population north of about 35 degrees latitude was counted in the thousands because it was tundra.

Re:So then global warming is a good thing (1)

thms (1339227) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186247)

No, warmer would be bad.

A warmblooded animal, such as mammals with their core temperature of ~37ÂC for mammals and few degrees more for birds, constantly produces heat. That is heat must go somewhere, otherwise it would lead to overheating. So the only choice is to run at a temperature which is above that of the environment. Once those temperatures come too close to each other, all animals reduce their activity more and more to prevent said overheating.

So, a jump in global temperature, i.e. one that is faster than evolution can keep pace with, would pose a serious threat to animals in areas where the gap between their core temperature and the environment is reduced.

Re:So then global warming is a good thing (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | about a year and a half ago | (#42187563)

So, a jump in global temperature, i.e. one that is faster than evolution can keep pace with, would pose a serious threat to animals in areas where the gap between their core temperature and the environment is reduced.

Yes, that's why every human and every other animal at or near the equator is dead today.

Oh. Wait.

Re:So then global warming is a good thing (1)

RazorSharp (1418697) | about a year and a half ago | (#42188643)

So, a jump in global temperature, i.e. one that is faster than evolution can keep pace with, would pose a serious threat to animals in areas where the gap between their core temperature and the environment is reduced.

Yes, that's why every human and every other animal at or near the equator is dead today.

Oh. Wait.

He said they reduce their activity. Ever hear of a siesta? It's one thing for temperatures to hit around 100F during the middle of the day, it's quite another for that to be the night temperature and a significantly higher temperature during the day. There's a reason that so many equatorial mammals are nocturnal or crepuscular -- it's too hot during the day to do anything but sleep in the shade/water.

All academic anyways (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42185723)

Barring some tremendous breakthroughs in physics, no one's going anywhere.

Re:All academic anyways (1)

cusco (717999) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186917)

Two centuries ago I'm sure someone said, "Barring some tremendous breakthroughs in physics, no one's going faster than 35 miles an hour." Barely a century ago they were saying, "Barring some tremendous breakthroughs in physics, no one's going to fly." Half a century ago they said, "Barring some tremendous breakthroughs in physics, no one's going to have a computer in their home." Physics changes bitches, get over it.

Re:All academic anyways (1)

DahGhostfacedFiddlah (470393) | about a year and a half ago | (#42188021)

Not to mention that travel to another star system could be achieved with tremendous breakthroughs in ecology and sociology (self-sustaining ecosystems for long space travel plus a social system that could allow it), or biology, AI and robotics ("seed ship" containing test tube babies and robots smart enough to raise them)

Let's go have a chat... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42185733)

Make sure the SS Enterprise is loaded with at least $24 worth of beads and blankets.

Figured it out (1)

U8MyData (1281010) | about a year and a half ago | (#42185739)

December 21, 2012 the date of first contact! Seriously, what will we do when/if this happens? Will it mean a paradigm shift for humanity or the implosion?

Re:Figured it out (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186079)

December 21, 2012 the date of first contact! Seriously, what will we do when/if this happens? Will it mean a paradigm shift for humanity or the implosion?

Well, 1st contact will put our patent system in a serious disadvantage if they're more advanced than us. [insert conspiracy theory whereby Patents stifle contact with aliens in addition to innovation]

Like the drake equation (2)

ickleberry (864871) | about a year and a half ago | (#42185747)

Out of the unfathomable amount of planets in the universe, there just has to be a better one somewhere. Trouble is getting there

Re:Like the drake equation (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186125)

Out of the unfathomable amount of planets in the universe, there just has to be a better one somewhere. Trouble is getting there

The technology required to get us there means living self-sustained in space. Then we'd only want for chemical resources, which we could get by flying through any nebula much easier than by mining a planet. If we find a better planet what makes you think anyone who could get there would want to?

Re:Like the drake equation (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186815)

because if you have a power, lifesupport, radiation containment, etc, failure on a space ship everyone on board would die. mean while on a earth like planet you have a power failure you can open a window for light and air, and nuclear fallout on a planet can be survived on a spaceship your shit out of luck

Re:Like the drake equation (1)

Pfhorrest (545131) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186879)

A planet is basically just a very large space ship with no engines. At the extremes of scale planets face the same problems space ships do (look at the climate problem -- we're overtaxing our atmosphere reprocessors, putting out carbon faster than it can be scrubbed out of the air), and space ships can offer the same solutions planets do.

Re:Like the drake equation (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about a year and a half ago | (#42187129)

it takes centuries for reach point of no recovery for climate change even then whats to stop adaptation/mutation form saving your species? on a spaceship your air filter system dies you die in hours

Re:Like the drake equation (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | about a year and a half ago | (#42187463)

Depends on the size of the spacecraft, the number of air filtering systems, power supplies, zones, etc. You're not really considering a properly engineered system there, just a naive design. As for climate change, think about what the impact of a good sized asteroid or comet would do. A spacecraft can simply dodge.

Re:Like the drake equation (2)

fyngyrz (762201) | about a year and a half ago | (#42187447)

Also, spacecraft can easily dodge big rocks and comets. Planets can't dodge those at all, and so far, we don't have any other solutions, either. Spacecraft can also hide behind other objects during solar storms. Planets, and those on them, just have to deal.

There's also a fair bit of science you can do better on a (or many) spacecraft; astronomy, for one.

Once manufacturing gets a proper foothold in space, assembly of (just about anything) will be a great deal easier as well. Gravity is really annoying when you want to build something large. Many structures only obtain anything near their final strength when they're nearly or completely built. Space is ideal for anything like that. Materials delivery in 0g is also significantly enhanced: Aim, push, and wait. Talk about cheap!

What makes you think we'll need air? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42187901)

Once we're a spacefaring species? Like you have noted, it's a pain to be in space and need gravity, light, high temperatures, food, water, radiation shielding, air, water.....

What we should do is change, as a species, so we can survive without all those things. We probably can't even survive near-relativistic speeds without massive radiation shielding. And it'd take a lot less energy for us to move around if we were very small.

How about people that only need light and raw materials to live, think, and reproduce?

--PM

Re:Like the drake equation (0)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186767)

The Drake Equation alway seemed like numbers Mr Drake pulled out of his @$$ to me. You see we only really have one data point to speak of and that is our own planet we don't have any idea what else there is out there until we can do a detailed survey of at least our Galaxy. For all we no we may be a unique planet or outside of our veiwing range the universe may be teaming with life, thats the problem with trying to look at a universe where you can't see the other side; or the other side of you own galaxy is so far away that whole civilization my have risen and fallen and its species last member died before the light of their first fire ever reaches our planet. Hell Drakes equation only even speculates for earth like life what about silicon or arsenic based life? Lets hold off as i on the estimation of the universe population until we have found at least one non-terrestrial lifeforms, or explored outside of our own planetary system? As it stands now only a few people have looked at maybe a couple square miles of our own moon.

Re:Like the drake equation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42187819)

The Drake equation doesn't do any of those things.

From Wikipedia:

N = the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which communication might be possible (i.e. which are on our current past light cone);

and

        R* = the average rate of star formation per year in our galaxy
        fp = the fraction of those stars that have planets
        ne = the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets
        f = the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop life at some point
        fi = the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop intelligent life
        fc = the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space
        L = the length of time for which such civilizations release detectable signals into space

So no, he's not just pulling numbers out of his ass. He's, in fact, not offering any numbers with the equation. It's no secret we don't HAVE numbers for most of these values.

And no, it isn't only for "life as we know it." It works for any life if we know the appropriate value.

As for holding off, I suggest you read Paul Davies' excellent book The Eerie Silence to see the approaches we have, are, and might take in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. We have a ridiculous amount of information about the universe around us and our ability to gather more information is growing leaps and bounds. We don't HAVE to leave the system.

Re:Like the drake equation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42187197)

And by the well ordering principal, there has to be a best one somewhere!

Intelligent life (2)

canuck57 (662392) | about a year and a half ago | (#42185761)

I can't help to think there is more intelligent life elsewhere. There has to be....

As we just are too stupid to find it yet.

I hope we live to see proof....just so the backwards amongst us eat crow.

Re:Intelligent life (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186025)

We're probably only going to find anyone who's trying to be found by backwater hicks (galactically speaking) using the methods we're using today.

Re:Intelligent life (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42186041)

As we just are too stupid to find it yet.

Facepalm

Re:Intelligent life (5, Funny)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186199)

I can't help to think there is more intelligent life elsewhere.

Me too. I keep waiting for news to come back from NASA's Voyager team about the probe making contact with an alien artifact just beyond the Heliosphere.

My take on the Fermi Paradox is that there's a huge meta-material cloaked universal translator projecting a message to any would be visitors:
--------
Warning: Human Infestation
This star system is Quarantined
--------
We apologize for the inconvenience.
-The Gods

Definition of 50% warmer (2)

Morpf (2683099) | about a year and a half ago | (#42185791)

What is 50% warmer supposed to be? This makes no sense in physics. Only maybe if you refer to temperatures in kelvin.

Re:Definition of 50% warmer (2)

Zephyn (415698) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186107)

It's probably talking about geothermal energy released in proportion to the planet's size. If you're talking about two rocky planets of the relatively same size and mass, the one with the greater content of heavy radioactive elements like Thorium will have the hotter core. This expands the planetary habitable zone outward since the higher internal temperature can compensate for the reduced solar radiation, so you'd have a wider range of planets that are capable of sustaining liquid water. A hotter core will also take longer to cool, which means the planet will remain geologically active for a longer period of time than a planet that started out with a cooler core.

Re:Definition of 50% warmer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42187217)

What is 50% warmer supposed to be? This makes no sense in physics. Only maybe if you refer to temperatures in kelvin.

I know some geology, so it wasn't hard to decode the science reporter's gibberish without reading the article (25% warmer = 25% more heat flow). After seeing your post, I checked the article you clearly posted before getting to this part:

According to his measurements, terrestrial planets that formed around that star probably generate 25 percent more internal heat than Earth does

However, I can't explain your confusing 25 and 50.

Re:Definition of 50% warmer (1)

confused one (671304) | about a year and a half ago | (#42187753)

I'll bite. In kelvin, if we add 50% to the mean surface temperature of 287K, that would be.... 430K Which is damn hot. 315 degF for those of us in the U.S. who don't speak metric.

Project Managers? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42185831)

Do they have idiot project managers? If not, sounds more habitable to me.

Nuclear Program Reducing Plate Tectonics? (1, Flamebait)

jdray (645332) | about a year and a half ago | (#42185869)

FTA:

But the core isn’t our only heat source. A comparable contributor is the slow radioactive decay of elements that were here when the Earth formed. Without radioactivity, there wouldn’t be enough heat to drive the plate tectonics that maintains surface oceans on Earth.

I wonder... if we're pulling uranium out of the ground and refining it, are we slowly pulling out the fuel that drives our plate tectonics?

Re:Nuclear Program Reducing Plate Tectonics? (1)

rts008 (812749) | about a year and a half ago | (#42185995)

I think what we are pulling out of the ground(ie: Earth's cooled crust) is already out of the 'affects tectonics' range.
Now if we decide to somehow extracting it from the molten core, you may have cause to worry.

Re:Nuclear Program Reducing Plate Tectonics? (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186163)

My guess is that we can't extract nearly enough of it to have a noticeable effect on the Earth.

Re:Nuclear Program Reducing Plate Tectonics? (4, Interesting)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186273)

Blow up a balloon. Now, look at that rubber covering. That's where we live on the balloon planet. We could mine as much as we want from the crust and literally not even scratch the surface. Now, maybe some day we'll have mantle drilling operations to extract molten materials from deep within the planet, but no, we're not doing that, so no. Besides, Get out your GPS. Wait till a little before the moon is rising or after it has just set. Take a GPS elevation measurement. Then, take one again when the moon is directly overhead. Where I'm at the crust fluctuates ~30cm (one foot), just due to the moon's tidal forces... Massaging the crust like that has to have some effect on tectonics doncha think? Imagine all the friction that flexing causes...

Re:Nuclear Program Reducing Plate Tectonics? (4, Insightful)

cusco (717999) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186955)

My meteorology instructor said, "Take a basketball, and assume the Earth is that size. The bumps are higher than Everest and the valleys are deeper than the Challenger Deep, but it will do. Dunk it in a bucket and pull it back out. See that sheen of water on the surface? That's the breathable atmosphere." That's always stuck with me.

"Could" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42185883)

While other solar systems could be inhabited by giant space hamsters. I'm not dismissing the paper, but the summary's headline isn't very good... as usual.

No One Cares (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42185959)

No one cares that a planet so far away possibly is more habitable because a telescope looked at a spec in the sky and we guessed. How about we stop guessing about other systems and focus on build a space craft than can take us out into space and actually see these systems up close. Keep an eye on the sky for dangerous stuff but it's time for the next great space race, long distance (FTL would be nice) travel.

Star mass, longevity and tidal lock. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42186031)

The star has a role to play. Too much mass and it will leave main sequence too soon. Too little mass and the habitable zone will be within the zone of tidal lock. Late G to early K stars are optimal. Stars with less than half solar mass are theorized not to swell into red giants, however, the fully convective interiors will cause flaring. Again, the habitable zone will lie within the tidal lock region.

Solar System (1)

Kethinov (636034) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186071)

The term "Solar System" is a proper noun, not a generic term. The term the article was looking for is "planetary system."

Large Moon (2)

eckman (55874) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186307)

We may have 25% less radioactive elements in our planet's interior than some of these other planets, but we have a large moon that is causing a significant amount of tidal friction. That should help close the internal heat gap a bit...and as a bonus it keeps our axis fairly stable.

There are many different types of homes out there. Some just have better floor heating than Earth. I rather like our bright heat lamp in the sky...so do the plants in my yard.

A good discovery nonetheless. I'm excited that life may have more places where it can exist, and perhaps even thrive like it has done here on Earth.

Re:Large Moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42187199)

I'm excited that life may have more places where it can exist

I believe we have not begun to imagine the diversity of habitats. Perhaps a member of some derivative of our species will one day have some grasp of this, and it will shame even our least conventional science fiction.

The universe is big. It's also really old. We, and millions of other species can appear and then perish without any spacetime overlap at all. The universe is so big and so old that overlap must be the exceedingly rare exception. Snowflakes, dissolving in an ocean — a thousand miles apart, each in a different century.

Ours isn't even that habitable. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42186313)

In fact, we already pretty much know that Earth is actually highly unstable.
It is surprising we are still even around. The fact that intelligent life even managed to happen here is surprising in itself.
Our planet was considerably more habitable 100s of millions of years ago.
We know there was far far more life than there is now.
And this isn't in relation to the life that has died since we have been around, just in general.

Earth is just an ice age or three away from becoming another Mars if this rock cools further.
And if we try fuck with it any further with stupid geoengineering projects to keep it cool, WE WILL KILL IT instead.
Yeah, kill is a bit of a stretch, it will take millions of years to die, but it can happen. The cycles happen for a reason. Messing with them is a terrible idea.
It isn't so much the die that is the bad part, it is the in-between, the crazy-ass storms, the flooding, the tornadoes, the freezing, the heat spikes and so on.
Our weather is already unstable as it bloody is in the past decade. Imagine that 10fold as a normal year.
Admittedly humans would most likely be off this crap-rock before such an event would be of any consequence, but still...

Most probably yes! (1)

Sla$hPot (1189603) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186345)

Especially if there is no humans there or the like :)

High Score! (1)

Sir Realist (1391555) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186365)

This is one of those mind-bogglingly vaguely self-evident articles that you still can't help but try to correct (well, at least I can't.)

For what definition of habitable? For a given hypothetical type of plasma-based or magnetic life, I imagine the sun is a pretty happening place to hang out.

And yet, no matter what definition you use for habitable, what does "more" habitable mean? Surely it either is, or isn't. What are we measuring here?

And yet, no matter what definition you use or how you measure it, the central thesis of the article is so meaningless as to almost certainly be true. After all, unless you just cheat by defining habitability on a scale of 0 - 1.0 where 1.0 is defined as "just like the Earth, right now, because I said so", what are the odds that we live on the one planet in the universe with the highest score in your arbitrary meaningless homo-sapiens-centric measurement system? Statistically indistinuishable from zero.

Why do people write this crap and call it science?

'Dynamic' doesn't sound so great (2)

bbartlog (1853116) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186479)

Hotter and more dynamic might be great for evolving bacteria, but it might be problematic for things like civilizations or intelligent life. One of the improbable things about Earth IMO is not that life evolved in the first place, but that the surface remained kinda sorta stable for oh, two billion years - long enough for it to grow incredibly complex. A lot of heat and dynamism might get you life evolving over and over to the multi-celled organism stage - and then getting wiped out.

More likely? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186507)

That's because the interiors of any terrestrial planets in these systems are likely warmer than Earth—up to 25 percent warmer, which would make them more geologically active and more likely to retain enough liquid water to support life, at least in its microbial form.

The bolded part is impossible. The probability of the Earth retaining enough liquid water to support life -- and not just in its microbial form -- is 100% (its known that it does, so there is no probability that it does not.) So its not possible for any terrestrial planets in those systems to be more likely to do that than Earth is.

It's just like the Earth... (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186661)

Reminds me of a saying:

The Moon is just like the Earth, only deader.

Mars Lament (1)

CHIT2ME (2667601) | about a year and a half ago | (#42186833)

Mars used to have a hot interior with it's attendant magnetic field, volcanos, thick atmosphere, and surface water. Perfect for life! But, look what that did for Martians!!!

Biassed source (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42187195)

Isn't almost everywhere more dynamic than Ohio?

Wait, warmer is better (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | about a year and a half ago | (#42187311)

But they keep telling us warmer is going to be catastrophic. ;-)

So warmer is better? (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about a year and a half ago | (#42187365)

But that's not what Al Gore told me!

so now it's 25% warmer on other planets.... (1)

NemoinSpace (1118137) | about a year and a half ago | (#42187461)

Does Al Gore know about this? They don't stop. They're never going to stop. It's what they do.

moon stablized system (1)

deodiaus2 (980169) | about a year and a half ago | (#42187641)

How many have a moon stabilized system to keep the planet from tumbling?

Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42187663)

Bigger star with more energy output means longer more stable habitable zone - nothing too surprising...

That other solar system (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42188361)

Do you reckon the grass there is greener?

One-up (1)

wurp (51446) | about a year and a half ago | (#42188669)

Why are we impressed with this?

A typical quasar looks about as bright from 33 light years away as the sun does from earth. A quasar's lifespan is from tens of millions to a few billion years.

That means in galaxies with a quasar, there is a shell 33 light years in radius, and a few light years in thickness, in which essentially every planet in every stellar system (as well as rogue planets and moons) is in the "habitable zone".

That seems way cooler to me than speculation about a few planets being in the habitable zone.

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