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'Einstein's Planet' Becomes First Exoplanet Discovered Using New Method

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the crazy-hair-mandatory-on-einstein's-planet dept.

Space 81

cylonlover writes "Due to their relative faintness compared to their parent stars, most known exoplanets have been discovered using indirect detection methods – that is, detecting the effects they have rather than observing them directly. There are numerous indirect methods that have proven useful in the detection of exoplanets and now yet another, which relies on Einstein's special theory of relativity (abstract), has joined the list with the discovery of an exoplanet known as Kepler-76b."

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81 comments

How many of these planets are habitable? (2, Interesting)

bejiitas_wrath (825021) | about a year ago | (#43729377)

How many of these planets are in the goldilocks zone? Sure we can find them; but which ones are livable for Carbon based lifeforms?

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (3, Insightful)

TwentyCharsIsNotEnou (1255582) | about a year ago | (#43729415)

We don't know. But it's still worth detecting them.

Should we stop looking for planets until we have the capability to get satellite imagery of the cities on them?

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (1)

bejiitas_wrath (825021) | about a year ago | (#43729465)

I did not say we should stop looking; but it would be nice to find Earth 2. We will need it eventually.

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (2)

Takatata (2864109) | about a year ago | (#43729487)

So, we will need it. Very funny. What do you intend to do, when we find one? Buy a bus ticket?

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43729643)

Depends on how long you are willing to travel, and the bust stops you have in the mean time. Eventually, your descendants will reach it. Or not. Either way it is worth trying... When time comes.

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43729659)

Send some tardigrades there together with anything else that might survive the trip?
Spam enough DNA around to planets that can sustain life in the hope that something intelligent might evolve?
Eventually one of the evolved beings might be both able to survive a space trip and intelligent enough to initiate the trip.

It would be pretty cool if life in general could outlive this planet. At the moment all life that we know about will die when this planet falls into the sun.

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (1)

Takatata (2864109) | about a year ago | (#43729723)

It would be pretty cool if life in general could outlive this planet. At the moment all life that we know about will die when this planet falls into the sun.

First we were alone. Other planets? No way. Then we discovered: Hey, other suns have also planets. First we were able to see only the biggest ones. Now we can detect smaller and smaller ones. Planets almost seem to be something very common. Life? I really would not worry, that Earth is the only planet with life.

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (1)

niado (1650369) | about a year ago | (#43731569)

It would be pretty cool if life in general could outlive this planet. At the moment all life that we know about will die when this planet falls into the sun.

There are lots of pressing things that we need to work on solutions for now or in the near future. This is not one of them.

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43733367)

An appeal to worse problems is a terrible argument. Especially when we do know there are ever-present risks to keeping all our eggs on one planet.

We don't have to ignore one problem in order to tackle another. Especially when problem B may be on larger timescales (although an asteroid could wipe us out with little warning if we are unlucky enough), but also needs larger timescales to solve it.

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (2)

hazydave (96747) | about a year ago | (#43733483)

Take the long term view. If mankind goes extinct, then absolutely nothing we every worried about in the short term matters one iota on that day after the last human dies. Right now, and as long as we're only on Earth, any number of catastrophies could kill us all in sort order, some we create, some that just happen. Either way, mankind and every thing it ever did ceases to matter at all.

Or, we keep working to fix this ultimate problem. Taking the million year view, moving sustainably beyond earth is the most important thing humanity will every do.

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (5, Insightful)

niftydude (1745144) | about a year ago | (#43729501)

I did not say we should stop looking; but it would be nice to find Earth 2. We will need it eventually.

Find Earth 2? Pfft, I'd rather make Earth 2. Anyone want to give me some funding to get some terraforming going on?

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (1)

Takatata (2864109) | about a year ago | (#43729517)

Probably way more realistic, than finding one and getting to it.

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43729573)

Yeah, but its worth finding one that can be easily terraformed.

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (1)

Takatata (2864109) | about a year ago | (#43729649)

Mars? Jupiter moons? Finding one might be nice, but reaching one without ftl? Very unlikely.

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about a year ago | (#43730177)

I see no reason to think generation ships won't be practical in the next few hundred years. It'll be one way, but people will risk it (and pay to).

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (3, Insightful)

Takatata (2864109) | about a year ago | (#43730819)

Do you really know what you are talking about? Building generation ships, which are big enough to have a large enough population to build a genetically stable society? For a travel, which takes several thousand years? 100% self-contained for such a long time? To a planet, from which we get information, which are several thousand years old? Oh, I am sure there would be many who would sign for such a ride. Might be even fun for a while, but don't expect that any descendant ever reaches such a planet alive. But hey, the way is the goal.

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (2)

AvitarX (172628) | about a year ago | (#43732411)

I think that closer to 100s years, and it sounds no crazier than trying to go from England to India the long way in the 1400 (not everyone made it, and but for an entire continent in-between, everyone would of died).

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (1)

Takatata (2864109) | about a year ago | (#43734599)

100s years? At what speed? According to this article:http://arxiv.org/pdf/physics/0610030 [arxiv.org]
You can't go even close to c. Even as 'low' as 0.3c could be dangerous. This limits the number of stars, which might have suitable planets even more.

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (1)

Takatata (2864109) | about a year ago | (#43734635)

Here I found an even more pessimistic view: http://www.astronomycafe.net/qadir/q2720.html [astronomycafe.net]

Safe speeds for current technology would be only slightly higher than space shuttle speeds especially if interstellar space contains chunks of comet ice.

If this is true... forget your 100s years. Make it 10000s.

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#43735033)

1000s of years is probably pretty reasonable - 100s of years would require us to be going either VERY fast*, or finding a world VERY close by - there's there's only about 60 stars within 15 light years of Earth, and getting a generation ship to an average of 10% of lightspeed over such short distances would be a massive challenge if not outright impossible with any credible speculative technology (i.e. not based on completely speculative physics), so call that several hundred years to reach most of them. Current estimates are that 1 in 6 star systems has an Earth sized planet, so that would mean probably only ten candidate star systems, and we're still unsure what the odds are that any of those planets is in the goldilocks zone, much less habitable. In fact a "habitable", aka life-bearing (only way there's likely to be significant oxygen in the atmosphere) world would potentially be one of the *worst* candidates for colonization since we'd be in competition with an established ecosystem that would almost certainly be based on very alien biochemistry.

* the fastest man-made object to date was a "manhole cover" ejected from an accidental nuclear cannon in 1957, estimated at 150,000mph, or 0.02% of lightspeed. That involved a nuclear detonation 5 orders of magnitude larger than expected and several tons of vaporized matter acting as propellant.

Not that I'm not all for interstellar colonization, I just don't think it's particularly productive to consider how it might be done at this point, and there are several probably necessary long-term precursor projects that are probably far more important to consider first:
- terraforming Mars since we'll probably need terraforming experience wherever we end up, and Mars is probably a comparatively easy project. Moreover just getting humanity off of a single planet will provide most of the "insurance" benefits to the species that interstellar colonization would - there's still the possibility of being eradicated by a plague with a long incubation period, or being hit by a nearby gamma ray burst, or wiped out by aliens, but any star system within "easy" reach won't necessarily provide much protection from the latter two.
- generating (or collecting) and safely storing substantial quantities of antimatter, since it's unlikely anything else would have the energy density to even hope to power a large vessel across interstellar distances (well, ramscoops maybe, but we need a lot more information on interstellar hydrogen densities for that, and best case we'd still need to get up to pretty enormous speeds before they'd be useful)
- High-power, high-efficiency ion drives - as the only technology within the reach of physics as we know it that has any potential to reach meaningful interstellar velocities (Orion drives have plenty of power for interplanetary propulsion, but the specific impulse is far too low for interstellar missions), with the benefit that it's also the only really plausible method for effective in-system propulsion that doesn't involve arming every long-range ship with an enormous arsenal of nuclear weapons (which I can't see being a smart idea any time in the next several centuries at least)
- Gravitic lens telescopes out at 600+AU or so, so that we can get a nice long up-close view of any potential target planets.

By the time we have those it's possible we'll have also discovered some new wrinkle in physics that will allow us to employ space-bending, inertial dampening, or some other "magic" technology to let us actually reach more convenient interstellar speeds or somehow bypass the intervening distance. Or not. Just not worth speculating much in that direction. At any rate lots of worthy local projects before we even consider attempting a manned interstellar voyage.

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | about a year ago | (#43736367)

You see you don't see a reason generation ships won't be practical in the next few hundred years. I would counter that there are incredibly many reasons, and it takes extensive optimism to think we'll overcome all of them. It's conceivable that we could, but the question isn't finding a reason they won't be practical. We know they aren't practical now. The question is finding a reason they will become practical. In a very abstract sense, we have the march of technology to support that claim. But in that sense you could make the "few hundred years" claim about everything that isn't literally impossible.

There's lots of specific things:

* Failure to make a closed ecosystem at that scale for even a short time.
* Failure to build out something of the scale it would have to be to actually be a generation ship.
* Propulsive system & guidance (we have to not just get there, but still have propulsion and/or guidance enough to brake ourselves into orbit and eventually on-planet at the destination, and the fuel can't have decayed in this time, nor the propulsive system broken down).
* Protection from interstellar debris at almost arbitrary relative velocity to your ship from almost arbitrary directions for a very long time.
* Keeping muscle mass through generations so that the resulting descendants can hop off.
* Creating a society that will itself be self-sustaining and remember for generations why they are on a generation ship and still have any reason to visit the planet when they arrive.
* Finding a reason to make this ship (seems expensive as hell even if we assume tech fixes the above).
* Reliable energy sources that will supply the generation ship the entire time
* Sufficient capacity (manufacturing or spare parts or whatnot) to repair anything that happens
* In all likelihood some communication back to Earth (or else why would this happen, short of the sort of nightmare apocalypse scenario which would itself be a reason this is unlikely to happen?).
* Lots more.

Generation ships travelling through merciless void to a destination that won't be readily habitable vs. 2-month sea ships with a habitable continent at the end (and which had been visited many hundreds of years earlier by boat by Europeans, whether or not Columbus knew it at the time) are not strongly comparable.

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about a year ago | (#43734591)

I don't crush my skull about the wetware. 3000 humans are enough to have a stable society. Likely even 500 are enough.
However building a starship, that lasts for 1000 years to reach a 5 ly away system ... sorry: no way. And I doubt this is a solvable problem even.
The ship needs to be airtight enough not to lose to much over the time. The people on board need to keep up learning the skills to land a shuttle on the destination. Why should a third generation ship born passenger learn how to pilot a shuttle? (And how would he do it without ever flying a life shuttle ... how would the shuttles survive 1000 years of storage?)
After 50 generations how would you train a real shuttle pilot (assuming you have still shuttles)?
The only way out of this fundamental problem is: being able to manufactor anything you need in the target system. So you don't have ready made shuttles but build them there.
However this only moves the problem to the assembly lines/factories. Are you able to have factories on your generation vessel that are still working after 1000 years?

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (1)

arfonrg (81735) | about a year ago | (#43730721)

Earth 2? PFFFT! Anyone wanna give me some funding so I can terraform my backyard with a pool?

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (1)

rossdee (243626) | about a year ago | (#43730909)

They already made Earth 2 back in the early 90's - where the native inhabitants could pop up right out of the ground, . Most of the humans wore VR headsets.
It only lasted one season.

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (5, Informative)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | about a year ago | (#43729489)

There are some numbers in this newest comic: http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1584 [phdcomics.com]

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (1)

zome (546331) | about a year ago | (#43729653)

phdcomics and xkcd...my two favorite web comics, drawn by highly educated guys who left cool jobs so they can doodling full time.

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43731815)

Man, that was annoying. I stopped part way through. Once upon a time you could read comics, now you have to listen to poorly recorded and poorly edited audio. No thanks.

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (4, Funny)

jbeaupre (752124) | about a year ago | (#43729555)

Billions and billions*.

* assuming one per galaxy.

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (1)

Herve5 (879674) | about a year ago | (#43756427)

There are billions *per galaxy*

Because actually detecting exoplanets is recent and fancy shouldn't prevent us to understand this. You may wish to consult the PHDcomics stance on this at http://www.phdcomics.com/comics.php?f=1584 [phdcomics.com] , at least they understood it the right way: indeed it's the lack of planet around a star that's the exception.

Since the idea is recent it'll take 10 years to mankind at large to accept is as normal, but come on, not on slashdot! ;-)

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (5, Insightful)

Cenan (1892902) | about a year ago | (#43729615)

A planet doesn't need to be in the Goldilocks zone to be habitable, it's just the safest bet we have for estimating habitability. It's dangerous to exclude planets that are too big, too far out or in general unlike Earth. Moons around gaseous giants might very well be just as habitable as Earth is, but for a different reason than being close to a star. All that is really needed is enough energy to keep water liquid, which could be had via volcanism or gravitational pressure from a larger neighbor.

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43729677)

Unfortunately we only know of one way life exist, and we aren't smart enough to predict all possibilities out there, as such we must start from what we know and go from there. Meaning, while we don't find a different "version" of life we will look for what we know that works. That does not mean we won't be looking for other alternatives as moons etc...

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#43735169)

Indeed, the potential for life-bearing worlds extends far beyond "planets like ours", but habitable (by humans) severely restricts the selection - too big and the gravity would make it difficult or impossible for us to survive. Ditto too hot, too cold, too much or little atmospheric pressure, etc. . And in fact a life bearing world (the only kind likely to have significant oxygen in it's atmosphere) might actually be a rather poor candidate for colonization - it'd be us with our tiny canned ecosystem versus a planetary ecosystem likely based on very alien biochemistry. The odds that we could thrive there are far less than that one of the billions of local microbial species could thrive within us and be totally indifferent to our immune system's countermeasures. And once we start talking about terraforming planets the possible candidates increase dramatically, we have several just in this system, and it would be rather rude to exterminate living planet a living world in order to terraform it. Not to mention probably quite difficult, if Earth is any yardstick the majority of the planet's biomass is probably microbes that mostly dwell far underground, and would likely wreak havoc on attempts to establish a new biosphere on the surace.

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (4, Informative)

tbird81 (946205) | about a year ago | (#43729807)

From the article:
"Einstein's planet," formally known as Kepler-76b, is a "hot Jupiter" that orbits its star every 1.5 days. Its diameter is about 25 percent larger than Jupiter and it weighs twice as much. It orbits a type F star located about 2,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus.

The planet is tidally locked to its star, always showing the same face to it, just as the Moon is tidally locked to Earth. As a result, Kepler-76b broils at a temperature of about 2000 Kelvin.

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#43730125)

Given that our current understanding is that the universe has no end, is infinite, then the number of any type of planet you could imagine would be infinite.

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (4, Informative)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#43730815)

Given that our current understanding is that the universe has no end, is infinite, then the number of any type of planet you could imagine would be infinite.

I'm not sure it's understood to be truly 'infinite', but 'so damned big as to be infinite for purposes of discussion'.

And there was a time (not even all that long ago) when it was thought that planets around other stars would be very rare and uncommon.

In university I hung out with a bunch of astrophysicists, and the idea of finding exoplanets was still something we weren't sure of, and it was assumed there was a relatively small number of stars which would have planets.

It's only just over 20 years since we confirmed the first one, and in that time the rate at which we detect them keeps going up at a pretty staggering rate. To the point now that if you look at Drake's equation, it's hard not to conclude that, somewhere, some form of life has probably evolved elsewhere in the universe, and probably even intelligent life existed at some point.

Admittedly, the distances and time spans are so vast as to make it highly unlikely we'd ever find them. But, to me at least, it just seems so improbable that we're the only life to have evolved anywhere in the entire universe.

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (2)

InvalidError (771317) | about a year ago | (#43732311)

I'm not sure it's understood to be truly 'infinite', but 'so damned big as to be infinite for purposes of discussion'.

In terms of boundaries, it probably is... but maybe someday radio-telescopes will discover something from beyond the cosmic background radiation that will reveal that our universe is not what we thought it was. Maybe we will discover that our universe is just some kid's world-in-a-jar science project in a higher-order universe or something.

In terms of mass, the Big Bang Theory does imply that the universe has finite mass, however unimaginable it may be at least with our current understanding of matter and the universe.

An equally interesting theory that goes with the BBT is the Big Crunch: will the outward kinetic energy from the Big Bang propel galaxies so far that gravitational pull toward the center of the universe will never yank all matter back or will the universe as we know it eventually lose momentum and collapse unto itself? If the BCT is right, wherever you go to escape Earth's demise (if we do not blow it up while we're still on it before then), physics will catch up with you in 20+ trillion years!

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (1)

davydagger (2566757) | about a year ago | (#43732471)

I heat about that. There is this concept of "critical mass of the universe"

if the universe was started by a "big bang", then at one point, all matter was infintesmally close, and started acceralting away from eachother, the universe as a whole still has its own gravity, and if the engergy was not enough to produce escape velocity from itself, it will eventually start falling into itself like a ball thrown in the air, and comming back down.

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (1)

hazydave (96747) | about a year ago | (#43733693)

Sure... really long term, we're doomed either way. If there's the critical mass for a Big Crunch (these days, it's a question of dark energy vs. dark mass, given that even today, galaxies are still accelerating from one another), everything crunches together, whatever that really means. If not, eventually, all stars die out, and it's the heat death scenario.

But in practical terms, that's a "high class" problem. Any given species on earth is good for a few million years at best. We expect our big brains will automagically solve this problem, but another big dino-killing-sized asteroid could easily offer a different opinion. If we establish multiple home planets, we're trading some many thousands of years for many billions of years, potentially, of humanity.

So the next problem... leaving the Universe for the one next door. If that's a real thing, anyway, as modern physics suggests. And yes, I do like Stephen Baxter's books, thanks for asking :-)

Nature of the universe (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#43735489)

As far as "The Big Crunch", current observations make it seem exceedingly unlikely. Detailed observations were made many years ago to measure the rate at which gravity was slowing the expansion of the universe in an attempt to estimate whether the universe would expand forever, eventually collapse, or balance right at the cusp. What we discovered was that the rate of expansion is actually *increasing* due to an unknown force, and increases faster over longer distances - the as yet unexplained effect we named "Dark Energy". So the future of the universe is likely one where eventually everything else in the universe will be moving away from us faster than light, so not only will it never coallesce, but eventually every galaxy, and possibly eventually every star within them, will be completely isolated from the rest of the universe and the night sky will be utterly black.

There *is* still the possibility that the universe is finite but unbounded - i.e. it loops back on itself and everything will eventually "loop around" and recombine, but measuements to date indicate that the universe is perfectly flat to within the limits of our instruments, which at the least probably sets a very large minimum size for any such looping. Then again it's quite possible we still don't understand something fundamental about gravity and/or the nature of spacetime - for example we can observe some tight-orbitting binary stars which are "spinning down" consistent with radiating energy as light-speed gravity waves as predicted by General Relativity, and our theory predicts that current gravity wave detectors should be able to detect the waves being eminated, but as yet no gravity wave has ever actually been detected.

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43734689)

In the same vein, I recall reading in a science book as a kid that Andromeda was "probably" another galaxy. We've come a long way in a few decades.

- T

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#43735289)

Is it? Having no edge is not synonymous with being infinite. I know Hawking subscribes to the theory that our universe is unbounded but finite - i.e. it's a four-dimensional structure that loops back on itself, somewhat like the surface of a sphere is a finite, unbounded 2-D structure, and I had the impression that it's not an unpopular theory among the experts in the field.

Moreover, even if space itself is infinite, that doesn't imply that the amount of matter within it is likewise infinite. Our understanding of the matter distribution in the visible universe seems reasonably consistent with the big-bang theory, which rests on the idea that everything started as an immense but finite amount of mass-energy confined into a microscopically small volume. If there had been an infinite amount of mass-energy to begin with then that would require a period of expansion at infinite velocity in order to ever reach a non-infinite density, which is inconsistent with current theory, which calls for a preiod of super-luminal but still finite inflation.

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43730375)

How many of these planets are in the goldilocks zone? Sure we can find them; but which ones are livable for Carbon based lifeforms?

The BEER method (the name of this method) was developed at Tel Aviv university. Since we all know that Israelis are always looking for land to steal, obviously this method will work to find Goldilocks-zone planets!

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (3, Informative)

mbone (558574) | about a year ago | (#43730629)

How many of these planets are in the goldilocks zone? Sure we can find them; but which ones are livable for Carbon based lifeforms?

According to the catalog [upr.edu], 10 (out of 885) are confirmed so far. From the catalog, "Gliese 581d, Kepler-22b, Gliese 667Cc, Gliese 581g, Gliese 163c, HD 40307g, Tau Cetie, Kepler-62e, Kepler-62f, and Kepler-61b are the only known exoplanets that might be considered potentially habitable or object of interest for the search for life.

There are a further 18 (out of 2716) unconfirmed Kepler candidates that (if they are not false positives) also may reside in their habitable zones. These should be confirmed (or rejected) in due course. Of course, "potentially habitable" does not mean you want to start considering a new vacation home. If Venus and Mars were reversed (i.e., Venus was in Mars's orbit, and Mars in Venus's), each would probably be nicely habitable. As they are, not so much, at least, not without a considerable amount of planetary engineering.

Re:How many of these planets are habitable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43731223)

How many of these planets are in the goldilocks zone?

If by "these planets" you mean planets that are found by this method, none at all. This methods needs giants like Jupiter orbiting close to their stars.

Other methods can detect and have detected planets in the habitable zones,

BEER (2)

Meneth (872868) | about a year ago | (#43729541)

This new method is apparently known as the BEER effect. One wonders what Albert would have felt about that. :)

Re:BEER (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43729603)

I think he would have had a toast to the succes.

Re:BEER (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43729727)

He would have got pissed ...

Re:BEER (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43731065)

Surely he would have preferred that they spell it BIER.

What Einstein would say if he were alive today: (2, Funny)

jbeaupre (752124) | about a year ago | (#43729567)

Help! Help! Let me out!

(Yeah, I know he was cremated, but his brain is in a jar.)

Now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43730415)

And this got modded up? Shoot me now.

Re:Now (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43730619)

And this got modded up? Shoot me now.

OK. Bang!

Re:What Einstein would say if he were alive today: (2)

gregmonkey (1239138) | about a year ago | (#43730537)

(Yeah, I know he was cremated, but his brain is in a jar.)

Actually it's on slides

Re:What Einstein would say if he were alive today: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43744833)

I am sure one day someone will try to reproduce him from his brain slides and the records of his life.

It would be like waking up from a particularly weird dream while having one hell of a hangover.

Oh really? (1)

GeekWithAKnife (2717871) | about a year ago | (#43729633)

If that planet was so smart how come it didn't discover us first? Just saying...

Re:Oh really? (1)

V!NCENT (1105021) | about a year ago | (#43730385)

If the planet was so smart as you are, wouldn't they think that if Earth was so smart as them, that they would not have discovered them by now?

Time we start thinking about propulsion and travel (0)

vikingpower (768921) | about a year ago | (#43729737)

Looks more and more like "crazy" concepts such as the Alcubierre drive [wikipedia.org] will, soon, actually be needed.

Re:Time we start thinking about propulsion and tra (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | about a year ago | (#43729773)

Looks more and more like "crazy" concepts such as the Alcubierre drive [wikipedia.org] will, soon, actually be needed.

Didn't that require converting several universes worth of mass into energy to power it?

Re:Time we start thinking about propulsion and tra (0)

peragrin (659227) | about a year ago | (#43729963)

sure but that is just a scaling problem. The original computers basically required their own generators to power them too.

now your smart phone has more processing power than super computers built in the 1980's

Re:Time we start thinking about propulsion and tra (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#43735643)

There were never any theoretical limits on energy consumption for computers (okay, actually I think there are now, but our most efficient devices are still many orders of magnitude away)

Re:Time we start thinking about propulsion and tra (2)

hajus (990255) | about a year ago | (#43730069)

It was thought it would require the mass of Jupiter, but that was changed due to a redesign. The new design requires as much energy as 70% of the US annual energy usage. High, but not astronomical anymore.

Re:Time we start thinking about propulsion and tra (1)

hajus (990255) | about a year ago | (#43730083)

It does however, require the exotic matter known as negative energy in its usage.

Re:Time we start thinking about propulsion and tra (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43730479)

It does however, require the exotic matter known as negative energy in its usage.

Well, that's a bonus: Due to energy conservation, when creating this negative energy you'll also create the same amount of positive energy. FTL travel and energy problem solved at the same time! ;-)

Re:Time we start thinking about propulsion and tra (1)

VanessaE (970834) | about a year ago | (#43734871)

That's Alcubierre's original theory, sure. The tests that warp field researchers are preparing for now, however, are expected to be doable with convential forms of energy (high voltages, as I understand). What a time to be alive!

Re:Time we start thinking about propulsion and tra (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43742415)

The requirement for exotic forms of matter that have never been seen or manipulated in anything close to what is needed is still there. The amount needed has been reduced quite a bit, but at the moment, it is the same as saying you only need one kilogram of unicorn tears instead of a metric ton. There are no other known alternatives. The only exceptions are some analogies or more fundamental tests of General Relativity that won't have any practical use for the construction of such a drive, and crackpots on the internet, that while they have a non-zero chance of being right, aren't usually based on reality and usually are a worse chances than winning the lottery.

And there is also a long list of problems that even if you can construct it that are not known how to get around, short of using such a drive for only slower than light travel.

Re:Time we start thinking about propulsion and tra (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#43735649)

Not to mention some sort of magical technology capable of bending space into improbable topologies.

Re:Time we start thinking about propulsion and tra (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year ago | (#43735611)

The initial design did, but IIRC the required energy was dependent on the external volume of the warp field, and further analysis revealed one of the interesting properties of the spatial geometry is that the internal and external volumes are independent of each other, so for example you could wrap the entire planet in a warp field that, from the outside, is subatomic in scale (assuming Plank-length spacetime granularity doesn't interfere). Also I think someone came out with a vastly more efficient variant on the topology, though I don't know if it still permits the Blue Box effect.

We've inhabited Jupiter (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | about a year ago | (#43730295)

This is the first time optical observations have shown evidence of alien jet stream winds at work.

Jupiter is no longer consider "alien"? I take this as evidence that people have already secretly colonized Jupiter.

Planets discovered by General Relativity (4, Informative)

mbone (558574) | about a year ago | (#43730509)

This planet was discovered by Lorentz boosting, the theory of which predates Einstein. Meanwhile, 20 exoplanets [exoplanet.eu] have been discovered to date using gravitational lensing [scholarpedia.org], an application of General Relativity (a theory created by Einstein ) that was itself first predicted by Einstein. Somehow, the press release (and thus all the subsequent press) failed to mention these "Einstein planets."

Re:Planets discovered by General Relativity (1)

michelcolman (1208008) | about a year ago | (#43731037)

What I don't quite understand is how they first explain how difficult it is to find these planets, relying on tiny changes in the star's luminosity because the planets themselves are too dim to observe directly, and then go on to describe this planet in great detail: diameter, the fact that it's tidally locked, temperature at different locations, jet stream winds,... On a planet 2000 light years away? How did they get this "stong evidence"? Did they tune in to a local alien weather station?

Re:Planets discovered by General Relativity (2)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#43731873)

What I don't quite understand is how they first explain how difficult it is to find these planets, relying on tiny changes in the star's luminosity because the planets themselves are too dim to observe directly, and then go on to describe this planet in great detail: diameter, the fact that it's tidally locked, temperature at different locations, jet stream winds,... On a planet 2000 light years away? How did they get this "stong evidence"? Did they tune in to a local alien weather station?

They're not mutually incompatible.

What you need to realize is that detecting planets is hard - because they're dim compared to their parent stars. So pointing your telescope at a random star may or may not reveal a planet.

Basically, it's a problem because space is big. Really big. And modern theory has it's filled with "dark stuff" (energy or matter - they're equivalent with E=mc^2) of unknown composition.

But once you know something's there, it's easier to analyze it - spectral analysis among other methods.

Basically, finding a planet is looking for a needle in a haystack. Once you found the needle though, you can analyze the crap out of it as you know it exists and where it is.

Re:Planets discovered by General Relativity (1)

michelcolman (1208008) | about a year ago | (#43733283)

And you can see storms from 2000 light years away?

Re:Planets discovered by General Relativity (1)

mbone (558574) | about a year ago | (#43734181)

And you can see storms from 2000 light years away?

Lorentz boosting (BEER) was used to detect the planet - think of this as a way of observing a Doppler shift from the light curve, without doing spectra (which Kepler cannot do). It was confirmed by getting time on big telescopes and getting actual spectra. The Doppler shifts plus the BEER data gave a good orbit (subject to the usual sin inclination ambiguity). Then this orbit was used to model and remove the Lorentz boosting, and the Kepler data was used to make a light curve. As it turns out from manual inspection of the light-curve, the planet actually does pass in front of and behind its star, as seen from Earth, and so the usual transit tools could be brought out and used (the light of the star+planet can be differenced from the light of the star alone). These are very sensitive.

No "storms" were detected. What was detected was super-rotation, a la Venus, a rotation of the entire atmosphere (assuming the planet itself is locked into a once per orbit rotation state). This was detected as a phase offset between maximum heating and maximum Doppler shift, best explained they feel "by a phase shift of the planetary thermal modulation due to the equatorial superrotation phenomena." Not bad for a relatively small number of photons....

Apparently this object was miscategorized as an eclispsing binary (i.e., two stars, not star + planet), which is why it wasn't picked out of the data earlier.

Re:Planets discovered by General Relativity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43735073)

Mod up parent "informative"!

Original "BEER" Paper (1)

mbone (558574) | about a year ago | (#43730533)

The original paper, "BEER analysis of Kepler and CoRoT light curves: I. Discovery of Kepler-76b: A hot Jupiter with evidence for superrotation," is here [arxiv.org].

Re:Original "BEER" Paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43730595)

Congratulations for your successful copy of the link from the summary.

YUO FAIJVL IT (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43730773)

have somebody Just
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