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One In Five Sun-Like Stars May Have an Earth-Like Planet

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the imitation-is-the-sincerest-form-of-flattery dept.

Space 142

The Bad Astronomer writes "A new study, looking at over 40,000 stars viewed by the Kepler spacecraft, indicates that 22% of stars like the Sun should have Earth-like planets orbiting them — planets that are similar in size to our home world and with a surface temperature hospitable for liquid water. There are some caveats (they don't include atmospheric issues like the greenhouse effect, which may reduce the overall number, or at cooler stars where there may be many more such planets) but their numbers indicate there could be several billion planets similar to Earth in the Milky Way alone."

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Face it, folks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45330909)

Our planet Earth was terraformed. BY ALIENS!!!!!

Re:Face it, folks (5, Funny)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | about a year ago | (#45331007)

and these aliens had thunderbolt hammer that were really nuclear weapons, and they flew around in vimanas which were really flying ships from a floating castle mothership, in order to interbreed with earth's primitive dwellers by taking human form.

I love Ancient Aliens. one of the best shows on TV. Watching them come up with their wild pseudoscience theories is like watching a monkey discover how a cigarette lighter works.

Re:Face it, folks (4, Funny)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | about a year ago | (#45331045)

And the aliens tried to breed the most intelligent of various species to bolster the mental capacity to match theirs. The rejects they sent to work for the history channel.

Re:Face it, folks (1)

zlives (2009072) | about a year ago | (#45331757)

i was gonna mention the 2headed dog with six legs but yeah this works too.

Re:Face it, folks (5, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#45331029)

Our planet Earth was terraformed. BY ALIENS!!!!!

And we are but fertilizer...

which explains a lot of what I see on Fox News

Re:Face it, folks (1)

no-body (127863) | about a year ago | (#45333791)

Biomass of humans on this planet is neglectible despite Fox news products.

Re:Face it, folks (1)

flyneye (84093) | about a year ago | (#45332325)

The odds on this subject swing around more than back alley crap game.
I doubt anyone in Vegas would have a line on it. It's that bad.
What will the numbers be tomorrow? How about next week?
Damn, go home and don't come back till this resembles Science.

May have? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45330915)

I may have aliens living in my belly button too. There are some caveats (mainly I'[m so fat I don't know if I have a belly button).

Re:May have? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45331145)

You could lose weight instead of expecting the rest of us to prop up your obesity via socialist healthcare. Then you'd know.

hello ET (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45330923)

first post

Re:hello ET (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45331189)

Epic fail.. Time to phone home AC..

Cue the posts and emails ... (1)

jc42 (318812) | about a year ago | (#45330953)

... from the real-estate con-men. They must be really excited by the thought of billions of Earth-like planets to sell to the marks.

Re:Cue the posts and emails ... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#45331303)

... from the real-estate con-men. They must be really excited by the thought of billions of Earth-like planets to sell to the marks.

and here we have a desirable waterfront location in the southern part of the galaxy, perfect for building to suit your retirement bungalow.

But in a cruel twist of fate, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45330957)

Only our planet has Kardashians and Biebers.

Re:But in a cruel twist of fate, (1)

Greg01851 (720452) | about a year ago | (#45331041)

So much for intelligent life... on THIS planet.

Re:But in a cruel twist of fate, (3, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#45331113)

So much for intelligent life... on THIS planet.

Hey, I don't see you complaining about unsanitary telephones!

Re:But in a cruel twist of fate, (2)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#45331765)

So much for intelligent life... on THIS planet.

Hey, I don't see you complaining about unsanitary telephones!

I've often suspected that our planet was colonized by the "B" ark. There's so many indicators... The Kardashians, reality TV in general, pop music, sensationalist news, congressional press releases, the MPAA, offshore helpdesks, Snooki being on TV for any reason whatsoever, Darwin awards, the Kardashians. Pretty much confirmed, really.

Re:But in a cruel twist of fate, (2)

the gnat (153162) | about a year ago | (#45333903)

The Kardashians, reality TV in general, pop music, sensationalist news, congressional press releases, the MPAA, offshore helpdesks, Snooki being on TV for any reason whatsoever, Darwin awards, the Kardashians

An optimist - and for these purposes, I qualify - might look and think, "isn't it wonderful that the only reason any of this crap is relevant is that we have a global communications network that can transmit any information at the speed of light to billions of people?" The same optimist would probably point out that in 100 years, virtually no one will remember who Snooki or the Kardashian sisters were, outside of a few obsessively geeky historians of pop culture.

Meanwhile, thanks to the same global communications network, I have access to a vast trove of scientific research, millions upon millions of lines of open-source code, instant answers to my programming questions, and whatever out-of-copyright works have been digitized. Oh, and I can access all this on a computer that fits in my pocket and is significantly more powerful than anything I used as a child.

Only 22% ? (5, Funny)

TechnoCore (806385) | about a year ago | (#45330967)

There's a 78% chance we're not living on an earth-like planet. It does however support life. Are their models really that good?

Re:Only 22% ? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45331005)

Well, there's a 71% chance that if you're on the Earth, you'll drown.

Re:Only 22% ? (2)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | about a year ago | (#45331097)

There's a >0.0000000000000000000000001% chance that you exist in this position and state in the universe. So stop doing it.

Re:Only 22% ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45331137)

There's a 100% chance you're not the boss of me and statistics can't tell me what to do. I AM NOT RULED BY NUMBERS! I AM A FREE MAN!

Are ya? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45331225)

There's about a 100% chance, or something like it, you'll die in the next 100 years.

Re:Are ya? (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#45331381)

There's a 1.333739068902037589% chance that I'm using a Pentium for my calculations.

Re:Only 22% ? (0)

joelleo (900926) | about a year ago | (#45331241)

/me mods the parent AC down into oblivion

Take THAT! Who is ruled by numbers now, muahahaha!

Re:Only 22% ? (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about a year ago | (#45331577)

There's a 100% chance you're not the boss of me and statistics can't tell me what to do. I AM NOT RULED BY NUMBERS! I AM A FREE MAN!

Sure you are, Number 6.

Re:Only 22% ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45331819)

An AC posting as the Prisoner would be telling. [youtube.com]

Re:Only 22% ? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#45331537)

If space is infinite, but particle position is finite, there is a 100% chance you exist in that state in infinite places.

Re:Only 22% ? (4, Interesting)

Your.Master (1088569) | about a year ago | (#45331275)

There's a near-zero chance that your exact genetic sequence would ever come into existence during the course of the universe as we understand it, and yet you exist. The same is true for basically everyone else, yet identical twins exist which doubly-defy the odds! You're more likely to bit struck by lightning than to jackpot a big lottery, yet those lottery winners exist too. So do people struck by lightning, as a matter of fact.

By definition, the planet we arose on is Earth-like because that's the prototype to which all other planets are compared for Earth-likeness. There is a 100% chance that the planet we arose on is Earth-like. Also, there's nearly 100% chance that the first non-Earth planet that we inhabit to the same degree that we inhabit Earth now is also Earth-like, since we'll likely aim for the Earth-like ones, since, again pretty much by definition, we are biologically adapted to live in Earth-like planets.

Re:Only 22% ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45333143)

There is a greater chance of your brain appearing spontaneously out of the void than of a universe appearing in which your brain would eventually evolve.
In fact the odds are that we are all such brains!
Even greater that I am such a brain and you are all imaginary stimuli! Ha!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boltzmann_brain

Re:Only 22% ? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#45331311)

There's a 78% chance we're not living on an earth-like planet. It does however support life. Are their models really that good?

Their models are <wolf-whistle> totally hawt!

Maybe won't make any difference (5, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#45331061)

If the speed of light is the absolute max speed in the universe, with no shortcuts in practice, getting somewhere outside of local star group won't be ever possible, and the same will be for everyone else, no matter how advanced they are, and how much similarities are between their culture and ours (at least, our culture willingness to go to space and communicate with others). And, of course, there is time, they should be at the right stage of their civilization, of the 4.5billon years of this planet just in the last 100 we were sending and trying to hear signals to/from somewhere else, and not sure for how much time we will be around. And if well could be earth-like planets "close", sending an expedition even to the closest solar system to just plant a flag is outside our reach, maybe for centuries (and getting there and back will take even more centuries)

The universe may be full of life and advanced civilizations, and we probably won't ever know that someone else is out there. Nor them.

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (5, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#45331075)

Unless, of course, y'know, we don't know everything there is to know about physics.

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about a year ago | (#45331205)

Which means they *could* be right.... Or not.

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (3, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#45331261)

Exactly. We don't know what we don't know. So yes, at the moment, the best we can do is find these planets, see if we can recognize the signatures of life (the discovery of which would be monumental whether we can ever get there or not), and bequeath that information to future generations who may have far greater technical and scientific capabilities than we do.

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about a year ago | (#45331457)

I dono... I'd be on very safe ground to agree with Einstein's theories... I think it's pretty clear, C is going to be the galactic speed limit, relatively speaking.

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (4, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#45331479)

Even if that turns out to be the case, the one thing we may develop in the future are better ways of harnessing energy. Even if the speed of light remains the limit, and no feasible way around it (ie. wormholes, warp, whatever), we could still conceivably accelerate spacecraft to a reasonably high fraction of c which would, while not helping out observers on Earth, allow voyagers, one way or the other, to reach other stars in far less time. Tens of thousands of years to the nearest possible lifebearing solar systems could be dropped to a few centuries.

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about a year ago | (#45331593)

So we can get there in 5-10 generations of space travelers? Just making a self contained system that can support life that long without resupply is going to be some feat. Staying alive in the harsh radiation environment of space for 200 years will be quite another. Keeping the equipment working that long will be even more unthinkable if there is any kind of complexity to the technology used.

We are stuck in this solar system, and the future does not look good. Eventually the sun will make the earth into something that looks a lot like a marshmallow thrown into the camp fire.

We are doomed.

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (3, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#45331625)

If we're postulating that in the next few centuries we come up with energy sources that could accelerate us to something like 20% of c, then I'd say we probably have the tech to build the shielding. We'd have to, as moving at such a high fraction of c means radiation approaching us going to be blue shifted, and thus more intense.

But hey, if it makes you feel special to imagine we're doomed and that there is some sort of limit on the kinds of technologies that we can develop to deal with what would still remain problems of physics as we understand it now, be my guest.

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (1)

lgw (121541) | about a year ago | (#45331743)

What you want is a "starwisp". Accelerating meat to near-c and then trying to shield it is silly. Accelerate a 1 kg computer carrying AI instead. AI is no more of a reach than the idea of harnessing that much power, so why not?

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (1)

the gnat (153162) | about a year ago | (#45333937)

If we're postulating that in the next few centuries we come up with energy sources that could accelerate us to something like 20% of c, then I'd say we probably have the tech to build the shielding.

I'm going to further postulate that if we somehow manage to devise such technology, we've probably also significantly extended the human lifespan, and therefore the institutional attention span, and we'll be able to start thinking about robotic precursor missions well before we start flinging people across interstellar space. Which means that we can take our time finding someplace really worth traveling to. Right now even the robotic missions sound insane because the duration would be longer than most modern nations have existed in their current forms. It's hard to get people, even very intelligent and curious people, to invest their lives in something they won't be able to see through to the end. But if we could start sending out probes now, and I'd get to see the results by the time I retire - that's something I could be a part of. (Getting on a generation ship that won't arrive until my great-grandchildren have already died - not so much.)

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45331605)

I dono... I'd be on very safe ground to agree with Einstein's theories... I think it's pretty clear, C is going to be the galactic speed limit, relatively speaking.

I see what you did there. But I answer anyway: speed limit for mass and light, perhaps, but not for information. We might not know how to encode information using quantum entanglement (yet?), but IIRC we can definitively say that the knowledge of a remote, entangled particle's spin breaks the speed of light, if it's not instantaneous (which I believe is supposed to be the case, whether it's been tested or not).

Re: Maybe won't make any difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45332769)

if you think about what you wrote, AND study hard, in 2 years you will discover how stupid you are.
quit parphrasing stuff you think you know.

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (0)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#45331349)

Which means they *could* be right.... Or not.

Just remember, statistically there's still no intelligent life in the universe - near infinite number of worlds divided by those with (allegedly) intelligent life and you get zero.

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about a year ago | (#45331493)

In my math, anytime you divide a non-zero real number by zero, you do NOT get zero but a really large number.

But you where making a joke.....Right?

No intelligent life here... Ok.. So it's mostly true.

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45331637)

IIRC, the GP's joke was made in one of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books.

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (1)

jafac (1449) | about a year ago | (#45331803)

Based on what we *know* right now, our best-bet is to build a series of self-sustainable "generation ships"; (very-large spacecraft, capable of sustaining human life over the course of several generations, including the necessary ecosystems to support such life.)

Such technology is at least theoretically do-able, from a technical standpoint.

From an ECONOMIC standpoint, of course, it is as impossible as faster-than-light travel. To expend the money required for such an enterprise, to send-off one or more such "generation ships", with no possible ROI within the lifetime (or thousands of lifetimes) of the investor, is not something that can be done with a civilization that does not even want to invest the money to educate their own children.

And this would only happen if we knew, for certain, that the destination worlds were inhabitable. (and not yet inhabited). And even if they were, we would have to wait thousands of years for the colony to develop to the point of economic viability so that they could even send a response.

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (1)

tgd (2822) | about a year ago | (#45332273)

Unless, of course, y'know, we don't know everything there is to know about physics.

We don't know everything, but we know the broad strokes to a staggering level of accuracy. There's dark corners and more than enough details to go around for aspiring PhDs, but its just wishful thinking and imagination to believe there are major swaths of physics we're so completely and totally wrong about.

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (2)

WrongMonkey (1027334) | about a year ago | (#45331187)

The distances only seem insurmountable because of the limit of human life spans. If we could develop a way to extend our life span indefinitely, then taking a trip to another star might be an interesting 50,000 year vacation.

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (3, Insightful)

Xtifr (1323) | about a year ago | (#45331389)

Actually, if you go fast enough, you don't need life-extension. The stuff you left behind may be 50,000 years out of reach, but you might only have experienced a couple of dozen years.

Unfortunately, we're probably at least as far from the necessary accelerations (and cushioning) as we are from the necessary life-extension techniques, so it's probably a moot point, but I value completeness. :)

Re: Maybe won't make any difference (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45331455)

Accelerating at a constant 1G would take something like a year to reach 99% light-speed..

Re: Maybe won't make any difference (1)

Longjmp (632577) | about a year ago | (#45331563)

If you manage to carry propellant several times the mass of the sun with your spaceship, yes.
Good luck.

You missed his point. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45331507)

How long it takes us to get there becomes moot the second we can live forever. So to hell with acceleration and without relativistic speeds, you will experience the whole 50,000 years.

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (1)

Dadoo (899435) | about a year ago | (#45333513)

Actually, if you go fast enough, you don't need life-extension.

I remember reading, somewhere, that if we could just reach something like 99% of the speed of light, the entire universe is only a year away, due to time dilation. I read that a long time ago, though, so it may be out of date.

Of course, I'd much rather find a way around having to accelerate, at all, like wormholes, or something. Between the acceleration time, the radiation issues, etc., there are many more problems with lightspeed, than just getting there.

A whole new spin on Disney World. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45331429)

And you thought having to fly to Florida was bad. Then again I expect the Walt Disney Corporation to colonize Mars long before any government, so it's not like they'll need to go outside of the solar system.

We will get there eventually. (3, Insightful)

TiggertheMad (556308) | about a year ago | (#45331191)

If the speed of light is the absolute max speed in the universe, with no shortcuts in practice,

You know, I have always suspected that there will be ways for people with very advanced science to get around speed of light problem. Several hundred years ago, gravity was a similar looking, insurmountable barrier, and that has proven to be be trivial to 'get around' provided you are willing to make the proper engineering choices. Gravity and relativity are still things we don't have a lot of understanding of, and there is plenty to learn about how and why they work.

Re:We will get there eventually. (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#45331291)

If worse comes to worse, if we ever create energy sources capable of accelerating us to a reasonably large fraction of c, even if, in Earth time, visiting another solar system might tens or hundreds of thousands of years at non-relativistic speeds, the occupants of such a craft would experience time dilation, and for them it would be a much shorter ride.

Re:We will get there eventually. (4, Informative)

rroman (2627559) | about a year ago | (#45331305)

There is a big difference. If the theories we know are correct, then FTL information transmission can violate causality. c isn't just a speed limit which we are "not yet able to beat", its violation would violate basic principles of our existence.

Re:We will get there eventually. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45332115)

Oh that's a bunch of hooey. We're not talking about traveling backwards in time, we're talking about going faster than light.

Re:We will get there eventually. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45333957)

Same thing. There's no such thing as a universal time frame -- it's all relative, and it all hangs on the speed of light. (Or rather, light in a vacuum is limited by underlying causality.)

Re:We will get there eventually. (1)

gman003 (1693318) | about a year ago | (#45332571)

Going faster than light in a vacuum would violate causality. Going faster than light from point A to point B is trivial if you can take a shortcut. For instance, via wormhole. Light following the same path you do would still beat you, but you still get there in a reasonable amount of time.

Re:We will get there eventually. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45332807)

This is my thinking. I don't think we'll go "faster than light" as in, we will not move at a speed more than c. However, I think we'll find in the next 100-200 years that it isn't necessary because we will have found some kind of sneaky work-around. Hell, time and space are now considered not fundamental. So it should be possible to totally subvert both those bitches and go wherever we want, perhaps even whenever.

Nuclear Pulse Propulsion (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45331289)

I don't believe we need to go faster than light to get somewhere. Toss in a good fraction of that, say 20% or as little as 10% and things begin to appear a little closer. Within 16 light years there are 53 other stars. At 10% of light speed that is 160 years traveling time, and arguably we could do it now with the proper resources and political will. At 20% - not far off - that is 80 years. Now consider genetic modification or other advances in medical science to prolong human life. If we do so much as double the human life span, 80 years will seem more like 40. Now consider multi-generational ships. I hope more than I could ever convey that there is a way to go faster than light, that there is some shortcut to the wider universe. But even if there isn't, I wouldn't be so defeatist as to suggest we're stuck here or, respectfully, so myopic as to suggest that traveling beyond our solar system would be a futile exercise. While I do fear what is in store for humanity these coming decades and do often wonder whether we're effectively doomed to kill ourselves off long before any of the above is considered seriously by anyone with real power, or the population as a whole, I have hope.

As for E.T. I wouldn't give up quite yet: http://xkcd.com/638/

Re:Nuclear Pulse Propulsion (1)

Dadoo (899435) | about a year ago | (#45333529)

As for E.T. I wouldn't give up quite yet: http://xkcd.com/638/ [xkcd.com]

I have to admit, I was secretly of hoping that when we got LIGO online, we'd see stuff that was clearly transmissions from intelligent beings...

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (2)

cavreader (1903280) | about a year ago | (#45331401)

I am just glad there are still some very smart people out there still working on the physics of the universe. There may very well be no way to realistically travel to far way star systems but we will never know if we claim universal understanding of everything and then just stop investigating.

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45331419)

Radio waves travel at the speed of light though...

The more earth-like planets that are postulated to exist in our galaxy, the stronger the Fermi Paradox argument becomes.

Even if one in a million of these planets developed life and a fraction of those developed intelligent life, each one of those would have the potential to expand indefinitely across the galaxy, given the galactic time frames. The lack of observation of *any* signs of life -- is a strong indication that we are alone in our galaxy.

Fermi paradox (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about a year ago | (#45332629)

One explanation to Fermi paradox would be that we developed at maximum speed, so did other life forms on other systems, but sign of their presence did not reach us yet because of the distance.

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45331421)

There really isn't anything preventing faster than light travel... Well except something to propel you faster than light.

What ever energy you would use to propel you to the speed of light, only travels at the speed of light. If you had a track start pushing you in a shopping cart and the track stars top speed is 20mph, no matter how many track stars you had pushing you at one time, you still would only go 20mph.

Using energy that could travel faster than light is not possible because it would then transpose to mass. So like the track star example, no matter how much energy you have you are still only going the speed of light. That is until a Usan Bolt comes around. But, highly unlikely.

Energy to mass is the only limitation we have. There is nothing that says mass can't travel faster. There is nothing that would put the brakes on traveling faster if for some miracle something was found.

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#45331505)

Um, no. What stops anything from going faster than the speed of light is that the faster an object goes, the more massive it becomes. As it approaches a high fraction of c its mass approaches infinity. To get all the way to c would require an infinite amount of energy. Photons can move at c because they are massless. It is that requirement of infinite energy that makes c the ultimate speed limit. Nothing with mass can ever reach c.

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (1)

Longjmp (632577) | about a year ago | (#45331735)

Nothing with mass can ever reach c.

Easy solution. Just prepare a spaceship with a catwalk, and use some of the already anorexic wannabe fashion models as astronauts, promising them they'll get themselves as cover on Vanity (or whatever).
By the time they are nearing C, their mass will be zero.
Problem solved.

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (1)

lgw (121541) | about a year ago | (#45331795)

What stops anything from going faster than the speed of light is that the faster an object goes, the more massive it becomes

No no no. I wish people would stop repeating this. That's not at all true. As you go faster, relative to me, your clock (as I see it) slows down. That's it. That's the effect of relativity. Mass is just wrong, it's all time.

The better way to explain the speed limit though has nothing to do with that. Everything in the universe goes at the same speed - c- all the time. Usually we move in the direction we call "the future" at this speed - one second per second. All any form of acceleration does is change the direction of that vector. At low speeds, we're still moving almost entirely in the "future" direction, so relativistic effects are negligible, but as your velocity becomes mostly in the "distance" direction your progress in time slows (at least, as seen by me). But since you're always going c all the time, there's simply no way to go faster - there is only one speed.

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (2)

jafac (1449) | about a year ago | (#45331833)

Solution:
Build the ship out of uranium.

As you approach c, it becomes more mass. Feed that mass into a nuclear reactor to drive the propulsion. Ship becomes less massive. Science, bitches. :)

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (3, Insightful)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about a year ago | (#45331497)

If the speed of light is the absolute max speed in the universe, with no shortcuts in practice

That's a pretty big "if", though, isn't it? We aren't nearly qualified to even speculate on the answer to that question. If you consider the distances even in our own solar system, where the planets are enormous distances from each other compared with the scale we know, our experience of manned exploration goes from the Earth to the Moon, no farther. We still have a lot to learn. We'll blow ourselves up long before we learn it, but still, there's a lot we don't know.

We've recently celebrated the accomplishments of the Voyager probes. The Flight Data System computers on both Voyager spacecraft are 16-bit machines with a whopping 16KB of memory. Each spacecraft had a total of 6 computers, with a total memory of around 68KB. The CPU clock speeds are around 250KHz, although since it takes around 80 microseconds to execute an instruction, that makes around 8,000 instructions per second.

The phone in my pocket has 2GB of memory and 4 CPUs running at 1.7GHz. So my phone has around 30,000 times as much memory as Voyager, and the CPU is ... well, my math isn't that good. 3.39 DMIPS/MHz is how many instructions per second for a quad-core Krait 300 1.7GHz chip again? I think it's 4.2 Brazilian times faster at Getting Stuff Done.

Anyway, we're pretty stupid around this planet. That's my point. I think I made it.

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (1)

Sardaukar86 (850333) | about a year ago | (#45332643)

We still have a lot to learn. We'll blow ourselves up long before we learn it, but still, there's a lot we don't know.

+5 Sad But True.

Nuclear weapons have arguably kept Humanity from going to war on a global scale again since the end of WWII. However, for the rest of us the story didn't end there. The A-Bomb Club may have started out pretty exclusive but there are a whole lot more members as of 2013 and more hopefuls are hammering at the clubhouse door wanting in.

It's well known that the push now is for smaller and smaller-yield tacnukes, ultimately serving to blur the lines between nuclear and conventional weapons. This may lead to lower resistance to the use of nuclear weapons on the battlefield, which could allow a minor conflict to rapidly escalate.

Recent research posted to Slashdot made it clear that we need not experience a full-on nuclear war to suffer much of its environmental consequences. Global nuclear war may be unlikely today, but a limited exchange between (say) India and Pakistan is a potential disaster for all of us that exists well within the realms of possibility.

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (1)

defcon-11 (2181232) | about a year ago | (#45331533)

yes, but communication could be possible. Especially using quantum entanglement for ftl communication.

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#45331567)

no signal that escape an atmosphere is ever truly lost.
You just need a big enough antenna to tease out the signal.

For example. if we wanted to see if any plant withing 100 lights year has sent a tv signal in the lsat 100+ years we would need a micro-antenna ares the size of Rhode Island. And just add more micro antennas for more distance.

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (2)

Gravis Zero (934156) | about a year ago | (#45331645)

If the speed of light is the absolute max speed in the universe, with no shortcuts in practice, getting somewhere outside of local star group won't be ever possible, and the same will be for everyone else, no matter how advanced they are, and how much similarities are between their culture and ours (at least, our culture willingness to go to space and communicate with others).

you seem to have forgotten relativity. if you get to really close to C then you could travel millions of parsecs in what would seem like an hour. it would seem like most of your trip was spent accelerating and slowing down when really that hour took you much further than anything else. then again, you may want to put yourself into solid or suspended state to avoid issues with acceleration and you could travel slower if you wanted. interstellar and even intergalactic travel is completely possible. the only limiting factor is the dedication to figuring how to make such a propulsion system. oh and the whole space dust argument is stupid because if you have that much power, you might as well make a large high density mass shield.

also, you have discounted the possibility of generating wormholes or anything else that we dont know about.

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45331703)

The local group? Thinking a bit far out aren't we, that is over 17 million light years encompassing probably tens of trillions of stars. I think our own galaxy (~110,000 light years in diameter, ~300 billion stars) has more than enough to keep us busy and is not excessively outside of our reach even if light speed shortcuts are unavailable ("Randevu with Rama" gives I think a pretty reasonable advanced space travel method).

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (1)

msk (6205) | about a year ago | (#45331719)

I think you underestimate the patience of some people. See C.J. Cherryh's Earth-Union stories.

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (5, Interesting)

Dr. Spork (142693) | about a year ago | (#45331791)

If we traveled at 10% the speed of light (fast but not requiring a breakthrough in fundamental physics), and built new exploration ships at each destination we colonize, it would only take a half a million years to colonize every single star in the Milky Way (source [wikipedia.org] ). That's an absolute eyeblink in comparison to the age of our galaxy. I don't think it will be long before we can launch ships that could reproduce themselves and keep colonizing. Our children's generation will be investing serious research money in AI robotic systems that do asteroid mining, smelting and refining of ores. Once we get a workable .1c spaceship design, I'm sure we'll have robots that could build the things in space, from materials harvested in space. I don't think we're talking about some sci-fi fantasy land. I think we're talking about the foreseeable future. And all this invites the question: if we're so far along the process to colonizing the galaxy, why haven't one of the countless probable civilizations beaten us to it? Or if they had, why is there no trace of their colonies? That's at the core of the Fermi paradox.

Re:Maybe won't make any difference (1)

gumpish (682245) | about a year ago | (#45332705)

The notion that intelligence will continue to be meat-based (and thus subject to aging and death) for the indefinite future is quaint.

Drake Equation (5, Funny)

Continental Drift (262986) | about a year ago | (#45331081)

Quick, update the Drake Equation results to 100%!

Still waiting for them to find one though... (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year ago | (#45331099)

A roughly earth-sided rocky world, sitting well within the star's "goldilocks zone" throughout its orbit, and spectrographically identified to contain both oxygen and water.

Although even if we find one... what are we going to do about it? It's not like we can even send a probe that far which has a likely chance of reaching it before it experiences mechanical failure.

Re:Still waiting for them to find one though... (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#45331121)

We spend the next few centuries analyzing it with ever better optical and spectroscopic technology, and maybe, if we're really bloody lucky, we figure out some new physics and end up going there.

Re:Still waiting for them to find one though... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45331173)

Send a thousand of them, full of engineered bacteria to change the atmosphere. If we're lucky, at least one will hit and if we ever get around to going in the next few million years, maybe it will be a bit more hospitable.

Of course, we should be really, really sure that there is no life on it already. Maybe in the next hundred years. I never expect to see it.

Really, really sure. I second that! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45331329)

We wouldn't want to be responsible for some alien plague. They may resent that a bit.

Re:Really, really sure. I second that! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45331461)

We've never cared before when colonizing new places. Why start now?

Re:Really, really sure. I second that! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45332225)

We didn't really understand before. I mean, we knew enough to know that disease came with us and even figured out ways to intentionally infect others. But we never had a surefire way to prevent it and now we do, alongside an improvement in mores that /. may often dismiss but does exist.

Once upon a time... (2)

bob_super (3391281) | about a year ago | (#45331135)

What cracks me up is that not twenty years ago, I had a long discussion with a physics teacher who must not have listened to his own material and kept on arguing that we were probably the only star with a planetary system.

Re:Once upon a time... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#45331843)

I remember being very small but already a scifi fanatic, and my (single at the time) mother who had been taking some college courses remarked once, appropos of nothing much, that stars were little bits of fire that weren't that far away.

I asked her where she had heard that. She said in one of her college courses.

After a long while, I asked "are you sure it was a science course?"

It was a few years later that I got around to reading Orwell, and understanding that she was probably misremembering a discussion in a literature class. But it sure did give me a turn at the time.

Re:Once upon a time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45332655)

I remember reading a very old Scientific American article where doctors stated that the human body would not be able to function because of the air pressures if cars obtained speeds of over 32mph (I think that was about the speed). We see how that turned out! As for other planets with life and our ability to travel fast or far, I think of it in the same way of how those doctors, with their limited knoledge in their time had no clue about the future. It's hasn't been that long since humans looked up at the lights in the night sky and wondered what they are, heck... the other day I installed some solar path lights and my dog even looked at them and wondered if it was food, then licked the light. In short, we are still really dumb as far as science goes, we have a huge learning curve to acheive before we venture to the stars.

Shade of Sagan (2)

kermidge (2221646) | about a year ago | (#45331227)

I can just see, wherever he is, his wicked-fine smile at partial affirmation of some of his speculation.

One of the beauties of Universe is the slew of un-answered questions; that so few seem to give a damn, one of its uglies.

Again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45331331)

The never ending quest to prove that there is no God. In the end of every life, there is proof positive, only it is too late to do anything about it.

Nonsense (Sqore:200,000, Right On!) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45331425)

Listen, the Earth is much rarer but I don't know why we would be misled like this.
It's not water, oxygen, temperature that make the Earth habitable for very, very long
stretches of time. It's the nickel core that, through (huge amounts) of static electricity,
build an envelope of protections around the planet. The odds of that happening as
often as "scientists" want us to believe is probably 1 in 100,000,000. Mars is a perfect
example of where this process didn't exist and is lifeless as a result of (most likely)
having free flowing water, and habitable temperatures. Listen, if it did have life, we
would have found something by now.

Earth is a precious gem - we should be taught that instead of making our home sound
disposable and replaceable.

CAPTCHA ='availed'

I can beat that! (1)

kwerle (39371) | about a year ago | (#45331469)

Five in five sun-like starts may have an earth-like planet!

Or it could be one in billions.

I predict it will be somewhere between. Do I get a cookie? How about a web hit?

Seriously - this isn't news. It's conjecture to fill space.

Headline: one in two stars may have an Earth-like (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45331509)

This just in: one in two stars may have an Earth-like planet! Seven in eight of them potentially could harbor sentient bipedal life-forms!

May? What kind of a headline is that???? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45332379)

Or it may not.

Star Trek was Right (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45332823)

.... so lots of Earth-Mars (EM-class) planets. So Gene Roddenberry was right....

Problems with the Methodology (1)

kenwd0elq (985465) | about a year ago | (#45332853)

The vast number of potential exoplanets could never be detected by Kepler. Kepler worked by detecting occultations, and the chances of a planet at 1AU distance actually occulting a G0 star 10+ LY away would be ... miniscule. Think about how few visible stars happen to be ON the ecliptic as viewed from Earth; Those would be the ONLY aliens with a Kepler-analog telescope which might discover US.

The fact that the Kepler telescope discovered as many exoplanets as it did, given the geometric odds against it, means that there must be planets orbiting a majority - perhaps a VAST majority - of stars.

"Billions and Billions".... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45333637)

I guess he was right after all.....

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