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Three Neptune-sized Planets Found Nearby

CowboyNeal posted more than 8 years ago | from the cosmic-rodeo dept.

337

WillAffleckUW writes "CNN reports the discovery of three Neptune-sized planets found in orbit around a sun 41 light years away. The star they orbit is similar to our Sun, and the planetary distribution is probably similar to our Solar System. Recent observations by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope last year revealed that HD 69830 also hosts an asteroid belt, making it the only other sun-like star known to have one. No word on if they have habitable moons, or monoliths yet."

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337 comments

Let's use some familiar units people! (4, Funny)

SeanTobin (138474) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362010)

For those of you not immediately familiar with exactly what a Neptune-sized object is, it is about 12.645679 sextillion Volkswagens (go ahead, look it up. I have time). Now, as to why they would categorize an object that is 41 light-years away as 'nearby' is another question.

(Go ahead, tell me the tale of how immensely huge the universe is and how 41 light-years away can only be described as nearby. Then tell me you won't mind helping me move if it's 'nearby')

Re:Let's use some familiar units people! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15362031)

But if they are inhabited, they might have heard our radio and tv broadcasts. They could easily beam them back to us, maybe with a code hidden inside them...hey, that sounds like a good idea for a book that wouldn't translate well into a movie...

Re:Let's use some familiar units people! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15362191)

May I have sexual relations with your syphilitic mother now, please?

Re:Let's use some familiar units people! (2, Interesting)

dereference (875531) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362344)

if they are inhabited, they might have heard our radio and tv broadcasts.

I realize you were citing Contact, but consider that inhabitants of said planet would be watching on TV right now. They're only about four years away from seeing a broadcast of our first moon landing.

Re:Let's use some familiar units people! (2, Funny)

TopSpin (753) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362519)

They're only about four years away from seeing a broadcast of our first moon landing.

Therefore what? My concern is the fact that they received The Honeymooners 12 years ago and have already dispatched planetary sterilizers. I figure we've got about 31 years left.

Re:Let's use some familiar units people! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15362047)

Go ahead, tell me the tale of how immensely huge the universe is and how 41 light-years away can only be described as nearby.

Okay. The Universe is immensely huge, and relatively speaking, 41 light years is "nearby."

Re:Let's use some familiar units people! (4, Funny)

lazy_arabica (750133) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362051)

For those of you not immediately familiar with exactly what a Neptune-sized object is, it is about 12.645679 sextillion Volkswagens
Very well, but how much is it in Ladas ? ;)

Re:Let's use some familiar units people! (3, Funny)

max99ted (192208) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362279)

Very well, but how much is it in Ladas ? ;)

Russian or European?

Re:Let's use some familiar units people! (1)

jbrader (697703) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362070)

For those of you not immediately familiar with astronomical distances: 41 light years ain't shit.

Re:Let's use some familiar units people! (5, Funny)

Tsiangkun (746511) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362089)

If the max speed of the volkswagen is 110mph, and light moves at 670,616,629 mph, and there are 8765.76 hrs/year...
Wow, that is close, only 243,860,592.36 volkwagen Bug Top Speed years away ! I'll pack my stuff now.

If that's nearby then.... (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362102)

maybe you won't mind going and picking my drycleaning... it's in Australia.

Re:Let's use some familiar units people! (2, Funny)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362132)

Now, as to why they would categorize an object that is 41 light-years away as 'nearby' is another question.

Hey, that's only 3,500 trillion football fields away.

Re:Let's use some familiar units people! (1)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362150)

Can you express that value in burning libraries of congress per second?

Re:Let's use some familiar units people! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15362168)

Gentlemen, we have a situation. These "Earth" creatures have discovered us. It is only a matter of time before they begin a premptive invasion of Omicron Persei 8 and Omicron Persei 9. This threat must be dealt with immediately.

Oh crap, sorry, wrong window. Sorry.

Re:Let's use some familiar units people! (1)

Morrigu (29432) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362211)

Don't worry. The "Earthers" are already taking care of it for us.

At the rate they're going, they'll completely forget about the Enlightenment in another decade. They'll be back to hanging garlic on doors to keep evil spirits away, burning dead trees for fuel and heretics for entertainment by the time our ships get there.

...

...

Erm, ah, this isn't the Omicron Persei interstellar defense channel? Shazbot.

Re:Marco Polo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15362221)

"Nearby" is a relative term; so it "walking distance." Remember, Marco Polo walked to China!

Re:Marco Polo (2, Funny)

annex1 (920373) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362240)

Didn't Marco Polo walk through a swimming pool?

j/k

Re:Let's use some familiar units people! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15362258)

We have lasers that can reach 1000s of light years away.

41 is good, relatively speaking.

Neptune size planets are huge though. I'd be doubtful if they could support anything resembling the life here on earth.

I'll help you move there (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362260)

if you can get the truck to get there.

I would also help you move here on earth. Assuming the distance you want to move is the same percentage distance of the earth that 41 light years is to the galaxy.

Seriously, it about context. What was the article talking about, finding something in the galaxy. There for nearby will be relative to the size of the galaxy.

Man, nobody understands context anymore.

Re:Let's use some familiar units people! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15362299)

What if it turns out that one of those planets supports intelligent life? It's nearby enough that we might be able to communicate. I don't think we'll be playing Quake however.

Re:Let's use some familiar units people! (1)

TheDreadSlashdotterD (966361) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362300)

Hurry up and get packed! We're wasting jet fuel and nukes!

Re:Let's use some familiar units people! (1)

rtaylor (70602) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362319)

Go ahead, tell me the tale of how immensely huge the universe is and how 41 light-years away can only be described as nearby. Then tell me you won't mind helping me move if it's 'nearby'

Happy to help you pack the truck but I've got a few things to do in the afternoon.

Re:Let's use some familiar units people! (1, Informative)

firesquirt (968557) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362379)

Question: What is a light-year and how is it used? Answer: A light-year is a unit of distance. It is the distance that light can travel in one year. Light moves at a velocity of about 300,000 kilometers (km) each second. So in one year, it can travel about 10 trillion km. More precisely, one light-year is equal to 9,500,000,000,000 kilometers. Why would you want such a big unit of distance? Well, on Earth, a kilometer may be just fine. It is a few hundred kilometers from New York City to Washington, DC; it is a few thousand kilometers from California to Maine. In the Universe, the kilometer is just too small to be useful. For example, the distance to the next nearest big galaxy, the Andromeda Galaxy, is 21 quintillion km. That's 21,000,000,000,000,000,000 km. This is a number so large that it becomes hard to write and hard to interpret. So astronomers use other units of distance. In our solar system, we tend to describe distances in terms of the Astronomical Unit (AU). The AU is defined as the average distance between the Earth and the Sun. It is approximately 150 million km (93 million miles). Mercury can be said to be about 1/3 of an AU from the Sun and Pluto averages about 40 AU from the Sun. The AU, however, is not big enough of a unit when we start talking about distances to objects outside our solar system. For distances to other parts of the Milky Way Galaxy (or even further), astronomers use units of the light-year or the parsec . The light-year we have already defined. The parsec is equal to 3.3 light-years. Using the light-year, we can say that : * The Crab supernova remnant is about 4,000 light-years away. * The Milky Way Galaxy is about 150,000 light-years across. * The Andromeda Galaxy is 2.3 million light-years away.

Nothing for you to see here, please move along (1, Funny)

linguae (763922) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362016)

"Nothing for you to see here. Please move along" acquires an odd meaning in a story about the discovery of new planets.

41 Light Years.. (0)

mattpointblank (936343) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362017)

Nearby? 246 trillion miles is close now?!

It's still in the Milky Way (4, Informative)

StringBlade (557322) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362042)

As opposed to something that is over 7,000 - 10,000 light years away, 41 isn't very far. I mean it's no Alpha Centauri, but it's close in astronomical terms.

Re:It's still in the Milky Way (1)

kauaidiver (779239) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362067)

41 light years, whats that in parsecs?

Re:It's still in the Milky Way (2, Informative)

jbrader (697703) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362081)

41 light years = 12.5703778 Parsecs. I love google calculator.

Re:It's still in the Milky Way (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362222)

"41 light years = 12.5703778 Parsecs. I love google calculator."

Wow! That's about as fast as the Falcon!

Re:It's still in the Milky Way (4, Interesting)

AstrumPreliator (708436) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362180)

To put 41 light years in perspective let's see how long it would take to reach this solar system. We'll assume the spacecraft will be traveling at the same speed as the Hellos 1 spacecraft, 252,800 km/h (158,000 mph). 41 light years is about 3.9 × 10^14 kilometers. That would take roughly 175,000 years to reach. As far as I know Hellos 1 and 2 were the fastest space crafts ever made, though I could be wrong. Suddenly 41 light years doesn't seem to close.

In the scale of the universe 41 light years is pretty insignificant, but just because it's insignificant in a cosmic sense doesn't mean it's insignificant to a species stuck on a backwater planet on the fringe of one of many galaxies.

So if I understand you right.... (2, Informative)

anotherzeb (837807) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362267)

Space is big. Really big. You might think it's a long way to the chemist on the nearest non-Milky Way Nuptune-sized planets 41 light years away, but that's peanuts compared with space

Re:It's still in the Milky Way (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362292)

They're talking about finding shit in the galaxy. Within that CONTEXT it is close.

The Starbucks in newyork is not close to me. Why? becasue there is a starbucks right at the corner.

If the next loses starbucks was at the moon, then the starbucks would be close in relation to all other starbucks.

Re:It's still in the Milky Way (1)

mightybaldking (907279) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362387)

To use Heinlein's analysis from Expanded Universe: 1g constant boost gets us to light speed in 1 year. Assume a maximum speed of .8C, and we get there in 52 years. At .8C, the travellers only perceive 32 years. So, if we can build a 1g boost rocket, and find a fuel source (Non-trivial) we could conceivable travel this distance in a lifetime, and still have some useful years left.

Crap reporting (-1, Offtopic)

0racle (667029) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362026)

No word on if they have habitable moons, or monoliths yet.

Whats with the poor, premature reporting these days?

Re:Crap reporting (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362053)

Geesh, they find evidence of three planets around a Sol-like star, and you want them to have more details than that? Give them some more time to analyze the data, it's hard to pick up smaller perturbations at a 41 lightyear range.

Re:Crap reporting (1)

grammar fascist (239789) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362247)

Geesh, they find evidence of three planets around a Sol-like star, and you want them to have more details than that? Give them some more time to analyze the data, it's hard to pick up smaller perturbations at a 41 lightyear range.

No kidding. It'll take us at least ten years to find any monoliths.

Re:Crap reporting (1)

Randolpho (628485) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362269)

By my calculations, we should have found a monolith 6 years ago.

Re:Crap reporting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15362159)

Heh, it's just like an article about a press release on the morrow, or some shit.

Which planet again? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15362049)

I'd be happier if it were three planets the size of Uranus.

ba-dum-cha. Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week.

Re:Which planet again? (1)

Whatsisname (891214) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362072)

Would be a suitable april fools day joke lol

Re:Which planet again? (1)

user317 (656027) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362076)

I thought they changed the name of that planet to Urectum, to end that tired old joke.

Re:Which planet again? (2, Informative)

oskay (932940) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362128)

Since Neptune and Uranus are about the same size [wikipedia.org] , it looks like the units were chosen precisely to avoid that particular lame joke. =)

Re:Which planet again? (1)

thedletterman (926787) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362223)

Unfortunately by the time that joke reaches their planet, we will have renamed uranus to urectum.

Re:Which planet again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15362229)

I'll be here all week

Thank God it's already Thursday. ;-)

Re:Which planet again? (1)

T-Ranger (10520) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362236)

The good news is that by the time you fly to these uranus sized planets, we will have changed that joke so they are urectum sized plantes.

Re:Which planet again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15362263)

Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week.

Not if I can help it...

Really, the Uranus jokes get really old after about 5 minutes and sound immature.

Concerned scientists change name to more serious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15362473)

Leading names of a planet that would be less embarressing would be to
1) Urectum
2) Urpenis
and 3) Urbutt

Come now, be mature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15362477)

Why, if I went around pointing out that the p-p chain warms Uranus, or that once in a while, a hard rocky body is enveloped by Uranus (though this happened much more frequently when Uranus was young), or told the one about low-mass stars ("She's like anyone else of her type - she blows off, and then - all of a sudden! - you've reached her turn-off point."), I wouldn't be respected.

Lets be mature, and discuss things like degenerate pressure, the instability strip, the Jeans length, and Hadrons like adults!

Nearby (1)

42Penguins (861511) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362052)

...And by nearby, we mean 41 light years away.

Re:Nearby (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362063)

Well, yes, 41 lightyears is nearby. If you were to look at our galaxy, you'd see it had a nice big core, and a number of spiral arms. From a viewpoint above, 41 lightyears from our Sol is the same basic location.

The galaxy is a fairly big place. It may not be very thick in lightyears, but in the other two dimensions, it's much much bigger.

Re:Nearby (2, Funny)

CrazyDuke (529195) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362119)

It is if you consider it is theoretically possible to get there within one's lifetime. Heck, if we sent a probe with our current tech which has a top speed of about 1/3c (assuming I remember correctly), it could get there in about 124 years. (It takes ~6 months to get up to top speed with an ion drive if I remember correctly. Yes, I know that's not quite right because it does travel at some speed while accelerating, there are galactic orbit considerations, depends on the mass of the probe/output of the engine, etc.) So, we could see results from the probe in 165 years from launch. With todays technology.

If the curiosity factor isn't enough to justify such a trip, well, then you should consider that your great grand kids may be in circumstances where they can not survive on this planet for much longer, for some reason or another, and may need to find possible alternatives. Consider it not putting all of one's eggs in one basket.

Re:Nearby (1)

Talchas (954795) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362215)

Just from thinking about it (ie I haven't looked), but 1/3 c seems a bit high - what are they using to keep it from hitting some micrometeor or just interstellar hydrogen and getting destroyed. Or is my sense of scale just way off?

Re:Nearby (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15362438)

Heck, if we sent a probe with our current tech which has a top speed of about 1/3c (assuming I remember correctly), it could get there in about 124 years.

Don't you mean 117 years [wikipedia.org] ? But you are still right that it would take 165 years for us on Earth to receive a signal.

Re:Nearby (1)

yobjob (942868) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362123)

Does this mean the images we're receiving right now are already 41 years old?

Re:Nearby (1)

TheDreadSlashdotterD (966361) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362335)

Google says:
"A unit of length equal to the distance that light travels in one year, approximately 5.8 trillion miles."

(search term: define: light-year)

I think that's a yes.

Neighbors? (3, Funny)

JehCt (879940) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362058)

There could be sentient being living there. Odds are 50/50 they have more advanced technology than we do. If they can travel at near light speed, they could arrive here 82+ years after we started beaming massive amounts of radio and tv into space, which would be soon. Maybe we should prepare a "reception" for them or something.

It's only a matter of time until somebody picks up our signals and comes to crash the party.

Re:Neighbors? (2, Funny)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362074)

It's only a matter of time until somebody picks up our signals and comes to crash the party.

I'll bring the chips.

Let's hope they use radio and not telepathy though. Otherwise, I'm not touching the guacamole.

Re:Neighbors? (3, Interesting)

PieSquared (867490) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362091)

I'm curious how you came to the conclution the odds of a more advanced society is only 50-50.

There are two things involved in this: one, do they have the ability to become more advanced (or are they limited by intelligence to less then current levels), and two: how long would an advanced civilization survive?

If you assume that an advanced society cabable of intersteller transport and teraforming could survive indefinatly (or at least more then 100k years past space travel), there is a far greater chance of them having better technology then worse.

Another interesting question: is it possible to design artificial intelegence smarter then yourself? If so, said intelegence could then create an intelegence greater then themselves ad infintium, meaning that relitive intelegence of the original species is irrelivent.

Re:Neighbors? (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362152)

Naw, too complicated. They're either more advanced or less. Two choices - 50/50.

Re:Neighbors? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362238)

They could be just as advanced as us.

Re:Neighbors? (0, Offtopic)

samurphy21 (193736) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362332)

Sometimes a coin lands on it's edge. Just like the third shot of TXP.

Re:Neighbors? (1)

Xabraxas (654195) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362185)

Another interesting question: is it possible to design artificial intelegence smarter then yourself? If so, said intelegence could then create an intelegence greater then themselves ad infintium, meaning that relitive intelegence of the original species is irrelivent.

That's what we call singularity [wikipedia.org] my friend.

Re:Neighbors? (1)

Cheapy (809643) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362334)

Actually, the odds aren't 50/50. There are three possible outcomes: they are more advanced, the same level of advancement, and less advanced.

I'm thinking that the chance of them having the same level of advancement is very small, so I'd say it's more of 49.25/.5/49.25 .

Heres what I don't get (2, Interesting)

Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362439)

after we started beaming massive amounts of radio and tv into space

What with dispersion, atmospheric absorption, and general background interference from the sun and other far more powerful sources of radio waves, I reckon aliens would have a hard time picking up TV stations from mars, never mind light years away. I mean in real terms, what are the odds that anything except a very, very powerful radio telescope pointed directly towards earth and listening on the correct wavelengths is going to pick up anything but background static? Fairly minimal I reckon.

Besides which given another 200 years or so we are probably going to invent or discover some entirely new and far more efficient means of communication than radio, and the first scientist to turn it on is going to be blasted out the window by the storm of alien TV and radio he just tuned in to.

Re:Neighbors? (0, Redundant)

barbarac (857456) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362448)

I know a good caterer that can whip up a storm at a moments notice.

Rocky Planets (2)

DiGG3r (824623) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362061)

Pretty soon, astronomers will eventually find solid earth size plants orbiting sun like stars. When this happens, then it will be time to get excited about the possibility of finding life outside our own solar system. But this won't happen till the next gen telescopes replace todays' such as the aging Hubble.

aah, monoliths (1)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362079)

Nothing beats +2 minerals, +2 nutrients, and +2 energy without having to waste time with formers.

Also good for quick healing of troops. (But don't overdo it!)

for those of you complaining about "nearby" (4, Insightful)

no reason to be here (218628) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362094)

Nearby, like many words, is not an absolute term. It is relative to the scale of the things involved. No, 41 lightyears is not nearby if you're talking about the distance from your house to the nearest gas station, but when you are talking about interstellar distances, 41 lightyears is much more near our sun (i.e., nearby) than say a star on the opposite side of the Milky Way.

Think of it like this. We'll use another word whose meaning is varaible in a similar way: close. A scafolding platform collapses and a pile of bricks comes within one foot of crashing down on you. You might say, "Wow! that was close." You throw a pitch in a ball game and you throw wide one foot left of the strike zone. No one would call that close. You'd need to be in a range of, say, a centimeter from the plate for a pitch to be called close.

Re:for those of you complaining about "nearby" (1)

Penguinoflight (517245) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362228)

You throw a pitch in a ball game and you throw wide one foot left of the strike zone.

For some of us, that would be close.

Re:for those of you complaining about "nearby" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15362231)

Thank you, Captain Obvious! We as /. readers are able to program computers, build and repair high tech equipment, and contemplate Kurzweil Singularities. But we are so stupid and ignorant that we cannot possibly understand the term "nearby" and its relative usage in an astronomical sense.

Re:for those of you complaining about "nearby" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15362309)

It is an absolute term. As in, absolutely wrong. This is not nearby. It right in the middle of the way.

Makanif Zarchezvf
Senior Surveyor
3rd Vogon Constructor Fleet
Proud member of the Galactic Civil Service Union.

Re:for those of you complaining about "nearby" (1)

marcop (205587) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362406)

Dude, you are comfusing me. Please use units that we all understand around here. For example, how many VW beetles is that?

What's the point of all this? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15362096)

Seriously...why does this country spends billions of dollars a year looking into space when there so many problems down the block to worry about. Not trolling..I'd really like to know what this gets us.

Re:What's the point of all this? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15362133)

Ehm, cosmology has allowed rational people to do away with bronze-age tribal myths in favour of actual science.

Re:What's the point of all this? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15362289)

First, I doubt this is costing "billions". Secondly, what country are you refering to? A bit of reading of the article and some fast research and you'd find the observatory in question is funded internationally.

Why is it anytime any article comes up that involves space does someone have to whine "why are we spending money on this instead of fattening up the masses who refuse to be productive"? OK, so we feed the poor. What's next? Do you want us to hire them servents to wipe their asses too?

I'm seriously not a cold person but I am sick of giving the most to the least deserving.

What does science give us? It gives us the ability to produce so much that we have excess to give to the lazy masses who refuse to do for themselves.

You got another question about that, shithead?

Feeding (2, Insightful)

Mark_MF-WN (678030) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362537)

Funny you should mention this, given that supporting the homeless/disabled/Africans costs dick-all in the grand scheme of things. The time that governments spend DISCUSSING welfare ultimately costs more (in terms of administrative salaries and parliment/congress time) that welfare itself ever will. For the cost of what Canada spends on helicopters for the miitary, every single jobless person in the entire country could be supported. That's not to say that we shouldn't buy helicopters, it's just putting things in perspective. (Note that I'm just referring to welfare/disability assistance and foreign aid, not something genuinely expensive like healthcare).

People who complain about the government supporting people who are incapable of working is really quite inexpensive, since there are very few people who can't work. It's things like the military, health care, and public works that suck up all the tax revenue. Welfare is insignificant.

I'm so sick of compassionless conservatives bitching about the couple of dollars per year that they pay for welfare, while at the same time endorsing the wars that cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars paid per person for wars.

Here's an experiment, to convince you that the myth of the lazy jobless guy is just that -- a myth. Approach someone without a job (preferably one who isn't insane, as so many homeless folks are). Offer them a fulltime job (no benefits necessary) at minimum wage doing something that is within their capabilities. I guarantee that 90% of the welfare / disability recipients you make this offer to will accept your job offer. Of course, no one will ever make those offers, since most people are profoundly bigoted against the jobless -- which in turn is what KEEPS those people jobless. And disabled people are, for the most part, simply incapable of doing enough useful work to justify a salary that would keep them housed and fed. And so no one offers them jobs either. It's nothing to do with laziness. And if you don't believe me, just try my experiment. Go down to the local homeless shelter and try it (but avoid the schizophrenics -- they don't really count, being too crazy to know what's going on).

Re:What's the point of all this? (3, Insightful)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362312)

Yeah? And I'd like to know why this country spends HUNDREDS of billions of dollars on unnecessary wars. One gains knowledge for all mankind, the other pisses off the rest of the world and generates more enemies for us to have to fight down the road. I'd say the billions for space study is much more worthwile than many of the other things we do.

Close enough (4, Interesting)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362103)

We might not have the technology to travel there physically in my lifetime (or lifespan, whatever) but that should be close enough to warrant some refocusing of more than a few SETI dishes. And for the longer term maybe a satelite designed to last 500 years to send there. This might be a project worth investing in even though we will be long gone before it would achieve fruition.

Re:Close enough (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362225)

The great news is, they have already been receiving our TV signals.

Our TV signals... (1)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362349)

... great, Jerry Springer just became our galactic first impression.

Re:Our TV signals... (1)

AngryElmo (848385) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362503)

Nope - Hitler did. They got the 1936 Olympic opening ceremony 29 years ago...

Re:Close enough (1)

sdnoob (917382) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362377)

The great news is, they have already been receiving our TV signals.

which is exactly why we haven't heard a peep out of anyone, anything, anywhere, yet.

I for one... (2, Funny)

Sentri (910293) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362120)

welcome our new-neptunian overlords

Re:I for one... (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362244)

Actually, they're not Neptunian. They are Neptunian-sized overlords. Mistakes such as that will cause you to be one of the first against the wall when our Neptunian-sized overlords take over.

I will welcome that, for using such an old joke. :^)

But ... (3, Insightful)

Micah (278) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362142)

Yeah, some might consider this a possible life site. But how can we know the planets are indeed distributed as they are in our Solar System, with a rocky planet with the right elements located in zone around the star that can support liquid water for billions of years?

Also, three Neptune sized planets probably would not protect such a terrestrial world against frequent life-exterminating collisions as our Jupiter and Saturn (and to a lesser extent Uranus and Neptune) have done. Neptune is no where near Jupiter's size, and Jupiter has almost certainly saved us from death.

Re:But ... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362210)

No extinction wiped out ALL life.

Re:But ... (1)

imemyself (757318) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362286)

Yeah, but if a major (and by major I'm talking impact of a reasonably large sized asteroid) extinction happened 5,000 years ago, would we be here right now?

Re:But ... (1)

TheDreadSlashdotterD (966361) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362354)

So if a tree falls in a forest, how loud do you suppose it has to scream before the lumberjacks stop killing it?

Re:But ... (1)

sploxx (622853) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362302)

Yeah, some might consider this a possible life site. But how can we know the planets are indeed distributed as they are in our Solar System, with a rocky planet with the right elements located in zone around the star that can support liquid water for billions of years?

AFAIK, the formation of planets is not understood very well yet. So I think it is not a bad way to assume that, if many parameters for a star system match, that they may also be similar in many other regards.

This is what one would do to model some experimental data. The best models are of course based on well-tested first principles.
But if you have nothing better, you take your set of samples and assume that new species are like the known ones which they match best.

Re:But ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15362338)

Yeah, some might consider this a possible life site. But how can we know the planets are indeed distributed as they are in our Solar System, with a rocky planet with the right elements located in zone around the star that can support liquid water for billions of years?

And more importantly, is there a nearby wifi site I can leech off of with my Pringle can?

I'm Excited... (3, Interesting)

Quaoar (614366) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362207)

I'm really impressed by the speed of progress here. I'm hoping that in ~30 years, we'll actually be able to SEE these planets. That's really exciting!

What's our asteroid belt cross-section? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15362212)

What's the sum of radius^2 taken over everything in the asteroid belt? It's known that the total mass (sum of radius^3) isn't that big, but its cross-section gives a better indication of how visible it is. I doubt that ours is very visible, and therefore any belt we detect out there must be so much denser that by comparison our asteroid belt shouldn't really count as one.

So IF there is intelegent life there.... (3, Funny)

DrBuzzo (913503) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362226)

Okay.. so this system seems like it is the best we've found (yet) as far as being a candidate for life. Great.... At 41 light years, if there any intelegent beings there (and that's a big if), they already know about world war II and they're just finishing digesting the McCarthy Hearings and the development of the H-Bomb. This can't be good...

Re:So IF there is intelegent life there.... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362275)

assuming they have radio.
They could be 1000 years behind us, and they would still be intelligent life.

And if they can travel at near light speed, they probably have ahd the technolgy long enough to have already checked us out.

Re:So IF there is intelegent life there.... (1)

t35t0r (751958) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362336)

There is intelligent life, they think we're amoeba.

So CNN beat Slashdot ? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15362280)

I can't believe this ! I mean "what" ? ;-)

Nearby (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15362368)

If 41 light-years is nearby, then I'm inside you.

Neptune-MASSED not SIZED (2, Insightful)

rewinn (647614) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362402)

From the Article:The newly discovered planets have masses of about 10, 12 and 18 times that of Earth and they zip around the star in rapid orbits of about 9, 32 and 197 days, respectively. Based on their distances from the star, two inner worlds nearest the star are rocky planets similar to Mercury, the scientists suspect.

The significance of the distinction is that rocky planets may be much more likely to harbor earth-like life than are gas giants. Of course, being so close to their home sun that they have a 9 or 32-earth day year, it seems likely that the "earth-like" life may be mere bacteria living in subsurface water [sciencenews.org] , rather than human-like meat-bags getting suntans on the surface.

How is it like our Solar System? (3, Insightful)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362414)

The setup is similar to our own solar system in many ways: The outermost planet is located just within the star's habitable zone, where temperatures are moderate enough for liquid water to form
Okay, I'm missing this. How is this like our solar system?

Assuming we can spot Neptune sized planets, if we were looking at our Solar System, we would see four planets well outside the "habitable" zone. Here we see three big rocky planets where only one is "just inside" the habitable zone--and I rashly assume it's just within the too-hot side (the outermost planet has a year of 197 days, compared to Venus's 224).

How is this "similar"? Seems pretty different to me...

Incorrect terminology (0, Redundant)

BoxSocial (945632) | more than 8 years ago | (#15362431)

That's not nearby.
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