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Extrasolar Planet Could Harbor Life

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the hello-up-there dept.

Space 308

BlueMorpho writes with a link to a Space.com article about a recently discovered extrasolar planet that may be able to harbor 'life as we know it.' Orbiting around the star Gliese 581 is a small rocky ball that might have the same liquid ocean and drifting continent configuration we're familiar with. The find may be unique in all of space exploration as this planet appears to be within a habitable band of temperatures for life, and is categorically not a gas giant. "The bottom line is exciting ...The conditions for life could be there, but is life itself? As yet, there's no way to know unless the planet has spawned beings that are at least as clever as we are. As part of the SETI Institute's Project Phoenix, we twice aimed large antennas in the direction of Gliese 581, hoping to pick up a signal that would bespeak technology ... Neither search turned up a signal."

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308 comments

Oh my god, it's full of dupes. (5, Funny)

ColonelPanic (138077) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182261)

This is categorically amazing! Gliese 581 has not one, but *two* planets capable of sustaining life as we know it!

Re:Oh my god, it's full of dupes. (2, Funny)

u-bend (1095729) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182745)

OMG!!! Pink pony life forms?! In Soviet Russia, new extra-solar dupe life form overlords welcome you!

In other news: Coup D'Etat Of U.S. Constitution (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19182933)

Read about your LACK of civil rights in the United Gulags of America [thinkprogress.org] .

Patiotically as usual,
Kilgore Trout, M.D.

Re:Oh my god, it's full of dupes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19183029)

28 April 2007 [newscientist.com]

w00t (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19182269)

first post1!

CELEBRITY HAIR SECRETS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19182273)

To improve the quality of the postings on slashdot, please post your celebrity hair secrets here.

Remember, there's only one way to go: UP!

The best neighbors... (5, Funny)

Chysn (898420) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182277)

...are the ones you can't see even with a telescope.

Re:The best neighbors... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19182417)

Unless they are porn stars with broken shades

Re:The best neighbors... (2, Funny)

TheMadcapZ (868196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182475)

I hope your neighbor turns out to be the goatse guy!!!!

The trouble is (5, Funny)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182321)

"The bottom line is exciting ...The conditions for life could be there, but is life itself? As yet, there's no way to know unless the planet has spawned beings that are at least as clever as we are. As part of the SETI Institute's Project Phoenix, we twice aimed large antennas in the direction of Gliese 581, hoping to pick up a signal that would bespeak technology ... Neither search turned up a signal."
emphasis mine

The trouble is that despite the planet's title sounding like a science fiction title, the former residents of Gliese 581 were at least as clever as we are, and the planet is currently recovering from a complete nuclear winter...

Re:The trouble is (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182499)

Or maybe they're way more clever than we are, and think that trying to communicate with other beings with radio waves is stupid.

Re:The trouble is (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 7 years ago | (#19183065)

They've already visited. And they are more clever than we are. They don't try to post witty comments on /.

Layne

Re:The trouble is (1)

LehiNephi (695428) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182779)

While the number of planets in our galaxy is huge, the probability of a planet having a composition and climate similar to that of Earth's is extremely remote. On top of that, the probability of life forming on that planet is also very remote, and on top of that, the probability that life would have evolved along a similar timeline is also very remote.

On a different note, how powerful of a radio signal would have to originate from that planet in order for us to receive it?

Re:The trouble is (1)

beckerist (985855) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182987)

It's 20 light-years away. Therefore 20 years.

Re:The trouble is (3, Insightful)

beckerist (985855) | more than 7 years ago | (#19183037)

Or...if I read your post correctly...it's more about the direction the signal emanates in. SETI has often been criticized because they are essentially looking for a whisper against the background of an airport. When we actually know WHERE to look, the strength of the signal required for us to actually notice is really very insignificant.

Re:The trouble is (2, Interesting)

lahvak (69490) | more than 7 years ago | (#19183093)

While the number of planets in our galaxy is huge, the probability of a planet having a composition and climate similar to that of Earth's is extremely remote.
Can you elaborate on that? Why would it be remote? Do you have any way to estimate the probability?

On top of that, the probability of life forming on that planet is also very remote
Again, can you justify this claim? I am not disputing your claim, I just have no idea how can the probability of this be calculated. I have seen people making this claim several times already, however, none of them ever seemed to care to support the claim with at least some estimate.

and on top of that, the probability that life would have evolved along a similar timeline is also very remote.
That I can agree with.

Re:The trouble is (2, Interesting)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#19183013)

Well that actually got me thinking, though I may have my facts wrong.

Doesn't SETI focus on a specific band of the EM spectrum that is not polluted by solar radiation and thus an obvious place for any sentient beings on another world to broadcast a signal that would allow themselves to be found?

The follow up question being: Are we broadcasting such a signal at that frequency?

Seems like if we're assuming whatever sentient beings out there think like us and thus we can deduce what they would do to be found, that only makes sense if it's something we would do in order to be found by other sentient life forms.

Space/Genetic Exploration (5, Funny)

spentmiles (917302) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182325)

I wonder what we'll find fist: a) A planet as inhabitable by us as Earth. b) A way to genetically modify humans to adapt to currently inhospitable conditions. Maybe we'll be able to breath sulfurous air, like that found on XJ93832, which is otherwise a resort planet. I've been doing my own experiments with a homemade dutch oven. My subject/wife is quite an innovator. I think she's been altered at the genetic level several times.

Re:Space/Genetic Exploration (-1, Troll)

spentmiles (917302) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182347)

It's HABITABLE, you drooling, non-proofing, lump of coal! -- Sincerely, Linguo

Re:Space/Genetic Exploration (4, Interesting)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182447)

I have wondered how well we could adapt to even an Earth like planet in terms of infectious agents like bacteria and viruses. Would we just have to accept higher mortality rates until our immune systems adapted over time?

The medical science and technology might the easy part compared to interstellar travel though.

Re:Space/Genetic Exploration (2, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182719)

The odds of another planet harboring life that could infect us effectively are ridiculously low. Infectious agents are able to infect us that they've been around us long enough to figure out how to do it.

Re:Space/Genetic Exploration (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182755)

I have wondered how well we could adapt to even an Earth like planet in terms of infectious agents like bacteria and viruses. Would we just have to accept higher mortality rates until our immune systems adapted over time?
I'd imagine it's extremely unlikely for pathogens that could infect us to have evolved without lifeforms similar to us to evolve in. For example, most human pathogens won't infect pigs, and they are not too far from us (genetically speaking). How similar would life forms on another planet have to be in order for us to share susceptibility to pathogens that evolved to infect them?

Re:Space/Genetic Exploration (5, Informative)

RsG (809189) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182771)

It's not terribly likely that alien pathogens could harm us. Remember that most plain old fashioned terrestrial diseases are only able to infect a limited variety of hosts. HIV originated in chimps (our closest living evolutionary relatives), rabies is limited to mammals, the flu (which is versatile by viral standards) is primarily limited to mammals and birds, etc. Even diseases like malaria which spend parts of their life cycle in very different hosts (us and mosquitoes) are fairly specialized.

Try and imagine dutch elm disease making the transition from trees to humans. Then remember that both host organisms are terrestrial - we're more closely related to trees than we would be to any alien. It's not totally impossible that some alien bacteria could, by some chance, find the human body hospitable (or vice versa), but it isn't very probable.

Plus, the human immune system has a habit of attacking anything remotely foreign. That's why you get problems like allergies and organ rejection. If an alien organism is enough like us to pose an infection risk, then it's also most likely similar enough to trigger an immune response. And the diseases that we face today have had millions of years of evolution to prepare them for our immune system, whereas anything alien has not. So even if life elsewhere is very much like life here, it'll have the same catching up to do that we will. Admittedly pathogens evolve faster than their hosts, but then again these hosts have medical technology to make up the difference.

Re:Space/Genetic Exploration (3, Funny)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#19183077)

There's a flip side to this, of course. I have a strong suspicion that, were we ever to encounter life anywhere else, we'd turn out to be horrifyingly allergic to everything there.

Re:Space/Genetic Exploration (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#19183175)

That is interesting. What about something like open-wound bacterial infections? I thought those were pretty common through out the animal kingdom (other than something like vultures). Do different bacteria affect different animals in these situations?

Not a problem (2, Insightful)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 7 years ago | (#19183067)

Viruses are DNA specific, most can't even swap between species on Earth.

Bacteria are slightly worse. The ones that cause us trouble tend to be highly specialized, which of course wouldn't be a problem on another planet. But there are also generalist. Most likely, our natural defense would have no trouble with those, but we could be unlucky.

The defense is also the largest problem, we would not be a good food source for the native life, but neither would the native life provide the necessary nutrients for us. We would at least need a supplement of Earth based life forms. And the Earth based life forms would be unlikely to be able to compete with the native life forms, so a sustainable colony would be a challenge.

Re:Space/Genetic Exploration (1)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | more than 7 years ago | (#19183161)

I think our assumption is the same as with humans meeting aliens, our bugs will kick their bugs asses!

There is a LOT of life on earth all competing, if their life is more vicious than ours we run away or nuke the planet cuz our bugs can't kill theirs.

Otherwise we send in the infected blankets.

Re:Space/Genetic Exploration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19183019)

>> My subject/wife is quite an innovator. I think she's been altered at the genetic level several times.

I keep injecting your wife with genetic material, but I'm not seeing much of a change from her, except perhaps an increased willingness to do more experiments.

It would be great if we found extraterestrial life (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19182341)

I would love to fuck ET in the ass.

Sweet ET anal rapage

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Questionable statement (1)

PHAEDRU5 (213667) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182345)

As yet, there's no way to know unless the planet has spawned beings that are at least as clever as we are.
Oh, I don't know. That sort of feels like an "asked and answered" statement.

Needless hype: good publicity or bad conditioning? (5, Interesting)

dtolman (688781) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182349)

hey kids! Exciting news a planet could have life - assuming it has an atmosphere. And if it does have that atmosphere, it doesn't overheat the planet through greenhouse heating. And oh yeah, all we know about it is its orbit and mass. And it almost definitely doesn't have life. Aren't you excited?

When the media flogs "science" stories like this, full of marginal ideas that probably aren't true are we just conditioning the public to ignore actual science as pie in the sky crap? Or does the break from Paris Hilton news stories have some tangible benefit to educating society at large?

Re:Needless hype: good publicity or bad conditioni (4, Interesting)

frogstar_robot (926792) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182529)

A planet of Earthlike mass in the habitable band would almost certainly have to have an atmosphere of some kind. Whether or not that atmosphere is breathable or not is another question altogether. From that distance, Venus or Mars would look pretty good to extraterrestial terran planet hunters. Masswise Venus is a near twin of earth but the surface conditions are straight out of Dante's Inferno. Mars is a shade too light to hold on to a thick O2 atmosphere and is basically a cold rusty desert. My guess is this place is apt to be more like Venus or Mars than Earth. Any chance we could talk Goldilocks into planet hunting?

Re:Needless hype: good publicity or bad conditioni (2, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182637)

When the media flogs "science" stories like this, full of marginal ideas that probably aren't true are we just conditioning the public to ignore actual science as pie in the sky crap?
No, we're also inspiring another generation of kids to enter scientific fields. Seriously, how much does stuff like this pique the interest of the next Goddard, or even the next rank-and-file NASA employee? Or maybe the next Branson, who is willing to spend a fortune of private funds on space-related activities (even if he does have a long-term profit incentive)?

Sure, the hum-drum science of everyday research is important... but so too are the stories that inspire us.

Re:Needless hype: good publicity or bad conditioni (1)

magarity (164372) | more than 7 years ago | (#19183243)

Seriously, how much does stuff like this pique the interest of the next Goddard, or even the next rank-and-file NASA employee? Or maybe the next Branson, who is willing to spend a fortune of private funds on space-related activities (even if he does have a long-term profit incentive)?
 
The next Goddard or rank and file NASA employee would languish at said NASA these days. The era of fast moving government projects to explore space a la Apollo is past for the foreseeable future, we can only hope. Apollo had a fire lit under it (pun intended) because of the space race between the USA and USSR. New opportunities to get things done in a decent time frame are are BECAUSE of investors like Branson, not despite them. Long history shows the alternative fast developers to peacetime profiteers like Branson are wartime states, from sailing ships to rockets. Now are you really sure you want to bash him and his big bad profit motive given the alternative?

Re:Needless hype: good publicity or bad conditioni (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182695)

Yes, looking at stories like this make me think that "Star Trek" and other popular science fiction actually has done a lot more harm than good in our society. Everyone talks about how it "encourages us to dream" and all that. But sometimes dreaming is a BAD thing. It's foolish to be looking across a universe that is most analogous an insurmountably HUGE sterile desert and wishfully thinking we're going to find life on any given planet with just one or two of the many elements needed for life as we know it.

p. Even if we could transverse the VAST distances between solar systems (and most people have no idea just how vast we're talking), odds are that even simple life (i.e., the scummy pond) is rare.

Quick... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19182355)

...bomb it.

Re:Quick... (5, Funny)

PixelScuba (686633) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182627)

And now... Deep Thoughts ...by Jack Handey.

"I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it."

No Signals != No Life (3, Insightful)

s31523 (926314) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182363)

As part of the SETI Institute's Project Phoenix, we twice aimed large antennas in the direction of Gliese 581, hoping to pick up a signal that would bespeak technology ... Neither search turned up a signal.

Because tiny microbes living in the soil always emit "signals". Technologically advanced life vs. life are two very different things. Jetson's like colonies would be nice to find, but honestly, we are more likely to find single cell organisms who haven't quite figured out how to build a radio tower.

Re:No Signals != No Life (3, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182495)

Not only that, what if they don't use radio waves to communicate. I know it seems a little far fetched, but they could just have FibreOptic cables running all over the place. The only reason for radio waves is to broadcast stuff. If you have everything on demand, as i hope humans will within the next 40 years, then you don't have much use for radio waves. There's still things like cell phones that require radio waves, but I think the signal may be a little too weak to be picked up by our antennas. Also, we only invented radio less than 150 years ago. I'm sure if we found a civilization as advanced as we were in the 1800s, that it would be quite big news.

Re:No Signals != No Life (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182807)

Very true. The odds of life are rare. The odds of intelligent life are even rarer. The odds of intelligent life living close enough to communicate are even rarer than that. The odds of intelligent life living close enough to communicate AND living coincidentally with our own modern civilization is even rarer still. And, even if all those conditions were met, the longest odds may well be our ability to even PERCEIVE the aliens, much less communicate with them.

Assuming that our narrow radio spectrum is a universal communications pathway that even radically different alien life would use is an awfully big assumption.

Nitpick ... (1)

Bearpaw (13080) | more than 7 years ago | (#19183183)

The odds of life are rare. The odds of intelligent life are even rarer ...
The first sentence is a guess. We don't know enough yet to make a meaningful estimate on how rare or common life is. That's part of why the search for extraterrestrial life is interesting.

The second sentence (and 3rd, 4th, and 5th) is a given, but not very helpful. (Simple logic indicates that intelligent life can't be more common than life, and so on.)

Re:No Signals != No Life (1, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182527)

we are more likely to find single cell organisms who haven't quite figured out how to build a radio tower
Or maybe President Bush [slashdot.org] was just visiting when they listened for signals.

Re:No Signals != No Life (1)

The Good Reverend (84440) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182561)

Not only that, our "advanced" species has only been emitting space-bound signals for 90 or so years of the 200,000 years or so we've been around. That's an infinitesimal amount of time.

If we found any species like us with cities/culture/tool making ability, it'd be amazing, even if they were far behind us in terms of development. At this point, any animal life outside this planet would be a life-changing find for us, so I think the "hoping for signals" was just a shot in the dark, and knowingly so.

Mod parent down. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19182599)

He excised the qualifying sentence immediately preceding his quote:

"The bottom line is exciting ...The conditions for life could be there, but is life itself? As yet, there's no way to know unless the planet has spawned beings that are at least as clever as we are."
...in order to pointlessly rant. That's not insight.

Re:No Signals != No Life (2, Funny)

markbt73 (1032962) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182631)

The secret is to bang the rocks together, guys.

We've only been transmitting for....100 years? (1)

bflynn (992777) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182853)

Remember, we've only been transmitting signals for something like 100 years. Setting the question of life aside, the chance that there is life there that has developed the capability to transmit signals into space AND has survived long enough to sustain those signals is possibly more rare than an inhabitable planet.

Nothing to see here, move along. (1)

AP2k (991160) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182381)

we twice aimed large antennas in the direction of Gliese 581, hoping to pick up a signal that would bespeak technology
Nope, no laptops here.

Afraid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19182419)

Maybe they are really clever and able to watch our TV.

Exciting... not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19182425)

Orbiting around the star Gliese 581 is a small rocky ball that might have the same liquid ocean and drifting continent configuration we're familiar with. The find may be unique in all of space exploration as this planet appears to be within a habitable band of temperatures for life...

Wake me up when they really found something...

SETI failed? (1)

zyl0x (987342) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182431)

Recently? How recent? Doesn't it take like, 100 years for radio signals to go that far?

Re:SETI failed? (1)

magarity (164372) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182537)

FTFA: Gliese 581 is, as astronomical distances go, relatively close: only 20 light-years away.

From the poster: Doesn't it take like, 100 years for radio signals to go that far?
 
Please report to remedial physics class.

Re:SETI failed? (1)

zyl0x (987342) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182559)

It's called hyperbole.

Please report to grade 9 english class.

Re:SETI failed? (1)

jae471 (1102461) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182725)

The planet is only 20 LY away. So we could send and expect to receive a signal in a human lifetime.

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19182433)

How many LY away is this one? And how many generations would a hypothetical space ship have to survive to get there if we could accelerate it with solar sails or something?

Not that it'd survive impacts at any kind of speed, given that it'd probably get knocked full of holes by micro meteorites and such over the incredibly long journey, and the whole crew would likely end up like blobs of jello after having no gravity for so long, assuming they survived the degenerative mutations caused by all the radiation exposure in space...

Re:So... (1)

TheMadcapZ (868196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182543)

Well, as long as we stay optimistic......

Re:So... (2, Interesting)

jae471 (1102461) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182911)

20 light years.

At 10.8 miles/s -- the current speed of Voyager 1, 373,000 years (I rounded -- alot).

If we can jack that up to .25c (a considerable feat), it falls to 80 years, but the crew will only age 79 years or so.

Now, if we double that to .5c (a damn-near impossible feat), it becomes 40 years, with the crew only age 36 years, provided they don't become goo from the massive g force they will feel getting up to .5c.

The limiting factor is acceleration - not velocity (1)

dtolman (688781) | more than 7 years ago | (#19183197)

Its not the top velocity so much as the acceleration... accelerating continuously at 1 G should get you to .5 C in about 4.2 years [astronomycafe.net] .

So getting to .5 C is not a problem (except for the massive expenditures of energy). Also - based off that link, Alpha Centauri will probably never be closer than 8 years away.

Re:So... (1)

wurp (51446) | more than 7 years ago | (#19183223)

.5 c = 1.5 * 10^8 m/s

acceleration of gravity on earth is ~10 m/s^2

So, accelerating at 1 g (ignoring relativistic effects, which are less than an order of magnitude), you will get to .5 c in (1.5 * 10^8 / 10) = 1.5 * 10^7 seconds. There are ~10^5 seconds in a day, so this is about 150 days.

If you can handle 2 gs of acceleration, it's only 75 days.

It's not the g forces or the time it takes to accelerate that is the big problem with interstellar travel; it's getting that much propulsive energy on your ship. You have to have either fuel that you pick up on the way (i.e. Bussard ramjet) or antimatter fuel.

To propel your ship to .5 c using only fuel you started with, you need more than half the mass of your ship as fuel, and half of that must be antimatter.

Not even finding something more energetic than matter/antimatter collision would help - by special relativity, energy has mass, so matter/antimatter collision has highest energy density possible.

Re:So... (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 7 years ago | (#19183241)

The transit speed as the other poster pointed out is a big problem.

However, gravity is certainly not. Whether on a ship or on a space station, gravity is trivially easy to generate as long as you have the resources to make the ship/station large enough. Watch 2001, made back in the 60s; you just make a big ring and spin it.

As for micrometeorites, I've never heard of them being a big problem in space travel within our solar system, since I've never heard of any of our probes or manned ships being disabled by one. I would also imagine they'd be even more rare outside the solar system. However, one possible solution would be to us a large, hollowed-out asteroid as a ship. The huge thickness of the asteroid would act as a shield, plus its mass could be used for a mass driver. Supposing the asteroid was made of iron (probably a good assumption), it would probably also serve as a decent radiation shield.

Might be hell to live on... (5, Interesting)

jhsiao (525216) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182469)

The planet is so close to the star that it's likely tidally locked so that only one side faces the sun and the other side is in eternal night. The temperature differential between the hot day side and the cold night side might cause the border to be under constant storm activity.

A "year" where the planet rotates around the star is only 13 days. If tidally locked, a "day" is the same amount of time.

The same tidal forces would also make any large oceans on the surface prone to immense tides. The strong tides may also result in more tectonic activity than on Earth.

Re:Might be hell to live on... (4, Informative)

dottyslashdottydot (1008859) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182709)

No, if it's tidally locked, there will be no "immense tides" in the oceans. Tidally locked means the same face of the planet is always facing the star. Just like the same face of the moon faces the earth... the moon is tidally locked to the earth. On this planet, any oceans would be higher at the points closest and furthest away from the star, but unlike the earth, these 'bulges' would never move, and water levels wouldn't change much, therefore no tides, at least from the star alone. The other planets in the system would most likely have some sort of influence on that planet's oceans.

Re:Might be hell to live on... (1)

btempleton (149110) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182715)

A _sidereal_ day would be the same as the year on a tidally locked planet, but nobody talks in sidereal days except some astronomers. The vast majority talk about a solar day, the noon-to-noon time, and that, for a tidally locked planet, is undefined.

Re:Might be hell to live on... (1)

ericrost (1049312) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182753)

Umm.. if it were "tidally locked" and the same side always faced the gravitational object causing the tides, wouldn't that mean there would be zero fluctuation in tide levels?

The Real Question Is... (1, Insightful)

nexuspal (720736) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182507)

"As part of the SETI Institute's Project Phoenix, we twice aimed large antennas in the direction of Gliese 581, hoping to pick up a signal that would bespeak technology ... Neither search turned up a signal."

Sure we didn't pick up a signal FROM THEM, but are we sending a signal to them in return? Kind of odd that we think they might be transmitting to us we we aren't transmitting to them, kind of a double standard there...

Re:The Real Question Is... (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182623)

I though I read something once where it freaked people (other scientists even) out when someone did decide to send a signal out. They were not sure they wanted "them" to know where we are.

Re:The Real Question Is... (1)

coolmoose25 (1057210) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182693)

Sure... we sent them pictures of Hitler in the 1930's, as was shown in the book/movie "Contact" by Carl Sagan... Of course, today we send far more troubling images... such as American Idol...

Re:The Real Question Is... (1)

moore.dustin (942289) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182881)

I would much rather us just find them instead of them finding us. Assuming there is life blah blah, who says they are nice? Who says we are nice? I certainly would not want anyone sending a message on behalf of our species to anything/anyone!

Re:The Real Question Is... (1)

aztec rain god (827341) | more than 7 years ago | (#19183055)

Maybe they refuse to return our calls.

Complete and Utter Failure (5, Funny)

Rauser (631244) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182515)

"We twice aimed large antennas in the direction of Gliese 581, hoping to pick up a signal that would bespeak technology"

The first interspace wardriving attempt thus ended in failure. The Gliesians must be hardwired.

Get Your Gear and Pack Up the Mules, Maw! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19182523)

WE are goin to tha new werld fer huntin' season!!!!!

Floatin' fish er gud eatin!

I'm sure this was posted before? (0, Redundant)

rdforsyth (1039844) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182541)

Has this not been posted before?! It sounds so familiar.

Where will we be in 100 years? (1)

winnabago (949419) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182565)

It's stories like this that always keep me thinking. Sometimes I wonder if I will be alive when we first find life elsewhere, or if we will get sidetracked on our quest.

When the discovery happens, it might be bacterial, insect, or something else, but every day seems to be getting us closer to finally proving that we aren't alone. Will that be our generation's moon landing / claim to fame? Finding not just building blocks but actual species (preferably with legs)on some mass of rock orbiting Gliese 581.

This implies that human beings are clever (1)

commodore73 (967172) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182589)

> unless the planet has spawned beings that are at least as clever as we are. This implies that human beings are clever, which may be a false assumption.

planet "could" harbor life.. (0, Redundant)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182607)

Well so could my underwear, but that doesn't make it true, does it.

Re:planet "could" harbor life.. (1)

tygerstripes (832644) | more than 7 years ago | (#19183041)

See, this is why Slashdotters have a reputation for not getting any. See that statement you just made? Yeah, statements like that.

exciting time for astronomy (2)

PMuse (320639) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182613)

This is easily the most exciting time period in the history of astronomy (to date). New discoveries of real interest (even to nonexperts) are being made monthly. What a marvelous time to be living!

Earth experiment #1 failed (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19182649)

God will now try again with another. Luckily, it won't be ready before Earth is totally destroyed by it's inhabitants.

kill the aliens (1, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182679)

i'm not joking

some people get ecstatic about little green men. me, i could care less about aliens, i really couldn't. fuck aliens. i just want somewhere else for humans to live so us, the human species, survives. that's job #1 for me

i'd be willing to exterminate the little green suckers too without a second thought if they interfered with our colonization efforts. i'm not in any way joking. people love aliens. i could care fucking less about them

in the next few centuries, before we colonize gliese 581c, if we get hit by an asteroid or a supervolcano, or someone like osama bin laden gets his hands on nanotech or enough nukes or a superbug or a certain chemical, civilization is doomed, perhaps permanently

and perhaps our species, our very existence, ends

what does that mean to you?

this new earth-like planet could be our insurance policy, our lifeboat: one planet can get wiped out, and mankind will still survive on the other

in my mind, weighing that insurance policy against little green men?

it's not even an afterthought: kill the little green men, wipe them out, colonize. i'm not joking in the least. that they go extinct so that we survive? sorry suckers, your extinct

now the THIRD orb we find that is colonizable?: if it harbors extraterrestrial life, well then, that's another story because our insurance policy is already reached. colonization can be forestalled or modified for coexistence

my story on Gliese 581c on kuro5hin [kuro5hin.org]

Re:kill the aliens (1)

bohemian72 (898284) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182851)

You're joking right?

Big universe (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19182901)

Dude, relax.

It's a big universe out there.

We can share it with any species that we encounter.

Re:kill the aliens (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19183043)

"i could care less about aliens, i really couldn't. "

Ok, which is it? could you care less, or could you not care less?

Re:kill the aliens (4, Funny)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 7 years ago | (#19183109)

kill the little green men, wipe them out, colonize.



Well, I'm pretty sure the little green men will do one of the following:



a) Disable our colony ships main computer with a computer virus written quickly by one of their hacker geniuses and then hit it with a nuclear warhead while our colonists are waiting for Windows to boot up again.

b) Find out that a very common, harmless (to them) substance on their planet is highly toxic to us humans and douse any unwelcome visitor with it.

c) Realize that their equivalent of the common cold is a deadly plague for humans.

d) Send in the little green men in black to take care of the human invasion, then mind-wipe any innocent bystanders.

e) Travel back in time and keep Earth from forming.

Re:f**k the aliens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19183217)

Personally, I'm much more interested in the little green women than in the little green men. :-D

I'm sure I could find a way to further interspecies negotiations.

Re:kill the aliens (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19183117)

George W. Bush? Is that you?

Re:kill the aliens (1)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 7 years ago | (#19183159)

You're absolutely right. Being philosophically pacifistic only gets you eaten in the wild world.

The guy's got a point (1)

whitehatlurker (867714) | more than 7 years ago | (#19183167)

fuck aliens.

Okay, I'll [wikimedia.org] volunteer [wikimedia.org] .

Re:kill the aliens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19183211)

Why was OP modded 'troll'? Putting all our eggs in one basket isn't an insurance policy. One more colonization is the minimum.

Re:kill the aliens (1)

thc69 (98798) | more than 7 years ago | (#19183231)

i could care less about aliens, i really couldn't fuck aliens.It's always about sex with you, isn't it?

uh-oh (5, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182723)

God help those poor bastards if they've got oil.

Well, if there is no life (1)

iamacat (583406) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182849)

Perhaps it's time to establish a colony. How far are we from building a sleeper or generational ship giving aggressive assumptions (accept risky cryogenics, one way trip, generous time limits for a journey)?

They had their firewall on. (2, Funny)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182873)

No wonder SETI could not get any signal from them. They learnt their lessons. Last time they visited us on the Independance Day we uploaded a virus into their system. So they just set their modem "To ignore pings from the WAN side."

Let's be real... (4, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182935)

Gliese 581 is, as astronomical distances go, relatively close: only 20 light-years away. It's one of the few star systems which, if inhabited, might provoke conversation. A simple exchange, along the lines of "how are you?" followed by "fine, and you?" would require a mere four decades. Tedious, but not unthinkable.

The actual exchange...

EARTH: How are you?

GLIESE 581: Sorry, we don't need Viagra. You can try the next planet over.

Just to be with you ! (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182941)

extrasolar planet that may be able to harbor 'life as we know it

If traveling across the galaxy doesn't get me laid, nothing will.

Now, to build that spaceship.

Star Wars (1)

Kelz (611260) | more than 7 years ago | (#19182983)

FTFA:
"There should be a belt of moderate temperatures somewhere near the twilight ring between light and dark."

Sounds VERY similar to the Twi'lek homeworld [wikia.com]

Gliese 581 is an M class star this is bad for life (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19182999)

I haven't seen anyone mention this, but Gliese 581 is an M-class dwarf. There's serious concerns about the habitability this entire class of star. They have large magnetic fields and are subject to very large solar flares which could exterminate life within their solar system. More details available:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M_dwarf#Habitability [wikipedia.org]

YOU FAIL IT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19183007)

Atmospheric layers... (2, Interesting)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 7 years ago | (#19183027)

The real question about supporting life is not only breathable air, but also the surrounding belts that insulate a planet from intense radiation. Ozone layer, Van Allen Belts, and the like are just as - if not more important - than a breathable atmosphere.

PLUS planet tilt.

And distance.
And possibly rotation speed.

I'm not saying that life exists anywhere else...just that the odds are against it. Maybe.

Can You Hear Me Now? (1)

Jedi Holocron (225191) | more than 7 years ago | (#19183095)

As part of the SETI Institute's Project Phoenix, we twice aimed large antennas in the direction of Gliese 581, hoping to pick up a signal that would bespeak technology ... Neither search turned up a signal.
If only they were using Verizon for wireless communications, we'd be hearing them now.

Some are saying Dupe (1)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | more than 7 years ago | (#19183125)

We didn't find any planets for years and all of a sudden we find like 4 useful ones in 1-2 years? Is this a product of the new networked telescope system or did we get some new giant telescope or something?

Where is this information coming from?
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