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First Organic Molecules Found on Alien World

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the did-it-have-to-be-so-smelly dept.

Space 146

Galactic_grub writes "The detection of planet HD 189733b is in some ways just another small victory for extra-solar planetary science. It is too hot for there to be anything 'alive'. Just the same, somewhere on the planet are trace amounts of the gas methane. The fact that the element was detected at all offers hope for understanding future discoveries of Earth-like worlds, says NewScientistSpace. Researchers from Caltech and University College London used the Hubble Space Telescope to peer at the planet and examined spectral signature of starlight filtered by the planet's atmosphere, to identify different chemicals. 'The authors suggest that some ill-understood chemical process might be responsible, either concentrating the methane in cooler parts of the atmosphere, or generating extra methane directly. Alternatively, the methane might simply mean that the planet happens to be very rich in carbon.'"

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Yet another step closer to my goal (5, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22392150)

One day I'm gonna bang me a green chick.

Re:Yet another step closer to my goal (5, Funny)

radarsat1 (786772) | more than 6 years ago | (#22392298)

With that kind of mouth, it'll certainly happen before "you bang you" an earth girl.

Re:Yet another step closer to my goal (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22392378)

the big black niggerdick thought he had a pretty mouth thankyouverymuch

Re:Yet another step closer to my goal (1, Informative)

kennylogins (1092227) | more than 6 years ago | (#22392602)

Humor works good too, you should try it sometime.

why bother? (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#22394268)

Earth girls only have one vagina. How lame is that?

Re:Yet another step closer to my goal (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22394852)

With that kind of mouth, it'll certainly happen before "you bang you" an earth girl.--he heeee

http://the-sky-broadband.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

Re:Yet another step closer to my goal (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22395252)

"With that kind of mouth, it'll certainly happen before "you bang you" an earth girl."

If you talked to your mom, you'd find out exactly how wrong you are.

Son.

Re:Yet another step closer to my goal (4, Funny)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 6 years ago | (#22392304)

Aren't we all going to be pissed if we finally find the green chicks one day and they're only interested in jocks and weightlifters?

Re:Yet another step closer to my goal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22392310)

One day I'm gonna bang me a green chick.
FTA:

This combination of water and organic molecules would be a promising one for life if it were found in a less hostile spot than the atmosphere of a searing gas giant.
I don't know. Would you still bang this green chick if she turned out to be a searing gas giant?

Re:Yet another step closer to my goal (3, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 6 years ago | (#22393254)

searing gas giant
I think I might have banged one of those in college after a keg party. My friends wouldn't look me in the eyes for a week.

Re:Yet another step closer to my goal (1)

JosKarith (757063) | more than 6 years ago | (#22393270)

"Would you still bang this green chick if she turned out to be a searing gas giant?" This is SlashDot - size and flatulence issues aren't going to put off most of the hyenas here.

Re:Yet another step closer to my goal (1, Redundant)

imikem (767509) | more than 6 years ago | (#22392352)

There's no need to wait. St. Patrick's Day is approaching.

sooo... (3, Funny)

Freeside1 (1140901) | more than 6 years ago | (#22392224)

methane... aliens can fart...?

Re:sooo... (3, Funny)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 6 years ago | (#22392518)

aliens can fart...?

Worse. We don't detect them unless they do. This explains why the fat guy in the room is the easiest to detect.

Re:sooo... (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#22393334)

Worse. Aliens are actually Cows; and when they find out what we do to bovines down here, we're fscked.

/P

Ah...no! (1)

monkeyboythom (796957) | more than 6 years ago | (#22393854)

Pig shit. The lights, the motors, the vehicles, all run by a high-powered gas called methane. And methane cometh from pig shit.

- The Collector

Duh!

Where are the bean fields? (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#22394296)

You should be able to see those with Hubble.

Methane is not an element (5, Insightful)

I'm a banana (1139431) | more than 6 years ago | (#22392268)

The fact that the element was detected at all

Re:Methane is not an element (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22393046)

Yes yes... true enough. However, if incorrect reporting and misinformation weren't the norm, people might actually catch on to the fact that something might be wrong with the article their reading. If that happened, they might begin to question the validity of all the other news they absorb and their world might come crashing in around them. It's easier to just not point it out, and let people live in their little fantasy world. You know, for their own safety.

/bring on the corrections

Re:Methane is not an element (1)

Discordantus (654486) | more than 6 years ago | (#22394900)

...something might be wrong with the article their reading...

/bring on the corrections
hmmmm, where to start?

we don't have to want to be like somebody else? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22392280)

because we are all already almost exactly like everybody else. let yOUR conscience be yOUR guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. there are still some choices. if they do not suit you, consider the likely results of continuing to follow the corepirate nazi hypenosys story LIEn, whereas anything of relevance is replaced almost instantly with pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking propaganda or 'celebrity' trivia 'foam'. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on yOUR brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080108/ts_alt_afp/ushealthfrancemortality;_ylt=A9G_RngbRIVHsYAAfCas0NUE [yahoo.com]
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/31/opinion/31mon1.html?em&ex=1199336400&en=c4b5414371631707&ei=5087%0A [nytimes.com]

is it time to get real yet? A LOT of energy is being squandered in attempts to keep US in the dark. in the end (give or take a few 1000 years), the creators will prevail (world without end, etc...), as it has always been. the process of gaining yOUR release from the current hostage situation may not be what you might think it is. butt of course, most of US don't know, or care what a precarious/fatal situation we're in. for example; the insidious attempts by the felonious corepirate nazi execrable to block the suns' light, interfering with a requirement (sunlight) for us to stay healthy/alive. it's likely not good for yOUR health/memories 'else they'd be bragging about it? we're intending for the whoreabully deceptive (they'll do ANYTHING for a bit more monIE/power) felons to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather', as well as a # of other things/events.

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(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

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(yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles. talk about reverse polarity;

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Re:we don't have to want to be like somebody else? (0, Troll)

DenDude (922896) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395702)

It's called "Risperidone". Use it. If already using, increase the dosage.

Methane is an element? (4, Insightful)

blcamp (211756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22392284)

The fact that the element was detected at all
There's certainly an element of misunderstanding here.

Re:Methane is an element? (2, Funny)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 6 years ago | (#22392394)

There's certainly an element of misunderstanding here.
Are you talking of me, Thane?!

Re:Methane is an element? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22392440)

It is too hot for there to be anything 'alive'.

Looks like an star...

Nevermind (0, Redundant)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 6 years ago | (#22393218)

There's certainly an element of misunderstanding here.


Some people just aren't in their element when it comes to elementary science. Perhaps they're confused by their background in elemental magic.

Re:Methane is an element? (2, Funny)

chemisus (920383) | more than 6 years ago | (#22393420)

The fact that the element was detected at all
There's certainly an element of misunderstanding here.


What we have here is failure to compound.

Re:Methane is an element? (1)

Paradigm_Complex (968558) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395422)

Ohhh I see it. Silly slashdot title. "First Organic Elements Found on Alien World" Better? No?

Unfortunately, not a smoking gun... (4, Interesting)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22392288)

Methane can be formed by inorganic processes...although how enough of it could be formed to be detectable to us way over here is an intriguing question.

Also, the planet is around 700 degrees Celsius...why are we so sure this completely precludes the possibility of life?

Re:Unfortunately, not a smoking gun... (3, Funny)

fizze (610734) | more than 6 years ago | (#22392458)

Also, the planet is around 700 degrees Celsius...why are we so sure this completely precludes the possibility of life?

Actually, who knows what our planet may look like from a few lightyears afar in, say, a couple of hundred years?

Re:Unfortunately, not a smoking gun... (1)

sempernoctis (1229258) | more than 6 years ago | (#22392940)

This is your planet. This is your planet on global warming. Any questions?

Re:Unfortunately, not a smoking gun... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22393250)

Yes. Is it man made or a result of natural processes? /troll

Sorry. Haven't had my caffiend yet. :)

Re:Unfortunately, not a smoking gun... (1)

Touvan (868256) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395640)

Yes. Is it man made or a result of natural processes? /troll

I know that was probably just a bad joke, but why would it matter? It's still a problem for us, either way.

Re:Unfortunately, not a smoking gun... (2, Interesting)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 6 years ago | (#22392516)

"Methane can be formed by inorganic processes"

And even when that happens, it's still an organic molecule.

"700 degrees Celsius...why are we so sure this completely precludes the possibility of life?"

That may depend on how we define "life". In the sense that life could vary widely from what we know and understand, maybe you're right. Of cousre, if it's not a bit closer to "life as we know it" than that, then we don't know what to look for anyway. Would such life depend on water? Well, not liquid water. It wouldn't be made up of combustable carbon chains, either.

So within the limits of "life based on processes we understand", "life we have a clue how to look for", "life we have a reason to believe is possible", etc., it is safe to assume it couldn't exist in those conditions.

Re:Unfortunately, not a smoking gun... (5, Insightful)

Metasquares (555685) | more than 6 years ago | (#22393300)

Would such life depend on water? Well, not liquid water. It wouldn't be made up of combustable carbon chains, either.

Slightly tangential, but I never did understand why we primarily evaluated the life supporting capability of a planet based on whether water could be present. We might know tons about terrestrial life, but we know nothing about how life could begin in a different environment. Our earth-centric assumptions may not hold, even though the same laws of chemistry and physics do.

Re:Unfortunately, not a smoking gun... (2, Interesting)

Josef Meixner (1020161) | more than 6 years ago | (#22394624)

We might know tons about terrestrial life, but we know nothing about how life could begin in a different environment.

And that doesn't strike you as a reason "we" are looking for familiar signs? How would you interpret things as life if you don't know how it would work, what it would consume and what produce? We would need to be able to closely inspect the planet to tell if we found life. But if we find familiar conditions, where we know with a high probability that certain reactions won't happen "naturally" and that the signature of products can't be produced in their relation to each other by natural processes (at least with a high probability), we have a much higher chance to tell life from other effects. Even so we still couldn't be sure.

So I would say looking for conditions known to be able to support life is the only thing which can do, because it is unclear if we would understand forms of life working completely differently to be alive.

Re:Unfortunately, not a smoking gun... (3, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#22394764)

Slightly tangential, but I never did understand why we primarily evaluated the life supporting capability of a planet based on whether water could be present. We might know tons about terrestrial life, but we know nothing about how life could begin in a different environment.

You've answered your own question with the second sentence.

See, we don't know how to look for things we can't even fathom. If we look for places with liquid water, we know that "life as we know it" might exist there. All other statements are guess-work.

Looking for forms of "life as we can't even fathom it" is sorta difficult --- you could look at anything, and you say "well, a form of life I can't conceive of might be there, but I have no test or measurement", which is meaningless. Basically, scientists are sticking to what they know and can make statements about, since anything else would be random conjecture and speculation, and have nothing to do with science.

It's not that tough of a concept. Once we know about life forms we've never conceived of, we could expand our search for the conditions which those might thrive in. Until then, we just kinda assume that anything there would have to be a total long shot and beyond what we can know. Since it has no predictive value whatsoever, they ignore it completely.

Cheers

Re:Unfortunately, not a smoking gun... (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 6 years ago | (#22394892)

Slightly tangential, but I never did understand why we primarily evaluated the life supporting capability of a planet based on whether water could be present.

One reason is that liquid water is an amazing solvent, and there are few other simple substances that would be as likely to form a substrate for life to begin (at least in as far as we understand how such a process might occur).

Re:Unfortunately, not a smoking gun... (1)

inviolet (797804) | more than 6 years ago | (#22394532)

[Life on this 'hot Jupiter' planet] wouldn't be made up of combustable carbon chains, either.

Why not? As long as there is no oxygen around, they'd be fine. Indeed, there was no oxygen around for a lot of Earth's history either... Oxygen's arrival here was as a corrosive pollutant pumped into the atmosphere by short-sighted greedy industria^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hplants and microbes.

Re:Unfortunately, not a smoking gun... (1)

esocid (946821) | more than 6 years ago | (#22392616)

Methane can be formed by inorganic processes...although how enough of it could be formed to be detectable to us way over here is an intriguing question.
Agree with you there, but if it is in a quantity enough to attribute to microbes in anaerobic conditions it would be interesting to see just what sort of microbes are living on that planet.

Also, the planet is around 700 degrees Celsius...why are we so sure this completely precludes the possibility of life?
Sulfur and hydrothermal vents in the ocean can sustain life at temps around 400 degrees C, so who knows what temps might be able to sustain life elsewhere? (not that I'm an expert on that)

Re:Unfortunately, not a smoking gun... (2, Informative)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 6 years ago | (#22393296)

No one is an expert on that. That is one thing that pisses me off. We constantly have people saying moronic things like "Gas giants can't sustain life." We no so little about them, yet we have arrogant people saying things are impossible. The honest truth is that we have so little experience with conditions outside the planet that we can in NO way make statements about life in general. Pretty much every single statement about life made by a human being should really have an asterick saying "Life as we know know it." For ages we used to think that organic chemicals must be rare in temperatures below zero because with lower temperatures, less reactions occure. But instead we found that if the ice was formed from water that was at ONE time at a reasonable temperature, then orgainc chemiclas are CONCENTRATED by the ice, as they clump together. If the ice is subject to a cycle of warming then freezing, this leads to more common organic reactions than if you just leave the water alone in the first place. The chemiclas clump together when they freeze, then react when you heat them.

Re:Unfortunately, not a smoking gun... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22393174)

Perhaps the methane was produced by all of the planet's lifeforms simultaneously defecating themselves when they were burned to death from the 700 degrees Celsius heat?

Re:Unfortunately, not a smoking gun... (2, Interesting)

cyclopropene (777291) | more than 6 years ago | (#22393480)

Methane can be formed by inorganic processes...although how enough of it could be formed to be detectable to us way over here is an intriguing question.
 
I think it's less a question of how enough of it could form--Titan in our own solar system has 1.6% methane in its atmosphere, and reasonable geochemical processes for the formation have been described by Sushil Atreya (see this article, [space.com] or here [elsevier.com] for the actual journal article, if you have access)--but rather why it can survive in a 700C atmosphere long enough to be observed. (or maybe that just means it's forming really f*cking fast?)

FTA:

"When the temperature is this high, the dominant form of carbon should be carbon monoxide, not methane,"
But then they go on and say "Alternatively, the methane might simply mean that the planet happens to be very rich in carbon..." so maybe it's not so strange after all...

Re:Unfortunately, not a smoking gun... (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 6 years ago | (#22393532)

Maybe they nuked it.

Re:Unfortunately, not a smoking gun... (1)

Kid Moxie (1201749) | more than 6 years ago | (#22394692)

I, for one, welcome our new Lava-Monster overlords!

Bah...700 Celsius?? (1)

bdwebb (985489) | more than 6 years ago | (#22394864)

700 Celsius is a balmy summer on Moltor. Whether or not life still remains on this planet is a mystery, however. If memory serves, Moltar was taken captive a while back by some guy with a sissy yellow cape and powerbands that sounds like George Lowe.

Test of Faith (5, Funny)

Psiren (6145) | more than 6 years ago | (#22392324)

Meh, I'm positive that the FSM put it there, to test our faith in his noodly appendages. Life on another planet?! Preposterous!

Re:Test of Faith (4, Funny)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22392360)

HD 189733b is a graphic illustration of the fate of any planet that fails to maintain a sufficient population of pirates.

Re:Test of Faith (-1, Offtopic)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 6 years ago | (#22393112)

Surprise! No "flamebait" modifier, no "troll" moderation. /sarcasm

Re:Test of Faith (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22392528)

Prepastarous!

Re:Test of Faith (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22393110)

Life on another planet preposterous !???!!!
  Whatever the heck the FSM is, the fact that life exists elsewhere is just a few years from being proven. A decade ago, the idea of other planets at all was preposterous. Surely you are not that conceited to think the universe revolves around humans ? What a jerk!

Re:Test of Faith (1)

Psiren (6145) | more than 6 years ago | (#22393866)

FSM = Flying Spagehetti Monster. Do a little research. It was a joke. Wow.

Re:Test of Faith (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22395030)

The cances of anything coming from HD 189733b are a million to one, he said.
But slowly and surely they draw their plans against us.

Am I missing something here (0, Troll)

kellyb9 (954229) | more than 6 years ago | (#22392338)

A planet with violent eruptions thats filled with methane gas offers hope for life on other planets? Does this mean theres hope of finding WMD's in Iraq?

Re:Am I missing something here (1)

BForrester (946915) | more than 6 years ago | (#22393500)

No. Violent eruptions and methane gas means that we may yet discover intelligent life in the White House.

Please... (5, Funny)

Joseph1337 (1146047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22392342)

Please no more overlords, my back fucking hurts from the whip with those we got now...

Re:Please... (3, Funny)

Jeng (926980) | more than 6 years ago | (#22392534)

Would you not welcome an overlord who won't be whipping you?

Re:Please... (1, Funny)

corbettw (214229) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395712)

Sheesh, another Paul supporter. Haven't you guys given up yet?

Re:Please... (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22392902)

Don't blame me for your back hurting! I voted for Kodos!

Re:Please... (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 6 years ago | (#22393382)

Aw... What do you have against our new methane farting overlords?

Oops... Sorry.

HD 189733b (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22392344)

Is that the next step after 2160p [wikipedia.org] ?

Misleading (4, Interesting)

Webs 101 (798265) | more than 6 years ago | (#22392434)

The surprising thing here isn't that the astronomers discovered methane on a planet. Heck, Uranus is full of the stuff and other gas giants have it as well.

It's not surprising to find methane on an extrasolar planet. What is different about this is, to QTFA:

"Initially, that is surprising," says Sara Seager of MIT in Cambridge, US, who was not involved in the study. Because HD 189733b orbits very close to its parent star - just 10% of Mercury's distance from the Sun, it is very hot, with atmospheric temperatures of about 700 Celsius. "When the temperature is this high, the dominant form of carbon should be carbon monoxide, not methane," says Seager.

Re:Misleading (1)

kannibul (534777) | more than 6 years ago | (#22392506)

I was thinking the same thing.

Methane isn't exclusive to life. It CAN be a byproduct, but as with planets (and moons) in our own solar system, methane isn't exactly a rare substance.

I was wondering what it would cost to build a ship to Uranus and transport a "really big" amount of Methane back here for use as fuel would cost...if it would be profitable given today's technology...

I just don't want to hear "Sir, she's gone from suck to blow" if/when we do it - lol...

Re:Misleading (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 6 years ago | (#22393472)

Burning our current carbon reserves is probably enough to get us all killed in a huge greenhouse. I would be completely against the idea unless we could make the excess carbon to be fixated in, say, more trees.

Perhaps it could be shipped to the Moon or the asteroids to be used as fuel or propellant. I am not in a mood to calculate how good that would be.

Re:Misleading (1)

aztektum (170569) | more than 6 years ago | (#22392566)

Heck, Uranus is full of the stuff...
*ba-dum tsch*

Does this mean the only other intelligent life out there is cows?

Re:Misleading (3, Funny)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 6 years ago | (#22393406)

*ba-dum tsch*

I use tcsh, you insensitive clod!

/P

Re:Misleading (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 6 years ago | (#22392606)

The surprising thing here isn't that the astronomers discovered methane on a planet. Heck, Uranus is full of the stuff and other gas giants have it as well.

Was this a pun?

Re:Misleading (1)

Webs 101 (798265) | more than 6 years ago | (#22393510)

No. How would it be a pun?

Re:Misleading (1)

ShadowBot (908773) | more than 6 years ago | (#22394218)

Uranus is full of the stuff and other gas giants have it as well.
Well sir, u'r anus may be full of the stuff... but I assure mine get's released regularly!


:( someone had to say it

Only one? (1)

tinkerton (199273) | more than 6 years ago | (#22393626)

In any case, don't tell him. He can't do it if he's paying attention.

Re:Misleading (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 6 years ago | (#22393052)

"...Alternatively, the methane might simply mean that the planet happens to be very rich in carbon, Seager says.

Re:Misleading (1)

Zymergy (803632) | more than 6 years ago | (#22393934)

Carbon Monoxide = CO
Methane = CH4

If there were lower amounts of Oxygen in the planet's atmosphere, possibly Methane might be the more dominant gaseous compound of Carbon?

Re:Misleading (1)

jddj (1085169) | more than 6 years ago | (#22394106)

The surprising thing here isn't that the astronomers discovered methane on a planet. Heck, Uranus is full of the stuff and other gas giants have it as well.

[insert joke here]

This is a huge step. (1, Offtopic)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 6 years ago | (#22392464)

This is a huge step and an advancement towards detecting alien life.
What we consider as hot may be normal if beings exist on that planet.
Yes, just like the 1970s Mars experiments led to inconclusive evidence of life on Mars, this too is inconclusive.
If this doesn't speed up Astronomy studies in Europe (USA is a basket case since Bush came to power), then what else will?

As usual this doesn't make front page news anywhere.
Fox starts with a pleasant "Pregnant women as bombers" fear mongering: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,330415,00.html/ [foxnews.com]

Re:This is a huge step. (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 6 years ago | (#22393024)

As usual this doesn't make front page news anywhere

Gee, maybe because we've seen methane on other planets in our own solar system, and this discovery - while interesting - doesn't even begin to point, specifically, to life elsewhere just yet?

Fox starts with a pleasant "Pregnant women as bombers" fear mongering

Well, let's see. As I write this, the BBC web site is talking about a Russia/Ukraine gas deal, Danish cartoon plotters, and the US election primaries. No mention of alien methane. CNN? Mexican earthquake, sub-prime mortgage trouble, a yachting accident, primaries, hollywood writers strike, etc. No mention of alien methane. Hmm. Maybe if we look around the world a bit more... Times Of India? No mention. Spiegel in Germany? Nothing. Internazionale.it? Nothing. Home page of Agence France-Presse? Nothing.

Wow, the evil anti-science Bush adminisration sure has a lot of control over the world's media!

Re:This is a huge step. (1)

mozkill (58658) | more than 6 years ago | (#22393430)

i find it interesting that there are 2 anti-gun articles on the front page area of fox news today. you would think that they, of all the news sites, might not report stuff like that , but they are.

plz spam me massjunk@gmail.com thank you (-1, Offtopic)

massjunk956 (1237948) | more than 6 years ago | (#22392472)

plz spam me massjunk@gmail.com thank you

Re:plz spam me massjunk@gmail.com thank you (0, Offtopic)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 6 years ago | (#22392852)

I'm going to poison your spam honeypot with millions of high quality emails from decades of backups, whatever algorithms you're trying to develop will reject anything except truly randomly generated data streams. come to think of it, I'll send you a buttload of those too.

dogmatic anthropocentricity (1)

kennylogins (1092227) | more than 6 years ago | (#22392498)

What about life about oceanic volcanic vents? Also others discovered which use non-standard (other than oxygen) as the basis of their biological process? Never ceases to amaze me, the lack of imagination.

TFA (1)

matt me (850665) | more than 6 years ago | (#22392538)

TFA doesn't describe methane as element. I for one welcome our new earth, wind, fire and water overlords. Anyway. Titan has methane. We know this.

HD 189733b? (1)

Mickyfin613 (1192879) | more than 6 years ago | (#22393034)

Congratulations for finally emerging from beneath the shadow of that glory hogging planet HD 189733a!!

Misleading headline (3, Insightful)

slapout (93640) | more than 6 years ago | (#22393058)

"trace amounts of the gas methane" != "First Organic Molecules Found"

Re:Misleading headline (5, Informative)

Alioth (221270) | more than 6 years ago | (#22393502)

Yes it does. Methane is an organic molecule. If you find methane, you've found an organic molecule. Organic chemistry is not necessarily produced by life forms.

That group of compounds (things like methane, ethane, propane, butane etc.) are all part of organic chemistry, and whether you find them with or without life they are still organic chemistry.

Re:Misleading headline (1)

bcattwoo (737354) | more than 6 years ago | (#22393734)

But these aren't the first.

Re:Misleading headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22394078)

Not even on extrasolar planets?

Re:Misleading headline (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395112)

Not even on extrasolar planets?

The headline doesn't say extrasolar.

Re:Misleading headline (1)

Domint (1111399) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395072)

I believe the point trying to be made is that this is the first extra-Solar organic compound observed. Granted, I don't know if that is true or not. I'm at the office right now so I can't spend the little bit of my remaining lunch-break researching it, otherwise I'd provide linkage.

Re:Misleading headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22393636)

"trace amounts of the gas methane" != "First Organic Molecules Found"
Agreed. And 2+2 != 5. As has been pointed out, methane occurs on many
Gas giant worlds. Maybe it's cause is organic, and maybe we just don't
know everything about everything regarding chemical behavior, especially
on extra-solar worlds.

Drake Equation (2, Interesting)

rijrunner (263757) | more than 6 years ago | (#22393120)

N = ( R* x fp x ne x fl x fi x fc) x L

R* = The number of stars born each year.
fp = the fraction of those stars which have a planetary system.
ne = the number of "earth-like" planets in a solar system.
fl = the fraction of these planets on which life arises.
fi = the fraction of these life forms that evolve into intelligent civilisations like ours.
fc = the fraction of these civilisations that choose to attempt to communicate across the Galaxy.
L = the average time they have been trying to communicate.

The range of life forms found on Earth in extreme conditions have pushed the "ne" category into much higher ranges. You could make an argument for a lot bodies within our own solar system that have conditions less extreme than those found on Earth where life exists. We have found life in volcanic vents. We have found them in extreme cold areas. All of which really pushes "ne" closer to 1.0. And, solar systems seem to be more the rule than the exception.

Whether this planet can support life as we know it is a different proposition than what it means overall. The Drake Equation is getting pretty close to 1.0 in a lot of categories.
 

Re:Drake Equation (1)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 6 years ago | (#22393704)

The problem that may occur with your argument is exactly what conditions are needed to formulate and develop life. I can see life evolving somehow to exist in those conditions, but can it begin there? I know that conditions were theoretically extreme on earth, but some parts seem a little iffy...

Missing a factor. (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#22394488)

Maybe they'd communicate by farting and think we're answering them?

Seriously though,there is a missing factor
fd = fraction of those civilisations communicating in a way that we can detect.

We've been in existence for some 100s of thousands of years, maybe millios of years and we've only had proper radio comms for 60 or so years - a small fraction of that. Its pretty arrogant to think that they'd use radio because that's the best technology we have. If other beings have SETI programs, perhaps they're using different communications methods. Perhaps direct brain communications but unfortunately we lock up the receivers in mental hospitals.

Re:Drake Equation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22395382)

The drake equation is a fancy way of framing the statement, "We have no bloody idea." It's a bunch of unknowns multiplied by each other in the guise of appearing to be science. Now, I have no problem with the idea of intelligent life out there. I think it's even likely. However, I've got a serious problem with guesses masquerading as science. fl, fi, fc, and L are complete unknowns, which makes the equation worthless. Instead of parading something like the Drake equation to garner credibility, SETI would have a lot more of my respect if it said, "We haven't the foggiest idea what the odds are, but we're looking."

The Gas Giant Uranus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22393364)

(and Neptune as well) is an alien world and has an abundance of CH4. Seriously!

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

I hope... (1)

popmaker (570147) | more than 6 years ago | (#22393454)

Good god I hope they'll find life on this planet. Not that I'm really that desparate about alien life but because people would NEVER stop confusing the famous astrologer "Mark Swain" with that other guy.

Oh crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22393632)

Does this mean that we have to call the life there
Species 189733b??

Grrr..

It's not only Methan we have to search... (1)

The Friendly Strange (1228202) | more than 6 years ago | (#22394036)

Methane is not only a byproduct of organic chemical reactions. But if you really want to see the thriving extraterrestial life yo have to check the Sulphiric Acid deposits. Only there you will find a plethora of life, microscopic of course, but it could be the most amazing sight you could see!

Could our solar system have had a Hot Jupiter (1)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 6 years ago | (#22394558)

We are finding so many of these huge planets in close orbit to star, could our system have had one that was gobbled up by the sun? Could the process of gobbling up a planet cause a mass extinction on earth? Maybe the premian extinction was caused when our sun gobbled up a Hot Jupiter?

Carbon? Feh (3, Funny)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 6 years ago | (#22394704)

Alternatively, the methane might simply mean that the planet happens to be very rich in carbon.

Most likely it's because of cows. Space cows.

Carbon + Cows..... (1)

ardle (523599) | more than 6 years ago | (#22395686)

It's a big BBQ!

Can't be alien (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22395394)

If it's "organic" or "Earth-like", than it's not really alien.
When we are looking for life-forms similar to us, we are not really looking for "alien".

Alien shit is something that we can't even think of, because it's so different of anything that we are aware of even in our imagination, which is highly limited by our actual knowledge and experiences.
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