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MoEnzyme
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ET Life
« on: 2010-10-07 11:55:48 »
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I'd like to make this thread about more than this one find, since we've had a series of revelations about extra-solar planetary candidates for biogenesis. This thread is for any news or speculation about significant life anywhere else in the extra-terrestrial universe.

Here is the first story which inspired this thread: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/space/8033930/Alien-life-certain-to-exist-on-Earth-like-planet-scientists-say.html

Since we still have no other example of biogenesis outside of Earth, I'm a bit more skeptical than the scientists claiming certain life on this one. For one, we don't know how it would work on a tidally locked planet like this one. Not to say that necessarily means anything, but since we have no other examples yet how could we know? Because of that I'm tempted to say that at least some of the motivation of the scientists involved to say this is to create buzz for more funding, but from what little we know of this find, it IS the most Earthlike planet we've found yet, so its not entirely unwarranted either.

Alien life certain to exist on Earth-like planet, scientists say
The chances of alien life existing on a newly-discovered Earth-like planet are 100 per cent, an astronomer has claimed.
By Heidi Blake
Published: 8:52AM BST 30 Sep 2010


excerpts:
Quote:
Gliese 581g was discovered orbiting a nearby star at a distance that places it squarely in the "habitable zone" where liquid could exist on its surface. Of around 500 planets that astronomers have found outside Earth's solar system, this is the first to be considered habitable.

The planet is a similar size to Earth and its mass indicates that it is probably rocky with a definite surface and has enough gravity to hold an atmosphere, according to Prof Steven Vogt, who led the team that discovered it.


Quote:
The planet is tidally locked to the star, meaning that one side is always facing the star and basking in perpetual daylight, while the side facing away from the star is in perpetual darkness.


full article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/space/8033930/Alien-life-certain-to-exist-on-Earth-like-planet-scientists-say.html

wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gliese_581g

image: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/04/AR2010100406750.html
An artist's drawing of the planet Gliese 581G, right, and its sun. (Lynette Cook/agence France-presse/getty Images)
 PH2010100406754.jpg
« Last Edit: 2010-10-07 12:09:42 by MoEnzyme »
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MoEnzyme
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Re:ET Life
« Reply #1 on: 2010-10-07 12:45:08 »
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tidal_locking
good explanation of tidal locking. Its a common enough phenomenon it seems, so it has potential to be a universal variable in regards to any earthlike planet producing life. Of course we don't know its significance if any until we have at least one other example of life, but for whatever its worth the Earth is not tidally locked to the sun. Our moon is the most obvious example, being locked to us, but it still has temperature variations in re: to the Sun even though it lacks the gravity to hold any significant atmosphere of its own.
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MoEnzyme
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Re:ET Life
« Reply #2 on: 2010-10-07 13:15:07 »
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On a planet tidally locked to its star - I think its even more extreme, or literally less so than living in the tropics or a temperate coastal city like San Francisco. Even there you have day and night and a wet/dry seasons. More succinctly; without day and night, or even seasons of the year - is life even possible? In the way we ordinarily understand the regular cycling variations of time here on earth (day/night & fall/winter/spring/summer) a planet tidally locked to its star would seems relatively timeless compared to any place on our planet. If life is possible that way, it would make for some philosophically interesting Sci Fi to describe it to humanity. Qualitatively there really isn't any place on Earth quite like that.
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Re:ET Life
« Reply #3 on: 2010-10-07 15:08:40 »
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I'm not sure what that astronomer was thinking but it is ridiculous to claim 100% certainty without direct, verifiable, corroborated evidence. However I would agree that the likelihood is very high if the planet has liquid water. Personally I would say 95%.
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MoEnzyme
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Re:ET Life
« Reply #4 on: 2010-10-07 18:43:41 »
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Quote from: David Lucifer on 2010-10-07 15:08:40   
I'm not sure what that astronomer was thinking but it is ridiculous to claim 100% certainty without direct, verifiable, corroborated evidence. However I would agree that the likelihood is very high if the planet has liquid water. Personally I would say 95%.


My thoughts exactly. I think there was some PR/political spin the astronomer was adding. No way anyone could say 100% certainty at this point. I'm not even sure about 95% myself; I'm thinking 70ish%. Still too many variables to be certain. Even with stellar tidal locking, if there is water and constant energy I'd be a bit surprised if there wasn't at least some rudimentary life. Even if there isn't life, its the best candidate we've had so far, and at a mere 20 light years that gives life a pretty decent chance for our stellar neighborhood at <100 LY.
« Last Edit: 2010-10-07 18:45:06 by MoEnzyme » Report to moderator   Logged

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(consolidation of handles: Jake Sapiens; memelab; logicnazi; Loki; Every1Hz; and Shadow)
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