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Is this REALLY one of the most profound discoveries ever?


Tim
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I tend to agree TJ,

It's an important and very interesting discovery of course but not perhaps deserving of the accolade "among the most profound in human history".

I guess whoever came up with that had more than half an eye on securing future budgets in a tight economy :)

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No, it's not that significant in the grand scheme of things (very significant milestone for the Kepler mission though).

Always treat science journalism with a big pinch of salt though. The journo's always seem to want definites, black vs white, "biggest thing ever". Very few scientists present their results like this, but "well, it's quite important, but there's other things we don't know, and maybe it could be this, but probably it's that, and that's quite interesting" doesn't make a great story :evil6: I've been the victim of this editing process myself before :eek:

The last quote of the article includes a very tell-tale ellipsis... I imagine there are actually a large number of qualifying statements in there which have been cut out. I imagine they went something along the lines of "this report is a very significant discovery in showing that Kepler is capable of detecting rocky planets, and hence that it should be capable - in time - of detecting rocky planets in further out orbits, maybe even Earth like planets capable of sustaining liquid water, which would be marked as among the most profound scientific discoveries in human history" -- or maybe not :)

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The media have to sensationalise everything......Most journo's have to write things as if they were experts when they actually know nothing about the subject.....

Yes its a great discovery! but the way the media have dug their claws into it you can bet it really was a slow news day!!!

I was going to say sorry to be so harsh on jurno's....but im in the business and Ive been stung in the past with media nonsense!.....i guess its just one way for me to vent a bit!

Edited by peter shah
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IMO it'd be Significant if it was clearly a rocky world with an atmosphere showing clear signs for water and other "interesting" chemicals.

Short of radio contact or a serious increase on todays imaging tech such that we can "see" lights on the night side of an exoplanet I don't think we're ever likely to find life outside this planet, although i have no doubt its there.

One thing that occurs to me is the current exoplanet discoveries are largely based on tech that relies on planets in the direct plane of the star from our viewpoint, clearly only a small percentage will be as such, I'd wager for every star we can (or could) currently calculate the presence of planets there must be hundreds more with planets we cannot.

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One thing that occurs to me is the current exoplanet discoveries are largely based on tech that relies on planets in the direct plane of the star from our viewpoint, clearly only a small percentage will be as such, I'd wager for every star we can (or could) currently calculate the presence of planets there must be hundreds more with planets we cannot.

That's certainly true, and you can calculate this from geometry (assuming there is no preferred direction in the universe!). For an Earth-like planet (i.e. 1AU orbit around a Sun-like star), Kepler (the mission mentioned here) will only see one in every 10,000.

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It's good when they find small planets, but will only be really exciting when they are in the 'goldilocks zone'. Of course evidence that it has the chemical make up to support life as we understand is really a exciting. Proving life exists could be a tricky one though.

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I agree with Peter - that the media have to over sensationalise this story.

I am a lecturer in the field of biophysics working on how the optical tissues in the eye remain transparent - I have lost count of the amount of times the press has said that our research will lead to 'a cure for blindness'. Utter rubbish and damaging to your own reputation in the field.

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No - it's not one of the most profound.. etc ! - not really anyway. More profound discoveries than that:-

1 That the earth is a sphere

2 That the planets are spherical bodies of rock & gas, like our own

3 That all these planets go around the sun

4 That the sun is a star (ie all those tiny specks in the sky are like the sun only very very very very far away

5 That we live in a galaxy that has billions of stars in it

6 That our galaxy is one of billions of others of similar scale

7 That the universe is expanding and therefore probably started from a single point about 14 billion years ago

8 That we evolved naturally from life that emerged about 3-4 billion years ago

8b That we are made of simple elements that were probably formed in stars and supernovae

9 That there could be other intelligent life out there that has technology a million years more advanced than our own

10 or...that we might be the only intelligent life anywhere ( OK - this isn't exactly a discovery, more of a realisation)

11 That other stars have planets and so there may be billions of planets in our galaxy alone.

That's enough profound discoveries for now!

Edited by perrin6
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If one day they did in fact discover life on another planet, I wonder how the news would break given that are a number of world religions are articulated specifically around the notion that we are alone and therefore 'special'. Given that this WOULD be a truly 'profound' discovery and given the social and political influence that these organizations clearly have, it makes me wonder if we would ever be told.

James

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IMO:

We know there they anyway as the solar system cannot be unique.

ok we now have proof of what we already knew.

Its always good to back up theory with fact, but its not re-inventing the wheel or the such.

....but of course the media monkeys like to have their Black Obelisks

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If one day they did in fact discover life on another planet, I wonder how the news would break given that are a number of world religions are articulated specifically around the notion that we are alone and therefore 'special'. Given that this WOULD be a truly 'profound' discovery and given the social and political influence that these organizations clearly have, it makes me wonder if we would ever be told.

James

Well, we won't encourage any speculation on the religion front James.

There's enough excitement tied up in these discoveries, and what may be in the future regarding the science involved.

The technology that has permitted the discovery of these worlds, will need to be enhanced an awful lot, before anything can be set in stone regarding their ability to support life, primitive or otherwise.

Ron.

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If one day they did in fact discover life on another planet, I wonder how the news would break given that are a number of world religions are articulated specifically around the notion that we are alone and therefore 'special'. Given that this WOULD be a truly 'profound' discovery and given the social and political influence that these organizations clearly have, it makes me wonder if we would ever be told.

James

At the risk of discussing religion (I recall Patrick Moore once said ;' one should avoid discussing politics, religion or (he added) football') Would Jesus have to die on every planet that has intelligent life to save their sins ? If so, I would hope there weren't many.

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I think that because its at the boundaries of our knowledge and what our instruments allow us to detect, that it is pretty astounding.

Yes, I also agree that its not a planet that supports life or one that exists in the 'goldilocks' zone, but its another step along the path of discovery, and an important one.

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As everyone has said, its not a profound discovery, however I am amazed at the fact we can now claim to able to detect exo planets and are slowly making progress towards what will be a profound announcment, a world giving the signature of conditions that could support life. Knowing this has only been happening for around the past 15-20 years is a staggering thought and I must admitt I thought we would never find other planets outside the solar system due to the scale of the universe. To think I may be around when they do announce for certain the discovery of such a world is a very humbling thought and that truely will be a momentous time in human history. :icon_eek:

Alan

Edited by Nexus 6
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