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Space Science

Gliese 581d Confirmed as 'Habitable' Exoplanet 451

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the but-you-wouldn't-want-to-live-there dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A rocky world orbiting a nearby star was confirmed (PDF) as the first planet outside our Solar System to meet key requirements for sustaining life." The "key requirement" was actually a Starbucks — astronomers were pretty surprised to find out that they like their coffee burnt on Gliese 581d too.
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Gliese 581d Confirmed as 'Habitable' Exoplanet

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  • Sir,

        We do not even have a self-sustaining colony on Antarctica, which is warmer than mars, and has unlimited air and water. Our colonies on Antarctica are nowhere near self-sustaining. Mars is colder than Antarctica, water is scarce, and there's NO oxygen and barely any atmosphere.

        In other words, calling Mars "habitable" is like calling rocks "edible". The rocks might become edible if you ground them down to dust, added plants, and then ate the plants.

    --PeterM

  • by Mindcontrolled (1388007) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @12:10PM (#36154698)
    Antarctica is not a good comparison. The reason why we do not have a self-sustaining colony there is not primarily technical, but rather economical. It is way simpler to fly in supplies to the few research stations we have there than to setup a whole economy there. Technically - set up a nuclear reactor, use waste heat to heat some greenhouses and off you go.
  • NO! NO! NO! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wisebabo (638845) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @12:52PM (#36155352) Journal

    I fear we may have only 40 years left before the invasion fleet (or planet busters) arrive.

    Don't you people read any (bad?) science fiction? One solution to the "Fermi Paradox" is that there ARE aliens but they are definitely NOT friendly. Once they detect another civilization they move to wipe it out. In fact maybe they do so out of prudence thinking that if they don't, the new civilization will wipe THEM out! Sort of like an intergalactic version of the MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) policy that STILL underpins the basic relationship between the superpowers.

    In fact the first civilization to think this way doesn't even need to be around anymore Just start making some self replicating probes and within a very short (geologically speaking) period of time the entire galaxy will be filled with automated systems capable of snuffing out a fledgling civilization (us). (This is the plot of Greg Bear's "The Forge of God"). So instead of telling everyone "We're here, we're here!", we should be as quiet as possible like a lamb all alone in the deep dark woods filled with wolves. I didn't mind the Arecibo transmission sent out in the 70s (and used as the plot device for the movie "Species") because it was aimed at one of the Magellanic clouds; hundreds of thousands of light years away. But Gliese 581? Cosmically speaking, that isn't just next door it's on our door mat!

    So great an intellect as Stephen Hawkings has expressed his concern on this so it bears thinking about! Anyway, it's too late now so let's hope that if anyone's there it's E.T. or the Vulcans rather than Predators or Aliens!

  • Re:first post (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lgw (121541) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @01:43PM (#36156242) Journal

    Violence is the only basis for property and civilization. There's always someone who will take or destory everything you value, just for the fun of doing so, without the threat of violence to deter them. Those "native" Americans whose land we "stole"? Yeah, they took it from the less violent previous owners, for the most part. That's just how it works - man up, buttercup.

  • by freeze128 (544774) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @01:43PM (#36156244)
    What if "Earth" is what they call their own planet? Then they will interpret the greeting as a prank from a bunch of their own loonies, and ignore it.
  • Silly rabbit... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by denzacar (181829) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @02:04PM (#36156600) Journal

    Evolution works with thousands and millions of years, and thousands of generations.
    Not decades. And 50 years is barely enough for 2 generations.

    Heck... Knock it down to the bare physical/physiological minimum (lower mark of the puberty age for girls) and even then it is only 5 generations.
    Only FIVE generations. IF we accept the "eleven-year-old mother with two point five kids" option.

    Rats reach five generations in about 11 months. That's 100 generations about every 18 years. Seen many rats evolve into another species during your life?
    It would take about 2500 years for humans to reach even those 100 generations. And guess what? NOTHING WOULD CHANGE!
    Oh... you might BREED a slightly different subset of the species in that time - but not evolve it.
    Let it go for a generation or two and all those traits you tried so hard to breed out would rear their ugly head once again.

    Oh and BTW... IQ has actually been going up over the last century or so. [wikipedia.org]
    And most of it on the "dumber" side of the scale.

    In the future, try not to give too much credit to "science" you pick up from Hollywood comedies.

  • by radtea (464814) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @02:26PM (#36156944)

    You are assuming without lack of new stimuli in the closed environment of a space craft that humans would still evolve

    Right, because completely changing virtually every aspect of the environment by locking a small number of humans in a closed, artificially-maintained ecosystem for generations won't introduce any additional selective pressure of any kind whatsoever. And you're forgetting the role of sexual selection in driving evolution independently of external environmental change.

  • by radtea (464814) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @02:36PM (#36157090)

    Are you familiar with the Biosphere 2 experiment? They attempted to set up an enclosed self-sustaining environment...

    ...and ignored all the most important advice from their scientific advisors, particularly with regard to soil bacteria, instead doing what "felt right", which was directly responsible for the disastrous results.

    Biosphere 2 was an experiment that asked the question, "Can humans who ignore facts and empirically established relationships between environmental factors but instead trust their intuition and feelings create a closed, stable, habitable environment."

    The answer was... and I'm sure everyone here will be shocked by this... "No."

  • Re:NO! NO! NO! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex AT ... trograde DOT com> on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @03:14PM (#36157522)

    So, you'd rather toil away for eons in fear, ignoring the doomed hope that we can someday explore and populate the cosmos because we'll be exterminated once we've been noticed.

    I say: Let's scream our bloody heads off -- At worse, we were doomed anyway, fuck it. However, it's possible we had nothing to fear at all. At best our neighbors are just waiting for us to exhibit good will and adequate technology before they visit and help expand our race across the universe.

    This is the plot of Julian May's Intervention & Metaconcert books of the Galactic Milieu Series [wikipedia.org]. Perhaps, it's best to let some species die of self immolation if they don't survive the trial by fire that is the discovery of atomic and/or quantum power. It may be better to wait until we are mentally mature rather than risk a pre-mature induction into the galactic society.

    TL;DR: One solution to the "Fermi Paradox" is that the "aliens" are benevolent and mark primitive worlds as off limits; Would you trust us with a warp-drive?

    P.S. Pussy. Whatever happened to Live free or Die? It's your fearful ilk that hamper progress and allow corrupt governments to control the masses by fear.

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