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Space Science

Gliese 581d Confirmed as 'Habitable' Exoplanet 451

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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  • by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @11:40AM (#36154326)
    The importance of this isn't that we can now send a team to colonize it. The importance of this is that we now have actual evidence that there are other planets that are theoretically habitable (Gliese581d doesn't sound like a good vacation spot, but it sounds comparable to some parts of Siberia or Antartica). We just one of the lower bounds in the Drake Equation.
  • by Sonny Yatsen ( 603655 ) * on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @11:49AM (#36154428) Journal

    300,000 years would be longer than there have been anatomically modern humans on Earth. If we make it, by the time we get there, we'll be a whole new species.

  • Re:Habitable (Score:2, Informative)

    by wcrowe ( 94389 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @11:52AM (#36154472)

    Exactly. "Habitable" means I can live on it. Not some microbe or other life form.

  • by MoonBuggy ( 611105 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @11:52AM (#36154476) Journal

    According to TFA it looks to be habitable in principle (using Earth-centric assumptions about complex life, of course) but toxic to humans, so perhaps not a prime candidate for humanity's first extrasolar excursion.

  • by WhiplashII ( 542766 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @12:11PM (#36154716) Homepage Journal

    You won't find oxygen in an atmosphere without life already on the planet. Oxygen is too reactive.

  • by deapbluesea ( 1842210 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @12:24PM (#36154934)

    Well, NOW it's known.

    Actually, now it is MODELED. Given that we have no direct experience with planets like this, none of the models can be directly verified, and the authors had to invent a new model just to reach their conclusion, I think it is poor scientific practice to say that is it "confirmed" to be habitable. Instead, it is confirmed that there is a possible path by which it could be habitable, but that just doesn't have the same zing to it, so instead we make wild assertions and let the sci-fi geeks salivate over what amounts to a plausible, but completely unproven, explanation for how things work. While we're at it, I have this model for how the universe was created. We have no way to verify it, but it is at least plausible. I guess we should just call it confirmed and shout down anyone who objects as unscientific.

  • Re:first post (Score:3, Informative)

    by flaming error ( 1041742 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @12:51PM (#36155330) Journal

    Every landowner alive today is in possession of stolen property. Except perhaps some Dutch and Venetians, who sort of made their own land.

    "Let it go" sounds very wise and very... convenient. I don't think we should disregard our violent history, nor the injustices it caused, many of which persist today.

  • by corbettw ( 214229 ) <corbettw@ y a h o o . com> on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @01:54PM (#36156428) Journal

    It's preposterous to state that human evolution is over. Here's a short list of evolutionary changes from just the last 10,000 years:

    * Blue, green, and gray eye variants
    * Ability to process lactose as adults
    * Ability to process high-starch diets without developing diabetes (the prevalence of which is much lower in populations with older histories of farming)
    * Wider variety of skin tones
    * Differently shaped and sized teeth and skulls from the past

    And those are just surface traits that are easy to see/detect in everyday life.

    More info here: http://discovermagazine.com/2009/mar/09-they-dont-make-homo-sapiens-like-they-used-to [discovermagazine.com]

  • by webmistressrachel ( 903577 ) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @06:41PM (#36159678) Journal

    Fascinating!!! That's exactly what I was trying to get at, but couldn't have summarized it as succintly as you did!

    Seriously, employers, banks all go on what I've done and how I've done it, and judge me "worthy", but once I'm unemployed and homeless I'm no longer "worthy" with that track record: priority does go to drug abusers, "learning difficulties" (I know loads of people with made-up problems before you start - they play doctors, psychiatrists, and benefits system), prostitutes, etc... and I am left waiting in a dangerous hostel environment, having my equipment slowly stolen (don't say "don't go out with my computer"; I game and make websites and can't have a landline here!) watching them come, stay a while and wreck themselves o drugs (being a woman I hear a new life story every day cos they all wanna tell me their stories, so don't say I don't know because I do), and they get re-housed stat.

    And before anybody says "Why not find your own property?" I have no deposit and refuse to sell my few capital items that seperate me from the intellectual gutter (computers) to gain something I am supposed have a human right to (housing).

    And before anybody else says "Just get a job" bear in mind I've been unemployed for a year, and the card-electric meter costs £20 per week and the rent is £150 per week, effectively imprisoning me until the Council decides to offer me a property not in demand (ie in a slum! I'd rather "black" moss side than "white" collyhurst, too - so don't go throwing accusations of racism around either!).

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling