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Space Science

Possible Habitable Planet Just 12 Light Years Away 420

sciencehabit writes "Astronomers have discovered what may be five planets orbiting Tau Ceti, the closest single star beyond our solar system whose temperature and luminosity nearly match the sun's. If the planets are there, one of them is about the right distance from the star to sport mild temperatures, oceans of liquid water, and even life (paper)."
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Possible Habitable Planet Just 12 Light Years Away

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @11:18PM (#42333231)

    Voyager 1 has been moving away from Earth for what, 37 years, and it is now at the edge of, if not beyond, the Solar System's farthest reaches. It is 11 billion miles away.

    And yet -- and yet! -- it is only 0.17 light-years away. So, "just 12 light-years" is essentially forever until we have a major breakthrough in terms of sheer speed of space travel.

  • Hell yeah (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Swampash ( 1131503 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @12:19AM (#42333609)

    Team member Chris Tinney, an astronomer at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, acknowledges the problem. "It's certainly very tantalizing evidence for potentially a very exciting planetary system," Tinney says, but he adds that verifying the discovery may take 10 years, and the scientists didn't want to wait that long. "We felt that the best thing to do was to put the result out there and see if somebody can either independently confirm it or shoot it down."

    Subtext: we don't care if we're proven wrong, so long as we learn something.


  • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @02:22AM (#42334139)
    Well, the old argument (reasonable, I think) is that sending multi-generation ships doesn't make much sense currently since our technology is still developing fast enough that people leaving later would arrive sooner. (Granted, it hardly seems that way for the last 40 years or so, but then again we'd have to make huge progress just to attempt it, so, we have to assume the will to make progress.)


    If we want to send people for thousands of years, I think it should be an artificial uterus with some deep-frozen zygotes in it. When you arrive you crack open the eggs, and voila! Adam and Eve.

  • by DNS-and-BIND ( 461968 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @03:18AM (#42334405) Homepage

    The Burvixese race evolved on the planet Arcturus 1, progressing from turtle-like swamp dewellers to a benevolent, highly technological society in just over fifteen million Earth years. Although the Burvixese had the wherewithal to build crude interplanetary vessels, they preferred to remain on the comfortable damp surface of their world and explore the galaxy through HyperWave communication. Using this method, the Burvixese made contact with several neighboring alien cultures, including the Utwig, the Gg, and unfortunately, the Druuge, whom the Burvixese would have been much better off never finding. For many decades, the Burvixese exchanged information with these races, trading technological, historical and philosophical facts and theories, until the fateful year 2142. It was then that the Gg announced that they had come under attack by a unknown alien race, who appeared to want nothing less than their complete annihilation. The Gg surmised that the hostile race, the Kohr-Ah, had located them using the Gg's HyperWave transmissions. Knowing that they had little chance of survival, the Gg warned the Burvixese that, unless they restricted their own transmissions, they too might face a gruesome fate.

    Being a charitable race, before the Burvixese turned off their HyperWave transmitters, they shared the Gg's warning with the Druuge. But it was too late. The Druuge's powerful advertising beacons had already attracted the attention of the murderous Kohr-Ah, who, having finished with the Gg, began moving in the general direction of the Persei constellation, home of the Druuge. Realizing their peril, the Druuge took immediate action. They ceased all transmissions and sent a task force of their fastest ships to the moon of the Burvixese world. Once there, the task force assembled a huge HyperWave broadcaster on the moon's surface. When it was complete, the Druuge activated the unit which began emitting powerful HyperWave signals, focused directly toward the oncoming KohrAh fleet. The Druuge hoped that the hostile aliens would change course toward the Burvixese planet and fail to find their own worlds. Unfortunately, this ruse was all too effective: the Kohr-Ah changed course, attacked the poor Burvixese and, sadly, destroyed them all in three days of orbital bombardment.

    --Star Control 2 manual

  • by nukenerd ( 172703 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @06:31AM (#42335181)

    I think that fear of attracting attention is very misguided. Civilisations capable of mass interstellar travel automatically have much better opportunities to pursue ... than to go torment younger single-planet civs.

    Who said anything about tormenting? The Vogons did not destroy earth to torment, but for practical reasons. They were described as "Not cruel, just callous". I destroy wasp nests, but not to torment them. I recently trapped a dozen mice in my attic; I actually felt sorry for them, they look cute, but knew that if I let them be they would be taking over the house.

    Such an advanced civilisation might see us as we see an ants nest. And don't depend on talking our way out of it, reasoning with them. They would be on a totally different mental wavelength. Most higher animals on Earth talk to each other (that is what "birdsong" is for example), and we have lived for thousands of years alongside them, yet most people will not even accept that they do so - let alone listen.

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