# Discovery of the First Earth-Like, Habitable Exoplanet Will Be Announced in May of 2011 (Maybe)

Kepler's View at First Light NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech

The numbers are in, the data has been analyzed, and the date is now set: the discovery of an earth-like, habitable planet will be announced in May of next year. At least, that’s the conclusion reached by two professors at Harvard and U. of California, Santa Cruz, whose mathematical projections say that given the current pace of exoplanet discoveries, the finding of a suitable planet for life is right around the corner.

How does this math work exactly? The details, of course, are complicated and contain a lot of subscript variables and other mathematic acrobatics that we won’t get into here (a PDF of Professors Samuel Arbesmans and Gregory Laughlins, of Harvard and Cal Santa Cruz respectively, is available here), but essentially they look at the properties of exoplanets discovered thus far by instruments like NASA’s Kepler observatory. From that data, they’ve devised what they term the “habitability metric,” a value representing a planet’s temperature and mass that determines whether or not it can support life.

What the habitability metric tells us, if we chart the values for all the planets already discovered, is that a) we’ve found a lot of planets thus far, mostly gas giants but some smaller icy rocks like Neptune, and b) with every planet we find we’re statistically closer to finding that orbiting chunk of debris with a habitability value of 1, or a match for Earth-like conditions.

Depending on how you want to weigh all that data, you can draw different conclusions. Following the long tail, we find that there’s a 66 percent probability we’ll find a habitable planet by 2013, and a 75 percent probability by 2020. But the median date of discovery is somewhat closer. To quote Arbesman and Laughlin’s paper: “Using a bootstrap analysis of currently discovered exoplanets, we predict the discovery of the first Earth-like planet to be announced in the first half of 2011, with the likeliest date being early May 2011.”

A bold call, sure, but an interesting one on several levels. Obviously it’s exciting to think about locating a planet in the galaxy that could be the target of a future mission and all the ramifications such a discovery might have. But further, as Tech Review points out, Kepler is all set to reveal it’s scientific findings in February. Which means, if these two are to be believed, that someone besides the researchers at NASA’s flagship exoplanet hunter will earn the distinguished distinction as the astronomer who found the first habitable planet outside our solar system.

cool so we find a new planet to live on now what its 4 light years away

@ calebscape808
we restart project orion and build nuke-riding city ships.
www.xkcd.com/786

I'm still hoping AC harbors life, as we could reach it inside 50 years with no advances in technology.

So what does this mean?

Not scientifically, as we've known for sometime the odds of finding new worlds and what that may or may not look like biologically. But, what happens here ... on earth? Seems odd to jump to ideas of how we get *there* without contemplating the effects on what it means *here*

What happens politically? When we discover there is life out there (and we are no longer the sole galactic love-children), but rather just a small, insignificant part of a rather large gene-pool. What party benefits? The anti-science conservatives or the spineless liberals?

What happens philosophically? Do we still have to listen to the tired, archaic, man-made religions of earth? Or, do we get to finally excuse those ridiculous notions from our discourse?

What happens, in general, to our society when it seems the majority of our nation can't even handle the most basic scientific principles .... let alone the greatest scientific discovery of mankind?

I think that movies, TV, and sci-fi stories have already put the idea of alien life into people's heads, so the actual discovery will not lead them to any big philosophical changes. There will be two big beneficiaries of such a discovery: the aerospace industry, and UFO conspiracy theorists.

From what I remember, isn't Gliese 581 d is a habitual planet exoplanet?

source: The Universe with Stephen Hawking: The Story of Everything

But I would have to agree with trireme in that I think that enough people in the "Civilized" world have been given the idea of Aliens that I don't think it would be much of an issue...

..but of course, thats not who we have to worry about is it? It's the people in the uncivilized world that I think would freak out the most. The religious fanatics in the 3rd world areas like parts of the middle east, and the southern states of the US, would make the most stink.

But hell, even the Pope is open to the idea of other life in the 'verse. What does that mean? Are the Aliens gonna be just as annoyed with interstellar missionaries as we are when the manage to get into our apartment buildings?

Hopefully, if the Aliens are looking at us too, they'll help us out with our propulsion problem.

@kirokyo:

We don't know. They think it's a lifless rock, but we're not really sure.

This is not new al all in Peal of Great Price we read:Moses 1: 35
35 But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you. For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I aknow them

Its absolutely foolish to think that out of the countless billions of stars out there in the countless billions galaxies, that we are the only planet to have life on it. I welcome the the idea.

What we have to worry about.. When First Contact is made. How are the Religious on THIS planet going to respond?

"DEMONS! FROM HELL!" These people are so helplessly brainwashed that I have no doubt they will do something foolish and destroy our chances of any type of peaceful meetings. And considering that the majority of the worlds leaders are "religious" I can only imagine how horrible things could be.

We're gonna have to lock up the religious or their gonna start an interstellar war :(

In all seriousness.. (wish i was joking, & you know its true)

It's so funny that people think that the discovery of extra-terrestrial life is going to have some huge impact on world religions. In the broadest terms all the major world religions believe that their creator made everything and this is certainly the case with Christianity. That "everything" would include terrestrial and extra-terrestrial, seen and unseen.

Also consider as one person has hinted that religious people are exposed to the same media that non-religious people are exposed to. We have all been "prepared" for the idea of extra-terrestrial life. Most religious people have reconciled their beliefs with the hypothetical reality of extra-terrestrial life but even if they haven't won't shock them anymore than anyone else because they have been "prepared".

I honestly hope that we start finding life on the planets that can't support life according to scientist. If they have been wrong about habitable environments on Earth then I don't see how they can avoid being wrong about life on other planets. Perhaps we have already discovered habitable planets but we just didn't know what we were looking at.

@ strider99k2

Perhaps, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. But I do think you underestimate them. It may be okay at first. But as soon as one of them mention that their culture has explored thousands of other planets and races and they say not once have they heard of Jesus.. Its gonna be on. ;)

Also, on the religious arguement, you are assuming intellegent life, not just life. Missionaries are not out converting gorillas.

So, SETI finding ETI would be far more impactful on religion that just another rock with plants and animals on it.

And yes, no matter what is found, someone is going to give it a religious signifigance. A new Eden, a second chance for man, an atheist utopia - etc. Every religion on Earth will have a few nut jobs seeing images in the bread crumbs.

That said, doen here in the third world of the south east US, I succeed in being religious and intellegent. It seems clear to me that if you can't figure out how those two work together, you are likely just lacking one of them.

"All the major world religions believe that their creator made everything and this is certainly the case with Christianity. That "everything" would include terrestrial and extra-terrestrial, seen and unseen."

Aside from how blatantly mismatched this idea is in regards to the scriptures, lets leave that aside for a moment. It's fine that you're a "religious moderate" as you claim ... but let us not forget the collective journey it took to get to this point of moderation.

For centuries after it's (and others) foundation, people were brutalized, enslaved, terrorized and systematically put to death for *not* believing literal interpretations of your faith. For *not* accepting (whatever) deity as their savior. For *not* expressing utter blind-faith to those who held control -- The Holy Order.

Now, after millenia of struggle. After countless lives fought, and laid at the alters of secular progress. Moderates, such as yourself, would like to just brush all this under the table and shout how progressive you are in your moderation. Your so proud that you can throw off archaic literal interpretations. In deed, what makes you and your religious brethren tolerable, is to the extent to which you are *not* christians.

You can cherry pick your religions and your history all you would like. But, a great deal of people died and I should think it not a moot point to gloss over.

Why do we feel, as sentient human beings, that we must inject a mystery where none is needed?

Of course there could be an ultimate scientist we would call "god". There could also be fairies living on the darkside of the moon. Does injecting such speculative conjecture provide insight to matters such as observable science? Or, do they only further mass-delusions upon the populace ... who in return dumb down our science until rational discourse is no longer rational unless each shaman gets to inject their own inherited "beliefs" on how god made us?

I should think your "moderation" of faith, coupled with your understanding of science should alleviate such a struggle. But, not as a means of bridging the gap between science and faith. Our problem is that this bridge is already much too long and much to prevalent.

I believe we are ready. There will always be a contrarian. They are here to compel those who remain open-minded out of complacency.

The sleeper must awaken! (tee hee)

"It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad."
C. S. Lewis

@strider -- I should add that my comment wasn't meant as a strawman as I was basing it on observations from some of your other posts where you've spoken about your beliefs and your faith.

I realize my response was harsh (at least in perspective to your comment on this particular thread), but it was meant more as an argument for the "separation of church and science" so-to-speak.

Did no one watch Independance Day with Will Smith? Come on PEOPLE we are only going to find ALiens and make it easier for them it easier for them to find US!

"For CENTURIES" and "after MILLENIA"...

Really, you think that for hundreds and thousands of years Christians have just been on a brutal campaign, leaving piles upon piles of bodies all over the place. Gracious man, are you a graphic novelist or are you just myopic.

1) After the establishment of Christianity, Christians were raped and pillaged for many many years. Paul was crucified upside-down. Many Christians were fed to Lions. Many were burned alive, sawed in half, etc. etc. Read "Fox's Book of Martyrs."

2) The Crusades (favorite ammo of the atheists)started in 1095 til 1270. 200 years, NOT millenia.

3) Do you know of any woldwide offical gorillia Christain army that exist to kill and silence all of the scientists and there efforts?

Please stop the exageration. Now, as far as the article is concerned. I personaly don't think any other life exists outside this planet? "But what about the statistics?"

Well, maybe God created 100 billion galaxies solely on the bases to show how BIG He is and how important we are. However, if life is found...not really going to shack my faith that much.

You honestly believe no other life exists out side this planet? That pretty much makes everything you have to say retarded since there has already been proof that life outside this planet exists lol.....congrats to you!

You honestly believe no other life exists out side this planet? That pretty much makes everything you have to say retarded since there has already been proof that life outside this planet exists lol.....congrats to you!

You honestly believe no other life exists out side this planet? That pretty much makes everything you have to say retarded since there has already been proof that life outside this planet exists lol.....congrats to you!

Do you honestly think that all atrocities in the history of the world have been committed in the name of religion, organized or otherwise?

If so, you're fairly ignorant of history. Some of the worst genocides have been headed by those who didn't espouse any particular religion. Stalin was an atheist. Are you an atheist?

Now, after all this struggle. After countless lives fought, and laid at the alters of atheist, secular progress. Moderates, such as yourself, would like to just brush all this under the table and shout how progressive you are in your moderation. Your so proud that you can throw off archaic literal interpretations. In deed, what makes you and your atheist brethren tolerable, is to the extent to which you are *not* atheist.

That's right. Swallow it.

Strider has every right to feel progressive today, as do any Christians, Muslims or those of other faiths who live at peace with their neighbors.

You honestly believe no other life exists out side this planet? That pretty much makes everything you have to say retarded since there has already been proof that life outside this planet exists lol.....congrats to you!

@Delkomatic

where is the proof that life exists outside this planet? Lots of scientists and government officials would be very interested in your "proof".

That being said, I think the possibility that life does exist elsewhere is very strong.

Delkomatic,

WOW!!

@True -- Ever heard of critical reading? Those are all nice strawman arguments you put forth, none of which have any bearing on my post.

@Cyber -- You're in a similar boat. Nice try in summarizing my comments with strawmans ... since I never mentioned "all atrocities in the history of the world have been committed in the name of religion." Nor did I even imply it. You really should try comprehending a point before you jump to your usual talking points.

Furthermore, your gross distortion of history would be comical if it weren't so offensive. To equate Hitler and Stalin's crimes as: being committed in the name of atheism is .... well, again just offensive. It doesn't even make logical sense. "Atheism" is not a belief system. It's not a statement of philosophy. You can't commit a crime in the name of atheism. If you're going to contribute (or wish to engage in debate) you're going to need to stop putting words in my mouth, and stop fabricating history.

By the way, let me leave you with a quote from your "atheist" hero Hitler:

"Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord."

-- This is from Mein Kampf. I've read it ... have you?

You honestly believe no other life exists out side this planet? That pretty much makes everything you have to say retarded since there has already been proof that life outside this planet exists lol.....congrats to you!

Do you not read about the single celled organism being found? That techinically is life. Just because it is not the kind of life you are thinking of does not mean its not life. (And sorry bout the mulitple posts that IE6 at work being wonderfully awesome)

Furthermore, let me just add that I in no way implied that belief/or discussion in "god" should be annihilated within our public discourse. Some of you really need to *read* and comprehend a point before you jump to all the "you're just a militant atheist" assumptions. Is this Popsci or Foxnews?

Well, a starwman argument is when I state a argument on your behalf that you are not actually arguing and then I defeat the argument.
However, you actually used the words "centuries" and "Millenia of strugle." Christianity has only been around for 2000 years.
You are the one that used graphic terms such as "brutalized, enslaved, terrorized and systematically put to death"
I am sorry, but no such Millenia long campaign has ever taken place. I believe it is you who has created quit the extreme strawman. A religion that is bloodthirsty, ruthless, and bent to kill dissonance.
I do not know what books of history you read, but they are inaccurate to say the least.

That tirade was clearly meant for some religious moderate you may have encountered before reading my posts. Unless my memory is failing me, I'm almost certain that I have never described myself as a "religious moderate." I don't like being put in a box, there's just no leg room!

You simply cannot begin to pretend to know a person's beliefs unless you engage in a dialogue on several different topics over an extended amount of time. Thank you for reading my other posts, but you can't just take a few posts out of context, through them in a blender and suppose that you know where someone is coming from.

You may be surprised to know that I agree with some of what you said in reference to religious moderates, but it simply doesn't describe yours truly. As far as all the history you mention, I acknowledge it but I don't feel any compulsion or responsibility to explain or excuse it. In the same way I wouldn't expect every white person to explain or excuse the slavery of millions of Africans centuries in the past. Through all of the atrocities there have been very good religious people who helped others to heal through faith instead of hurting them. In the same way, at the height of slavery there were very kind white people who saw Africans as so much more than property and helped them in everyway they knew how. Good religious people and good white people don't excuse the horrible events, but the reality is that it is up to the individual to do what is right and just according to what they know or believe. Yes, it happened and it was bad, so we live and try not to allow history to repeat itself. There is nothing I can do or say to change it or make it better other than to remain responsible for my own actions and try to positively influence others to do the same.

In reference to "sepration of church and science" my point of view is simply this: people just aren't that simple! Humans are complex enough to be scientist AND religious at the same time. It is my right, privilege, and well within my mental capacity to love both religion and science. We are capable of reconciling the two. Who decided that the two are constantly at war and if they are, why should anyone be verbally assaulted for trying to make peace between the two? Can we discuss a cease fire?

Let me see this is a prediction of a prediction. They are predicting the year that we might find some planet that might be habitable by humans. Big deal.

@True -- Millenia = 1,000 years. A century = 100 years. How long has christianity been around? Furthermore, I was clear in spreading around my critique. I am not simply speaking of christianity here.

Where you made the mistake is lumping me into the group who likes to tally-up all the atrocities that religious people have made, and then tally up all the atrocities committed by people who didn't believe in a particular set of faiths. This, I can assure you is not my argument, nor I of that category of contention.

As I stated:
"Of course there could be an ultimate scientist we would call "god". There could also be fairies living on the darkside of the moon. Does injecting such speculative conjecture provide insight to matters such as observable science? Or, do they only further mass-delusions upon the populace ... who in return dumb down our science until rational discourse is no longer rational unless each shaman gets to inject their own inherited "beliefs" on how god made us?"

My intention is for dialogue on why in the 21st century we are still confined to the very petty and terrestrial religions of this world and why on earth they still have any bearing within a scientific discourse. Seems to me, if there is such a creator (and there very well could be) It's quite odd that we still defend such archaic, violent means of expression created by man in attempts to glorify his name.

Ahhhh, thank you for the clarification. In that case based on the question, "why in the 21st century we are still confined to the very petty and terrestrial religions of this world and why on earth they still have any bearing within a scientific discourse."
I would say that is because there is no silver bullet that kills the claims of religion (I am speaking of Christianity primarily). There truely are good argements that can be made by both sides using sound science that can explain the world in which we live.
1) Notice how I stated good arguments on BOTH sides
2) The disclaimer is that theories of the past are just that... theories, hypothesis, i.e. We must first ASSUME some things to be true for the Theories to hold
Therefore, upon sound scientific theory and the tradition of my religion I still hold it (The Bible) is the best explanation for why we are here. Is that getting at your true argument?

@strider -- Again, it wasn't meant as an attack. I believe the confusion is most likely my use of the term "offensive", which was wrong and I apologize.

My other commentary stands however. I'm not stating you don't have a right to further your practice in whatever belief you profess. That's your business and your right.

I do, however think religion and science are irreconcilable. And, I do think it's dangerous to suggest otherwise. I would think twice about that assumption if:

- We weren't seeing a reemergence in diseases we thought were once concurred because people are refusing vaccination in record numbers due to religious belief

- I didn't hear about some child dying because his parents were praying over his body instead of taking him to the doctor every time I turn on the news.

- We weren't limiting our funding of stem cell research because we believe petri dishes contain souls

- We weren't seeing the constant dumbing-down of America by rejecting evolution and instead teaching our children pseudo-sciences

Not to mention the very real, self-fulfilling prophecy that our religions are planning to further with a global conflict that threatens to wipe ALL of us out.

I mean, I could go on and on (but that would be boring). Again, science must fight this stuff ... not hold hands with it.

In philosophical terms, your argument is quite beautiful. And, the aesthetics behind the arguments of "god" will always be worthwhile endeavors. I just wonder at what cost (when we confuse them with science) will we all have to pay?

@True -- It does, unfourtunetly you've only shown your bias in regards to a *scientific* theory. I can only imagine your speaking of evolution here. When you equate a theory (in scientific terms) as a hunch or a hypothesis ... it shows that you don't understand the matter that you are refuting.

"Theory: A theory is what one or more hypotheses become once they have been verified and accepted to be true. A theory is an explanation of a set of related observations or events based upon proven hypotheses and verified multiple times by detached groups of researchers.

Unfortunately, some use the term "theory" in a more colloquial sense, when they really mean to say "hypothesis." That makes its true meaning in science even more confusing to the general public.

In general, both a scientific theory and a scientific law are accepted to be true by the scientific community as a whole. Both are used to make predictions of events. Both are used to advance technology.

In fact, some laws, such as the law of gravity, can also be theories when taken more generally. The law of gravity is expressed as a single mathematical expression and is presumed to be true all over the universe and all through time. Without such an assumption, we can do no science based on gravity's effects. But from the law, we derived the theory of gravity which describes how gravity works, what causes it, and how it behaves."

This, is the exact same in regards to the theory of evolution. Which, happens to be quite a beautiful explanation of how we got here. Unlike the bible.

@Chad_Is_Rad "In philosophical terms, your argument is quite beautiful." Thank you for saying so, but I'm not the first nor the last person to have such a view. I don't want or expect an apology from anyone who doesn't agree with my opinions and beliefs, but thank you nonetheless.

"I do, however think religion and science are irreconcilable. And, I do think it's dangerous to suggest otherwise." Really? I understand the things you listed. But as an example, what do you think about Catholic hospitals that combine there moral obligation to love and care for others with advances in medicine and science that make healing and recovery possible. It seems to me that the two can work in concert just fine. I'm not saying it works this way all the time, but the possibility that the two can work together has so much potential to benefit everyone regardless of their beliefs. Less time bickering about how which one is better and more time focused on what is mutually beneficial for both is what I hope the future will be. If there is sentient life out there I hope we can show them exactly that.

There are some things in life that are black and white, but I don't see religion and science as fitting into that category.

Or maybe I'm just naive...

I actually gave the "theory" of evolution a little more credit then it deserves, but since semantics is the key...

Over time, if a hypothesis continues to stand up to scrutiny and many different experiments, the scientific community may begin referring to it as a “theory.” In essence, this means that because the hypothesis has not been disproved over many years and no other known hypothesis works, then we can be reasonably sure that it’s accurate. Theories, however, are not imperishable.

Whether a "theory" has more scientific weight then a "hypothesis" makes it NO less true or false. It only makes it more probable.

And to that I argue that since nothing over 2000 years has come along to disprove Christianitys claims it is actually a far better theory

@Strider -- "what do you think about Catholic hospitals that combine there moral obligation to love and care for others with advances in medicine and science that make healing and recovery possible."

I would say that the same can be said for Hamas. Who, although are a terrorist group, are the largest provider of aid within their community.

Catholic hospitals who help those in need "neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg" as Franklin would say. That's all well and good. It's great in fact. But, it doesn't impress me when people do good because they feel they are on a divine mandate from a supernatural being. There are thousands of secular organizations and charities who do the same simply because helping out/and feeling solidarity within their fellow species is the right thing to do.

@True -- There are aspects to evolution that are constantly changing. And, they always will. We will be constantly changing, refining and elaborating on the details of evolution as more and more data pours in and more and more discoveries are made. But, in scientific terms, the *theory* that you and I have evolved over unimaginable timescales through the process of natural selection ... and, in deed are related to every single aspect of life found on this earth ... is as much of a *fact* as the fact we are writing on this board.

In regards to your bible claim ... I really don't have a response. I don't want to offend you on this one as we've already gone down that route of misunderstanding. I will just say: "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use."
Galileo Galilei

There is no real reason that this discussion must be so polarized based simply on religious preference, unless bickering senselessly is the only way that one can feel comfortable in one's beliefs...

I wish we could center our discussions around things more interesting. Like, for instance, what type of planet you predict will be the first found to harbor life. Will we find a planet much like our own; one with similar atmospheric and geologic traits? Or will we find that life is somehow thriving within the tumultuous and seemingly uninhabitable bodies of gas giants?

I would like to have fun and interesting discussions here, but it seems like all discussions inevitably devolve into poo flinging matches which I have no desire to take part in.

I suppose I have grown to expect more out of PopSci readers. A mistake on my part?

@Odd -- Personally, I predict that life is much closer than some think. I'm in the camp that thinks Europa is teaming with life in its deep oceans. If, we could only break that icy surface and get to it. People have believed this for years. Why we haven't put more energy into it is beyond me ... it's right in our own backyard!

I feel once we find life like this, even if it's on such a miniscule level, then all bets are off. Hopefully that will kick-start such a mad-dash of discovery that our heads will spin.

1) Is the universe infinate? No. Since it is expanding, there is a point of origen and a limit of expansion. The universe then, has limits - expanding limits and insanely large limits - but limits.

2) Must life exist on other planets? No. Somewhere has to be first, and this may be that place. On the other hand, this may be the billionth. Thus, any absolute claim to the existance or non-existance of life is based in personal hubris and dreams.

3) Does extraterrestrial life in any way brook upon the teaching of theists? No. There is currently life in space - we sent it there (astronauts). Theists are not freaking out. Any process capable of putting life on this planet would be capible of putting it elsewhere (diving or mundane).

4) Does intellegent life in any way brook upon the teaching of theist? Possibly. It raises some interesting arguements about the nature of the soul and its relation to intellegence. Theist ethisist and science-fiction writers have been playing with those issues for decades.

5) Would finding a planet with intellegent life on it end, or even fundamentally change the beliefs of most theists? Probably not. There might be some missonary movements from theistic faiths with missonary imparative (Christianity and Islam, in particular), but nothing more shocking that finding humans on the other side of the world was in the 1400's.

6) Will Atheist ever acknowledge that their religion has made whiney little missionaries out of all of them? No, because the ones who whine are Atheisms missionaries and are clearly devoted to promoting that religion, and since their central teaching is the deception that they are not a religion, they can never admit that they are one without instantly denying their faith.

7) In conclusion, I think that humanity has some signifigant steps to take technologically before we could take any real actions on the information that life is out there, and that looking for ET to shortcut us through technological development is based in simple laziness and impaitience. Only when man has learned to master his own planet and harvest from the universe rather than his planet is he ready to look towards living in the heavens and exploring the cosmos.

@Oak 3) Your definition is simply wrong. In all your clever dips and dives within syntax, you've forgotten what it means to be a *deist* and what it means to be a *theist*.

If you can look to theistic religions and tell me how the discovery of life wouldn't contradict it's doctrines and dogmas then your welcome to it. I've read the bible, the qur'an as well for that matter. Just because you can look through religion using moderate lenses, doesn't negate the fact that they are based on foundations of *revelation*.

Revelations that you just toss to the side in complacency.

I loved the whole "atheism" as a religion bit though. That is petty classic. I don't believe in Santa either. A bunch of us once a week like to congregate with each other and profess this disbelief. It's a riot ... you should join. I'm just curious. Do you consider bald a hair color as well?

@Oakspar77777

Regarding your final statement, I feel that the search for extraterrestrial life is not an overstep but a necessary component of our future development. However, I understand where you are coming from.

In order to understand and master the planet, as you speak of, won't we need to better understand the universe in which it resides?

We are constantly finding our scientific theories put to test the further we explore. I feel that these discoveries of our misunderstandings are not only wonderful but necessary!

Would you not rather reach outside of the box and be able to bring back new knowledge to broaden your understanding than sit inside the box knowing only that which contains you?

We have been here for thousands of years and yet we have only come so far. It is here in this day and age that we must step forth and reach for the unknown. We are powerful enough to manufacture slews of means to destroy ourselves, but with so little knowledge of how this power can be put towards good.

I feel that the knowledge necessary to bring us out of this “neo Dark Age” lies within us all. We must just remain curious, adventurous and open-minded and it will present itself through exploration and the innovation that such exploration will require of us.

I find Titan to be most intriguing. There are processes at play within its atmosphere that set me abuzz with curiosity. However, Europa is certainly a place of breathtaking beauty. To find that life exists within such an ice queen would be so unbelievably exhilirating!

The reason I find Europa so intriguing is the fact that we keep finding life at the poles that, in the past, we would have never thought possible.

Titan's lakes of liquid methane, if they do exist, could be home to hardy little microorganisms. Io is bursting with potentially life-lending volcanism. There are so many possibilities within our own solar system!

By the way - don't forget to bring out your telescopes next week folks! September 20-21 will be the closest Jupiter will come to Earth until 2022. Since the SEB has disappeared again, Jupiter is going to be extra bright, too!

I havent heard any new info about that one solar system called Gliese 581. There's three or more known planets in the solar system. One planet is real close to its sun , another about the distance between Mars and Neptune here from its sun, another in between the other two and is an earthlike planet. The third one is possibly covered with a thin layer of ice that underneath could present a waterworld, similar to the moon Europa by Jupiter. That would be where I would study further more. This should be studied more with satelites instead of just mathematics. Mathematics is not a good way to continue studying other planets, it should only be used to estimate what might be out there. This is why we have not got any further than estimating.
We have the math estimates made for locating stars and planets, now we need the math to put out new cost efficient satellites onwards and beyond.

Well, if any of you have made it to this comment, I STRONGLY urge you to read this:

http://www.thrivenotes.com/lets-help-germinate-this-seed/

If we hope to ever make it as a civilization/species and colonize other worlds, we need to grow the f*ck up already and make drastic changes in how we live here and now.

@CiR - A theist (and thus, theism) is the belief in a supernatural God or gods. Deist (and deism) is the theistic belief (a form of theism) that holds that the universe was created by the divine in such a way as to be functinoal without further divine intervention (the "clock on the shelf" analogy is often used). All deist are theist. Most theist are not deist. Thomas Jefferson is likely the best known of the deist.

For the sake of ET life, however, there is no functional difference, making me wonder why you brought it up. Both hold to a creator God/gods.

As for a theistic religion that would not be changed by life in space, I challenge you to find one that was. Judeo-Christian teachings have God creating the universe (the heavens and the earth) from nothing (the darkness). It then goes on to list out the days of creation of life on earth. It does not speak to, and thus neither condemns nor confirms, the creation of life on other planets. The Old Testement goes on to later include other things that were created and yet not created within those seven days (angles/demons). Those do not cause a crisis of belief, so why would life on another planet?

In other words, nowhere in the texts of the Torah, the other writings of the Old or New Testements, or even in the deuterocannonical or apocraphal texts does it say "There is only life on Earth."

So, again, life on other planets is a non-issue. Intellegent life would be, but only because of the question of the presence of a soul.

As for bald being a hair color - your argument is spurious. Bald is a hair style. Just because it lacks color does not mean it is not a hair choice. Yes, it is unique among hair styles, in that you cannot brush, perm, color, or straighten it - but it is still a hair style, a hair choice, and a hair statement to shave yourself completely bald. You arguement that because you do not go to a church of Atheism is pointless, since religions are belief sets, not activities.

1) Is it a belief set, based in faith, rather than evidence? Yes. (The belief that there is not nor can be evidence for the divine).

2) Does it make evaluative statements about the supernatural, afterlife, and divine? Yes. (That none of them are real).

3) Do its adherients hold to a core common set of ideas? Yes. (While there is no one single text, there is a body of literature that espouses these beliefs).

4) Are its adherients notably difined by this faith? Yes. (This is what seperates Atheism from A-Santa-Clauseism - Atheist see themselves as Atheist, talk about Atheism as a singlar belief system, prostlytize others into their faith, and demand equal rights under the law as a faith.)

5) Are its adherients ever irrationally emotional, violently zealous, and have all the other hallmarks of the fanatically faithful that all religions develop along their fringes? Yes. (The internet is covered in posts by Atheistic Zealots.)

@OddNotion - Thank you for the poliet reply. I did not intend to give the impression that these searches were not worth doing, but that their implications are not immediately pertinent. It is like underpants gnome economics

A) Collect Underpants (Find life)
B) ?????? (Now what?)
C) Profit! (Sci-fi utopia)

Finding life would serve as a powerful emotional tool for inspiring mankind to technological advance, but the only direct benefit would come from a "benificent alien" scenario, where they give us technology rather than leaving us to develop our own (an unlikely scenario, given the "quietness" of space).

@Oak -- That's a ton of white noise to get through.

I think you actually make some really great points. Unfortunately, in your attempt to exult such a witty attack on my person, I think you fail to realize that someone like myself and you can find much agreement.

In certain circumstances, you seem to prefer to argue in philosophical-circles ... but that's okay ... I'll bite.

1) Wrong.
Atheism is *not* a belief system. As I pointed out, I don't believe in Santa, but you don't find it necessary to call me an asantaist. "The belief that there is not nor can be evidence for the divine" -- said who? Not I. Again with the strawmans. I've never said there *is not*, nor *could* there be a god. Reread my posts, I think you'll find just the opposite.

Within the notions of "god", I am simply agnostic because I don't believe this is knowable. Yes, I do say I'm an atheist in regards to man-made religions. So are you. we all are unless you believe in every single god man has ever put forth. I "believe" in jesus and allah the same amount as I believe in zues or ra ... which is zero. "I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours"

Atheism is really a term we don't need. All I am is a person who has researched and studied a great deal of historical religions created by man and found all of their claims to be as equally valid as the next. Which is to say I appreciate them for what they are: Attempts within the human-condition to make sense of the world. My point, the one you seem to ignore, is that in the 21st century ... I think we have better explanations now. Can you honestly argue against that? Again, stop making this a philosophical battle. I respect religion for what it is the same as you. But we are not talking about the aesthetics of it's philosophical value here!

2) Wrong. see 1)

3) Wrong. This is a vast generalization on your part and it doesn't deserve a reply. If I was a part of the passel that claimed every christian believed/acted the same and were horrible people because of their beliefs ... you would have a leg to stand on. But I don't, so you don't.

4) Wrong. See 3)
Man! For someone who loves making distinctions, you sure like landing on generalizations and strawmans.

5) True. What's your point? You are no more inclined to be a good person because your an "atheist" anymore then if you are a christian. There are a##holes out there. Grow up and deal with it.

Dibs on the new earth like planet especially if its overflowing with the green cute women from orig. star trek. This one I'm afraid is non-negotiable, call it colonialism if you will, I call it harem planetia.

I would love to see the universe, it's probably the same with a lot of you, an ache that's always been there to see all of creation.

why does every article in popular _SCIENCE_ about exciting advances in exoplanetary research and/or discovering life outside our fair planet have to degrade into a religious flame war?

I know this is totally in vain, but please:
Atheists: stop blaming the world's problems on religion. Humans are still pretty messed up without it. You yourselves are prime examples...
Theists: please, do NOT quote bible scripture on a scientific blog's comment board. Just.. no. And don't drag religion into any article (article about the artificial creation of life comes to mind). If you don't like what it's saying, don't respond.

There, I think I pissed off the whole thread! Beer and cookies!

On the long journey to Exo-Planet, i will die, but my childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens childrens
kids will be there to see the alien soil, good for them, they probably wont even look like my by then, much less know my name, hmph, oh well, its a start to other world colonization right?

Agreeing with Dustin. i managed to stand maybe the first several posts, and coulnd make my self suffer any more. You guys are overreacting, overreading into people's posts, and all of you could be construed as offensive.
And if this isnt directed at you, then dont flame me for dissing you, because i am not. how are you supposed to tell? Give thinking a try.

@V3RTIGO
Or we could, you know, restart project Orion and you'd get there inside your lifetime. Plus, if we could supplement nukes with antimatter explosives, boosting the speed of the city ship to .9c, the trip would take less than a decade in real time and less than a few months ship-board due to time dilation. Once we get there, and get established in a few systems, we could even start building FTL infrastructure, like warp-bubble cannons or stargates.

I'm just dreaming about the latter part, but the first is quite possible.

Pixel --why even bother reading these threads? If these aren't meant to spark conversation, dialogue and debate ... Then what's the point? I don't know about you, but if I stopped reading after three posts ... It would more likely be due to the fact that everyone was agreeing with each other and were of the same mindset as everyone else .. about everything. That sure sounds like a ton of fun!

I think you, and Dustin, in your attempts to criticize some harmless banter may be missing the point. When I want to consume oneway morsels of information, I read these articles. When I want to contribute, be engaged in, and in return have access to varying opinions that may or may not conflict with my own ... I provide input on these boards.

maybe we already did the jump from a different planet, we just forgot where we came from O.o

Dustin

With all due respect, I'm not sure if we can be that gullible in regards to the ongoing struggle between science and faith.

The problem, the reason such debates are prevalent on these boards, on popular SCIENCE for that matter only highlights this position.

We live in a society that is progressively promoting an anti-intellectual culture. This problem is absolutely rampant within the U.S. boarders. To highlight this, is *not* to say that religions need to be abolished or that we are at a metaphorical "war" with the religious. A great example of this would be Francis Collins, an absolute brilliant scientific mind ... but a man who is also a devout Christian.

However, we do find a struggle and we do see areas that must be defended within the parameters of a secular discourse.

When we see elected congressman on the House floor proclaiming that climate change is a hoax, and if it wasn't ... well then it's god's will. That's a problem. These are the men and women who pass funding. Funding that impacts scientific research and progress.

When we see the fights to ban the teaching of evolution in our schools (which is no longer a fringe attempt but gaining significant strength throughout the country) we have a problem. Can you even imagine such a tragedy within our sciences if the next generation of doctors and biologist don't understand or "believe" in evolution? We would not even be having this conversation if there were not a push within religious communities to fight evolution. Again, the sole area of contention is a mere system of dogmatic beliefs that are ravaging our classrooms.

How about stem cell research and funding? Would we have the fight to cease progress on one of the highest potential forms of new science ... if people didn't believe petri dishes contained souls? Or, misunderstand the science completely and equate it to abortion?

Again my friend, we can't be this gullible. We can't let this cancer take hold. The cancer not being religion, but the mindset with which it breeds that destroys critical thinking within a secular system built on observations and reason.

My agenda isn't a "progress atheism" one, whatever that would even mean. It’s a push science one. The remedy to bad science or pseudo science isn’t less science. It’s more science … better science. I would think you could see that?

In my honest opinion, I think religion and science can go hand in hand. The more we learn about how the universe works, the more I become fascinated with the idea that it was all designed by God. I mean, if the universe was really created by a being of infinite power and wisdom, would life on other planets really be outside His abilities? Would the Big Bang be outside His ability to facilitate? Or multiple universes, or quantum mechanics, or whatever we discover?

Back on the topic of the actual article, I feel that it's kind of pointless to predict when we'll discover something, since something like that's subject to change at any time.

Everyone has assumed that space travel beyond our solar system is impossible, that was the safe bet. That bet is in question today because a new plan has been devised. No rocket, plasma engine, laser or even solar propulsion can sustain any human for the long and impossibly expensive flight of nearly a trillion years to the nearest star. Fermi lab, Cern and other particle accelerators are the only man made things capable of going near the speed of light. Leave it to nature to build something even bigger and better. The biggest particle accelerator in the solar system is Jupiter’s magnetic field capable of propelling a small negatively or positively charged computer chip size particle to the one tenth the speed of light. It’s hoped that close to the speed of light will some day be possible. I think it will if the on board charge can be powered by powerful lasers aimed at it. This turns the flight of several grams two or four paper clips from a trillion years to a sixty or even a six year flight. Using an even larger planets magnetic field from a close solar system may put a large amount of our galaxy within a two hundred year traveling scale for a hand full of grams each gram equal to about a paperclip.

We are human beings and if you open a gram to us we can fit through it, but only as embryos. In fact, as embryos a whole arch of animals can be shipped to another solar system. Even the smallest mammals, shrews of only 1.6 grams could be shipped, but not survive because a ship for them to live in is impossible freezing them whole will kill them. However, small organs do survive being frozen just like human eggs and sperm and embryos can. We can make lots of clones of our shrews take them to hibernation temperature and cut them into interchangeable parts that are then frozen. Enough parts should survive to reassemble them into a living shrew in the next solar system.

We use that pieced together shrew, or genetically small pigmy lab mice, to give birth to larger species of mice and other rodents until its time to reach genetically modified rodents that can gestate a pig. Then from those small pigs to larger pigs, finally to a genetically modified pig capable of giving birth to a human being. This requires entanglement communications for humans here to use robots there to build all the habitats necessary, and to raise that first child there. The sanity of that child is questionable, but she only needs to give birth to enough Devers children to create a self sustainable society. Data about early Australia suggests about 80 people. This is traumatically smaller because we could send and freeze all our diversity as small sperm and eggs. Maybe for the sake of sanity ten people in multiple locations will be enough.

Presence is the next impossible step, and it can be accomplished because the surface of our brain is where our thoughts show up. Modern brain computer interface (BCI) programs have proven that communication and control can be made from small computer chips with an array of electrodes. However, these electrodes scar over and monkeys controlling robotic arms quickly lose the ability over time. This is why conductive silicone is being sought. The advent of conductive silicone or a hybrid solution will result in large coverage brain computer interface. The kind capable of vision, and the less ambitious control of our bodies and limbs. Put in movie terms a sort of interstellar trading places is possible. Where entanglement communications allow two clones the ability to hand over control and presence in one another’s bodies.

Well analyzing exoplanets is still in it's infancy. I'm sure they think they found a planet that may be habitable.
You must remember mankind has, at best, been on this planet for 100,000 or 200,000 years that's only 1/15,000 of the time the earth has been here. So even if it's exactly like the earth there probably won't be anyone there and it won't be ready for colonization. On the other hand if there IS someone there, why does everyone assume they are going to be friendly? They might look upon us as an excellent source of protein. After all the rule in the animal kingdom is "eat or be eaten", hakuna matata only exists in Disney movies.

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Well, isn't that special. They pretend the chance of actually FINDING a habitable planet is anything less than 1 in 10^100000, to get a headline and some publicity to fund their silly project. I'm all for finding exoplanets - maybe one day we can mine some good resources from them - but unless we actually find one that really does have life, jumping the gun like this is pointless and misleading.

This is like announcing that in less than a year, someone will make a basketball shot from Florida to Hawaii...from the other direction...that will go through the hoop without touching the rim. (assume for this example that such a feat is physically possible)

LV-426

For centuries after it's (and others) foundation, people were brutalized, enslaved, terrorized and systematically put to death for *not* believing literal interpretations of your faith. For *not* accepting (whatever) deity as their savior. For *not* expressing utter blind-faith to those who held control -- The Holy Order.

Now, after millenia of struggle. After countless lives fought, and laid at the alters of secular progress. Moderates, such as yourself, would like to just brush all this under the table and shout how progressive you are in your moderation. Your so proud that you can throw off archaic literal interpretations. In deed, what makes you and your religious brethren tolerable, is to the extent to which you are *not* christians.

You can cherry pick your religions and your history all you would like. But, a great deal of people died and I should think it not a moot point to gloss over.

Why do we feel, as sentient human beings, that we must inject a mystery where none is needed?

Of course there could be an ultimate scientist we would call "god". There could also be fairies living on the darkside of the moon. Does injecting such speculative conjecture provide insight to matters such as observable science? Or, do they only further mass-delusions upon the populace ... who in return dumb down our science until rational discourse is no longer rational unless each shaman gets to inject their own inherited "beliefs" on how god made us?

I should think your "moderation" of faith, coupled with your understanding of science should alleviate such a struggle. But, not as a means of bridging the gap between science and faith. Our problem is that this bridge is already much too long and much to prevalent.

http://www.cirurgia-plastica.com/lipoaspiracao/

Most everyone is jumping on the band wagon to head out to a new world. Should we not check and see if anyone is home first? Second, to they want us there?

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