Another case of putting the cart before the horse when it comes to grandiose claims of scientific discovery? According to a social networker at a Torino astrophysics conference, purported Earth-like planet Gliese 581(g) may no longer exist. However, before we consider the possibility that Nero used the Red Matter and imploded the planet a la Vulcan, it is suggested that additional data and some further analysis puts the entire planet’s existence into question.
From Dynamics of Cats (Scienceblogs.com):
IAU 276 The Astrophysics of Planetary Systems: Formation, Structure, and Dynamical Evolution just got underway in Torino, Italy (good week to be in Italy – meeting in Sardinia also, Wish I Was There).Ray Jay reports on social networks:
”We cannot confirm it [Gliese 581g] in our HARPS data” – Francesco Pepe (Geneva team) at IAU 276 in Torino.”
This is interesting, but not totally surprising.
It will be very interesting to see the HARPS paper, and how this shakes out.
Gliese 581g could still be there, it could be in the orbit reported, but this needs some more work.
PS: additional oral reports from the meeting.
HARPS statement is stronger than “we don’t see it” – they find that if they force a solution they get a negative signal appearing, implying the planet is not there, not just that they are not sensitive to it.
50% more data since 2008 published series.
Oh well, this will affect probably zero percent of the Earth’s population, yet the story made a pretty good press release and provided some excitement in preparation for the Torino conference. Even yesterday, DiscoveryNews is considering the possibility of “intelligent life” on this planet…whoa!
As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, there may be a new kid on the liveable planet block, Gliese 581g. This is the first exoplanet that has the potential to have a solid surface and that is in the habitable zone around its star where liquid water can exist. We all immediately thought, “could there be life?” and one SETI researcher claims to have a possible signal.
Can anyone come up with some parallels to climate science and the urge to run to the press?
I have one, as Carl Wunsch succinctly reacts to a request for a press quote about the new Phil Jones’ climate cooling paper in Nature last month:
“The problem in climate science is that things are hyped, then they’re picked up and exaggerated, sometimes by these crazy bloggers, and you get senators and congressmen talking about it on the floor of the House and Senate.”
“The wider community is trying to make climate science go faster than it can. Science has a natural rhythm, and you can’t make people think faster or more effectively by saying “you’ve got to know the answer by next week.” Things get re-thought, people find bugs in the research. We can hope for breakthroughs, but it will probably take years to realize that they’ve happened. When I get calls from the press, it starts to make me uneasy, since the best they’ll get is a comment from off the top of my head. When I get a request for a comment from a colleague, I take the paper home, skim it, put it aside, read it again, think about it. And even then, sometimes there are papers I didn’t quite appreciate. So these instant off the top of the head reactions don’t do the science any good and don’t do the public any good.”
I wonder who are those “crazy bloggers“?