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Earth: no longer the lonely planet
SpaceRef ^ | 9/26/03

Posted on 09/27/2003 7:19:20 AM PDT by KevinDavis

The question of whether we're alone in the universe just got a lot bigger.

Two astronomers from the University of New South Wales, Australia - Dr Charles Lineweaver and Daniel Grether - have found that at least 25 per cent of Sun-like stars have planets.

"This means there are at least 100 billion stars with planets in our Galaxy," says Dr Lineweaver, a Senior Research Fellow at the University's School of Physics.

Until now, astronomers believed that only five to 15 per cent of Sun-like stars had orbiting planets, but Lineweaver and Grether's work shows that previous estimates under-reported the proportion of so-called extrasolar planets.

The Astrophysical Journal, the world's leading journal of astrophysics, has accepted their research for publication.

Astronomers have been carefully monitoring 2,000 nearby stars for the presence of orbiting extrasolar planets.

"To date, they've detected a hundred or so, meaning the fraction of stars with extrasolar planets was around five per cent," says Dr Lineweaver.

"But most planets are too small or take too long to orbit their host stars to be detected. For example, if the Sun were one of the stars being monitored, we still wouldn't have detected any planets around it.

"Using a new method to correct for this incompleteness, we found that at least 25 per cent of Sun-like stars have planets."

Dr Lineweaver believes that the figure of at least 100 billion stars with orbiting planets could be on the low side when it comes to cosmic counting. It could be that close to 100 per cent of stars have planets.

"Given that there are about 400 billion stars in our Galaxy alone, it means there could be up to 400 billion stars with planets," he says.

"With about 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe, our result suggests that there are at least 10 trillion planetary systems in the Universe."

'What Fraction of Sun-like Stars have Planets?' by Charles H Lineweaver and Daniel Grether will be published later this year. It is available online.

Dr Lineweaver is an ARC Senior Research Fellow and Senior Lecturer, School of Physics, UNSW. Daniel Grether is working on a PhD.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: crevolist; earth; nasa; space; xplanets
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I think we will find a Earth like planet in 20 - 30 years. Any takers?
1 posted on 09/27/2003 7:19:21 AM PDT by KevinDavis
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To: Normal4me; RightWhale; demlosers; Prof Engineer; BlazingArizona; ThreePuttinDude; Brett66; ...
Space Ping! This is the space ping list! Let me know if you want on or off this list!
2 posted on 09/27/2003 7:20:35 AM PDT by KevinDavis (Let the meek inherit the Earth, the rest of us will explore the stars!)
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To: KevinDavis
Make that less than 10 years.
3 posted on 09/27/2003 7:21:08 AM PDT by demlosers
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To: KevinDavis
Are you kidding?
Haven't you heard of PN3217? If we get the right coordinates we can visit them all.

Just ask Colonel Hammond.

4 posted on 09/27/2003 7:23:36 AM PDT by Publius6961 (californians are as dumb as a sack of rocks.)
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To: KevinDavis
I agree. How about life in the Sol system (other than earth)? I say we will find it. I don't know about 20-30 years, though.
5 posted on 09/27/2003 7:29:18 AM PDT by gitmo (Zero Tolerance = Intolerance)
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To: PatrickHenry
Science-ping-list ping...
6 posted on 09/27/2003 7:29:55 AM PDT by general_re (SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING: Quitting Sarcasm Now Greatly Reduces Serious Risks To Your Health.)
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To: KevinDavis
I think we will find a Earth like planet in 20 - 30 years. Any takers?

Define "Earth-like."

Are Venus and Mars "Earth-like?"

Or will an Earth-like planet have oceans of water?


7 posted on 09/27/2003 7:33:44 AM PDT by Sabertooth (No Drivers' Licences for Illegal Aliens. Petition SB60. http://www.saveourlicense.com/n_home.htm)
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To: KevinDavis
A search for habitable planets

Kepler, a NASA Discovery mission, is a spaceborne telescope designed to look for Earth-like planets around stars beyond our solar system.

"The Kepler Mission will, for the first time, enable humans to search our galaxy for Earth-size or even smaller planets," said principal investigator William Borucki of NASA's Ames research Center, Moffett Field,

California. "With this cutting-edge capability, Kepler may help us answer one of the most enduring questions humans have asked throughout history: Are there others like us in the universe?"


Kepler will detect planets indirectly, using the "transit" method. A transit occurs each time a planet crosses the line-of-sight between the planet's parent star that it is orbiting and the observer. When this happens, the planet blocks some of the light from its star, resulting in a periodic dimming. This periodic signature is used to detect the planet and to determine its size and its orbit.

Three transits of a star, all with a consistent period, brightness change and duration, provide a robust method of detection and planet confirmation. The measured orbit of the planet and the known properties of the parent star are used to determine if each planet discovered is in the habitable zone; that is, at the distance from its star where liquid water could exist on the surface of the planet.

The industrial partner for development of the hardware is Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., based in Boulder, Colorado. The mission is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Scheduled to launch in 2007, Kepler will hunt for planets using a specialized one-meter diameter telescope called a photometer to measure the small changes in brightness caused by the transits.

The key technology at the heart of the photometer is a set of charged coupled devices (CCDs) that measures the brightness of hundreds of thousands of stars at the same time. CCDs are the silicon light-sensitive chips that are used in today's TV cameras, camcorders and digital cameras. Kepler must monitor many thousands of stars simultaneously, since the chance of any one planet being aligned along the line-of-sight is only about 1/2 of a percent.

Over a four-year period, Kepler will continuously view an amount of sky about equal to the size of a human hand held at arm's length or about equal in area to two "scoops" of the sky made with the Big Dipper constellation. In comparison, the Hubble Space Telescope can view only the amount of sky equal to a grain of sand held at arms length, and then only for about a half-hour at a time.

NASA selected Kepler as one of two Discovery missions from 26 proposals made in early 2001. The missions must stay within the Discovery Program's development cost cap of about $299 million. The Discovery Program emphasizes lower-cost, highly focused scientific missions.

8 posted on 09/27/2003 7:39:39 AM PDT by demlosers
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To: KevinDavis
I think we will find a Earth like planet in 20 - 30 years. Any takers?

Would it matter? Whatever we find will be too far away to have anything to do with it.

Second, the methods used to determine that a planet is "earth like" will likely disappoint you and make you question whether we've found what someone says we've found. If you think we're using powerful telescopes and actually looking at the alleged planets, guess again.

9 posted on 09/27/2003 7:40:34 AM PDT by Spiff (Have you committed one random act of thoughtcrime today?)
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To: KevinDavis
Watching an Ant Farm as a kid....I often wondered if they had any idea I was observing their behavior...
10 posted on 09/27/2003 7:42:37 AM PDT by M-cubed
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To: demlosers

11 posted on 09/27/2003 7:43:27 AM PDT by demlosers
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To: Sabertooth
You've got it.

A clear definition of the term "Earth-like" is everything.

"Earth-like" can simply mean "ball of rock and metal" as opposed to the Jupiter-like "ball of swirling gases".

What size range are we looking for? Any moons?

Is an extrasolar planet "Earth-like" if it orbits way too close or far from its parent star to support life? What if it's in an extreme orbit in a binary star system?

Does "Earth-like" presuppose a magnetic field?

And what if the candidate planet had a poisonous atmosphere (or none)?


12 posted on 09/27/2003 7:45:22 AM PDT by petuniasevan (Microbiology Lab: Staph Only!)
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To: demlosers
Kepler will detect planets indirectly, using the "transit" method. A transit occurs each time a planet crosses the line-of-sight between the planet's parent star that it is orbiting and the observer. When this happens, the planet blocks some of the light from its star, resulting in a periodic dimming. This periodic signature is used to detect the planet and to determine its size and its orbit.

Which makes me question this whole "25% of stars have planets" thing. In order to detect an alleged planet, the planet has to pass between us and the remote star - that is, transit across the face of the star from our point of view. Now, think about that. What if we're not aligned with the ecliptic of that system. We'd never even see a single planet yet the system may have many.

And searching for rhythmic flickers in remote stars is far less glamorous than some of these articles try to make it sound in our "search for habitable planets".

Man, I must be in a bad mood or something. I love science and astronomy - I guess I just hate the hype sometimes.

13 posted on 09/27/2003 7:46:02 AM PDT by Spiff (Have you committed one random act of thoughtcrime today?)
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To: KevinDavis
Ok....Let's say we find it. Then what? How much do we spend on a new 'vacation paradise'? I say...they haven't bothered us, why bother them? Don't we have enough to handle here?
14 posted on 09/27/2003 7:46:20 AM PDT by mrtysmm
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To: mrtysmm
Time to build a star ship.
15 posted on 09/27/2003 7:49:06 AM PDT by demlosers
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To: mrtysmm
Hope you've saved up those vacation weeks at work.

It'll take a while to get to that exciting exotic Proxima II.

4.3 light-years in only 50,000,000 years if you floor it!


16 posted on 09/27/2003 7:53:43 AM PDT by petuniasevan (Microbiology Lab: Staph Only!)
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To: petuniasevan

Would an Earth-like planet require a Sol-like solar system?

Would that Sol-like system course placidly on the galactic periphery, as ours does? Wouldn't that exclude a big chunk of the 400 billion stars in the Milky Way as candidates?

Would there be lots of circular orbits, and friendly gas giants sucking up space debris along the perimeter?

Would an Earth-like planet exist in what is basically a binary planetary system, as is ours with our Moon?


17 posted on 09/27/2003 7:57:06 AM PDT by Sabertooth (No Drivers' Licences for Illegal Aliens. Petition SB60. http://www.saveourlicense.com/n_home.htm)
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To: KevinDavis
Do you mean a planet with intelligent life? Human life? Be more specific, please, then I might take your bet.
18 posted on 09/27/2003 7:58:01 AM PDT by Rocko (Post no Clintons)
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To: Sabertooth
Define "Earth-like." - Are Venus and Mars "Earth-like?" - Or will an Earth-like planet have oceans of water?

Good point, but of billions and billions of planets, the prospects for ertra terrestrial life are fascinating.

19 posted on 09/27/2003 7:59:38 AM PDT by ghostrider
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To: KevinDavis
When you say 'earth-like', do you mean planet filled with idiots like this one?
20 posted on 09/27/2003 8:01:07 AM PDT by Chad Fairbanks (I like my women like I like my coffee - Hot, and in a big cup)
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To: Sabertooth
Are Venus and Mars "Earth-like?" Or will an Earth-like planet have oceans of water?

And how could they even tell when they're simply tracking transits? Can a transit tell you anything more than possibly the size of the planet? Heck, it can barely tell you that as you don't know how far the planet is from the star in the first place. Nor how fast its orbit is. Conjecture, suppositions, etc.

21 posted on 09/27/2003 8:05:29 AM PDT by Spiff (Have you committed one random act of thoughtcrime today?)
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To: Sabertooth
Yeah, it wouldn't be a great neighborhood in a globular cluster, huh? Lotsa traffic! (Even if you could scrape together the heavy elements to MAKE a planet)

Or how about orbiting a red dwarf sun REALLY close-in for that needed warmth? OOPS! Stellar flare! Sorry, life-forms; it's barbecue day!

How about a nice white-hot star and an orbit like Saturn's? Okay...uh-oh! Star core out of fuel already! %&#* proton hog...BOOM!

As for a Sol-like solar system: consider that Jupiter "eats" a lot of comets, asteroids, and assorted space debris. Without a Jupiter, that Earthlike planet is likely to resemble Mercury.

22 posted on 09/27/2003 8:11:20 AM PDT by petuniasevan (Microbiology Lab: Staph Only!)
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To: Chad Fairbanks

And


23 posted on 09/27/2003 8:16:30 AM PDT by petuniasevan (Microbiology Lab: Staph Only!)
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To: KevinDavis

Billlllions and billllions

24 posted on 09/27/2003 8:19:59 AM PDT by P.O.E.
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To: petuniasevan
As for a Sol-like solar system: consider that Jupiter "eats" a lot of comets, asteroids, and assorted space debris. Without a Jupiter, that Earthlike planet is likely to resemble Mercury.

Not to mention Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

Good thing none of those planets is between us and the Sun, too. Might make for some long, cold eclipses.


25 posted on 09/27/2003 8:21:04 AM PDT by Sabertooth (No Drivers' Licences for Illegal Aliens. Petition SB60. http://www.saveourlicense.com/n_home.htm)
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To: demlosers
Future Missions to Search for Earth-like Planets (cont.)

Darwin mission The European Space Agency has targeted the InfraRed Space Interferometer-Darwin for a launch in 2015 or later. Decisions about whether to go forward with the mission are expected around 2003.

The telescope, using infrared rather than optical wavelengths, would hunt for Earth-like planets around some 300 Sun-like stars within 50 light-years of Earth. Darwin would actually be an array of six small eyes, forming an effective giant that would mimic a 100-yard (91-meter) telescope.

Scientists are still studying how such a system might be designed.

Unlike current space-based telescopes, Darwin would operate somewhere between Mars and Jupiter, rather than in Earth orbit. This would allow the instruments to avoid the dust between Earth and Mars that obscures the view.

The six individual telescopes would be joined either by long arms or would each be mounted on individual spacecraft. In the former case, the rigid structure would rotate to build up the image. In the latter case, the individual spacecraft would have their own rocket motors and dance around each other to build up the image.

26 posted on 09/27/2003 8:27:08 AM PDT by demlosers
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To: petuniasevan
Like the top slogan. I'd add that any aliens advanced enough to travel here would probably make sure that we don't travel there. I'd think any advanced civilization would have a lower opinion of earthlings than Americans do of the french.
27 posted on 09/27/2003 8:27:39 AM PDT by steve50 (Power takes as ingratitude the writhing of it's victims : Tagore)
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To: mrtysmm
... why bother them?

Our television signals have been bombarding the stars since we first began broadcasting. I say we have already bothered them to distraction.

I suspect that any intelligent aliens out there either totally hate us and wish our destruction or, because of an addiction to TV, are willing to become out slaves as long as we promise to keep broadcasting re-runs of Hawaii 5-0.
28 posted on 09/27/2003 8:28:19 AM PDT by redheadtoo
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To: demlosers
Future Missions to Search for Earth-like Planets (cont.)

Eddington mission

The Eddington mission was proposed to the European Space Agency (ESA) in early 2000. It would search for and study potentially habitable planets around other stars using a 1.2-meter (47-inch) optical telescope.

Eddington would carry an optical photometer mounted on a three-axis stabilized platform, sitting far from Earth.


The mission would also study the makeup and evolution of stars.

In October, the ESA's Science Program Committee approved Eddington as part of a larger set of initiatives to be implemented between 2008 and 2013. A workshop to discuss the mission will be held June 11-15, 2001, in Spain.

29 posted on 09/27/2003 8:30:05 AM PDT by demlosers
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To: demlosers
Future Missions to Search for Earth-like Planets (cont.)

Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF)

The Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF) would use an array of telescopes orbiting the Earth in formation to generate planetary pictures 100 times more detailed than those the Hubble Space Telescope could take.


TPF would use a developing technology called nulling to improve vision. Light waves from a star have crests and troughs, just like water waves. If the starlight from two separated telescopes comes together just right, the crests from one and the troughs from the other can cancel each other out, reducing or eliminating starlight. This would allow a view of planets around the star [see animation].

The goal would be to create a census of relatively nearby Earth-sized planets. TPF would study all aspects of planets: from their formation and development to their suitability as an abode for life.

The telescope would study planetary systems as far away as 50 light-years. In addition to measuring the size and temperature, instruments would reveal the relative amounts of gases like carbon dioxide, water vapor, ozone and methane, all of which would help determine whether a planet could support life, or could have supported it in the past.

TPF is targeted for launch in 2011, though it has not been funded. Before the mission can be designed, engineers still need to figure out how to control separate spacecraft flying in formation while also orbiting Earth.

30 posted on 09/27/2003 8:33:17 AM PDT by demlosers
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To: KevinDavis
I think we will find a Earth like planet in 20 - 30 years. Any takers?

Try this site: http://www.longbets.org/

It's specifically for placing wagers on long-term events.

31 posted on 09/27/2003 8:33:30 AM PDT by BlazingArizona
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To: KevinDavis
The question remains - will we find intelligent life on Earth?
32 posted on 09/27/2003 8:35:04 AM PDT by headsonpikes (Spirit of '76 bttt!)
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To: demlosers
SIM mission

The Space Interferometry Mission (SIM) would hunt for Earth-sized planets around other stars and provide new insights into the origin and evolution of our galaxy.

A science team for the mission was chosen by NASA November 28, 2000, and the mission is scheduled for launch in 2009.
SIM would be placed into orbit around the Sun on a path that follows Earth's orbit. Light gathered by its multiple telescopes will be combined and processed to yield information that could normally be obtained only with a much larger telescope.

The mission would also measure the locations and distances of stars throughout our Milky Way Galaxy, and study other celestial objects.

33 posted on 09/27/2003 8:35:40 AM PDT by demlosers
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To: Victoria Delsoul; PatrickHenry; Quila; Rudder; donh; VadeRetro; RadioAstronomer; Travis McGee; ...




((((((growl)))))


34 posted on 09/27/2003 9:01:20 AM PDT by Sabertooth (No Drivers' Licences for Illegal Aliens. Petition SB60. http://www.saveourlicense.com/n_home.htm)
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To: KevinDavis
please put me on this list.
35 posted on 09/27/2003 9:03:41 AM PDT by Frapster (John 3:16)
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To: *crevo_list; VadeRetro; jennyp; Junior; longshadow; RadioAstronomer; Scully; Piltdown_Woman; ...
PING. [This ping list is for the evolution side of evolution threads, and sometimes for other science topics. FReepmail me to be added or dropped.]
36 posted on 09/27/2003 9:04:06 AM PDT by PatrickHenry (The "Agreement of the Willing" is posted at the end of my personal profile page.)
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To: steve50
I'd think any advanced civilization would have a lower opinion of earthlings than Americans do of the french.

As if that were possible ;0)

37 posted on 09/27/2003 9:09:56 AM PDT by Chad Fairbanks (I like my women like I like my coffee - Hot, and in a big cup)
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To: ghostrider
Isn't this like looking for the one red-painted silver dollar mixed in with billions and billions of silver dollars spread out 10 square miles?

38 posted on 09/27/2003 9:11:36 AM PDT by bethelgrad (for God, country, and the Corps OOH RAH!)
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To: KevinDavis
well now we know where James Carville come from.
39 posted on 09/27/2003 9:13:53 AM PDT by Reagan79 (Pro Life! Pro Family! Pro Reagan!)
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To: All
The significance of the article is that (if the article's speculation works out) it alters one of the factors in The Drake Equation, thus raising the likelihood of finding intelligent life outside the solar system.
40 posted on 09/27/2003 9:23:04 AM PDT by PatrickHenry (The "Agreement of the Willing" is posted at the end of my personal profile page.)
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To: Sabertooth
Good point. And I would add that, given the huge size of the galaxy, not to mention our location in a peripheral area thereof, there could be thousands and thousands of civilizations in the Galaxy, but still so disperse that the chance of ever detecting them would be small.

IOW, even if there is a great deal of life in the galaxy it doesn't mean that The Earth won't remain, effectively, "lonely".

41 posted on 09/27/2003 9:23:38 AM PDT by Stultis
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To: bethelgrad
I said with billions and billions of planets, that the prospects for extraterrestrial life are fascinating. I said nothing about looking for life on one planet.
42 posted on 09/27/2003 9:33:25 AM PDT by ghostrider
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To: bethelgrad
I tend to agree. As I was just saying (typing) and as your analogy suggests, the probability of finding extraterrestrial life depends not on the absolutely number of planets that have life, but on the density of their distribution (and of course the percentage that acheive intelligence, techonology and the propensity to transmit detectable signals).

I'm a skeptic, frankly. I don't think we will detect extraterrestrial life anytime soon (say within the next hundred years). In fact, and of course I'm just guessing, I don't think the probability is particularly good that we will discover it in the next thousand years, even though I also tend to think that extraterrestrial life does exist.

43 posted on 09/27/2003 9:33:51 AM PDT by Stultis
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To: KevinDavis
INTREP
44 posted on 09/27/2003 9:38:29 AM PDT by LiteKeeper
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To: KevinDavis
Judgeing from earths world history.. a planet with intelligent life on it is still unknown in this universe..

Question... and would we know intelligence if we saw it..?

45 posted on 09/27/2003 9:42:08 AM PDT by hosepipe
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To: Publius6961
"Just ask Colonel Hammond."

Uh, that's GENERAL Hammond. The Colonel is O'Neal.

46 posted on 09/27/2003 9:42:15 AM PDT by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel)
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To: PatrickHenry
"Given that there are about 400 billion stars in our Galaxy alone, it means there could be up to 400 billion stars with planets," he says.

Hey! The galaxy grew again!

47 posted on 09/27/2003 10:17:09 AM PDT by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: KevinDavis
I think it will be within 10 years! And, I believe there will be proof of the existence of extra-solar life within 15.
48 posted on 09/27/2003 10:20:30 AM PDT by hardhead (Vast Right Wing Conspirator, Serial Number 565723890)
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To: Reagan79
Re: "well now we know where James Carville come from"

Qball phone home!


49 posted on 09/27/2003 10:23:52 AM PDT by ChadGore (Kakkate Koi!)
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To: KevinDavis
we will find a Earth like planet in 20 - 30 years.

Kidding, right? You can't even find a great apartment in 20-30 years.

Here's what will happen: we will find a planet close enough so that we can transform it to a base condition we like. This transformation will take a really long time, a million years just to pick a number. But we will find a close enough planet in 20-30 years, it just won't be what Joe Sixpack would call earthlike.

50 posted on 09/27/2003 10:25:45 AM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the Law of the Excluded Middle)
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