Author Topic: Exoplanets  (Read 546 times)

Offline Cavebear

Re: Exoplanets
« Reply #30 on: July 14, 2017, 06:02:32 AM »
Maybe, but I think nutritious plants wouldn't provide enough of a challenge to make intelligence useful, much less necessary.

I agree completely.  Even very nutritious plant food doesn't require intelligence to eat.  Although if the plants could run, it might.  Intelligence comes from outsmarting something.  Grass-eaters just have to be smarter than grass and aware enough to run from meat-eaters. 

And then the question is "How much smarter are we than our food compared the the top predators on another planet"?  Would you like to meet a lion smarter and more technologically-able than you?
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead

Offline Atheon

Re: Exoplanets
« Reply #31 on: July 14, 2017, 09:29:26 AM »
Just found out that we have only known about the existence of exoplanets since 1992. This is hard to believe. I figured we had made this discovery at least a century ago. I mean, I was born in 1991. I remember assuming that there were millions of galaxies and millions of stars all with planets orbiting them since I was a little bitty boy. I figured the knowledge of this came way before I was born. What the hell humans? This changes so much. I'm depressed now.
1992 was the first confirmed detection of an exoplanet.

As a kid I read about the transit method as a possible means of detecting exoplanets. This was in 1977 or 1978.

Scientists had theorized the almost certain existence of planets around other stars for many decades before 1992, and this was fodder for science fiction stories like Buck Rogers, Star Trek, Star Wars and so forth.
"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful." - Seneca

Offline trdsf

Re: Exoplanets
« Reply #32 on: July 14, 2017, 01:10:16 PM »
And assuming other planets is a simple application of the principle of mediocrity, that we should not assume there's anything peculiar about our immediate environment just because we're in it.  To assume that out of the hundreds of billions of stars just in our own galaxy the only planet was this one was absurd statistically as well as an appalling display of hubris.

Ironically, it was an assumption based on our solar system that kept Butler and Marcy from making the first exoplanet discovery around a main sequence star: they were looking for nice neat nearly-circular ellipses and an orderly set of orbits at "sensible" differences.  Mayor and Quiroz were willing to look at any sort of orbit, and they got the prize; Butler and Marcy in fact had data on 51 Pegasi and were able to confirm their rivals' discovery within a week, and everyone was shocked that a Jupiter-class planet could orbit its star in just 4 days in just an eccentric orbit.

This, by the bye, is one of the things I love about science, because certainly Butler and Marcy had every reason to hope the finding was in error so they could be first.  But that's not what the data said, and the data is the only thing that counts, and so they ended up providing the essential confirmation of the discovery that they didn't get to make.

FWIW, the first exoplanet discovered was in 1989, but it wasn't confirmed as a planet until 2012.  It was originally thought to be a brown dwarf.  Its existence was confirmed in 1991, but its status as a sub-stellar object wasn't settled until 21 years later.
"It's hard to be religious when certain people are never incinerated by bolts of lightning." -- Calvin and Hobbes
"Confused? At a loss for what to do? Wow, sounds like you're human. Good luck." -- Welcome to Night Vale

Offline Cavebear

Re: Exoplanets
« Reply #33 on: July 14, 2017, 01:46:17 PM »
And assuming other planets is a simple application of the principle of mediocrity, that we should not assume there's anything peculiar about our immediate environment just because we're in it.  To assume that out of the hundreds of billions of stars just in our own galaxy the only planet was this one was absurd statistically as well as an appalling display of hubris.

Ironically, it was an assumption based on our solar system that kept Butler and Marcy from making the first exoplanet discovery around a main sequence star: they were looking for nice neat nearly-circular ellipses and an orderly set of orbits at "sensible" differences.  Mayor and Quiroz were willing to look at any sort of orbit, and they got the prize; Butler and Marcy in fact had data on 51 Pegasi and were able to confirm their rivals' discovery within a week, and everyone was shocked that a Jupiter-class planet could orbit its star in just 4 days in just an eccentric orbit.

This, by the bye, is one of the things I love about science, because certainly Butler and Marcy had every reason to hope the finding was in error so they could be first.  But that's not what the data said, and the data is the only thing that counts, and so they ended up providing the essential confirmation of the discovery that they didn't get to make.

FWIW, the first exoplanet discovered was in 1989, but it wasn't confirmed as a planet until 2012.  It was originally thought to be a brown dwarf.  Its existence was confirmed in 1991, but its status as a sub-stellar object wasn't settled until 21 years later.

Still, uniqueness is possible.  At one time, there was only one human on antactica (someone had to step on the ice first).  and later a one person to step on the moon.  Oners are always possible and in those situations, nearly required. 

We could be the first, only, or last to get from one star to another.  And it is worth considering that humans are the only creatures on Earth who CAN say "You bother me enough, I will exterminate you!

Here, anyway, and at a macro level...  But I still worry about the Voyager spacecrafts as a "scent trail"...  We might be the most lethal species on the planet, but what about meaner planets?

OK, sure, maybe interstellar travel requires a kinder more mature species.  But the Atlantic Ocean was once consider uncrossable.  Ask the Incans how THAT worked out...
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead

Offline trdsf

Re: Exoplanets
« Reply #34 on: July 14, 2017, 03:27:56 PM »
Still, uniqueness is possible.  At one time, there was only one human on antactica (someone had to step on the ice first).  and later a one person to step on the moon.  Oners are always possible and in those situations, nearly required.
Oh absolutely it's possible.  I don't think it's probable until more data comes in, and it's going to be difficult data to obtain.  And even a null result from listening only tells us there are no communicating intelligences out there.

We could be the first, only, or last to get from one star to another.  And it is worth considering that humans are the only creatures on Earth who CAN say "You bother me enough, I will exterminate you!
And entirely capable of being the Daleks of this galaxy, given enough time.

One of the few writers to posit a humans-only galaxy was Asimov, who resorted to it because his editor John Campbell insisted essentially that aliens always be inferior to humans, and Asimov did not care for that limitation.

Here, anyway, and at a macro level...  But I still worry about the Voyager spacecrafts as a "scent trail"...  We might be the most lethal species on the planet, but what about meaner planets?
I'm not sure that the map on the Voyager disk is all that clear.  It's not really obvious that the binary is meant to represent several pulsars from which our position can be triangulated.  And even if someone does find it, and does sort out the meanings on the Golden Record, coming here would -- assuming there's no shortcut around Einstein that they've figured out and we haven't -- remain a daunting prospect.  And would be tens of thousands of years in the future anyway, as it's going to be that long before either of the Voyagers pass near any star, and the first ones they approach aren't good candidates for intelligent life.

OK, sure, maybe interstellar travel requires a kinder more mature species.  But the Atlantic Ocean was once consider uncrossable.  Ask the Incans how THAT worked out...
Yup.
"It's hard to be religious when certain people are never incinerated by bolts of lightning." -- Calvin and Hobbes
"Confused? At a loss for what to do? Wow, sounds like you're human. Good luck." -- Welcome to Night Vale

Offline Cavebear

Re: Exoplanets
« Reply #35 on: July 14, 2017, 04:36:21 PM »
Oh absolutely it's possible.  I don't think it's probable until more data comes in, and it's going to be difficult data to obtain.  And even a null result from listening only tells us there are no communicating intelligences out there.
And entirely capable of being the Daleks of this galaxy, given enough time.

One of the few writers to posit a humans-only galaxy was Asimov, who resorted to it because his editor John Campbell insisted essentially that aliens always be inferior to humans, and Asimov did not care for that limitation.
I'm not sure that the map on the Voyager disk is all that clear.  It's not really obvious that the binary is meant to represent several pulsars from which our position can be triangulated.  And even if someone does find it, and does sort out the meanings on the Golden Record, coming here would -- assuming there's no shortcut around Einstein that they've figured out and we haven't -- remain a daunting prospect.  And would be tens of thousands of years in the future anyway, as it's going to be that long before either of the Voyagers pass near any star, and the first ones they approach aren't good candidates for intelligent life.
Yup.

If alien travelers just passing by, not considering Sol worth checking, came across the Voyagers, they could easily track the paths back to us.  And if they travelling, we're toast.

Maybe they would be nice.  That plot doesn't usually work out too well. 

In fact, I can't think of a plot that works out well for us unless we are first.  And I don't even like THAT one. 
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead