View Full Version here: : Keck Observatory - online lecture - Exoplanets
02-12-2011, 12:26 PM
In case you are zipping over to Hawaii next week!
Otherwise, try the online site.
W. M. Keck Observatory Presents
Oodles of Exoplanets: The Search for other Habitable Worlds
Dr. Greg Laughlin (http://app.streamsend.com/c/15162821/239/RCtv853/U97Y?redirect_to=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.u colick.org%2F%7Elaugh%2F)
University of California, Santa Cruz
Greg Laughlin, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, will take us on a guided tour of the bizarre menagerie of planets that have been discovered outside our solar system. Astronomers are opening a new chapter in human history in which we will know, for the first time, whether Earth-like planets exist around other stars. Laughlin's talk also covers the work that he and his colleagues are doing to find potentially habitable planets orbiting the Sunís nearest stellar neighbors.
This event also will be webcast live via the Keck Observatory website (http://app.streamsend.com/c/15162821/241/RCtv853/U97Y?redirect_to=http%3A%2F%2Fkecko bservatory.org).
Thursday, December 8, 2011
at the Kahilu Theatre (http://app.streamsend.com/c/15162821/243/RCtv853/U97Y?redirect_to=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.k ahilutheatre.org%2F)
Free and Open to the Public
Doors Open at 6:30 PM
02-12-2011, 01:15 PM
You know .. not that my opinion has to count for anything, but I've become very disinterested in news about exo-planet discoveries.
I, for the life of me, cannot understand why news of more exo-planets ranks as more than just a casual interest level. A total of 704 exo-planets have been confirmed (as at Nov 30, 2011). Other than incrementing human knowledge of a confirmed number, what exactly else do exo-planet discoveries contribute to Science ?
I am also fairly disinterested in the numbers of exo-planets in 'Habitable Zones' (HZ). Until more work is done which provides us with something more than pure speculation on what does, and doesn't constitute a 'Habitable Zone' … and why …. the numbers of exo's in an HZ, to me conveys almost zero useful information. We already have 8 local unexplored planets, a handful of dwarf planets, ring systems and hundreds of local moons, some of which either contain, or exist within, life supporting HZs …. so what possible difference does 704 (or more) potential HZ exos contribute to real Science?
The Mars MSL/Curiosity probe is the only project I can see, which is attempting to contribute some real science towards all this …
Am I alone in this view ? If yes, then why ? If not, then why ?
03-12-2011, 06:42 AM
Possibly it's the search for life not just other planets that generates the enthusiasm. Plus, somewhere to live when we finish trashing Earth. :)
03-12-2011, 08:11 AM
I can see that more data might improve knowledge of Planetary formation Theory … maybe. We know there are distinguishable, predictable patterns between say mass and orbits, but there are other complexities which impact how and why a planet forms where it does. Does more observational data necessarily contribute to this story … especially when the phenomenon almost certainly contains a large component of randomness? More data in this case, doesn't necessarily lead to more understanding.
There was a press release today, (http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-12-caltech-led-team-astronomers-planets.html) which has found that a new batch of Jupiter-like planets (18) had mainly circular orbits ... as opposed to a mix of elliptical and circular. Perhaps this points towards the presence of unpredictable influences in the initial establishment conditions of a planetary orbit ? How can the gathering of more exo-orbital data lead to anything worthwhile (in this instance), if the fundamental underlying phenomenon is not as predictable as we thought in the first place?
The current search always seems to focus on aspects we already know are predictable … but what about the random components in planetary formation ?
As far as I can see, the exo-life enquiry will gain almost nothing, as these planets are way too far away to plausibly infer the establishment of life (or otherwise). I mean, we can't even detect life on a planet as close as Mars (if it were there) … let alone Jupiters tens to hundreds, to thousands of light years distant. The life thing is surely, purely fuel for hyper-active imaginations ??
28-03-2012, 02:32 AM
Yeah, I've come to the idea that more exoplanets is a little bit boring.
I'm really interested only in Earth-like planets. Like you said, for when we get through trashing this one. But then we'd need a generational ship to get there, unless someone discovers something like warp drive.
28-03-2012, 10:36 AM
Possibly should change this to somewhere else to trash!
28-03-2012, 12:51 PM
I agree that Earth-like planets are 'really' interesting, and the chance of ever going to one is around nil. Nevertheless, I think the general ongoing interest is legitimate as:
Part of the exercise is improving observational techniques to a point where we can identify truly (see next point) Earth-like planets (I'm not sure we can yet);
'Earth-like' is a broad term. Is a rocky planet outside the habitable zone Earth-like? Is a water-world in the habitable zone Earth-like? The more planets we find, the more variations we see - this seems interesting to me;
I think that what most people really mean when they say 'Earth-like' is 'capable of supporting life', or even 'has life', or even 'has intelligent life'. Firstly, these are needles in a very large haystack, so the more planets we find, the more likely we are to find one of these. Secondly, we actually don't know what the bounds are for a planet to support life (I don't think we even have an unambiguous definition of life). Who knows where we might find it?
All in all, I find the search a bit interesting and like to see it progressing.
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