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Scientists Have Found a Long Awaited “Goldilocks Planet”

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Upon first hearing of the “Goldilocks Planet,” I envisioned a world with a pastoral population of cabin-dwelling bears. That would have made a great story! In the words of Chapman, “Happy, I was, as an astronomer, when a new planet swims into his ken!” As it turns out, the 21st century poets were alluding to Goldilocks’ remarks about Porridge; you remember, I’m sure: “Too Hot!” the yellow-tressed girl exclaimed. Then, “Too cold!” Finally, at last, “Just right!” and she ate it all up!

A new planet, now called Gliese 581g, has been discovered in the “Goldilocks Zone” (the just right zone) of red-dwarf star Gliese 581. “Just right” in this instance, meaning that the new planet is at a distance from the star, and has other attributes, that may make it “just right” for human habitation. In fact, there may already be human-like life forms living and thriving on the planet.

The planet was discovered by a team of astronomers led by Steven Vogt of the University of California, and Paul Butler of Washington’s Carnegie Institution. These scientists credit the planet with the proper mass to retain liquid water, and an atmosphere which could support life. In the words of Vogt, the planet, seen in the constellation Libra, “..could be the Goldilocks planet, neither too hot nor too cold.”

We recall that in his just released book, entitled “Grand Design,” that the world’s leading physicist, Stephen Hawkings, suggests that we locate a planet which might fill the need for an escape destination, in the event of discord on our Earth. Gleise 581g, about 20 light years from our home, might be just the one to fill that need. Hawkins reminds us not to “Keep all our eggs in one basket.”

Co-discoverer Vogt tells us that Gleise 581g has a mass three to four times that of Earth, and orbits the star in about 37 days. One side of the planet, Vogt says, faces the star and is in perpetual daylight; the other side is in never-ending darkness.

The 11-year-long research was sponsored by NASA and the National Science Foundation. The observation was conducted at the WM Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

 

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About John Lake

John Lake had a long and successful career in legitimate and musical theater. He moved up into work behind the camera at top motion pictures. He has done a smattering of radio, and television John joined the Blogcritics field of writers owing to a passion for the liberal press, himself speaking out about the political front, and liberal issues. Now the retired Mr. Lake has entered the field of motion picture, television, and video game (now a daily gamer!) critique. His writing is always innovative and immensely readable!
  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz Alan Kurtz

    John, you really do have this thing about people’s names, don’t you?

    Here I was, reading along, interested in your article … and then you went and did it again.

    Deja Ahmadinejad.

    In the fourth paragraph, you refer to “the world’s leading physicist,” who as everyone knows is Stephen Hawking. Yet you misspell his name, not once but twice in the space of 44 words. First you pluralize it as “Hawkings,” and next make it worse as “Hawkins.”

    Are you honestly unaware of how distracting this is? I immediately lost interest in Planet Goldilocks, and thought of all those variations you came up with recently on Ahmadinejad.

    And of course you know what’ll happen when I read your next new article. I’ll immediately start looking for misspelled names, and the topic of your blog be damned.

  • zingzing

    oh, alan… heaven forbid you make a typo. even bc’s resident grammar nazi has shied away from that recently. (and no, that’s not a nazi joke… here’s a nazi joke: mel gibson! hahahaha.)

  • Joseph Craft

    Hey [personal attack deleted], maybe people have better things to do with their lives than checking for misspelled names. [edited] On another note, thank you John this article was informative.

  • Jason

    Even though Stephen Hawking was misspelled twice, can we keep the comments about the subject?

    I, for one, am facinated with the idea of there being another planet capable of supporting life that we found! It’ll be a long while for us to get there, if we ever decide to, just being able to walk on another actually habital planet would be awesome. I know it wont happen, or atleast to me, but it would be a great goal for the human race to accomplish.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz Alan Kurtz

    Jason, I wish you’d explain why it would be a great goal for the human race to accomplish.

    Look at the history of human colonization on this planet. Has there ever been a significant colonization that wasn’t disastrous for the indigenous population and catastrophic for the environment? Why transport such a despicable legacy millions of miles away to another planet? Let’s leave it alone. Hell, we’re not done screwing up this planet yet.

  • STM

    Has anyone noticed there is a problem with Gliese 581?

    One side is always in sunlight, the other always in darkness, so scientists have speculated that perhaps only a small band of the planet – a warm band that is situated between the hot and cold bits – might (might) be able to support life as we know it.

    However, the benefit of it not rotating is that atmospheric conditions are likely to be benign, unlike those on Earth.

    So there is a bit of a difference in terms of what we understand to be normal conditions for life and those on the Gliese “Earth”, and those differences might well have an effect on what kind of life – if any – exists there.

    Two other planets previously discovered in that solar system were just outside the goldlocks zone … one just too close to the sun (Gliese 581c), one just too far away (Gliese 581d). However, scientists have also speculated in the past that either of these two planets also might support the conditions for life.

    Given such discoveries as Gliese 581g and the endless possibilities for planets like Earth or Gliese existing elsewhere in this vast universe, the idea that we might be alone in this endless sea of space is the real stuff of science fiction.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz Alan Kurtz

    The idea that we might be alone in this endless sea of space is the real stuff of science fiction.

    Agreed. But what I don’t get is how these planets that theoretically might support humanoid life forms actually change anything here on Earth.

    Let’s say scientists determine a 100% probability that one of these orbs is populated.

    We can’t make contact, which is impractical raised to the nth degree. But through instruments and calculations, scientists guarantee us there are human-like creatures out there.

    What changes? How will the average person’s life be different? The story will top the newscasts for a few days, segue quickly to talk shows, then faster than you can say octo-mom, it’s old hat. Just another page on Wikipedia. Everyone goes back to watching House, M.D.

  • STM

    Yeah, agreed too. It changes nothing here but perceptions.

    But it’s nvertheless pretty interesting food for thought if you’re that way inclined.

  • john lake

    Kurtz finally got through my editing! I should seriously consider hiring a room full of editors to proofread my efforts. I only have so much time to devote to this merry folly.
    Space buffs will recall the notion that in space one side of an object will be hot indeed, facing the sun, or some warming star; the other side will freeze in the absolute zero of space.
    Maybe at some distant time we will find a home on “Gleise” (the planet, not the star) in that temperate in-between zone!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz Alan Kurtz

    John, I know you think I’m nitpicking. Commenters, like those on this thread, typically call me an asshole and a Nazi because I point out misspellings. But I do that only with writers whom I respect or whom I loathe. Needless to say, 99% of Blogcritics writers fit neither category.

    In your case, it’s because I respect you. Like me, you’ve demonstrated unusual range as a blogger here, refusing to be pigeonholed. Of your 49 articles, two-thirds have appeared in the Politics section, which interests me least among the menu of BC categories. However, you’ve also published 10 articles in Sci/Tech, one of my favorite sections. Plus you’ve delved into Culture (3), Video (2) and even Sports (1).

    I’m attracted initially by your choices in subject matter, and I usually read your article in full because of your accessible writing style, which is especially important for me as a layman in Sci/Tech.

    Your only consistent fault, as far as I can tell, is terrible spelling. As I explained in comment #1 above, that’s distracting. Even worse, [Edited] careless writing to me signals sloppy thinking.

    Your comment today scoffs at my concern. “I should seriously consider hiring a room full of editors to proofread my efforts. I only have so much time to devote to this merry folly.”

    John, it’s not folly to strive for excellence. Haven’t you noticed the slogan on BC’s masthead near the top of every page on this site? “A sinister cabal of superior writers.” What is there about the word superior that you and the guys who call me an asshole and a Nazi don’t get?

    Perhaps you think that’s just Eric Olsen’s little joke on everyone, that he didn’t put it there to inspire us, but simply to amuse himself with a sarcastic reference to writers whom he in fact considers inferior. I reject that.

    I also reject the excuse that proofreading in this day and age is time-consuming. I presume you use word processing software. Any decent application will include a spell-checker. MS-Word checks and in most instances automatically corrects spelling as one types and/or in a full-document sweep afterwards.

    When I copied and pasted your list of published BC articles to ascertain the breakdown of categories reported in ¶2 above, my screen instantly lit up with red squiggly underlining beneath names or words you misspelled in the teasers.

         • Petreus (Aug 17, 2010)
         • noteable and referrence (Jul 27, 2010)
         • Preception (May 21, 2010)
         • Mulims (Nov 15, 2009)
         • Mens (Nov 06, 2009)
         • proported (Oct 30, 2009)

    This literally took one minute, John. Can’t you spare us readers that little time? Or do you hold us in such contempt that you cannot be bothered?

    You mentioned editors, and that is indeed a sore point at Blogcritics. For the most part, our editors are nonprofessionals, and it shows. Some of them are fine, but others are useless and a few are downright liabilities. So it’s up to each writer to fend for himself. But I for one believe we owe it both to our readers and to our own sense of self-respect to produce a polished product. If believing this makes me an asshole, a Nazi, or a fool obsessed with merry folly, so be it. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to sink to the Internet’s lowest common denominator just to mollify those who scorn me.

  • John Lake

    Now, Alan, don’t get me wrong. I was gratified today to note that I have broken the 2000 reads in one week barrier! This cabal forms a new and great “On line Magazine”, as Eric mentioned. In addition we note that Mr. Olsen has “gone on..”
    Now to the meat: One repetition of the word, “as**ole”, is far more distracting than many many Almadinehads (sp intentional!). Shame on you! I have no particular problem however with the use of the word “Nazi”.
    I do ever so hope you’ll keep reading my ‘stuff’!
    You noticed my “sports” article?! Go Bears!
    And go Devin Hester!!
    (Non fans; Hester is a special teams kick returner extraordianry!)

  • John Lake

    Jason
    thank you for your comment. We all hope to experience wonders in the future. The Universe is more vast than we had thought; life like ours is inevitable. In infinity, everything that can happen, will!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz Alan Kurtz

    John Lake

    [Edited]

    As for the word Nazi, with which you “have no particular problem,” it cuts deep in me. One of my uncles was killed on D-Day by members of the Wehrmacht, who were defending the Nazi stranglehold on western Europe. My uncle, who left a widow and two young children, was initially buried in one of ten U.S. cemeteries on the battlefield. His remains were later repatriated when the American Battle Monuments Commission consolidated casualties into the Normandy American Cemetery at Colleville Sur Mer.

    I grew up in a family where all traces of Germanic culture were assiduously avoided. As a child, I never heard German spoken, never ate German food, didn’t listen to German music (not even Bach, whom my mother adored). My grandfather insisted we retain our surname as a reminder of both the place from where our ancestors emigrated and the obscenity that Nazis had made of a once-great culture.

    Does it hurt me when thoughtless people call me a Nazi? It brings tears to my eyes.

    Yes, John, I have a problem with that word.

  • STM and the axis of evil

    AK: “One of my uncles was killed on D-Day by members of the Wehrmacht”

    Finally, we have something in common.

  • Ruvy

    Twenty light years from earth? A great place for a “Palestinian state” – and all the multitudinous idiots who support one!

  • Ruvy

    By the way, the way I figured it, this planet is 12,200,000,000,000 kilometers away from earth – more or less (what’s a few trillion kms between friends, right?). Traveling at Mach 10 – that’s 240,000 km daily – it would take a long long time to get there.

    Sticking a few million Arabs on an Ark – along with their dimwit supporters so they’ll have someone to rape, bully and otherwise abuse – would be a great idea. After two days, they would be beyond the moon – out of sight, out of mind.

    Peace at last!

  • zingzing

    alan, do you really start crying every time you’re called a grammar nazi? and do you really think anyone is calling you a nazi?

    no, you didn’t, and no, you don’t. so stop being such a ninnybunny.

    that’s right.

    ninnybunny.

    i’m half of germanic descent, and i had a few dozen (catholics are prolific) relatives die during ww2 (on both sides), but there’s no need to get all weepy over a recognized term. a grammar nazi is a grammar nazi, not a nazi.

    your attitude on muslims doesn’t preclude you from joining their ranks, however. so you should work on that, mr. godwin.

  • zingzing

    what’s so wrong about a palestinian state, ruvy? it’s not ideal, but it would certainly allow the segregation you seem to like so much. mmm… segregation means hate with a wall around it. oh yeah. stuff of dreams.

  • Ruvy

    Let ‘em have their “Palestinian state” on another planet. I’m sick of them – and I’m not moving.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz Alan Kurtz

    Ruvy (#15, #16), your sense of humor has gotten the better of you. “Sticking a few million Arabs on an Ark” and blasting them into outer space to establish a Palestinian state 20 light years from Earth is witty, in the nastiest sort of way, but also nasty in the most witless way.

    You invite anti-Semitic counterproposals that the nation of Israel ought to be sent en masse to Planet Goldie Lox, 20 light years from Earth in the opposite direction from the Palestinians. Now that would solve all problems in the Middle East, wouldn’t it?

    Seriously, Ruvy, you ought to consider the irony (to put it mildly) of forcibly relocating millions of people to a penal colony, be it in outer space or at a complex of extermination camps known as Auschwitz. Even in jest, it’s a despicable idea.

  • Ruvy

    At least, Alan, you realize that I have a sense of humor – even if you don’t particularly like it. zing has problems with even that realization.

    And I never suggested a penal colony. Brits think like that. I’m no Brit.

  • zingzing

    yes, ruvy. i truly believe you want to shoot palestinians into space. sigh.

  • http://passiontounderstand.blogspot.com/ Emm

    I was reading articles on one of our competitor’s sites today and I was appalled by the bad spelling, grammar and obvious lack of editing in their artices. I agree, let’s try keep the standard up with the simple use of spell check. (But that is not a comment on the article above, just an idea).

    It is really interesting that this planet does not rotate. Like STM says, it might lead to a more benign climate but it begs the question of whether winter is necessary? I get the idea that you will find the continual process of birth, death and renewal to be a vital part of our ecosystems and that life would be pretty hard to sustain without that.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Without rotation, I am curious what gravity is like on the planet

  • Richard

    Apparently it’ll be pretty warm there (described in a UK newspaper as “short-sleeve weather”).

    I wonder how long it’ll take to screw up the environment so we need to find another planet?!

  • STM and the axis of evil

    Ruvy: “And I never suggested a penal colony. Brits think like that.”

    They weren’t very good at it, though.

    They sent all the party people of the empire to a sunny island continent paradise straddling the Indian and South Pacific Oceans, while all the “good” people stayed on a couple of little rocks stuck in the miserable chill of the North Sea.

    They should have done it the other way round for it to be truly a punishment.

    The great irony is that 200 or so years later, Brits looking for a better life are bashing down the door to get in to this place.

  • STM and the axis of evil

    EB: I wondered that too. From memory, the planet’s ability to hold an atmosphere has something to do with its gravity. Don’t know how. I must do some more research.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Well, Stan, gases have an extremely low mass. Gravity is related to mass, but is extremely feeble. Unless you place something very big indeed next to a body of gas, said gas ain’t going to hang around for long. So the smaller the rock, generally speaking (there are one or two exceptions), the more non-existent the atmosphere.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz Alan Kurtz

    Ruvy (#15): “Twenty light years from earth? A great place for a Palestinian state.”

    Ruvy (#16): “Sticking a few million Arabs on an Ark … would be a great idea. After two days, they would be beyond the moon – out of sight, out of mind.”

    Ruvy (#21): “I never suggested a penal colony.”

    Wikipedia: “A penal colony is a settlement used to exile prisoners and separate them from the general populace by placing them in a remote location, often an island or distant colonial territory.”

    Alan: So in what sense, Ruvy, would the Palestinian state in outer space not be a penal colony? Surely you’d have to take them prisoners in order to stick them on an Ark. Certainly at 20 light years from Earth, they’d be exiled to a remote location. Sounds like a penal colony to me.

  • zingzing

    and there’s the typo. we’re all human after all.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz Alan Kurtz

    What typo? Are you drunk?

  • Ruvy

    A penal colony is punishment – the penalizers have some folks to enforce a vicious discipline, etc. etc.

    I suggested something quite different – that the supporters of these terrorists go along – so the “Palestinians” would have somebody to abuse – because abuse them they would! The Arabs would be having a ball. But their supporters would not. For THEM it would be the worst penal colony imaginable – a lifetime of abuse with no relief except death.

  • John Lake

    Gravity as Dreadful alluded to has nothing to do with rotation; it is hinged to mass.
    I am constantly frustrated to read articles I have written and to find intolerable faults such as in the spelling. Obviously I use all available tools — this is the 21st century — but things slip by. I recently mis-spelled “missiles; I was beside myself for days. When we read and re-read an article several times, it all begins to blur.

  • John Lake

    re:#33
    I sure did make a mish-mash of that comment, too, didn’t I !?

  • http://financialpolitics.com/ Sekhar

    Ruvy,
    I’m really shocked here to see the way you linked a scientific invention to I-P conflict. I just can’t understand your meaningless hatred towards Arabs.

    Do you like to see all Arabs as terrorists? Do you wish Arabs rape and abuse their supporters?

    Your personification of Arabs and their supporters is just not acceptable to a civilized person. I’m really bewildered with your various statements regarding I-P conflict.

    And why don’t you provide information I’ve asked for under my article on ‘West Asia peace talks?’

  • Ruvy

    You also have little of a sense of humor, Sekhar. What is not acceptable to a civilized person is the way the stink of blood rises from Central Asia in communal conflicts that make whatever happens here look like a scrap in the playground.

    As for Arabs abusing their supporters, I take the pleasure in rubbing your nose in the dirty facts of the matter.

    I do not view ALL Arabs in this light, but I view those who vilify us, and who try to kill us, not to mention those who rape and abuse the women who attempt to help them, as less than human.

  • El fabio

    how amazing is your!

  • Zod

    I think it quite comical that a simple scientific info blog spurned a doctoral spelling critique, peace in the Middle East debate and the Holocaust. To Mr. Kurtz, I agree the internet has devolved English grammar and composition. (Tip – write comment composition in MS Word first, spell check, then cut and paste.).

    My thought, finding a goldilocks planet is great and but our primitive knowledge of propulsion keeps us on this rock until further notice.

  • John Lake

    Mr. Kurtz perhaps has little else to do. And I don’t doubt, a kind hearted relative to proof, and to re-proof.
    As to propulsion, I wonder if there is unexpected potential in magnetic energy. Since these magnets can move particles to near light speeds, maybe the magnets will prove a source of drive to explore the outer reaches of the universe.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    Mr. Lake, I have no kind hearted relative to proof and to re-proof. You are a churl to deny the care I take with my writing.

  • John Lake

    churl — as in churlish–
    amazing!