Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"An avalanche of alien planets"

A couple of ideas here. The brouhaha over climate change data cherry picking shows the dangers of allowing a small in-group to control the access to and publication of raw data. In the current situation, this is OUR money they are spending. I want the raw observations published, not just data massaged to conform to 'best practices' or a particular set of principles or theories. The scientists attempting to withhold raw data are basically stealing from the entire scientific community, not ot mention misusing public funds. People who try to do this should have their public funding reduced drastically or even eliminated in the future. They are also slowing the process of discovery for the entire field, all to please their own precious egos (and improve their funding chances for the future.). It would be tolerable, although dastardly, for them to do this if they were spending their own or private endowment funds. They are hijacking the public funding process for personal gain.

Second, the huge number of extrasolar planets in close orbits around their stars means our notions of stable planetary systems are all wrong, or we are misinterpreting our observations. These stars are going to 'ea't these close in planets, and that means either they all formed recently (basically, impossible) or planets are continually replaced from some external source and are captured into the gravity well of the star, spiral in and are consumed. If that is truly the case in so many systems, our solar system is unusual for its relative stability of planetary orbits (which I would suspect is mediated by the relative size and positions of Jupiter and Saturn).

Third, if it is true that most planetary systems have planets with relatively short lifetimes, then life may indeed be rare in our galaxy.

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