Does Gliese 581g (the Earth likeish planet that was discovered last year) really exist? There appears to be some doubt and also some interesting debate taking place … its not game-over yet.
The Bad Astronomer (Phil Plate), has a good writeup on it all …
…there’s just one small, really eensy-teensy problem: the planet may not exist. But it also might. Maybe.
…the planet was called into doubt; the Swiss team re-examined their data and could not be absolutely certain that Gliese 581 g was there, but still gave it a thumbs-up at the 90+% level. That’s not too bad.
… Philip Gregory, an emeritus astronomer with the University of British Columbia, has analyzed both data sets using sophisticated statistical techniques, and he concluded that Gliese 581 g almost certainly wasn’t real. In fact, he says the odds of it being a false alarm are 99.9978%!
… Is it 90+% certain to be real, or 99.9978% certain it isn’t? … I don’t know.
…Well, that’s science! Two people disagree, and they make their cases. Vogt’s disagreements with Gregory’s methods are reasonable, in that he can make his case scientifically and mathematically. He may not be correct, but that’s a matter to be hammered out using science and peer review. Given that the claims are pretty specific (methods used, input parameters, statistical measurements), I think this will work itself out pretty rapidly.
However, the media got involved, and then things got a bit sticky.
So right now there is a bit of a media driven bun fight going on.
Click here to read it all … Phil also has a lot of background and a lot more detail, its worth a read if this is of interest to you.