September 29th, 2010

The "Goldilocks" Planet - Speculation vs. Observation?

We’re living in a very interesting age for science. It is an age where speculation becomes the headlines for scientific research. Just today, I noticed an article in the New York Times online Space and Cosmos section saying that they have discovered a new planet about 20 light years away from us (a very long way outside of our solar system). The headlines state, “New Planet May Be Able to Nurture Organisms.” The AP headline - “Could ‘Goldilocks’ planet be just right for life? 

The reason for the enthusiasm is that they think the planet named Gliese 581g is the right distance from its star to allow free water, a very necessary ingredient for any life to exist. One of the researcher team leaders, Steven Vogt, voiced a strictly personal opinion that he is almost 100 percent sure the planet would have life on it.

Wow, that is amazing speculation since the presence of water (not even verified on Gliese 581g) is not even close to life! The odds against spontaneously generating life (even with all the right ingredients including water present) are astronomically low! As Sir Fred Hoyle reported, it would be less likely to produce a living cell by accidents than it would be for a tornado sweeping through a junkyard to accidentally assemble a fully operable jet airplane.

It is a huge jump to go from potential water to life. However, to one sold out to the no-god idea of naturalism, it has to happen. It is part of keeping the faith! Speculation therefore wins out over observable science.

 

By Dave Nutting

 

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