Our new Indie Games subforum is now open for business in G&T. Go and check it out, you might land a code for a free game. If you're developing an indie game and want to post about it, follow these directions. If you don't, he'll break your legs! Hahaha! Seriously though.
Our rules have been updated and given their own forum. Go and look at them! They are nice, and there may be new ones that you didn't know about! Hooray for rules! Hooray for The System! Hooray for Conforming!
Gliese 581 d and e. Recent discovery indicates we should send in Kevin Costner
Gliese 581 c and d are large exoplanets orbiting a star a mere 20 light years from earth, both weigh in at about 8 earth masses and are believed to have formed as icy giants in the outer solar system and drifted in. At the time of their discovery in 2007 it was believed that 581 d was frozen solid, and c was on the very very inner edge of the habitable zone in terms of temperature. Further investigation revealed that the likely greenhouse effect caused by its enormous mass would make any life like that on earth nearly impossible as most of the planet would be superheated steam.
However yesterday Gliese 581 e was discovered, with a mass of only 1.9 earths it is almost definately a rocky planet, perfect for life but it is far too close to the star.\
Don't despair however those who hope for an alien fishing trip, the new updated Data now places Gliese 581 d perfectly in the habitable zone. Its 'most likely' structure is a single giant endless ocean of liquid water, about 78 KM deep before it freezes. Surface gravity would be near identical to earth due to the lower density, and all in all with just a few methods for generating convection currents rising from the deep ocean to throw stuff back into the upper ocean it would be perfect for life.
So, what do we all think? Even if Gliese itself turns out to be a dud, this means we have found earth size planets and planets in the habiable zone of their stars even in the presence of near solar giant planets. This means there are likely hundreds of trillions of these planets, more common than grains of sand on the beach. On the drakes equation we very rapidly move from life being rare and far away, to life being uniform and everywhere!
edit - In other good news, the Bebo social networking site has already sent them some spam email, back in 2008 when it looked that c might just be habitable. http://www.bebo.com/amessagefromearth