Friday, October 1, 2010

657)Scientists Find The First "Goldilocks" Extrasolar Planet: Not Too Hot, Not Too Cold But Just Right; Quotes From Blogpost Four Hundred.

"...As we use our intellect to gain new knowledge about Creation, we come to see even more profoundly the depth and breadth of its mysteries. We explore unknown regions beneath the seas – and in outer space. We reach back over hundreds of millions of years in time. Extra-ordinary fossilised geological specimens seize our imagination – palm leaves, amethyst flowers, hedgehog quartz, sea lilies, chrysanthemum and a rich panoply of shells. Indeed, these wonders are found beneath the very soil on which we tread – in every corner of the world – and they connect us with far distant epochs and environments.
And the more we discover, the more we know, the more we penetrate just below the surface of our normal lives – the more our imagination staggers. Just think for example what might lie below the surfaces of celestial bodies all across the far flung reaches of our universe. What we feel, even as we learn, is an ever-renewed sense of wonder, indeed, a powerful sense of awe – and of Divine inspiration"(Aga Khan IV, Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat, Ottawa, Canada, December 6th 2008)For the full version of this quote see:

"......The Quran tells us that signs of Allah’s Sovereignty are found in the contemplation of His Creation - in the heavens and the earth, the night and the day, the clouds and the seas, the winds and the waters...."(Aga Khan IV, Kampala, Uganda, August 22 2007)

"Indeed, one strength of Islam has always lain in its belief that creation is not static but continuous, that through scientific and other endeavours, God has opened and continues to open new windows for us to see the marvels of His creation"(Aga Khan IV, Aga Khan University, 16 March 1983, Karachi, Pakistan)

"God has given us the miracle of life with all its attributes: the extraordinary manifestations of sunrise and sunset, of sickness and recovery, of birth and death, but surely if He has given us the means with which to remove ourselves from this world so as to go to other parts of the Universe, we can but accept as further manifestations the creation and destructions of stars, the birth and death of atomic particles, the flighting new sound and light waves. I am afraid that the torch of intellectual discovery, the attraction of the unknown, the desire for intellectual self-perfection have left us"(Aga Khan IV,Speech, 1963, Mindanao, Phillipines)

"Islam is fundamentally in its very nature a natural religion. Throughout the Quran God's signs (Ayats) are referred to as the natural phenomenon, the law and order of the universe, the exactitudes and consequences of the relations between natural phenomenon in cause and effect. Over and over, the stars, sun, moon, earthquakes, fruits of the earth and trees are mentioned as the signs of divine power, divine law and divine order. Even in the Ayeh of Noor, divine is referred to as the natural phenomenon of light and even references are made to the fruit of the earth."(Aga Khan III, April 4th 1952, Karachi, Pakistan)

Chapter 21, Verse 30: Do not the unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together before We clove them asunder, and of water fashioned every thing? Will they not then believe?(Noble Quran, 7th Century CE)

Chapter 51, verse 47: We built the heavens with might, and We expand it wide(Noble Quran, 7th Century CE)

Chapter79, verse 30: And then he gave the earth an oval form(Noble Quran, 7th Century CE)

Chapter 86, verse 11: I swear by the reciprocating heaven.....(Noble Quran, 7th Century CE)

"One hour of contemplation on the works of the Creator is better than a thousand hours of prayer"(Prophet Muhammad, circa 632CE)

September 29, 2010

New Planet May Be Able to Nurture Organisms

It might be a place that only a lichen or pond scum could love, but astronomers said Wednesday that they had found a very distant planet capable of harboring water on its surface, thus potentially making it a home for plant or animal life.

Nobody from Earth will be visiting anytime soon: The planet, which goes by the bumpy name of Gliese 581g, is orbiting a star about 20 light-years away in the constellation Libra.

But if the finding is confirmed by other astronomers, the planet, which has three to four times the mass of Earth, would be the most Earthlike planet yet discovered, and the first to meet the criteria for being potentially habitable.

“It’s been a long haul,” said Steven S. Vogt of the University of California, Santa Cruz, who, along with R. Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, led the team that made the discovery. “This is the first exoplanet that has the right conditions for water to exist on its surface.”

In a recent report for the National Academy of Science, astronomers declared the finding of such planets one of the major goals of this decade. NASA’s Kepler satellite — which was launched in March 2009 as a way to detect Earthlike bodies — is expected to harvest dozens or hundreds.

Gliese 581g (whose first name is pronounced GLEE-za) circles a dim red star known as Gliese 581, once every 37 days, at a distance of about 14 million miles. That is smack in the middle of the so-called Goldilocks zone, where the heat from the star is neither too cold nor too hot for water to exist in liquid form on its surface.

“This is really the first Goldilocks planet,” Dr. Butler said.

Other astronomers hailed the news as another harbinger that the search for “living planets,” as Dimitar D. Sasselov of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics calls them, is on the right track.

“I’m getting goose bumps,” said Caleb Scharf of Columbia University.

But they expressed caution about this particular planet, noting uncertainties about its density, composition and atmosphere, and the need for another generation of giant telescopes and spacecraft in order to find out anything more about it. Other Goldilocks planets have come and gone in recent years.

The discovery was announced at a news conference Wednesday in Washington, and the findings have been posted on the National Science Foundation’s Web site and will be published in The Astrophysical Journal.

The authors said the relative ease by which planet was found — in only 11 years — led them to believe that such planets must be common.

“Either we have just been incredibly lucky in this early detection, or we are truly on the threshold of a second Age of Discovery,” they wrote in their paper.

Pressed during the news conference about the possibility of life on Gliese 581g, Dr. Vogt protested that he was an astronomer, not a biologist. Then he relented, saying that, speaking strictly personally, he believed that “the chances of life on this planet are almost 100 percent.”

Asked the same question, Dr. Butler squirmed and said, “I like data.” After a pause he added: “And what the data say is that the planet is the right distance from the star to have water and the right mass to hold an atmosphere. What is needed simply to find lots and lots of these things is lots and lots of telescope time.”

The latest results from Gliese 581 were harvested from observations by two often competing teams, using telescopes in Chile and Hawaii to measure the slight gravitational tugs the star gets as its planets swing by.

This is hardly the first time around the block for Gliese 581, which is a longtime favorite of planet hunters and now is known to have six planets in its retinue. It is a dwarf star about one-third the mass of the Sun and only about one-hundredth as bright, allowing planets to huddle closer to the campfire. “It hauntingly reminds us of our own solar system,” Dr. Butler said.

Two of Gliese’s planets have already had their moment in the limelight as possible Goldilocks planets. One, known as Gliese 581c, circles just on the inner edge of the habitable zone and was thus thought to be habitable three years ago. But further analysis suggested that the greenhouse effect would turn it into a stifling hell. Another planet, just on the outer edge of the Goldilocks zone, is probably too cold.

“One is on the hot side, the other is on cold side,” and the new planet is right in between, Dr. Vogt said. “It’s bookended.”

He and his colleagues estimated the average temperature on the surface of Gliese 581g to be between 10 and minus 24 degrees Fahrenheit, about the same as a summer day in Antarctica.
But that means very little, he said, because the planet, like all the others in that system, keeps the same face to the star all the time. So the temperature could vary wildly from the day-side to the night-side of the planet, meaning that an organism could perhaps find a comfortable zone to live in.

But nobody really knows what is going on on Gliese 581g, said Sara Seager, a planetary astronomer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “If it was all carbon dioxide, like Venus, it would be pretty hot,” she said, adding that she would give the planet a 90 percent chance of holding water.

That, she pointed out, is faint praise in scientific circles. “Sounds high, but would you fly on a plane that only had an 8 or 9 chance out of 10 of making it?” she asked.

“Everyone is so primed to say here’s the next place we’re going to find life,” Dr. Seager said, “but this isn’t a good planet for follow-up.”

Planet hunters find exoplanet that could potentially support life

Easy Nash

In Shia Islam, intellect is a key component of faith. Intellect allows us to understand the creation of God: Aga Khan IV(2008)
The Qur'an itself repeatedly recommends Muslims to become better educated in order better to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
The Quran tells us that signs of Allah's Sovereignty are found in the contemplation of His Creation: Aga Khan IV(2007)
This notion of the capacity of the human intellect to understand and to admire the creation of Allah will bring you happiness in your everyday lives: Aga Khan IV(2007)
Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation: Aga Khan IV(2006)
The Holy Qu'ran's encouragement to study nature and the physical world around us gave the original impetus to scientific enquiry among Muslims: Aga Khan IV(1985)
The first and only thing created by God was the Intellect(Aql): Prophet Muhammad(circa 632CE)