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Author Topic: Strange find on Titan sparks chatter about life  (Read 4501 times)
LyricFox
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« Topic Start: June 08, 2010, 07:25:45 am »

Strange find on Titan sparks chatter about life
Studies may suggest methane-based organic processes ... but maybe not

New findings have roused a great deal of hoopla over the possibility of life on Saturn's moon Titan, which some news reports have further hyped up as hints of extraterrestrials.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37556728/ns/technology_and_science-space/
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« Reply #1: June 08, 2010, 07:53:32 am »

Strange find on Titan sparks chatter about life
Studies may suggest methane-based organic processes ... but maybe not

IMHO, it's WAY too early to be thinking "certainly methane-based life" (or life at all) based on this type of evidence. However, you'll never convince the news media of this.
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« Reply #2: June 08, 2010, 10:17:57 am »

Strange find on Titan sparks chatter about life
Studies may suggest methane-based organic processes ... but maybe not

New findings have roused a great deal of hoopla over the possibility of life on Saturn's moon Titan, which some news reports have further hyped up as hints of extraterrestrials.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37556728/ns/technology_and_science-space/

I think those findings were published waaaaay too early - or at least the spin around them cropped up too soon. It's a shame. Unfortunately, until we develop faster than light speed travel, it doesn't look like we'll be able to get to Titan to check things out any time soon.
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« Reply #3: June 08, 2010, 12:29:09 pm »

I think those findings were published waaaaay too early - or at least the spin around them cropped up too soon. It's a shame.

It's the spin. The actual findings are fine. They could be a sign of life, but there are other things that need to be ruled out first. Reporters tend to focus on the "signs of life" bit and play down the fact that there are all sorts of other possible explanations to rule out first.  I know of several cases where scientists discussing certain speculative thing that attract reporters like magnets have started using very obscure terms to describe things so that the average reporter looking for a wild story will not notice. Time travel, for example, isn't referred to that way any more as any research published always got over the top news reports.

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Unfortunately, until we develop faster than light speed travel, it doesn't look like we'll be able to get to Titan to check things out any time soon.

FTL drives aren't need to go to Saturn. You wouldn't want to send people for something like this anyway, robotic spacecraft are better for this type of early exploration. Robotic probes are what was used to make these observations.
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« Reply #4: June 08, 2010, 12:38:48 pm »

It's the spin. The actual findings are fine. They could be a sign of life, but there are other things that need to be ruled out first. Reporters tend to focus on the "signs of life" bit and play down the fact that there are all sorts of other possible explanations to rule out first.  I know of several cases where scientists discussing certain speculative thing that attract reporters like magnets have started using very obscure terms to describe things so that the average reporter looking for a wild story will not notice. Time travel, for example, isn't referred to that way any more as any research published always got over the top news reports.

FTL drives aren't need to go to Saturn. You wouldn't want to send people for something like this anyway, robotic spacecraft are better for this type of early exploration. Robotic probes are what was used to make these observations.

Not needed to get there, but to get there within our lifetime, right? (Actually, I have no concept of how far Titan is from Earth, just that it takes years to get to Mars with the technology we've got now.) Ah well, this is where it comes out that most of my scientific knowledge comes from fiction and TV shows. Wink

That's curious about scientists using different language to sidestep crazy reporters. What do they refer to time travel as? "Advanced chronological displacement"?
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« Reply #5: June 08, 2010, 03:18:40 pm »

Not needed to get there, but to get there within our lifetime, right? (Actually, I have no concept of how far Titan is from Earth, just that it takes years to get to Mars with the technology we've got now.) Ah well, this is where it comes out that most of my scientific knowledge comes from fiction and TV shows. Wink

That's curious about scientists using different language to sidestep crazy reporters. What do they refer to time travel as? "Advanced chronological displacement"?

Naw, I think you can send a robot probe to Titan within a decade of launch to reaching it, if timed right.  Something like that.

It takes two years at optimum to send a HUMAN mission to Mars, but remember, human missions have little issues robot ones don't.  Like G-forces.  And survivability.  Robots can take a lot more. Cheesy
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« Reply #6: June 08, 2010, 03:36:30 pm »

Naw, I think you can send a robot probe to Titan within a decade of launch to reaching it, if timed right.  Something like that.

I think it's about 7 years, depending on where the earth and Saturn are in their orbits.

I don't think I'd want to spend 7 years in a spacecraft, even if humans could physically do that!
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« Reply #7: June 08, 2010, 03:45:32 pm »

Naw, I think you can send a robot probe to Titan within a decade of launch to reaching it, if timed right.  Something like that.

It takes two years at optimum to send a HUMAN mission to Mars, but remember, human missions have little issues robot ones don't.  Like G-forces.  And survivability.  Robots can take a lot more. Cheesy

Ohhhh okay. The only thing I know, space wise, is that Alpha Centauri is the closest star to us besides the Sun and is four light years away. Cheesy Thank you Asimov!
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« Reply #8: June 08, 2010, 05:00:54 pm »

Not needed to get there, but to get there within our lifetime, right? (Actually, I have no concept of how far Titan is from Earth, just that it takes years to get to Mars with the technology we've got now.) Ah well, this is where it comes out that most of my scientific knowledge comes from fiction and TV shows. Wink

With current/near current technology, a manned mission to Saturn would take about 3-4 years one way (if I remember correctly) assuming you launch at when the Earth and Saturn are in good positions. Recent missions take much longer because they aren't going directly there. Instead they head to other planets first and slingshot around them, gaining a free speed boost. This makes getting there much cheaper, but it takes much longer.
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« Reply #9: June 08, 2010, 07:38:35 pm »

Strange find on Titan sparks chatter about life
Studies may suggest methane-based organic processes ... but maybe not

New findings have roused a great deal of hoopla over the possibility of life on Saturn's moon Titan, which some news reports have further hyped up as hints of extraterrestrials.


Regardless of life or not, it's enthralling that our own little solar system is populated by so many diverse worlds. I yearn for an unmanned probe to give us a better glimpse of them, but I dread that, if any life does exist on any or our immediate neighbors, our very attempts to learn about them could prove devastatingly disruptive to them.
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« Reply #10: June 08, 2010, 08:00:15 pm »

Regardless of life or not, it's enthralling that our own little solar system is populated by so many diverse worlds. I yearn for an unmanned probe to give us a better glimpse of them, but I dread that, if any life does exist on any or our immediate neighbors, our very attempts to learn about them could prove devastatingly disruptive to them.

Given our track record with other forms of life on our own planet....

Hell, just our track record with members of our own species!
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« Reply #11: June 08, 2010, 09:57:08 pm »

....but I dread that, if any life does exist on any or our immediate neighbors, our very attempts to learn about them could prove devastatingly disruptive to them.

Another good reason not to rush a manned mission to Titan.
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« Reply #12: June 22, 2010, 03:42:02 am »

until we develop faster than light speed travel, it doesn't look like we'll be able to get to Titan to check things out any time soon.

I'm not sure FTL would be practical for use over inter-planetary distances
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« Reply #13: June 22, 2010, 03:47:55 am »

It's the spin. The actual findings are fine. They could be a sign of life, but there are other things that need to be ruled out first.

Kind of like the Viking missions on Mars
Yes, we observed interesting chemical reactions in the soil
And yes, these reactions could have been the result of biological activity
But they could also have been simply interesting chemical reactions in the soil
We don't have enough evidence to rule out either possibility

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« Reply #14: June 22, 2010, 07:50:19 am »

We don't have enough evidence to rule out either possibility

Exactly.
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