Are We Alone!?

September 30, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Reid Rosen

News Comment 9/29/10

An NPR article this Wednesday raises the age old question, is there life on other planets? Again our curiosity is peaked with astronomers finding of planet Gliese 581-g that lies in the solar system Gliese 581. The planet which is only 20 light years away, shows very suitable conditions for life. Scientists are calling the planet the first finding of this caliber and say that it is a perfect temperature and distance away from the planet’s orbiting star to have water. Paul Butler one of the Chief Astrologists in the finding, says that “What we know is that this planet exists at the right distance for liquid water, and that it has the right amount of mass to hold onto an atmosphere and to protect its liquid water on the surface,” he also goes on to say. “Of course, any subsequent discussion about life is purely speculative.” Scientists are saying that the solar system Gliese 581 is extremely similar to our own, but on a smaller scale. About one hundredth the size, Gliese 581-g’s orbit takes 37 days. The next step for Scientists is to examine the atmosphere of Gliese 581-g.

I thought this was a really interesting story for NPR to report on because everything the report covers has been based off speculation. In our Journalism class we recently had discussions over the dangers of reporting on speculation. Of course the sources from the paper are reputable. But, even in the quote from Paul Butler he clarifies that it is all speculation. As an editor I think you would have to be very careful in what material you cover, especially if you are a reputable source like NPR.  The report and the title of the report are exciting for any reader who is skimming over the internet page. It immediately grabbed my attention because of the concept of life on another plant. I don’t know whether this would fit under the bizarre category but it grabs a reader’s attention.

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One Response to “Are We Alone!?”
  1. fuglsang says:

    Speculation depends on the context, Reid. I don’t have any problem with this article because that’s all we have until we invent true spaceships. One of the biggest leaps we make is that for life to develop there has to be water. That may or may not be true, but it’s the all we have until we’re proved wrong.

    I wouldn’t put this under bizarre. Instead I would consider audience. For scientists, astronomers, sci-fi geeks, this could have huge impact on our future development.

    Good story.