First habitable Earth-like planet found orbiting distant star! (May 2011)
Two Harvard scientists have gone out on a limb and made a planet discovery prediction: the first Earth-like planet will be announced in the first half of 2011, with the likeliest date being early May 2011.
Their paper, "A Scientometric Prediction of the Discovery of the First Potentially Habitable Planet with a Mass Similar to Earth", appears in the October 4 edition of PLoS ONE.
Arbesman and Laughlin explain that they used the properties of previously discovered exoplanets to formulate a metric of habitability, H, for planets.
For H=0, the planet is uninhabitable, while a value of 1 indicates an Earth-like planet. The recently-discovered planet Gliese 581d has H = 0.01, "still quite low", they write.
This metric was then bootstrapped (a kind of statistical prediction technique) to yield the likely discovery dates.
Therefore, it is reasonable to use the habitability metric curve as a rough prediction for when the first potentially habitable planet will be discovered, in this case, as early as May 2011, and likely by the end of 2013.
The authors also note that their paper highlights "the the usefulness of predictive scientometric techniques to understand the pace of scientific discovery in many fields." [double-the in original]
See y'all May next year!
nothing more to see. please move along.