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HABITABLE ALIEN WORLD discovered 20 light-years away!

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If there are advanced aliens at Gliese 581, we have already offended them seriously

Why Gliese 581 in particular, you may ask, should you not be a regular reader of Reg exoplanet coverage.

The answer to this is simple. During 2008, in an ultimately futile* attempt to add some buzz and value to their company, the bosses of Bebo took it into their heads to beam a powerful radio message at the Gliese 581 system. This in itself might not have been such a bad a idea, but sadly they chose to use as their message a selection of text and imagery submitted by devotees of the web-2.0 teenybopper portal.

As one might expect the resulting material focused on matters of interest only to mental cripples. There were many pictures of cats, boy crooners and other prominent figures in the Bebo userbase lifestyle. There were also many personal messages, a few of which we reproduce here:

Our bodies are made of bones ... We have senses. Smell, Taste, Sight and Touch. Without any of these things, we wouldn't live.

I love Television. We watch animated cartoons and real-life drama on it. I could sit and watch Television all day.

Hi im nicole. my ambitions for when i am older is to perform, i love anything to do with drama and someday i would love to appear on the west end stage, in a hit show.i also wouldnt mind doing a few television programs whether it is as a extra or a main part i dont mind i would love to appear on doctor who as i love it. anyway laters.Nicole x

Bebo execs hired unscrupulous Russian astronomer Alexander Zaitsev to beam the frightful guff-blast at Gliese 581 from a powerful Ukrainian radar telescope, and it will duly arrive at that star system in March 2029. In the event of sentient alien life being present, we can presumably expect a well-deserved planetsmasher missile strike by return of post at some point after 2049 (provided the aliens haven't mastered faster-than-light travel).

Let's all hope that any denizens of the possible, habitable Sunrise Belt of Gliese 581g - or perhaps of 581d, should it in fact be habitable - have failed to evolve beyond the level of pondlife or primitive gibbering tree-dwellers, and as such will not be offended by the Bebo drivel-blast solecism.

And meanwhile, since if the Carnegie boffins are correct the sky is bursting with habitable worlds, let's be a bit more careful about what we beam out into the void. And let's get cracking on those starships, already, before some galactic equivalent of the Germans chuck their beach-towels on all the best planets.

Those interested can read the Carnegie team's research in advance of publication here. ®

Bootnote

*Bebo is circling the drain. It was to be shut down, but eventually AOL managed to flog it off at a tiny fraction of its original valuation to investors who specialise in turning around small dysfunctional companies.

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