Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Do astronomers have the right to keep their findings secret?

From Smart Planet
Honest! As weird as this sounds, it is going on right now. From the article:
  • The Kepler mission is a NASA program designed to find other possible Earth-like planets orbiting stars outside our solar system. The team involved have painstakingly scoured a patch of space for the tiniest signs of small planets ... and were due to release their findings June 15th–but, ... have not.
The reasoning? The Kepler people and NASA agreed:
  • to delay the complete release of their findings by six months, due to launch delays and other various problems that left the team with less time to analyze their findings
Their reasoning is that there is a high risk of false positives and they want time to refine their findings. But this is when it gets a bit weird:
  • The team is releasing a list of 350 possible planets, but keeping their best 400 secret for a few months for further analysis.
You just have to think that the conspiracy nuts will have a field day with this decision! Does NASA really think that their decision will limit the controversy?

You be the judge. Click the article title for the complete work.

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