National Geographic : 2005 Apr
Forum December 2004 Many readers debated the broad ideas covered in this month's issue. Some were excited at the prospect ofplanets like our own in "Someplace Like Earth," but others felt that resources should be focused on Earthfirst. One readerfound irony in our stories. "We areon the cusp of discoveringplanets like Earth billions of miles away, while at the same time we can'tfind Osama bin Laden here on our own planet." Someplace Uke Earth I thoroughly enjoyed this well written article but saw no men tion of what we would do if we found a habitable planet or planets. With the awesome astro nomical distances involved, it could take many lifetimes just to say "Hello"! RICHARD D. STACY Montrose, California The human race exerts such considerable effort and thought to locate other habitable planets with life while being so hell bent on destroying the habit ability of our own planet. It is imperative to the future of our species that we focus more on being good stewards of our mother ship Earth before set ting our sights on other worlds to exploit. CHRISTIAN GLENN Woodbridge, Virginia FOR MORE INFORMATION To get NATIONALGEOGRAPHICplease call 1-800 -NGS-LINE (1-800-647-5463). Hearing-impaired TDD users may call 1-800 -548-9797. The magazine's website: nationalgeo graphic.com/magazine For an online index of all National Geographic publications, go to: nationalgeographic.com/publications The thought that remained with me after reading the article is that the star-wobble method of planet detection seems to have limited application. If a star has multiple planets, each planet could alter or reduce the effects of another planet's pull on the star, affecting the star wobble or even making it undetectable. I wonder if the astronomers feel that this procedure for planet detection is going to miss some stars that do have planets? DICK MASTIN Alto, New Mexico According to Alan Boss, an astro physicist at the Departmentof TerrestrialMagnetism, Carnegie Institution of Washington, when there are several planets in the same system, theirpulls on the centralstar at times cancel each otherout. At other times theirpulls add together andproduce an even larger wobble of the star, making the presence of the planets even easierto detect. As long as there areenough data, it's possible to dis entanglethe effects of the different planets and determine their orbits. On the Trail of bin Laden In every issue of your magazine there is at least one image that grips me. This time there were NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC * APRIL 2005 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY "Forthe increaseand diffusion of geographicknowledge." The National Geographic Society is chartered in Washington, D.C ., as a nonprofit scientific and educational organization. Since 1888 the Society has supported more than 7,500 explorations and research projects, adding to knowledge of earth,sea, and sky. JOHN M. FAHEY, JR., Presidentand CEO Executive Vice Presidents TERRENCE B. ADAMSON LINDA BERKELEY, Preident,Enterprises TERRY D. GARCIA, Mission Programs JOHN Q. GRIFFIN, President, Magazine Group NINA D. HOFFMAN, President, Books and School PublishingGroup CHRISTOPHER A. LIEDEL, CFO BOARD OF TRUSTEES GILBERT M. GROSVENOR, Chairman REG MURPHY, Vice Chairman JOAN ABRAHAMSON, MICHAEL R. BONSIGNORE, MARTHA E. CHURCH, MICHAEL COLLINS, ROGER A. ENRICO, JOHN M. FAHEY, JR., DANIEL S. GOLDIN, JOHN JAY ISELIN, JAMES C. KAUTZ, J. WILLARD MARRIOTT, JR., FLORETTA DUKES MCKENZIE, GEORGE MUIOZ, PATRICK E NOONAN, NATHANIEL P. REED, WILLIAM K. REILLY, ROZANNE L RIDGWAY, JAMES R. SASSER, B. FRANCIS SAUL II, GERD SCHULTE-HILLEN TRUSTEES EMERITUS Joe L Albritton, William L Alen, Thomas E. Bolger, Frank Borman, Lewis M. Brancomb, Robert L Breeden, Lloyd H. Elliott, George M. Elsey, Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson, Robert C. Seamans, Jr, Frederick G. Vosburgh COUNCIL OF ADVISORS Roger A Enrico, Chairman;Michael R. Bonsignore, Howard G. Buffett, Craig D. Campbell, Jean N. Case, Juliet C. Folger, Robert B. Haas, Robert A. Hefner III,David H. Koch, BruceL Ludwig, Sally Engelhard Pingree, W. Russell Ramsey, Catherine B. Reynolds, Edward P. Roski,Jr., B. Francis Saul II Michele Sofisti, Ted Waitt, GarryA. Weber, Tracy R. WoIstencrof RESEARCH AND EXPLORATION COMMITTEE Peter H. Raven, Chairman;JohnM. Francis, Vice Chairman; Martha E. Church, Steven M. Colman, Scott V. Edwards, William L Graf, Nancy Knowiton, Dan M. Martin, Scott E. Miller Jan Njman, Stuart L Pimm, Elsa M. Redmond, Bruce D. Smith, Hans-ieter Sues. Patricia C. Wright, Melinda A. Zeder EXPLORERS-IN-RESIDENCE Robert Ballard, Wade Davis, Sylvia Earle, Zahi Hawass, Louise Leakey, Meave Leakey. Johan Reinhard, Paul Sereno Conservation Fellow: J. Michael Fay CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS-IN RESIDENCE Sam Abell, Annie Griffiths Belt, David Doubilet, Karen Kasmauski, Emory Kristof, Frans Lanting MISSION PROGRAMS Vie Presidents: Barbara A. Chow, Education Foundation; John M. Francis, Research, Conservation, nd Exploration Jacquellne M. Hollister, Development; Sarah Laskin, Public Programs. Exhibts: Susan S. Norton, Expedtons Council: Rebecca Martin. Geography Bee Mary Lee Elden. Lecture: P. Andrew van Duym, Gregory A. McGruder School Publishing: Ericka Markman, Sr. Vice President International: Robert W. Hernandez, Sr. Vice President Human Resources Thomas A. Sablb, Sr. Vice President Communications: Betty Hudson, Sr. Vice President Treasurer: H. Gregory Platts, Sr. Vice President NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC VENTURES DENNIS R. PATRICK, Presidentand CEO Television: Timothy T. Kelly, President. National Geographc Channel: David Haslingden, President, International; Laureen Ong, President, U.S. nationalgeographlc.com: Chris McAndrews, Senior Vice President and General Manager National Geographic Maps: Frances A. Marshall, President; Alien Carroll, Chief Cartographer Contributions to the National Geographic Society are tax deductible under Section 501(cX3) of the U.S. tax code. Copyght 2005 National Geographic Society. Allrights reserved. National Geographic and Yellow Border: Registered Trademarks® Marcas Registradas. National Geographic assumes no responsibility for unsolicited materials.Printed in U.S.A.