Wednesday, April 25, 2007


According to A.P., scientists have discovered a "potentially habitable planet." Many questions remain, including whether it has a an atmosphere, liquid water, or whether its red dwarf sun is warm enough. That said, the planet seems to have temperatures between 32 and 104 degrees, which has the astronomers very excited.

And it's only 20.5 light years away, so if you make the jump to lightspeed today, you'll be there in Autumn of 2027 to plant the flag. And start planting vegetables. Let's get to it folks.

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Blogger DED said...

I Was Going To Say Hyperspace Instead Of Light Speed But I Figured All The Sci-Fi Geeks Would Attack me If It's The Wrong Term, Is It?

LOL, well, you're right about using "light speed." But because of relativity, the light speed traveler might think its 2027 but to us it would be alot later. Relativity sucks that way.

"Hyperspace" is still fiction at this point, so it can be redefined at will to whatever the author wishes.

As far as the discovery goes, its definitely cool. I think most sci-fi geeks, like myself, have felt that it was only a matter of time before astronomers discovered habitable worlds around other stars.

Red dwarf stars are dimmer and cooler than yellow stars like our sun, so the "habitable zone" for these stars is going to be alot closer to them than ours. By comparison, a world orbiting a red dwarf star would have to be in the equivalent orbit of Mercury, give or take a few million miles, to be warm enough for liquid water to be present (as opposed to being frozen over).

10:11 AM  
Blogger DWilkers said...

...because of relativity, the light speed traveler might think its 2027 but to us it would be alot later...

I have read and studied this for years and for the life of me I just don't get relativity. Inferior mind I guess.

The way I understand it, the traveller would experience it as 20 years, but on earth like 200 years would pass.

I repeat though, the 'why' of it...I'm clueless.

As for the planet, I'm ready to go right now. I have pretty much figured out I don't belong here, it seems there's been a colossal mistake.

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Out of 200 billion stars in the galaxy man evolved on this one. It has the greatest possible diversity. Of course we can go find another, even better planet tomorrow, so we don't have to feel bad about trashing this one. A hundred million years of evolution can surely be outfoxed by a rocket ship, right?

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did some math once where I figured that in order to reach the next nearest star a person would need to pull 9 Gs for two years, coast two years, then two years of 9 Gs braking thruster just to get there. Navigation would need to be perfect. No accidents along the way. Man that would be a rocket ship about tenth a light year long. The human body couldn't take it even if we built the damn thing, and what would they do when they got there anyway? We're not just organisms polluting a planet, no we're special. We need to make sure we don't go the way of the dino, because that would mean that we are just poo flinging monkeys.

11:16 AM  
Blogger DED said...

I repeat though, the 'why' of it...I'm clueless.

I don't think that there's ever been an explanation of why the universe works this way or why it has to be this way, just that it does. I can't think of any laws that break if relativity weren't true. I could very well be wrong though.

It's sort of like we know that the sky is blue because nitrogen absorbs light on all frequencies except for blue. But we don't know why it's blue and not some other color. Do we?

11:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But we don't know why it's blue and not some other color. Do we?

What is blue? Blue is an electrical impulse from your retina to your brain. What you see as blue an alien might see as gifretimox yellow.

12:25 PM  
Blogger DED said...

"Blue" is the name for the color of light in the "visible light" portion of the spectrum. It is defined as light with a wavelength of 440 to 490 nanometers. So, it's not entirely subjective.

Obviously, an alien would have a different word to describe "blue." Of course, an alien might also be color blind. Or it might not see that part of the spectrum of light. It might only be able to see light in the X-ray portion of the spectrum. Alot of this depends on the physiology of the alien's eyes.

But I didn't want to drag aliens into my comparison of "why certain things are" in the universe. It's a confusing enough place without dragging in alien perspectives. :)

1:31 PM  
Blogger DWilkers said...

I don't think that there's ever been an explanation of why the universe works this way or why it has to be this way, just that it does.

I guess I said it poorly.

Relativity says if I am moving the speed of light relative to me stays the same. It also says the speed of light is a universal constant and never changes.

Qualified; as I said, this doesn't make sense to me so....

So if I get it right, and I've read enough to think I do, relativity says the speed of light never changes and is the universal constant, except it really isn't.

The speed of light is relative to me no matter what speed I am moving, it comes into play in our everyday lives. As I walk the the Herbmeister if I were to shine a flashlight then relative to me the light would still move at the speed of light, even if I were walking him at 185,000 miles per second (or 6 mile per hour).

However, if I were walking the Herbinator at 185,000 miles per second and shone the old MagLight, did the light beam then move at the speed of light plus my speed (185,000 + 186,000 = 371,000 miles per second)?

If so, how did it do dat? If not then howcome it looks that way to me?

I've struggled with this concept for years and still do not get it.

Anyhoo, I'm all for launching a probe right now. If I understand it correctly and we do that today we'll know what's up on that planet in like the year 2,250 or something like that.

1:51 PM  
Blogger DWilkers said...

OT sorry: Here you go Mike, if you're still interested:

Romney's Contributors

....BMC Software? Huh. I used to do work for them. No idea what's up with that.

Also of interest to me:

"Blackout" on campaign ads in doubt

So we may get our right to free speech back yet.

Hide and watch, if we do, we'll have to pry it from Ginsberg, Breyer and Souter's cold dead fingers.

3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dwilkers, the science of quantum physics explains all your misgivings fully and completely. (rolls eyes)

ded, wouldn't aliens use a different measurement than nanometers? I mean, what are the chances?

3:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ded, furthermore, what if the aliens are wearing blue blocker polarized sunglasses, wouldn't that make earth seem invisible? Maybe that's why they haven't found us yet. Do the photons wiggle, or are they separate from the wave mechanics? I never got a straight answer to that one.

3:38 PM  
Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

*head explodes*

4:41 PM  
Blogger DED said...

Dwilkers: The speed of light is constant at 186,000 miles per second. This does not change. Don't confuse your relative speed to light with absolute speed.

Mort: Assuming that we can communicate with the aliens, we can tell them that a nanometer is 1/1,000,000,000 of a meter. And a meter is equivalent to the distance covered by a photon of light in a vacuum in 1/299,792,458 of a second. With this common reference point (the speed of light) we'd eventually be able to tell them what blue is.

6:39 PM  
Blogger Comandante AgĂ­ said...

If there's oil on that planet Halliburton is already there establishing colonies.

7:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ded, what if they don't use a base ten number system? They might go all ultraviolet on our azzes.

8:01 PM  
Blogger DED said...

Base 8, hexadecimal, binary, it doesn't matter. Numbers are numbers. We can easily convert from one system to another. If we couldn't, you wouldn't have computers. Mathematics is actually the closest thing to a universal language there is.

11:14 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Ded, Mort & Dwilkers-

That was quite a show. Bravo. I'm impressed (in more ways than I could or will choose to explain).

I hoped certain folks here would take the bait and run with this one. I figured Ded would be a likely candidate, but I wasn't sure who else, if anyone, would join.

Ed -

Should've gone to the Mets post & commented on David Wright.

Agi -

Maybe Cheney & a few others are from that planet and they've colonized Earth for the oil.

5:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Base 8, hexadecimal, binary, it doesn't matter.

What if they only communicate with clicks and grunts? Then only a blogger could understand them.

10:50 AM  
Blogger DED said...

I hoped certain folks here would take the bait and run with this one. I figured Ded would be a likely candidate...

Yeah, this area of material is hard for me to resist.

1:51 PM  

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