Thursday, September 30, 2010

"Earth 2" about 20 light years away said to have 100% chance of life

Astronomers say that they have found an extrasolar planet in the “Goldilocks” zone, around an old M-star Gliese 581, planet G. It is about three times the size of Earth (in surface area?) but has only slightly higher gravity.

It has one side facing the star all the time, so that one side is hot, and the other side is cold. An annular “sunset” zone would have mild temperatures conducive to water and life as we know it.

If there is an ocean on the hot side, there is probably a constant hurricane brewing. Weather would be violent, so land-life would need considerable space and altitude to be safe from storms.

Because the planet is larger, the amount of real estate in the “annular” zone could be considerable. The geography of the planet could lead to interesting political issues if there is a civilization like ours. And the star is extremely old and stable, so it could have had time to develop.

Any civilization with fiat money would have business cycles like ours, including economic depressions. It’s interesting to wonder how easily democracy arises. On Earth, man is unusual in being both a social animal and an individualist, and that may be rare in nature.

The star is about 20 years away, but some scientists think that building a ramscoop spaceship that could reach it in about 100 Earth years is conceivable.

AMC Theaters has a pre-feature corporate trademark short i that shows an audience in an outdoor theater that appears to be on an M-star planet, which would be likely to have photosynthetic (perhaps carnivorous) plants with darker colors (blue and violet rather than green). There is even a hypothetical city in the short, with spires and domes, a kind of small Dubai. Maybe that’s what Gliese g will look like, an “Earth 2”. I couldn’t find a YouTube of this short.

Here is CNN’s “’100 percent’ chance for life on newly found planet?” link.

It won’t be too long before inhabitants will have had enough time for Facebook to reach them.

National Science Foundation video on Gliese.

Gliese 581 may have another earthlike planet that could have an atmosphere of mostly carbon monoxide, an “oil and diamond” planet.

Wikipedia attribution link for comparison of Gliese 581 to Sun.

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