Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Potentially Habitable Planet - Hmmm

It's really interesting, and I hope that it does have life forms on it, but the planet orbiting Gliese 581's 'habitable zone' doesn't sound all that it's cracked up to be. First of all, this "near-neighbour" is 20 light years away, which in layman's terms is over 177 trillion miles away, or about 250 trillion kms, or about 500,000,000,000,000 trips from my house to my work and back or 2,500,000,000,000,000 Usain Bolt dashes to the finish line, which would take Mr. Bolt about 634,195,840 years to do, that is, if he ran at his fastest speed, non-stop. Or perhaps we should get a marathon runner to do it. In that case, if this runner did one marathon a day until he got there, it would only take him about 17,123,287,671,233 years - which is many times longer than the universe has been in existence. As I said elsewhere, Voyager I is moving at about 36,000 miles per hour. Thus, to get to that newly discovered planet would take 150,000 years.

Don't you just love it when I post blogs like this?

Okay, it's impossibly far away. Now, what about the seemingly incidental fact that that planet's gravity is 3-4 times stronger than ours. That means I would weigh something like 900 lbs. Better make my bicycle wheels out of solid rubber. And my car's wheels. Not to mention that fact that my car would require 10 times the gas to bring my super-heavy frame to the Gliese supermarket, where I would struggle, not only to load the 50 lbs watermelons into my grocery cart, but even to just stand up.

(Image shamelessly plundered from the Drudge Report)
 Of course, seeing how that planet is "tidally locked" to its star, all the grocery stores, as well as everything else, would be strung along a thin line of perpetual twilight, verging between the scalding hot sunny side and the freezing cold dark side.

I think I'll stay here, be overweight here, not run marathons here, and live between the freezing cold and the roasting heat (called Spring and Fall in Barry's Bay) right here.

The whole point of this post was to launch my vitriolic scorn against those who refer to new discoveries like that planet as "potentially habitable," as if that is the only reason why we should be studying space. Long after my descendants have risen up and removed all traces of the Suzukis and the Gores there will be plenty of room left for them on this fairly clean planet to practice NFP and worship God (but not in that order). I love space science, I just hate the way NASA and the media sexies everything up. I would be quite excited to hear some day that they have discovered some trilobite-like animals on the Gliese 581 planet.

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