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Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Gliese 581 C

gliese 581For some reason I remember that light travels about one foot (30cm) in a nanosecond. So people building integrated circuits eventually have to start taking account of physical path lengths when they build fast circuits. I can remember when the speed of light seemed pretty fast (approximately 186,000 miles per hour to we Brits or precisely 299,792,458 metres per second to we Europeans). So how come it seems slow now?

Because now we've found a planet like earth only bigger and it would be interesting to pay it a visit. The thing is, its 20.5 light years away. So at that high speed it would still take 20.5 years to reach this nearest source of quasi human life. Maybe thats a voyage worth experiencing at the speed of light, but thats around 5,873,012,352,000 miles away, or in jumbo jet terms it would take 195,767,078,400 years to fly there to check it out. In a fast space ship travelling at the speed of the space shuttle in orbit, it would take 334,073,513 years to get there. So we need to drive past Einstein's limits to some sort of hyper warp if we wish to say 'hi' to our neighbours.

I think its great to know that this new world supports life like us. Because its bigger, it will have a stronger gravity and than means that the human-like forms are shorter and squatter than us. There's also a race of fish like creatures which are quite squishy and they work well in the oceanic parts of the environment, with additional capabilities to move around on land. Thats a kind of walking octopus. The equivalent of cows and so forth are quite thick skinned more like rhinos and armadillos as a consequence of the density and closeness of their nuclear flaring sun.

The planet has water and dusty bits like us too, and there are still large uninhabited areas because of the harsh wind and weather conditions in parts. Its parent star is Gliese 581 and this planet C is in what is referred to as the Goldilocks zone. Just like the proverbial porridge, its not too hot and not too cold, but just right for the surface water to exist as a liquid. The planet has lakes, rivers, seas and even tides created from the even smaller and so far undiscovered moons which orbit the planet.

The lifeform there is more intelligent than we are and this is partly a function of being there much longer than we have been on earth. They have more advanced technologies and still use the type of communications we have, but can use wave frequencies that we can see as part of their communication spectrum. Thats why it has been difficult communicating with Earth, because we keep thinking the communication are sun spots and flares. And they are only just getting 20 year old repeat editions of the Lucy Show and trying to make sense of our humour.

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