Skip to main content

Brother Star, Sister Planet

Yeah, I know. It's TRAPPIST-1, not FRANCISCAN-1. But never mind.

NASA has announced that a relatively nearby red dwarf ("only" 42 light-years away), boasts not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, but seven Earth-sized planets in its "Goldilocks zone" ("not too hot, not too cold, but just right"), any or all of which may well feature liquid water and- assuming the right kind of atmosphere- could support life as we know it. And we've known since May that at least some of their atmospheres contain methane, indicating the presence of organic compounds.

But what would life be like on one of the members of this stellar monastery?

To begin with, there's an awful lot of ultraviolet radiation that close to a star like TRAPPIST-1. Either a stout ozone layer or (in the case of marine life) a nice, substantial ocean would be necessary for life to thrive there at all. Alternatively, there are a few biological adaptions that might work. For example, life there might deal with the radiation by developing its own biologically generated glow that would screen radiation out.

ADDENDUM: Turns out I misunderstood the initial press release. While all the planets are Earth-sized, rocky worlds, only three were claimed to be within the "Goldilocks Zone." A fourth has now been added. Even so, this is one very big deal.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

McMullin, Kasich, Hickenlooper, Huntsman, or somebody else sane in 2020!

I don't expect to be disenfranchised in 2020. I'm looking forward to Evan McMullin running against President Trump and whatever left-wing extremist the Democrats nominate. McMullin may or may not run for the Senate next year, and he may or may not run for president as an independent again next time around, but the nation can't afford to lose its most eloquent and intelligent critic of the populist takeover of the Republican party and the Executive Branch. We need the man in public life.

But interesting alternatives have developed. Ohio Gov. John Kasich has been mentioned as a potential primary challenger for Mr. Trump. I hope somebody continues the fight for the soul of my former party, even though I believe it to be a lost cause. Entrepreneur Mark Cuban is reportedly also considering a challenge to Mr. Trump. While I tend to see him at this point as somewhere to the left of where a candidate I would feel comfortable supporting might be, I would wish him well. Still, I see…

A modest proposal for a shocking innovation which is completely within the rules but which would, if adopted, revolutionize college football

I call it defense.

The idea- crazy as it may sound- is to supplement the scoring of points by your offense with an attempt to stop the other team from scoring them. Yeah, I know.  Really "out there," isn't it? But it has a history of winning not only games but championships. Modern college teams should try it more.

I'm a bit bummed about the Rose Bowl outcome but amused by the score. It seems that certain conferences aren't sure whether they're playing college football or high school basketball! I've noticed that in the scores of Sooner games. Last season the nation's college teams set a record by scoring an average of slightly more than 30 points each per game. That's a lot. Historically, that's a REAL lot.

The final score of the Rose Bowl was 54-48, though to be fair that was in double overtime. But to get there, the teams had to be tied 45-45 at the end of regulation! Last year was even worse. Southern Cal beat Penn State 52-49- in regulat…

A third party President in 2020?

I had the pleasure of meeting Joel Searsby, the campaign manager for Evan McMullin last year, at an event for Evan here in Des Moines during the campaign. Here's an interview with Joel by Jon Ward of Yahoo News on the ways in which centrist French President Emmanuel Marcon's out-of-nowhere landslide election last year may serve as an example for the inevitable bid to elect a rational, moderate third party candidate in 2020.

I have a feeling that it will be Evan McMullin again. But names like John Kasich, the Governor of Ohio, and Sen. Lindsey Graham also keep popping up. Word is that Kasich may challenge President Trump for the 2020 Republican nomination, an endeavor in which I'd wish him well but hold out very, very little hope for his success. I sadly expect that my conviction that the Republicans are dead as a vehicle for rationality and the reuniting of our fractured and divided country to be confirmed by the easy renomination of the most unfit and unqualified preside…