New worlds ‘discovered’

17 12 2009

My understanding of space is that there is a hell-of-a-lot-of-it, so I’ve always imagined looking for anything up there, and then making it out, is like looking through a straw for a needle in a haystack, 100,000ft away.  Yet, with the latest advances in technology and radio-telescopes, the Astromen have discovered over 400 planets, although don’t get too excited as the MIB use the term exoplanets which just means orbiting object, so could just be an anomaly, asteroid or any other heavenly body.


This is the kind of shit us humans should be doing, reaching out and touching the stars, not squabbling over how best to cut CO2.  This planet off’d the dinosaurs and one day will do the same to us so our best bet is to go all Star-Trek on the galaxy.  I mean, no planet could look worse than Peckham on a Saturday morning so I’ll be up for a move.

Worlds Away: Astronomers Begin to Uncover Nearby “Super-Earth”

Scientific American, December 16, 2009

Rounding out the super-Earth triad

In one of the Astrophysical Journal papers released this week, astronomer Steven Vogt of the University of California, Santa Cruz, and his colleagues found an even less massive super-Earth around 61 Virginis, a star just 28 light-years away that is approximately sunlike in mass, diameter and luminosity. An estimated 5.1 Earth masses, 61 Vir b appears to be accompanied by at least two larger planetary siblings in the 61 Virginis system.

The third super-Earth unveiled this week comes from a subset of the group that uncovered the planets around 61 Virginis. The smaller team makes the case for at least one, and possibly three, planets orbiting the sunlike star HD 1461, some 76 light-years distant. The more solid planetary detection is the super-Earth HD 1461 b, with an estimated mass 7.4 times that of Earth.

Both 61 Vir b and HD 1461 b were detected by radial velocity, or stellar wobble, measurements alone, meaning that their diameters remain unknown. Follow-up observations may be able to spot planetary transits, but only if the planets’ orbits carry them past their respective stars along our line of sight. In any case, given that 61 Vir b and HD 1461 b orbit sun analogues at roughly one sixth the distance that Mercury circles the sun, both would be scalding bodies inhospitable to life as we know it.

Although habitable worlds remain elusive, astronomers are steadily passing the milestones along the way. “Until now, the planets we’ve been able to study in detail are the hot Jupiters,” Seager says, citing the new announcements as a sign of things to come. “The new year coming up is kind of like a new year for us in exoplanets, because we’re shifting from the old stuff—hot Jupiters—to the new stuff, which is super-Earths.”

The beginning of the article is worth a read if your into “this sort of thing”.  If this shit bores the fuck out of you, “Really?”




6 responses

17 12 2009
Sir Henry Morgan

You knew this was going to send me off on one didn’t you Jack. It did.

Other planets capable of supporting life will already have developed it. But we will not be able to colonise – it will be fatal to anyone who tries.

No, the proplem isn’t Little Green Men – we can handle those; indeed, I doubt if there’s anything in the universe we aren’t capable of killing. The real problem is little green bugs. Wherever there is life there is microscopic life, and anything that evolved in that environment will have developed all the necessary immunities – immunities we by definition will not have, and can possibly never inject into ourselves because the bug may be so alien we can’t even understand how it works. Hell, there are some bugs even here that we cannot create an immunity for injecting against. No chance – it isn’t going to happen. This planet is all we have and it’s about time we started taking care of it properly.

By the same token, when it comes to the actual little green men – we can’t even share the same breathing space with them, and for the same reason. Nor they us.

Little Green Men? No problem. Little Green bugs? Unsolvable problem.

Fortunately, the same happens in reverse, thus keeping us safe from predation – or even food farming. All that is assuming that interstellar travel is even possible. No one seems to have taken account of the friction problem at significant fractions of the speed of light.

And time travel? No way. Suppose I want to go back to the very place I am now, say, last week. Well we know in Time where I was, but where in space was I? Given the movement of the Earth around the Sun, the Sun around the galaxy, and the galaxy through the universe? Big calculation. And given the rotation of the Earth, suppose you are a tiny tiny microbit out in your calculation? Well, I could re-appear a mile up in the air, or a mile underground. I may even re-appear in the middle of one of those mountains a few miles away, or at the bottom of the Irish Sea.

You also have to get me moving at about 1000m.p.h BEFORE sending me or when I arrive I’m going to go whizzing through the air at 1000mph until I hit something vertical. It’s that damned inertia problem again.


Re: the friction problem I mentioned above – the vacuum of space is not really a vacuum – it contains on average something like one atom of hydrogen every cubic meter. That will be like trying to bore your way through a brick wall at, say, 0.5 light speed. Hell, that shuttle was only doing 25,000 m.p.h. when it hit the upper atmosphere (so this it as good as space vacuum to us) and burned up. What’s going to happen in “space” at 0.5 light speed?

Then there’s acceleration and deceleration; inertia; uplift (amount you have to carry to make the trip and get back again – possibly including another take-off at the other end).

Never going to happen. Mind you, there’s plenty in our own solar system to keep us going – no oil though, or coal.

Like I said, these things have been mindlessly minding their way around the inside of my skull for years.

And then, of course, one day … something really big is going to hit us – we’d best be off-planet when it happens – and it will. Only a matter of time, but hopefully, a long time so we really should be seriously scanning for it (i.e. our route around the galaxy), and building defences.

But we humans are on a large scale what we Welsh were on a small scale back in the day when England was invading us – more interested in fighting each other than uniting against a common enemy. It was ever thus, and probably ever will be.

Try explaining all that to the average Packham street-black so that he doesn’t just believe it, but understands it too. An impossible task.

17 12 2009
Jack the Ripper jr

I’ve been bleating on about Nopenhagen and Super Nick so much and I was going to put this on my other blog but thought it’ll show I’m Nationalistic politically but with a Universal scope.

I knew you would have something to add and gladly appreciate you did. I’m very optimistic on this subject as I’m still baffled at how data is converted into tiny bits of information on a computer chip. I understand the concept but the very intricate reason that it can. So if it is possible to squeeze so much onto something so little, I say us as humans have a pretty good chance at cracking anything given the opportunity to do so.

So as for anything being impossible, everything once was, then some cocky so-and-so came along and did it.

The possibility of Terra-forming planets to our liking, constructing sealed underground bases on those that cannot, building large space stations, and I mean large, with whole forests and fields and homes, asteroid mining would be the norm, even the prospect of genetic modifying ourselves being viable (although I doubt desirable) to cope with new eco-systems.

Travelling there brings all kind of theories and ideas together, from the possibility of actually breaking the speed of light, along with Einstein’s theory, to the ability to map worm-worms (or even create them), cutting distances to a matter of minutes.

The problem with all this is it needs people with the brains, determination and the power to get things done, and sadly, all those people are busy ripping the heart out of Earth. The one thing that could unify the Earth and it is left untouched.

Maybe the next inhabitants of Earth will break the mould and actually go one step further than us, for we got a lot further than the dinosaurs ever did.

17 12 2009
Sir Henry Morgan

Oh – and if anyone says I’m already travelling at about 1000mph just by sitting here … well yes of course I am – but am I going in the exactly correct direction for when I arrive?

17 12 2009
Sir Henry Morgan


Just regarding the Little Green Men in isolation – if they can get here before we can get there, then we are finished – they will exploit us damn near out of existence.

We were able to get to Australia and America before those people could get to us. Go ask an Oz aborigine or an American Indian what happens next.

It doesn’t even have to be deliberate, it’s just a natural inevitability. The ultimate in culture-shock. And suppose they find us tasty?

However, if we can get to where the Little Green Men live before they can get here – then if we even could exist on that planet, we’d do another Oz or America to them.

With the best will in the world, these are inevitable. And that’s exactly the reason we can’t have a multicultural society. Anywhere. Where and when in history and geography has there been a peaceful multicultural society?


17 12 2009
Sir Henry Morgan

Good point with terraforming Earth-size rocks in space; it is a bug-free possiblity, but would take generations tp complete. Unless the rock is roughly that size then once there we would evolve into things other than human (Gravity’s the problem – we evolved to fit in with the physical requirements for this planet’s gravity – stronger or weaker gravity would mean re-evolving to adapt. for instance, one imagines that on a rock with twice the gravity here we’d evolve into very physically strong creatures – very short and squat with enormous stamina and very powerful hearts and lungs. Something like that). Try walking around carrying weights the same as your body-weight. That’s what living in 2G would feel like. Day in, day out, and even while sleeping. We’d haave to evolve or die out. Imagine what it’d be like shagging while carrying that weight I’d just as soon not bother (it’s an age thing).

Anyway, I wish I shared your optimism, but I don’t. And I’m a Golden Age science fiction fan too – A.E. van Vogt is THE man – or was anyway – he died early 2007, so I hope your optimism is well placed, and I hope my pessimism is misplaced.

17 12 2009
Jack the Ripper jr

Whatever the answers, finding out would be the most rewarding.

I was brought up on sci-fi, even had a looking at the Manga overblown cartoons so my imagination is as colourful as Peckham’s diversity lol

It will be difficult but I know no more worthy cause. Once Britain is safe and sound of course, until then, I can wait for the Heavens the old fashion way.

And I doubt I’ll be living in space, not because I won’t live to see it happen (I plan on collecting the State Pension for at least a century) but because I’m not going in anything made by China and I doubt UK Plc will be building any. Branson don’t count, have you seen the amount of times his balloons fail? No way would I share a tandem bike with him, let alone Virgin Galactic.

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