Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Inner Goldilocks Planet

I've been thinking about those twin Goldilocks planets I mentioned last week. That article had more details that I found intriguing but hadn't included in last week's post. So this week, I'm going to explore that inner planet a bit more.

The article claimed the inner planet might have a climate reminiscent of Hawaii or of Washington DC in May. I have to assume they meant that would be the 'average', and most likely found in the 'temperate zone', roughly 30 to 60 degrees North and South of the Equator.

On Earth, Hawaii stretches from 18 to 28 degrees North. To move that climate to the middle of the temperate zone would be a shift of 21 degrees. What does that do to the rest of the planet's climate, compared to Earth?

So I looked up Barrow, Alaska, which is located at 71 degrees North. That town has temperatures below freezing about 8 months of the year, and during its warmest month, the temperature averages 47 degrees F. Now, if we move that kind of climate another 21 degrees North-- well, we get 92 degrees North, and planets only go up to 90 degrees North or South. So it's possible the Inner Planet would not have any permanent ice caps.

What about the equator? The temperatures Earth experiences at our equator would now be normal at 21 degrees North and South. The area of our equator is mostly tropical rainforest or ocean, with little variety in temperature (high 80s) around the year. And it rains. A lot. I tried to look up some cities approximately 21 degrees N/S, to see what kind of temperature differences occur in that 21 degree difference. Antofagasta, Chile has an average temperature of 63. (It also sits in a desert where the only 'precipitation' comes as a thick morning fog, but we'll ignore that.) That's a difference of about 25 degrees, so I extrapolate that the average equatorial temperature of the Inner planet might be around 113 degrees F. Yes, definitely warmer than us.

It was also hypothesized that this might be an ocean planet and that some type of 'flying fish' might have evolved into 'birds'. Of course, if there isn't any land, those birds would not be able to rest unless they were some type of water fowl.

None of that would keep us from colonizing, if we were at that stage. Cities, towns, even farms could be placed on floating rafts and left to drift on the currents. Or given some motors so they could move out of the way of approaching storms. There have been people here on Earth designing such structures, to be set loose on our oceans.

There's got to be a few stories in amongst all those ideas, don't you think?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Goldilocks Twins

A few days ago, I ran across an article about Keplar-62-e and Keplar-62-f, two planets slightly larger than Earth that are circling the same star (Kepler-62) and are both in the 'Goldilocks Zone'. The Goldilocks Zone is a band of space orbiting stars where the temperature allows a planet to have liquid water, and thus, it is assumed the planet could possibly support life as we know it.

Can you imagine what it would be like, to have another habitable planet in your solar system? In the case of 62e and 62f, their orbits are so close (closer than Earth and Mars) that one would be a little warm, the other rather nippy. It is speculated that the warmer one might feel like Hawaii or possibly DC in May, while the cooler one would be more like Alaska. I think we could probably find people willing to colonize both of those possibilities.

I have a story universe that deals with this possibility. I'm pretty sure other authors have postulated the possibility of 2 habitable planets in one planetary system, although I cannot name any off the top of my head. In my version, the inner planet is warm and fairly dry, kind of like eastern Colorado, and has an intelligent dominant specie. The cooler planet is more humid, with lush flora, maybe like Montana, and has no dominant intelligent specie.

The people of Planet 1 have no interest in space travel, and visitors from other planets are greeted coolly. There is no general interest in most of the merchandize offered by other planets. Occasionally an individual tribal chief might be intrigued by some trinket or another, and can be cajoled into exchanging a slave or two for that trinket.

But most of the civilized planets do not condone slavery. Accepting slaves is seen as a rescue, the former slaves are retrained and assisted to readjust to a new kind of life. And eventually, those former slaves gather together and colonize the cooler planet.

If I understand the Keplar numbering system correctly, there are 4 other planets in the Goldilocks twin system, discovered before these 'habitable' planets. Sibling planets of the twins, but assumed barren. Of course, there's always the possibility of life as we don't know it.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Proper Tool for the Job

My old computer was so ancient, I joked that every time I turned it on, I could hear the squirrel climb into the wheel to supply the power. I'm not sure how I got any work done, with all the squeaking that thing made. And every time I asked it to save or download or even refresh produced a chance to nap, the computer worked at such a snail's pace.

At long last, I got a new computer this weekend. Of course, being new, it came with Windows 8. I now have to learn how to navigate my way around, something I need to do every time I get a new computer, seems like.

It's important to have the proper tool for whatever job you are doing. A painter needs paint and brushes, a writer needs words and the proper receptacle for them. You don't wash dishes by throwing them in the oven.

One can 'make do' when one has to. In one of my stories, I have a man trying to identify something he finds in an exhaust tube of his spaceship. His first inclination is to simply reach in to scoop some up with his finger. Fortunately, he can't quite reach it, because his next thought is that he doesn't know how it might react to the fabric of his glove. That same thought makes him unwilling to subject any of his wrenches or other tools to contact with the unknown substance. When his (several times) Great-Grandmother shakes a bent knitting needle in his face, complaining about 'defective equipment', he uses that knitting needle to scoop up a tiny bit of the gunk so that he can analyze it.

Before I had a computer to work with, I wrote my stories in longhand. I didn't much care what type of paper I wrote on; notebook paper, typing paper, paper sacks, paper towels, napkins, kleenex and yes, even toilet paper. It can be done.

But it works so much better when you have the proper tools. And hopefully, as soon as I can find my way around these confusing tiles and suddenly appearing menus, I can pick up my pace with my writing.