Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hey, NASA: I'm calling shotgun

Things that are necessary for life: Water, light, heat and a planet.

Things that one of the planets circling red dwarf Gliese 581 has: Water, light, heat. And I think I mentioned that it's a planet.

This is exciting. Yes, I'm of a type that tends to get more excited than most about science news, but this could be huge. The as-yet-unnamed sphereoid is 1.5 times the size of Earth--good news for the possibility of an atmosphere, but bad news for those of us with bad knees. It's much closer to its star than Earth is to the Sun, but that's OK because Gliese 581 (which will definitely need a more catchy name if we ever visit it) burns at a lukewarm 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Honestly, artists have no idea what this thing looks like.

For those of you keeping score at home, that's half as hot as the sun. For those others of you who don't care how hot stars are, that means the planet's surface has temperatures ranging from 40 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Sound familiar?

But the best part? The planet's year is 13 DAYS LONG.

Thirteen. Days.

That means legal drinking age would be about nine Earth months. In August, I would have celebrated my 870th birthday--truly a milestone. And, best of all, my salary per day would be 28 times higher. That would pay for my knee operations.

So, two questions: What should we name this thing, and what are the odds that the aliens are enjoying first-run episodes of "Miami Vice"?

No comments: