Thursday, September 30, 2010

"Do you visit this planet often?"

Recently a new planet, Gliese 581g, was found. From all planets it is the most earthlike thus far. It has a gravity around 1.1g - 1.7g.

Until it is confirmed if it contains ice and water or not, we can have wet fantasies about this planet next door. The distance is only 20 light years, but thanks to time dilation, once we develop near-light-speed travel, people will be able to travel there and back without dying of old age in between. Only their relatives at Earth will all be gone.

So here's my suggestion: let's put TEKES funding into a big technology program which aims at manned space flight to Gliese 581g. That should produce more tanglible results than the current projects.

As FuturePundit points out, this is also a question of global security: When will the invasion space ships from Gliese 581g arrive overhead and begin planetary bombardment? Robert Heinlein taught us in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress that the side which can drop stuff from planetary orbit has a huge advantage. In this case, attack is the best defence. It is either us or them.

One side of the planet is always in the sunlight, while the other is always in the dark. This is because the planet rotates around its star in the same cycle as it rotates around itself. The most habitable zone is guessed to be somewhere between scroching sunlight and eternal darkness, in the interim region called the terminator.

Who should we send there? Let's offer Arnold Schwarzenegger a promotion from governator into gliesenator ask him once more to step in the terminator. When he'll be back to earth, his muscles will be once more in prime shape after living 24 hours a day in heavier gravity and telling "hasta la vista, baby!" for any pretty green femme fatales who try to seduce him into the dark side, controlling the horizontal and the vertical in the outer limits.

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