Wednesday, April 25, 2007

New earth-sized planet around red dwarf may host life


Media outlets (Seth Borenstein of the Associated Press) report this morning the discovery of a planet, with about 1.5 times the surface gravity of Earth, around a red dwarf about 20 light years from Earth. It is likely that it would present the same side toward its "sun" which would look larger and redder than ours.

National Geographic had a film "Extraterrestrials" (review) in 2005, in which it proposed how life would subsist on such a planet (which was smaller in the NG series). The sunlit side would have an ocean and a permanent hurricane or "gray spot" in the middle of the sunlit side. Life would be aqueous and have many bizarre, extreme properties. The special also discussed life on a planet larger than earth, where more creatures would be airborn. The distinction between plants and animals (and other kingdoms) would exist, but photosynthesis could be based on other chemicals and not necessarily make "plants" green.

Mathematics suggests that life is likely to evolve anywhere conditions are favorable, given enough time. Consider the way the "buds" of the Mandelbrot Set "reproduce" themselves ("asexually") in complex variable theory.

In the early 1990s there was a television series called "Earth 2" (with Antonio Sabato) about a twin of Earth in another solar system.

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