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Showing posts from 2020

Happy Christmas 2020

Credit: Jack-Benny Persson Happy Christmas and a huge thank you to anyone who has been reading this blog over its first few months. Back in September when I started writing I had no idea what would happen over the following months. I had high hopes of maintaining a reasonably regular flow of posts and I had many ideas on what to write. It turns out that achieving this while also dealing with a busy day job, unexpected events in my personal life and a global pandemic in the background was not as easy as I thought. With that said, I am quite pleased with how the first four months have turned out.

Viral Isolation

Credit: Yuri Samoilov My aim to publish a few posts has recently been foiled by an unexpected spanner in the works. My wife has apparently been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and therefore she has to isolate in our house for eight days. This means I have to deal with all contact with the outside world (i.e. shopping) and managing our children (i.e. ferrying them to and from school) while still working remotely on my day job. This has obviously reduced my available spare time to write posts on exoplanets and speculative evolution. However, since this pandemic has illustrated how a small piece of genetic information can have global effects I thought I could write a quick article on viruses and how they could be used in speculative evolution.

Netflix: Alien Worlds (Episode 3)

Credit:  Netflix Recently Netflix released a documentary entitled  Alien Worlds  that covers the topic of exoplanets and speculative evolution. Each of the four episodes presents a different planet and I have already covered the first planet ( Atlas ) and the second planet ( Janus ). This post covers the planet Eden from the third episode.

Netflix: Alien Worlds (Episode 2)

Credit: Netflix Yesterday Netflix released a documentary entitled  Alien Worlds  that covers the topic of exoplanets and speculative evolution. Each of the four episodes presents a different planet and I have already covered the first planet, Atlas . This post covers the planet Janus from the second episode.

Netflix: Alien Worlds (Episode 1)

Credit:  Netflix This morning Netflix released a documentary entitled Alien Worlds  that covers the topic of exoplanets and speculative evolution. Here is a review of the first of four episodes with reviews of the other episodes to follow.

YouTube: Which planets in fiction could really exist?

As a slight interlude from technical posts, I thought I would recommend some YouTube videos I came across recently. These videos (produced by a pair of scientists) discuss the feasibility of various planets in fictional universes.

Can Dead Stars Have Habitable Planets?

Credit: NASA-JPL/Caltech Since it is Halloween I thought I would write a quick article based on a paper about the habitability of planets around "dead stars". Specifically, can  pulsar planets  ever be habitable or are they only suitable for the living dead?

Too Hot For Comfort

Credit:  NASA/JPL-Caltech/Ames Now that we know that  water is important to life  and that  stars have different luminosities  it is important to consider at what distance from a star a planet can be habitable. At present we only have a single example of a habitable planet to use for comparison (i.e. Earth), however, physics and climate modelling can be used to estimate where the  Circumstellar Habitable Zone  (CHZ) lies.

YouTube: Life Beyond

This pair of long videos from  Melodysheep  are a stunning audio-visual experience about the prospect of alien life somewhere in the universe. They may well provide inspiration for your own projects and I can certainly recommend watching them both when you have time.

What Colour Are Stars?

Credit: NASA/ESA In order to make a planet look suitably alien it is tempting to make the sun a different colour than we are used to. Certainly artwork involving a purple or even a green sun looks very alien but is it actually possible? Unfortunately not, stars cannot be green or purple for reasons I will discuss below.

Better Than Earth

Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI) Clearly it is possible to imagine exoplanets which are less habitable than Earth but is it possible to imagine one that is better than Earth? It is interesting to push the habitability envelope to investigate how alternative conditions would change how life develops but what changes would be more favourable for life?

Dwarf Stars Come In Different Sizes

Credit: xkcd Stars come in a variety of forms and deciding on the nature of the star (or stars) around which a habitable planet orbits is an important first step when designing an environment for world building using a bottom up approach. While a star similar to the Sun is obviously suitable for life it is interesting to consider how life might be different beneath an alien star with different properties.

Water, Water, Everywhere

Credit:  Jong Marshes By definition, if we are interested in investigating what life could evolve on a planet then it must be habitable. However, what defines habitability? Clearly it depends on the definition of life itself. So, what is life?

How To Build A World In Seven Days

Source: dirkb86 Actually, it will likely take more than seven days but I thought I should copy the catchy title format that other blogs used. I can't promise to "blow your mind" with the information but I will try.

Project Khthonia: Overview

Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/S. Wiessinger Before I go any further I will briefly describe my world building / speculative evolution project. As mentioned previously this is a work in progress but some areas are more fully defined than others. I reserve the right to change my mind as I post more information though!

It All Started With The Big Bang

Credit:  NASA ,  ESA , S. Beckwith ( STScI ), and The Hubble Heritage Team ( STScI / AURA ) In response to some comments I made on speculative lighter-than-air organisms on the Planet Furaha blog I was invited to write a two part guest post. Ballonts VIII: Blue Sky Thinking  Part 1  and  Part 2  have now been published. This made me think that my thoughts on speculative evolution and other matters might be of interest to people. So, here is my own blog where I can publish those thoughts on similar topics to see if anyone is actually interested. I have recently rekindled my childhood interest in both biology and space through the field of astrobiology. Therefore discussing world building in relation to astrobiology seems to be a good starting place. Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. As my education and career have been in physics, I thought I would take a bottom up approach to investigate the physical nature of exoplan