A place for new ideas to settle.

30 September 2010

Return of the Living Blog

Oh, it's been so long. As it turns out, summer wasn't actually the optimal time to keep updating this space with musings and especially links to things (although I managed to plurk a few). Now I feel like there's a very good reason for me to keep up, namely, my almost certain lack of literature classes this quarter. So while it's not November (a.k.a. National Novel Writing Month) I will be jonesing to write creatively and think with the right side of my brain.

But to quickly catch up on an amazing development: Astronomers have found a planet in the 'Goldilocks' zone of its parent star. What's more, this planet is somewhere between 3.1 and 4.3 times the mass of Earth, meaning that it's probably of a rocky composition and the absolute most Earth-like planet discovered so far... other than Earth, naturally. The 'Goldilocks' zone, by the way, is an area around a star at which water will exist as a liquid, and is therefore assumed to have the best possible conditions for life as we know it.

The one downside to the discovery is that the planet's host star system, Gliese 581, is about 20 light-years from our Sun. Even via a nuclear-bomb-powered spaceship, it would take a few hundred years to get there. But this is like a major step in the hunt for alien worlds that won't roast or freeze or squish any astronaut that touches down on their surface. And according to some statistical analysis done by other scientists, we should confirm the existence of an Earth-like, habitable planet in "early May, 2011." According to them, that's the median point; so if we don't discover one before then, it's only a matter of time before it happens after that. Mark your calendars!

So what else is new? Well, instead of a bona fide, English class reading list to go over and make thoughtful comments on, I'm going to tackle both my own personal list of science fiction and Dr. Margaritis' "ultimate reading list" of classics. Let's see how well I hold up!