Thursday, April 26, 2007

New Planet to Destroy - Hurrah!

one out, one in. i wrote before about the declassification of the planet Pluto in our solar system. now scientists have found a new planet, though not in our solar system. quite far away actually, 20.5 light years away. it is in the goldilocks zone of it's nearest star, which purportedly has the ideal conditions for human life to flourish. the boffins have given this earth 2.0 the rather catchy name Gliese 581 C.

Computer models predict Gliese 581 C is either a rocky planet like Earth or a waterworld covered entirely by oceans.

“We have estimated that the mean temperature of this super-Earth lies between 0 and 40 degrees Celsius [32 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit], and water would thus be liquid,” Udry said.

so, really rocky, or really wet? those scientists dudes sure do like to give themselves a wide margin of error. ashamed as i am to admit it, i liked waterworld the movie when it came out. the shots of the sea were lovely, plus Kevin had a cool boat, and a boat is what we all might need soon if things continue the way they are. artist couple Kozyndan on their travels in Japan this year came across a lake which for the first time in living memory failed to freeze over completely.

Scott Adams on his Dilbert blog asked his readers:

1. Do we have the technology to seed that planet with life?

2. How do we know the Gliese 581 Csians didn’t seed life on Earth?

the Gliese 581 system has been looked at by the SETI folks before for signs of intelligent life, but they didn't find any. maybe that's a good thing, if we ever get a hyperdrive to work once we have used up this planet's resources, we'll have a nice new place to leap to.

maybe that day won't be too long coming. so many things get wasted in the shop where i work. we have a department that tries to fix various items that are damaged or returned by customers, but unfortunately most lights go in the trash. companies are there to make money but at the expense of the planet seems a little short sighted. fair enough if a faulty item that is not repairable is returned, give the customer a new one. i've lost count of the number of times lights have come back and the customer had said it has stopped working and they tried changing the fuse. the return department take back the light, and now and again when i have been around at the right time, just out of interest i'll try changing the fuse. the light will often work, so i don't know whether people either:
  • lie to get a different model or
  • don't know how to change a fuse.
a lot of perfectly functioning items ( returns & ex-display) go in the bin. it isn't economically viable, apparently, to get a Portable Appliance Tester in, or to train one instore. even worse is when a coworker comes round to pickup a £40 light to give the lightbulbs to a customer who didn't get them in their box. what happens to the light? often trashed because "we can't sell it, it's against rules". we actually do sell the bulbs so it is easier to give the customer a packet of bulbs and not chuck a whole light in the bin.

another example of silliness would be taking another £40 uplighter and give away the metal "doodah" (diagram above) that holds the glass shade onto the stem of the uplighter when the metal doodah is usually hidden inside the stem itself. result:

trashed light~one, number of doodahs customer has~two.

sometimes i feel like i live in a Dilbert cartoon. some people just don't get Scott Adams' humour but the cartoonist seems to have an intimate understanding of how companies work. often individuals don't care about the products just because they don't belong to that individual. i'd like to think of the bigger picture not because it's good for a company, but because throwing less things away means less unecessary waste, and more recycling.

an organisation (terrified of legal reprisals) would prefer to throw away boxes of fuses because someone gave out a wrong fuse, rather than train their staff to give out the correct fused. "it says 3 amp on the plug so replace it with a 3 amp fuse". not rocket science. but maybe using rocket science (mixed with a spot of terraforming) to get to Mars or Gliese 581 C, or wherever, will be easier than saving this one.


RTB said...


I've been working a lot, just not too much blogging or forum activity.

However, I'm working up some new plans for a big blog, so I should get that launched in June or July ;)

Euan said...

To be honest it's kinda hard to see something 20.5 light years away, and if our earth is 2/3 ocean surface what would it look like to them?

Probably like a ball of water with a chance of rock too.

Do remember a MEAN temperature of 40 C would mean that places would be waaaay above that (Earth's average temp is 13 C yet we have areas at 40 C easily). So count me out of a trip any time soon!

Monks said...

hmmm...i think we need to define intelligence when we speak of signs of intelligent life. maybe the inhabitants of Gliese 581 stopped monitoring intelligent life on earth when it stopped being intelligent.

About the all work and no play; Jack was a dull boy...and look what happened to him. I'll be sure to get plenty of mountain biking and surfing in once i launch the new dilly yo.