Thunderbolts on rocky, wet planets and how the Fermi Paradox is moot

Thunderbolts and rocky, wet planets:

A recent ESO (European Southern Observatory) press release announced that the “lightest exoplanet” ever discovered is orbiting a nearby red dwarf star. The planet has less than twice the mass of the Earth, and its “year” is about three days long. It is, “very likely, a rocky planet.”

Another planet in the same system orbits within the star’s “habitable zone” and “could even be covered by a large and deep ocean.”

Or not.

Let’s back away from the philosophical chasm over which these speculations are suspended and check what’s anchoring the cantilevered assumptions that support them. What astronomers observed were variations in the spectrum of the light from the star. The rocks and oceans and habitable zones extend from assumptions about how gravity organizes matter. Gravity extends from assumptions about mass. Mass, it turns out, is simply not anchored.

Astronomy is founded on a sensory bias: we see motion. With a few comparison tools—a ruler and a clock—we can measure position and distance and can directly calculate velocity and acceleration. Sight is our only “astronomical” sense. All others are “local,” terrestrial: for example, we sense force with muscles and measure it with hands-on comparison tools such as springs and balances. Hence, the physics of early astronomy—of Ptolemy, Copernicus, and Kepler—was kinematics, motion without muscle.

I’m not a physicist, so I can’t comment on the Thunderbolts post other than say that “matter is plasma” is true because plasma has been called the “fourth state” of matter because super-high temperatures required; after solid, liquid and gas.

So is matter a condition of plasma/electromagnetism?

I don’t know, but conditions like the Hutchison Effect could possibly be explained this way.

Imagine Another Wet, Rocky Planet


Adam Crowl at Crowlspace dug up something about a paper Carl Sagan wrote in 1963 concerning advanced interstellar civilizations visiting each other in person in Bussard ramjets. Needless to say that the mainstream of the day took umbrage to it.

Unfortunately bussard ramjets turned out to be a better braking system than a constant acceleration one, but Adam adds a twist onto the idea:

A lot of arguing over interstellar travel, alien life and the Fermi Paradox has happened since then. Can we conclude anything from all the arguments? One positive thing is that interstellar travel can be achieved at relativistic speeds even if interstellar ramjets can’t be made to work. All sorts of beamed-energy designs mean that it’s an unreasonable objection to visits by aliens to claim interstellar travel is impossible. It’s not.

But could it be made even easier than we imagine? One technology that would enable easy interstellar travel – in so far as packing a closed-loop environment or a lot of frozen meals is “easy” – would be total annihilation drives. Frank Tipler’s current formulation of the Omega Point Theory requires the invention of macroscopic sphaleron generating… somethings to annihilate matter and in one version he proposes the conversion of baryons into lots of neutrinos. This would allow the drive to be operated without melting down the local topography with terawatts of gamma-rays – in otherwords it could launch from the surface of a planet, even your own backyard.

Once you’re in space what else is liable to impede one’s progress? Interstellar matter. So turn a problem into a virtue and Bussard scoop the lot into one’s mass annihilator. Thus a ravening proton-storm becomes one’s neutrino-beam to the stars. The Galaxy is yours.

Except… well there is the travel-time issue.

The time travel in this case is Einstein’s Special Relativity Theory that points out the faster an object approaches the speed of light, an observer on the object would notice that time slows down relative to the outside environment. Adam has the formulas to prove it.

As far as I’m concerned, if interstellar travel is possible in the future, so could alien civilizations have visited us in the past and possibly now.

The Fermi Paradox is over-rated.

Direct Contact




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