28 October 2010

The Human Footprint

I watched The Human Footprint yesterday. It's an interesting meditation on our current industrial project. The film shows the amount of food and waste that is produced by a single person during their lifetime. Looking at the tons of stuff that it takes to keep the average American going, it's hard to imagine that we're going to recreate that lifestyle for the rest of the world.

18 October 2010

The imminent end of an era

A recent New Zealand governmental report on peak oil sounds very bleak.

1 October 2010

I left my heart in Gliese 581g

Okay, so maybe it won't make into a pop song anytime soon, but it's exciting to see that we might be locating habitable planets in my lifetime. I'm surprised to hear scientists saying that they know for certain that it's habitable. I'm having a hard time imagining what life would be like on a tidally locked planet--would you have two intelligent races-one adapted to cold and the other eternally dancing on sunlit beaches?

Habitable planet found 20 light-years away!
Astronomers have located an Earth-like planet that they believe can support life. The newly discovered exoplanet Gliese 581g, called Planet G, exists in the Gliese 581 system and is thought to be the right size and location for life. Part of a six-member family of planets, this exoplanet is situated in the middle of the system's so-called "Goldilocks zone."  Scientists believe the temperatures at this position would be ideal for sustaining liquid water on at least part of the planet's surface. While similar to Earth, Planet G has very distinct differences. This world is tidally locked to its red dwarf sun and thus lacks days and nights. In other words, half of the planet is perpetually drenched in sunlight while the other side is draped in darkness. "Any emerging life forms would have a wide range of stable climates to choose from and to evolve around, depending on their longitude," said Steven Vogt, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. Although it has not yet been determined whether water exists on the planet, one prominent scientists says that he's 100% confident that Planet G can support life. "Personally, given the ubiquity and propensity of life to flourish wherever it can, I would say, my own personal feeling is that the chances of life on this planet are 100 percent. I have almost no doubt about it," Vogt said.