<= 2001.11.27

2001.11.29 =>

milk and honey

Here, a link to send mail to the Senate opposing the perfectly gratuitous post-disaster corporate tax cuts.

Birthdays: yesterday my Aunt Ginny with a wizard's soul, today Miss Ninaw Geegaw, whose site is down for the nonce. Today is also the birthday of William Blake (would be 244), Friedrich Engels (would be 181), and Claude Levi-Strauss (would be 93).

Justin (whose take on Iowa City is now up at Owl Farm), plus an anonymous comment-boxer, send in the news of an atmosphere on an extrasolar planet. It's like Jupiter but with a surface temperature of about 1400 Kelvin, though this hardly precludes some type of life:

Suppose it is decided arbitrarily (although the decision will not critically affect the conclusion) that for life to exist at any time the fraction of bonds broken by random thermal motions must be no larger than 0.0001 percent. It then turns out that any hypothetical life where the structural bonds are based upon van der Waals forces can only exist where the temperature is below 40 K, for hydrogen bonds below about 400 K, for bonds of 2 eV below 2,000 K, and for bonds of 5 eV below 5,000 K. Now, 2,000 to 5,000 K are typical surface temperatures of stars; 400 K is somewhat above the highest surface temperatures found on Earth; and 40 K is about the cloud-top temperature of distant Neptune. Thus, over the entire range of temperatures, from cold stars to cold planets, there seem to exist chemical bonds of appropriate structural stability for life, and it would appear premature to exclude the possibility of life on any planet on grounds of temperature alone.
 
     —old reliable Encyclopedia Britannica

Suppose that high-temperature organisms metabolized at a much faster rate, their subjective perceptions of time vastly extended. Organisms could live entire lives in what we perceive as seconds. They might perceive us as slow-moving geologic formations or something. I can't think of any physical reason why it would have to be otherwise.

 

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