baudrunner's space: Being Gliesian is a pain in the neck
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Friday, January 18, 2008

Being Gliesian is a pain in the neck

Let's stop and think for a moment what unique characteristics life on 581C around the red dwarf sun Gliese 581 might possess. If we are looking for strangeness we needn't look past our own world to find it, so we may presume that even if the rules of life dictate that a certain pattern of progression in evolution is mandated no matter where we look for it, then we would necessarily find in it adaptations to those environments unlike our own which should make alien humans different from us and in some radical ways.

For one thing, humans evolving in the light of a red sun means that the cones and rods in the retinas of their eyes are tuned toward the infra-red end of the spectrum, and in all likelihood their brains interpret images from heat radiation as a portion of the range of frequencies which they deem to fall in the visible optical spectrum. In the entire optical spectrum, our range of visible frequencies would be somewhat shifted to the left in the direction of the ultraviolet with respect to what Gilesians would consider their visible range. All things being relative, that would not necessarily present a great obstacle to vision for them or us if we were to visit each other's worlds. It's a little brighter here for them and a little darker there for us but not so much that we would need to compensate, but they will require protection from our sun's intensity. Gliese 581 is much cooler and dimmer than Sol. But then again, they are so close to their sun that their year is not even two weeks long.

The image below displays the narrow spectrum which constitutes our range of visible frequencies. For life on Gliese 581C, that spectrum needs to be moved to the right so that the left margin falls somewhere in the light green range for those Gilesians with sensitive vision, and the right edge falls inside the broad band of infra-red. We can only speculate for now just how far into the infra-red they see.

optical spectrum

I've already suggested that a world which is five times as massive as Earth would evolve much larger people. In fact, my weight of 185 lbs would translate to almost 300 lbs on Gliese 581C. Being a lean person one inch over six feet tall on earth would mean that proportionally I would need to be almost ten feet tall to feel normal there. Of course having said that, if I weighed 300 lbs on Gliese 581C and stood ten feet tall I would be very lean indeed. So add another 130 lbs or so and that would make me non-descript (provided that I was wearing a ten-gallon hat, given that they are fashionable there), and I would feel the same resistance due to gravity that I feel here now.

The image below is of an actual archaeological discovery in Peru and can be viewed at the Museo De National in Lima. There are many of these skulls on display. They do not show evidence of artificial elongation as would be caused by binding. Their shape suggests a much larger occipital lobe than ours, which follows if these are of people from Gliese 581C, since much more neural processing is required to discriminate near infra-red information into a clear image. The difference in processing requirements to produce the kind of clear image that we interpret from reality is equivalent to the difference between a normal high resolution digital camera image and the image produced by a night vision camera. It's no mystery as to why Gilesians need a larger occipital lobe.

alien artifact

Giant etchings on the slopes and plains of Peru in the region of Nazca date from between 900 BC to about 650 AD. They are obviously intended to be viewed from the air, since they can not be interpreted from the ground because of their sheer size. It is more than coincidental to me that they are also found in Peru and I believe that there is a relationship between the odd humans whose skulls reside in a Peruvian museum and these great etchings around Nazca, Peru.

giant etching in Nazca                    giant etching in Nazca

The most important factor which would make Gliesians most like us is the range of temperatures which exist on Gliese 581C. They vary from between minus 4°C to plus 40°C. Our temperature ranges are more extreme but our mean temperature falls right in that range. This means that their dermal anatomy and metabolism are essentially the same as ours. I am quite convinced that there is life there. In support of that is the fact that astronomers know that red dwarf suns like Gliese 581 are extremely stable stars. That means that life has had the opportunity to evolve there for many more billions of years than here on Earth.

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