Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Idle Speculation

This is one of my series of lunchtime blogposts.

Idle speculation and day dreaming is one of my favourite ways of wasting time. And, lucky you, you're about to be introduced to a piece of my groundless, out-of-thin-air, speculation about the new planet recently discovered by astronomers.

Courtesy of the BBC

Kepler22-b or, as I will henceforth refer to it, lizardworld, is nearly two and a half times the size of the Earth, has liquid water on the surface and has an average temperature of 22C.

Now, you might be wondering why I've decided to name it lizardworld. Well, that's because I've been wondering what kind of life might exist there, if life does exis there.

Of course, the only thing we have to go on is Earth's own lifeforms and alien life could be radically different.

But, if we assume life does exist, the first place to look for it would be in the oceans. Algae and plankton are some of the simplest life forms so I guess there might be something similar on lizardworld. And fish of some sort would probably be there and would most likely look something similar to what we have on Earth - that's because the evolution of the body shapes of fish is determined by the bouyancy of water rather than by gravity.

And, if there are fish then it's possible that some of them might have crawled onto land and become amphibians. And, much like on Earth, these amphibians could possibly have evolved into some sort of lizards. They might have different numbers of limbs and eyes (they'd almost certainly have eyes as those have evolved independently in several species on Earth) and it's anyone's guess what their body structure would be like in gravity 2.4 times greater than ours.

But, if these lizards do exist then they'd probably be cold blooded. With an average temperature of 22C (as opposed to 15C on Earth) then there wouldn't be any need for them to adapt to cold temperatures - which would also mean no evolution of anything equivalent to animals.

So, letting my imagination run wild, I'm gonna guess that the dominant life form on lizardworld will be cold blooded lizards. They'll also probably be stumpy and muscular due to the high gravity.

Of course, this is all assuming that they have plants which photosynthesise carbon dioxide to oxygen so that these lizards can breathe. That's assuming they breathe oxygen of course.

Anyway, what my imagination has produced is a balmly planet, with nice sandy beaches and ruled by giant monitor lizards. Although this might sound like a nice place for a holiday, sadly, even if you were to travel at 500 kilometres a second it would still take you over 36,000 years to get there.

On the brightside, this means that no one will be able to disprove my speculation for a while yet :)

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