April 21, 2011


I love words that come from Astrophysics. A new one I learned today is "mergerburst". For that cinematic feel, make sure you pronounce it with an evil tone and a malevolent face, because a mergerburst is a highly-destructive event on a planetary scale.

This post is specifically about a BD-Planet mergerburst, the destruction of a planet by a brown dwarf (BD). When a massive planet approaches a brown dwarf, the poor planet will be tidally destroyed or shredded as it "merges" with a much-denser brown dwarf. The mayhem will form a luminous accretion disk around the brown dwarf that will stay for around a few days, which should be observable, distinct, and identifiable from other mergerbursts such as Star−Planet Mergerbursts, and Planet−Planet Mergerbursts.

Factoid: The existence of Brown dwarfs (BD) were predicted in 1963, and was termed as "black dwarfs" back then.


The Earth was an Exoplanet

Did you know that the earth can be considered as an exoplanet? Well, that is if you look back in time (and space), in the distant past of the early earth, billions of years ago. During that time, our planet would not resemble anything close to our present day earth.

However, imagining how the earth was a few hundred millions of years ago may give us good insights in studying the habitability of exoplanets as well. And that is exactly what the Planetary Habitability Lab at the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo has done with their latest visualization, the Visible Paleo-Earth project.

Headed by Prof. Abel Méndez, the Visible Paleo-Earth project is a true-color visualization of the evolution of the Earth’s surface from paleo-climates to the present day. Using paleogeography and paleoclimate reconstructions combined with NASA satellite imagery, the team generated a global visual appearance of Earth in the last 750 million years, around the late Cambrian Period.

Now sit back and take a trip to the distant past by visiting The Planetary Habitability Lab as they present this project on Earth Day, April 22, 2011.

From Planets To Consciousness: Other Kinds of Minds

Alien Brain?
How does a planet influence the characteristics of its inhabiting lifeforms? Have you ever wondered how birds manage to navigate and reach their destination across thousands of miles? There's growing evidence that birds can "see" Earth's magnetic field and utilize it to find their way around. And bats do it too. In addition to their echolocation abilities, bats also use earth's magnetic field for orientation.

I am convinced that for each planetary property, there is a corresponding animal adaptation that utilizes that feature for survival. The planet's characteristics have a direct bearing on the evolution of the lifeforms inhabiting it.

And since we mentioned bats, the philosophical question "What's it like to be a bat?" is inescapable. How does it feel like to sense "magnetism'? Surely, additional sensations would affect the animal's perception of it's world. How would other additional sensations affect your thoughts? Can you imagine how it would be like if you could see in other wavelengths of light such as UV? Can you imagine how bees see the world?

If the dominant species with extra senses on another planet were to evolve a higher level of consciousness, what kind of mind will it have? What kinds of brains are possible on specific exoplanets? Could some animals here on Earth give us a glimpse of other "kinds of minds"?

Aside from magnetism, what other planetary properties (gravity, atmospheric density and pressure, temperature, etc) can lifeforms link their adaptations in order to survive? The amazing variety of extremophiles gives us ample room to speculate on this subject. If given a chance to evolve, what kinds of consciousness will extremophiles develop? Is a "hive mind" just one archetype among many types of consciousness?

This post can serve as a introductory teaser to the relationship between planets and consciousness. In addition to exploring speculations on what kinds of life are possible elsewhere, I would also explore what "kinds of minds" are possible on exoplanets. And I would tag it "Exonoology" (The Study of Alien Minds) perhaps as a branch of philosophy in the context of other worlds, or Exophilosophy.

Birds can see Earth's Magnetic Fields
Bats respond to Magnetic Fields
Magnetic fields influence the sleep–wake cycle of animals