The newly discovered earth-like planet at Giese-581

My daughter Erika and myself had this exchange of ideas after she sent me to read the ultra interesting news about the Earth-like, 20-light-year far planet in solar system Gliese-581:

This is what I wrote to her, in response to what I read:

I have always been 100% sure that there MUST BE thousands of planets with conditions similar to our Earth. Life as we know it can develop where such conditions exist. Once it starts, then it evolves. But of course, this is "too" complicated for fundamentalist visions of reality.

Isaac Asimov, whom you should read and would devour and crazily enjoy, has some very logical and very mentally inviting reasonings that intelligent people should include in their assets of vision forming information.

This just discovered planet is only 20 light years far from us. That is very close. Its sun is in the final stages of existence, a lot less powerful than ours... people would have to find different ways of getting sun tanned, or simply different ways of being attractive. Cameras would have to be a lot more sensible to light, or else lens would always be too open and pictures would not be as sharp as those we get in sunny situations.

Let us keep informed about this discovery. Of course, as the article suggests, we would need a transportation technology that we still don't know anything about, except that it should be capable of reintegrating our total matter right there in a matter of seconds... That is the type of research we should be after with intensity, of course, that and the atomic reproduction of matter according to physical maps, quantum maps. Idiots! Developing... what?

Pure science. Pure applied science.

See you later!

The dad, Franz
Study and learn esperanto, please. Go to

And this is what she, in turn, responded:

I just read a bit about Isaac Asimov. He strikes me as having been a great person; he was also a *humanist* and *rationalist* (which is always a very good thing in my mind). He rejected superstition, and pseudoscience. He was a biochemist, he wrote more than five hundred books and has books in every major category of the Dewey Decimal System except philosophy. Did you know he had a phobic fear of flying and as a result he never travelled far? He flew twice in his life.

It is interesting for me to read about people like Isaac Asimov, as in my history readings I stumble upon philosophers that were humanist 300-400 years ago and yet... it's unbelievable how strong TRADITIONS are and how they last the test of time. I mean, why aren't we all humanist by now?! It's pathetic the strength religion has upon our species. On a further side- note have you ever read about the French writer/philosopher Voltaire? He's hilarious! One of my favourite Voltaire quotes: "The problem with democracy, is that it propagates the idiocy of the masses" (oh so true...), and another: "If there were no god then one would have to be invented"... It's deep, but deep with a sense of humour.

I wonder if Gliese 581 is coming to the end of its life? You don't think it will be a red dwarf "soon"? It's interesting to think about the fact that it only takes 13 days for the planet orbiting Gliese 581 to do so versus 365. I have been wondering if the speed of the rotating planet is close to a 24 hour-day or faster or slower? I don't know, are there established studies on the speed at which planets rotate (around their axis that is)? Interesting too that that planet has a 12,000 mile radius versus ours of 8,000, but it's the fact that Gliese 581 is smaller than our sun which makes the prospect for life a possibility - as that planet is closer than we are to our sun. I know that you can fit approximately 1,000,000.00 earths into our sun (of our earth), and our earth is rotating around the sun at about 67,000 miles per hour. This morning I was watching The Science Channel as I was doing my exercises, and a scientist was using a special lens that did-away with the glare of the sun to enable us to see the surface; what was seen were massive bubbles (if you will) of heat! And each bubble was about 1,000 miles wide! Amazing universe we live in.

Right on topic with the above, I've just started reading *The Fabric of the Cosmos* by Brian Greene. It's very good.

I've been re-reading about philosophy and the various philosophers and it's interesting that philosophy is categorised into the following four topics: ethics, logic, metaphysics, and epistemology. The first two are easy to remember, but the latter and the former are not. Metaphysics correspond to the study of what sorts of things exists and what are their essential natures, and epistemology is the study of what counts as genuine knowledge.

Well, hurrah for the find in the Goldilocks Zone!

The cynical side of me believes that there is very little hope for our species until we can all adopt humanist views.

Erika F. Whitton

There is so much more to talk about than the usual useless political gossip. However, even such effort as to make sense of politics should be part of a creative humanist attitude.