It’s all over the news! Earth-like Planet Found (for real)!
Of course we don’t know much about Zarmina (Gliese 581 g) other than some very bare basics, but her discoverer, Steve Vogt, has expressed his near 100% certainty there’ll be Life on Zarmina of some kind. While I agree with his sentiment I think we should stay skeptical of all claims of inhabitants on that distant world. But that hasn’t stopped some from going further. For example, this “Daily Mail” piece…
…covering the 2008 claim of signal detection by Dr Ragbir Bhathal (University of Western Sydney) who is an active member of SETI, particularly OSETI – the Optical Search for Extra-Terrestrial Life. At the time he didn’t let out a lot of information, but now it seems his positive signal came from Gliese 581, the star, or close to it. Or did it? I’m not entirely impressed by the article because it’s both vague and inaccurate. At the time of Dr. Bhathal’s initial claim the constellation of Tucanae was quoted as the region in question. Now the story has changed. Until Dr. Bhathal releases more information or someone else makes another positive detection the claim can only be “under investigation”.
Yet what if it was true? Zarmina is being called a “ribbon world” – a planet tidally locked to face its star forever with the same face, thus endless day on one side and endless night on the other. The ribbon refers to the border between night and day, the Terminator, which is in a state of never-ending twilight. Duncan Lunan’s discussion of the Green Children of Wolfpit, who were mentioned by Francis Bacon [erratum: Robert Burton, in his "Anatomy of Melancholy" (1651)] as possible extraterrestrials, suggests such a world. Their story comes from the 12th Century and Lunan did a write-up for “Analog” some years ago. The children were found disoriented and speaking a foreign language in the town of Wolfpitt/Wolpitt. The strangest thing about them, aside from their curious story, was their bright green skin, which eventually returned to normal. They claimed to have come from “St Martin’s Land”, but gave a description of their homeland as always being in twilight. This fits the concept of a ribbon world, but their undeniable humanity caused Lunan to make the SF leap that they were from a human colony on a ribbon world accidentally time-space transported to Medieval Earth. Of course there’s an alternative mundane explanation, but their twilit homeland is terribly evocative and hard to explain as an earthly locale.
We’ll only ever know the truth if we go looking for it… Part II.