Dirty Snowballs

Via Audrey Silk, Frosty the (Smoking) Snowman in Chelsea, NYC:

In the accompanying Chelsea MI report:

Although Frosty can get away with smoking in the subways, regular commuters can’t – smoking is prohibited on trains and in stations.

Like most subway anomalies, the Chelsea snowman didn’t attract much attention from Manhattan commuters and appears to have been left to smoke his unlit cigarette in peace.

Lesson: ordinary people can’t smoke in stations, but snowmen can.

Audrey Silk‘s take on it was:

As tough as you keep hearing New York City is on smokers, it’s moments like this that show it’s the loud and squeaky voices you hear (and who get laws passed) while NYC folk in general feel #SmokingIsNormal

I suppose she’s saying that because Frosty was left to smoke his unlit cigarette in peace by the New York commuters who passed him, showing that most NYC folk think that smoking is normal. And this is probably true not just in NYC but pretty much everywhere in the world

My own take on it, when I first saw the picture, was that here was a figure that could be found outside almost any pub in the world: the frozen smoker “exiled to the outdoors”.

But that’s how art works, I suppose: everyone takes away something different from it.

Also found out that #SmokingIsNormal isn’t just a Facebook hashtag(?), but also a Twitter hashtag(?) that seems to be owned by Audrey Silk. I’ve got a Twitter account (@cfrankdavis) which I hardly ever use. But I re-activated it a year or so back so as to be able to read Donald Trump’s tweets (and also Ann Coulter’s and Newt Gingrich’s). I’ve done very little of either.

But today on Twitter I came across a nice little orbital simulation model showing the orbit of Eris (yellow), which is bigger than Pluto, but lies outside Pluto’s orbit(red) :

I won’t be too surprised if gradually more and more planets like Eris will be found, and some of them will be not only bigger than Pluto, but bigger than the Earth, and maybe even bigger than the largest planet in the Solar System, Jupiter.

Why not? There are, after all, clouds of asteroids and comets known to be out there. Why not some really, really big ones? We never see them because they’re too far from the Sun to reflect much light. And maybe too far from the Sun to support life.

But does life need sunlight to support it? Here on Earth it certainly seems to, because the energy that all living things need goes from Sun → Plants → Animals. But there’s a big debate, since the 1977 discovery of hydrothermal vents in the sea floor, over whether life started on the surface of the planet or on its sea floors.

And if life started on it sea floor, then I can’t see why there couldn’t be big planets way out beyond Pluto which have core temperatures equal to or higher than the Earth (6000º C). On those planets life could only have developed on seabeds, possibly deep beneath miles of ice. And since comets are regarded as being dirty snowballs, it’s perfectly possible that big planets far beyond the orbit of Pluto would be dirty snowballs as well. The perfect conditions for life might already exist in our own solar system.

These planets’ surfaces would be covered in ice, but beneath the ice the hot core would act to melt the ice and form seas. And it would be on the beds of these seas that life could have emerged and evolved, with ‘plants’ feeding on the heat coming out of the planet, and ‘animals’ feeding on the plants. And in time, one of the animals might have built civilisations, languages, cultures, technologies – just like us.

These plants and animals would have all been sea creatures. They would look like corals or fishes, with fins. Or maybe they’d look like squids or octopuses. Their entire chemistry would likely be different from anything found on Earth. There probably wouldn’t be much carbon in them.

And while we tend to be Sun-worshippers, these alien cultures would probably worship the big warm Earth-Mother Gaias on which they lived. Or they might worship the Black Smokers at the bottom of their oceans around which life formed. And they would have no knowledge of the Solar System until the shocking day they dug “downwards” through the ice and reached its surface.

We might also suppose that in a relatively low energy environment, life would have reproduced more slowly, and so evolved more slowly. And so it might be that human civilisation near the hot Sun is more advanced than theirs, assuming the complete Solar System formed at about the same time. And if they were more advanced than us, and were capable of space travel, they would probably only think of colonising planets like theirs, with warm sub-surface-ice seas. They’d probably regard the Earth as being far too hot and dangerous for any form of life like their own to have arisen. Their astronomers, looking at the Earth through telescopes, would see a continual boiling swirl of boiling clouds above its surface. What could live there? Nothing.

If life could emerge on large planets with hot cores, it could well be that there are multiple alien civilisations inhabiting multiple spheres at different distances from the Sun. And these civilisations could visit us much more easily than an alien civilisation from, say, far-distant Andromeda.

Speculative? Yes. But a nice way to start and finish with snowballs.


About Frank Davis

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4 Responses to Dirty Snowballs

  1. Your graphic suggests that the core of these planets can be used like a glowing car cigarette lighter for the aliens to light their fags with.

  2. Pingback: As Above, So Below | Frank Davis

  3. Pingback: Straying Off The Reservation | Frank Davis

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