A Warning, A Promise, and Admonition for Cosmic Life

An Exoplanet close to Its Parent Star May Still Support Life
An Exoplanet close to Its Parent Star May Still Support Life
Both Promise and Admonition for our Cosmic Hopes for Universal Life

For a number of years now we have had spectacular advances in our quest to understand the prospects for life beyond our own beautiful planet. We have seen much success in being able to use computers and powerful telescopes to precisely measure the fluctuation of light from very distant star system.

By plotting the course of a star as it wobbles through the galaxy, along with measuring its light output we have been able to see all kinds of variations which would indicate a very complex morphology of particular orbital phenomena of individual stars. That is to say we have been able to determine that there are dynamic structures to the orbital data.  At first this was evident in Binary and Ternary systems of stars, but eventually came to a precision of observation that was able to rule out the influence of large stars on what is called the proper motion of an individual star(that is its course through space) and led to the startling hypothesis that planets, probably large planets were influencing the proper motion of very small, red dwarf stars.

This is not a new hypothesis, but has been known for decades. For more than forty years astronomers have known that stars will wobble if there happens to be a significant body next to them other than a large star. The first such application of theory was of course Barnard’s star where it was seen to wobble significantly and large stars were not seen to be near it. It was theorized back then that indeed there might be a planet very near to the star, but it could not of course be confirmed.  The technology was simply not good enough at the time.

However, years later, with the advent of microchips and the launching of Hubble and other extremely sensitive telescopes it became clear that small star’s orbits were being perturbed by something other than star sized objects. Thus slowly we came to the conclusion that these perturbations of proper motion must be due to smaller bodies.

Eventually, it became safe to say that these bodies were planet sized objects. At least so it would seem. As both computer analysis, simulation, and sensitivity to light output developed rapidly it became quite safe to hypothesize that these perturbations were being caused by planets. As our ability to analyze the fluctuation in movements, and light output increased further, and analytical and programmatic developments evolved further still we came to the point where we could strongly theorize very fine precedents, or antecedents to the observed phenomena. In other words, we could assume that there were planets of all sizes orbiting these stars in various ways and our ability to project, or deduce the formal nature of these orbits became ever more probable.

At this point in time we have reached a point where we can with some degree of certainty say that there are strong probabilities that we are observing different sized planets orbiting various stars. Today a number of satellites especially committed to this study in particular have left us with a huge list of potential planets of all sizes habiting various sections of the object stars. We are today at a point where just yesterday it was announced that an earth sized planet, with probable density equal to the Earth is orbiting a small red dwarf around the so called habitable zone which is defined as that area around a star’s orbit that life is most expected to be found. At least human like, water based, carbon based life forms. The habitable zone is that zone where the temperature would be just right to allow the formation of water, or liquid oceans of water presumed to be critical to the formation of carbon based life forms.

Yet for all the enthusiasm, and all the gratitude we feel at being alive during such a time some measure of care is still needed. There is both greater promise for finding life, but also greater uncertainty when we consider some of the details being left out of the headlines.


One of the greatest limitations that we have not really heard much about in the headlines is that indeed these fluctuations of both light and proper stellar motion are very small. We see these motions, we see these fluctuations of light but we cannot know exactly what is causing them.  True, there are some theories favorable to the conclusion that what we see are planets perturbing the motions of small dwarf stars. But we cannot really be sure. The reality is that a Brown Dwarf star can easily distort both the light and the motion of a small star. This is not to say that this possibility negates these findings, it does not do that. But it does add a caution. We cannot really be certain what exactly is causing these fluctuations in light and motion that we are observing at these almost unthinkable distances. A number of small planets, or a few Brown Drawrf Stars could easily account for a single observed phenomenon.

Another caution which must be added is that we do not really know the true dynamic nature of these stars that we are here observing. True, they may be stable stars that move the way our sun moves, or quite frankly they may well have various internal oscillations that we do not understand as yet. What I am saying is that the fluctuation of light and motion may be due not to a set of planets orbiting a star, but to the internal motion of the star itself. A star may be wobbling of its own accord. This is a very critical caution. Though not as romantic, nor as desired as the conclusion that we are seeing planets orbit small stars, the possibility still exists that we are seeing only an inherent wobble within a star, complemented by what would of course be expected to be a noticeable variation in light output.


Another needed caution before we go on is that in fact we do not have a very good understanding of gravity. For all that we are fond of saying and thinking it has become painfully clear that when looking at large galactic regions our present theory of Gravity simply is not accurate. This is a very disturbing statement, I know this, but let’s face facts here. We are today calling up theories which have no direct confirmation in order to explain our observations of large galactic regions. The Galactic Filaments we see today, and their empty regions, that is the area between them  which is devoid of stars has no current explanation with our understanding of gravity. We are calling up “dark matter” and “dark energy” but in point of fact, have no idea what the real problem is.

Now there will be arguments that this does not apply to small stars and planets, yet, there are other abnormalities which have been observed. Including the motion of some space craft whose dynamic motion cannot at present be explained with our theory of gravity. All this must add caution to these findings. Whether we like it or not, we cannot conclude anything. There is still the very real possibility that we as yet do not know what we are observing when we see those oscillations in motion.

Thus not only do we not know the internal potential oscillation of stars, since we are not there to observe them close up, nor can live two or three billion years to see how they actually behave, but we in fact do not as yet have a definite theory of gravity able to explain some of the phenomena we are now seeing. Our theory of gravity is simply not certain when observing phenomena so very far away, and so different from our everyday experience.

But with these cautions in mind we can proceed to add a more optimistic possibility.

Main Point

The reality is that it is quite possible that there are even greater possibilities for life if we understand things reasonably well. That is if our present theories are to a high degree intact concerning this phenomenon. It just so happens, that planets that are outside the habitable zone may actually create enough of their own heat to sustain life after all. The Habitable Zone as it is defined may well be too small!. You see any planet that has moons, or a large moon will likely generate its own internal heat. This is a very notable possibility. We can see clearly that even small bodies, like many of the moons orbiting around our own Solar neighborhood have indeed shown signs of having internal heat due, as we have pointed out here at Hotcoreearth to the layered revolution caused by orbiting moons.  Thus any exo planet that has a moon, or number of moons will have internal heat being generated and thus its own climate will be modified. Thus even if a planet is far away from the parent star it will in fact generate enough heat internally to modify the climate. This certainly would add to the potential existence of life.

Another very distinct possibility which is so far being ignored is that planets orbiting close to a  star may not necessarily be tidally locked. We have very real proof right in our own star system. Mercury is a relatively tiny planet that should have been tidally locked with the Sun. But it’s not! In fact Mercury has a night and day. The reason is probably that the planets beyond Mercury will cause the planet to revolve as they tug on it each time it passes by them Therefore if there are larger planets beyond a small planet orbiting close to a red dwarf star for example, they will probably tug on the planet and cause it to have a diurnal revolution after all. No matter how close a planet may be, there is always the possibility that it can turn around its parent star if there are large planets tugging on it from behind.

These two possibilities add to the possible habitable zone and to the possibility of life.

A third possibility which has not been sufficiently mined is that many planets near the parent star may actually burn off their atmospheres. But this may serve to protect the planet for a sufficient period of time, long enough for life to develop. It is known that Red Dwarfs are very unstable in the beginning of their lives. They tend to blow off huge sunspots and prominence which may adversely affect life on a planet orbiting close enough. But the good news is that a planet, in its infancy may have a much greater atmosphere to bargain with. As the star evolves, it slowly burns off the planet’s atmosphere, until such time as the star quiets down and allows the remaining atmosphere to create a habitable environment.

Does an Exo-Planet have a Moon?

However, for all that has been said and theorized, there is a very strong indication that the most important factor of all may be whether a planet has a moon or not. Having a moon may well be the difference between life and death. A planet with a moon has a number of advantages. The first is that it is geologically alive! A closely orbiting moon is going to cause differential rotation, and this is going to cause the creation of internal heat. This is crucial to life for planets further than the habitable zone.

More importantly however, a moon may cause a planet to develop a significant electro-magnetic field and this may mean the ultimate difference between life and death. A planet with an electro-magnetic field adds enormous protection to developing life and this can most easily be facilitated by an orbiting moon.

Future Prospects

Thus it is true that if we have an exo-planet that revolves around a tame small red dwarf, there is the possibility that life may exist after all even if the planet lies far beyond the so called habitable zone. If the planet has a moon that may help its core to generate heat there is more than likely enough internal heat to increase the climatic temperature. This is especially true if there is a thick atmosphere able to keep the heat generated from the core around the planet’s surface.

Moreover having a moon will generate a magnetic field due not so much to an iron core as is suspected for earth but because there is a differential rotation which will cause the flow of electrons from the core, especially as the core begins to develop some plasma like characteristics due to the internal heat and pressure. Thus there will be a tendency in such a case for electrons to flow and thus will create an electromagnetic field which would protect the planet from any degeneration to its atmosphere.

Lastly, if there are large gaseous planets outside a rocky candidate they will almost certainly help to prevent the planet from becoming tidally locked with its host, even if the planet is very close to the parent star. If Mercury is not tidally locked with the Sun, then there is a very good chance that a planet orbiting very close to a red dwarf will also not be tidally locked with its parent star.

All these possible outcomes bode well for exo-biology. But there are cautions as we have mentioned. We do not as yet have an absolutely reliable understanding of gravity, and we cannot as yet be certain we know how to read the various waves generated by distant planets as they orbit their host stars. In due time however, these problems will be solved.

Advanced Inter-Stellar Civilizations Very Rare

All in all the prospects are very good for the existence of simple life on other distant star systems. However, they are not so good for advanced life sadly. It is very likely that advanced life must reach billions of years in age to become able to develop the level of intelligence we see in human society.  It is also quite likely that contrary to our expectations of longevity for advanced civilizations, there is a very great probability that the more advanced a civilization becomes, the more sensitive it will be to geological, and climatic changes. As we can see today, we are quite possibly facing our demise should the global warming phenomenon become serious enough. We are quite sensitive to changes of our planet and any extremes may well push us towards catastrophic wars from which we might not be able to recover at this stage. The same would apply to any other civilization on an exoplanet. This would be true especially in an advanced civilization’s early nascent stage where it is just forming as a fully developed technocracy as we are ourselves experiencing. Indeed, there may well be hidden consequences for becoming  technologically advanced. For example our advancement has perhaps brought global warming upon us. Perhaps this is a process that follows naturally from the appearance of advanced civilizations in general. Therefore as a civilization becomes more technologically advanced it tends to disturb the natural rhythms of its host planet and possibly faces a potentially dangerous situation in all or most cases.  If so, then advanced civilizations could very well be short lived at best. This would give any such civilization a very small window of opportunity to communicate with another such civilization thousands of light years away. So its quite possible that advanced civilizations are quite rare, even if it is likely that they do exist.

If inter-stellar civilizations are rare , and far apart in time and space, communication between any two may well be an extremely rare occurrence. Yet, when and if it ever happens the whole universe evolves upon the establishment of such communication between advanced inter-stellar  civilizations.

Unless, there is one small other possibility which should be mentioned, though not at all probable. If there were a highly advanced civilization already established in the cosmos they might not make contact with us because we are still so primitive. Our wars, our tendency towards brutal violence would certainly dissuade any highly advanced civilization from sharing its knowledge with a race as primitive as ours. What little knowledge we have, we have managed to turn it to great violence so horrendous that there would be no justification for a highly advanced civilization to trust a people like ours with a technology that might well be used against them. There is thus a tiny one billion to one chance that we are too uncivilized to join a cosmic civilization. Something to be kept in the back of our collective mind, just in case.

Yellowstone Earthquake!

Yellowstone Geyser reminds us what's underneath the beauty Pic Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and author 14:30, 4 June 2006

Yellowstone Geyser reminds us what’s underneath the beauty
Pic Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and author 14:30, 4 June 2006
Earthquake at Yellowstone is News!

Yesterday, Yellowstone National Park experienced the strongest earthquake in some fifty years. It registered 4.8 on the Richter scale and was strong enough to shake a few buildings and a few people around. Fortunately this time of the year there are few visitors at the park being that Yellowstone is  still quite cold and so there were few people around to experience the thrill. It was not a very powerful earthquake in absolute terms, but it is something to think about.

Yellowstone park is in reality a gigantic Volcanic Caldera, of a type of volcano often denoted as a Super-Volcano because of both its size, usually tens of miles in diameter and because of the large amounts of ash that is released when such a volcano erupts. However, most of the time these volcanoes will actually have much smaller eruptions on the way to the gigantic ones.

Yellowstone last erupted in the super category some 640,000 years ago. At that time it spewed out a thousand cubic miles of ash. That’s more than enough to bury most of the Midwest. So, even a small earthquake here is something to think about. But since that time it has had a number of smaller eruptions. Though smaller, these too can be noticeable. As on one occasion it apparently emptied all of Yellowstone lake and no doubt the tsunami of boiling water was no fun for the poor animals in its way. So even a “small” eruption at Yellowstone could be a serious problem for those in the area.

Earthquakes are known to precede large eruptions in other kinds of volcanoes. For example the eruptions of prominent volcanoes over the last few decades was almost always preceded by some seismic activity a few months to a few weeks before erupting. Indonesia’s last few volcanic eruptions of significant magnitude did have some earthquake activity. We do not as yet know if this earthquake at Yellowstone will mean that anything significant will happen, but being that it is a slumbering giant, we should be interested.

It turns out that there has been some activity in the west recently. Large swarms of earthquakes have plagued Oklahoma and have been somewhat mysterious. Some have attributed the Oklahoma quakes to fracking, which is the process by which old oil wells are mined for natural gas. This process involves loosening the ground beneath and causing stress imbalances and ground instability. So there is a chance that the large amount of Fracking activity is the source of these earthquakes, but there is also a good chance that the earthquakes are quite natural, and that leaves us to speculate that maybe just maybe the activity in the Oklahoma region might have something to do with the earthquake in Yellowstone. Though Oklahoma is quite a distance from Yellowstone, we are not convinced that earthquakes are solitary occurrences. There may be long distance relations. Much scientific speculation has gone that way recently.

There is some reason to believe that earthquakes caused naturally could quite possibly be related even if they are far apart. So if an earthquake occurs in Illinois for example, it might well be related to one that might occur further south. There is some reason to believe this since we have often observed such relationships in the past. This same phenomenon has shown itself in Japan’s faults where the fault system is perturbed by movements hundreds of miles to the North or South when a shift causes an earthquake. In the end what is true is that we only know what we can see at the surface, but time and again we have been reminded that what we see at the surface in terms of faults can often be the tip of a fiery iceberg in that below the surface titanic forces may be at work that are virtually invisible to us at the surface. So it a good idea to keep all earthquake activity in mind, especially when it comes to Yellowstone, or Long Valley   in California which can portend a worldwide calamity.

So perhaps there is something going on in the deep earth out in the Western United States for there to be all this activity in Yellowstone and Oklahoma and California. It could also be due to the turning of the season. The pull of the sun is not minimal as many geologists are prone to think. The Sun and Moon can combine to cause significant tidal changes in the Earth’s crust and inner constitution. Over millions of rotations it is quite possible that these stresses induced on the earth may cause a higher potential for earthquakes; especially during those periods when the earth is facing the two celestial bodies in unison. That is when the moon and sun are lined up in the same direction, and the earth’s poles are tilted towards the Sun. The combined tidal force could increase the chances of seismic or volcanic activity.

In the end, geological relations are not simple cause and effect relations. They are stochastic in nature, subject to chance that is. After many times the right pre-requisites may be present to cause a seismic motion, or a volcanic discharge. But there is never a one to one relationship as is often expected in macro physics where for example the law of gravity is expected to act the same way every time it is applied. Yet even in physics we have learned that our illusions of macro reliability and inviolability is shattered when we look at the quantum level. The laws of quantum physics are subject to chance. So Geologists may be forced to recast their demands on the science from one that requires direct consistent relationships, to a science based on chance relationships that only on certain opportune times can be predictable..

Too often we hear of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions happening during the summer months, and at full moon. This may not be an unrelated occurrence.

What does that mean for the recent earthquake at Yellowstone? We don’t know. But even a relatively small eruption at the national park can be quite catastrophic and we would do well to keep an eye out on the slumbering giant at Yellowstone. When he shall awaken, the whole world will be shaken.

see Yellowstone


Long Valley Caldera  is also a Super Volcano that last erupted six hundred thousand years ago. It is located in the mid state region of California not far from Reno Nevada, and just to the east of Yosemite national park. see Long Valley


There  is one more Super Volcano in the United States and that’s in New Mexico. The Valles Caldera is smaller than Long Valley and Yellowstone and seems to have erupted much further back in time some 1.15 million years ago. However, it had a smaller eruption 60,000 years ago.  see Valles Caldera

A beautiful volcanic landscape can also be seen in Flagstaff Arizona, not too far from Las Vegas. There the San Francisco Peak towers to some 12,000 feet, and below are large deposits of lava spewed out some 1,000 years ago. This  too is active, and will probably erupt sometime in the future. see San Francisco Peaks

The End of General Consumerism and the Beginning of General Conservatism: Life on Earth

Consumers are all we have been designated to be. Our politics, our Media, our industry seem to have all conspired to make us pan-consumers.  A people whose sole measure of self-worth is in some way or other based on their actual or potential level of  consumption.

We are conditioned to consume everything. In some ways, even each other.

But in the meantime Earth is being gouged with open wounds, and scoured mercilessly in our unrelenting  search for resources.

Over the past two hundred years humanity has managed to consume enormous volumes of resources. We have systematically transformed our human existence to a pan-consumerism which in theory allows for each and every free person in a democracy to consume as much as they can, and/or facilitate the consumption by others to the highest possible degree as providers of product or service.  That is we are either programmed to be relentless consumers, or relentless providers of consumption for others.

We have now a Global economy, quite able to consume just about anything in its path,  but hardly able to conserve anything at all. The very idea of conservation has seemingly disappeared from the mainstream media. Conservation seems to be treated today  like a dirty word used to be treated yesterday. This is because open investments have an open interest in continued expansion  Yet, there is absolutely no reasonable alternative to conservation. But we have now a world whose sole purpose is to expand, even if that expansion is catastrophic, or even impossible to achieve

When in fact our economy tells us in no uncertain terms that we must begin to conserve or face dire economic consequences simply because the inefficiency built up within our all-consuming economy can no longer be sustained, we simply ask our Federal Reserve Chairman to increase the money supply and go on. That is we borrow against the future, and indeed borrow from our own children so that we can not only maintain our present level of consumption, but increase it!

For most of human time excess was frowned upon for it was innately understood that unreasonable expenditure would eventually lead to destruction.   Even the world’s major religions-fundamentally aligned to the notion of an infinite boundless God or Universe(as in the case of the Buddhists) have repeatedly frowned on the glutton, and have all set down the example of conservation and care when expending resources in the human realm. Yet here we are in the twenty first century being conditioned both psychologically and spiritually to become all consuming entities whose sole measure of value or worth is how much we consume, or how much we can consume in the future!

We can see that as a civilization we have borrowed immensely and recklessly from nature.  Not only do we have enormous monetary debt which demonstrates quite clearly our overall failure as an economic entity but we also have the enormous damage  to the natural world that proves clearly that we have not been prudent with the expenditure of our natural resources thus far. We have thus far burned four billion years of stored hydro carbons in one hundred fifty years of industrial evolution! This expenditure cannot be insignificant. This hugely disproportionate return of hydro-carbons cannot simply be dismissed. There will almost certainly be consequences as the Earth is made to adjust to this sudden release of billions of years of stored heat, carbon dioxide, and methane.


What Can We Do?

In order to turn the corner and at last say that we have stabilized our existence with Nature,  we must as a civilization begin to come to an understanding  on both the individual and state level, that consumption must be limited! Consumption must be regulated and that of course would also imply a regulation of expenditure as well.  Thus we must at last begin to admit to ourselves both publically and privately that in order to exist on the Earth as a Global community, we must begin to program our economies towards the most efficient path of growth, consumption and expenditure. No doubt this will include qualitative changes as well. In other words it is not simply a matter of measuring how much we consume, but what and how, and why we consume what we consume and why we make certain expenditures and not others.  The quality of our total existence must change.  A new idealism may well be needed.

Many will say that’s too much to ask, but the reality is that there is no other choice.  If we continue on our present course, we will firstly go bankrupt for our currencies will collapse followed immediately by our economies, and secondly we may well do permanent damage to the Earth’s cyclical rhythms which concern the Carbon Cycle for example.  Should anything like that happen, not only is our survival very doubtful, but quite possibly the survival of life on Earth as a whole may be endangered. Since it is generally accepted that we are now  in the midst of a major mass extinction, it would be good for honest, well meaning, religious people who have a strong conscience and care for those around them to admit that there is very great danger here even if we don’t quite know what the precise nature of that danger may be, and the time has come to begin asking how we may live conservatively with nature so as to preserve the viability of our own children’s society.

Conservation  has long been the cornerstone of many great civilizations in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.  While care for efficiency was taken most ancient civilizations grew and blossomed, but when this care was lost, failure was sure to occur, so we have precedents and all we need do as individuals is to look at prior civilizations and see how they  managed growth and decay to see some measure of our own solution.

There will be those who will deny all this, but they are simply denying what is quite obvious to anyone looking honestly.  We have used far too much of our world’s resources without commensurate care needed to prevent an unexpected consequence. Too many political parties will fight to preserve their own strength often denying what is true for the purpose of temporarily gaining the upper hand politically. We can no longer afford these maneuvers merely for political gain and it is time for those who really do understand what is happening here to take a separate stand. It is time to invade all political parties for the purpose of making it clear to all members of our civilization that our status with Earth is dire trouble.

We must come to a general understanding that both individual consumption and global consumption is to be decreased generally if we are to survive as a whole.  However this can be done with very little outward change. By increasing efficiency, both individually and globally we can pretty much avoid most nasty consequences.

This is not an attack on Capitalism. Be careful. Capitalism is much more than just mindless consumption and inordinate expenditure of resources. Capitalism in its essence is simply a system of private ownership which is not at all undermined by the ideas of conservation. Capitalism allows for the free action and assumption of personal responsibility of risk concerning economic ventures. This has nothing by itself to do with conservation and care for our resources. Yes there will be some changes and some adjustment for the markets will have to take place. But for the most part I think markets have today become useless and falsely overinflated and for the most part out of the reach of the mainstream citizenry even if so many technical advancements have made it child’s play to actually invest in the  capital markets. In reality no one trusts the markets because they have become the plaything of the few and so have become essentially useless to our society.  By beginning a long turn towards conservation, markets may actually become useful again. They may actually serve the original purpose that they were designed for in that their primary function was to determine value and the feasibility of distribution these being the ultimate requirements of any attempts towards efficiency and conservation. Thus markets may actually begin to function as they were intended once we begin this change towards real conservation as they will once again be relied on to truthfully represent the availability of resources, while today they do nothing of the sort, actually going up or down in price not based on their inherent value but only on the nature of the Federal Reserve’s monetary actions.

However, if those who would call themselves capitalists will make the claim that no bounds to the accumulation of personal wealth should ever exist, even if these over extensions wind up destroying our harmonic existence with the Earth itself, then it is time for some regulation and a sharpened redefinition of economic bounds and overall economic objectives will have to be reviewed.

In essence, we must live within our resources both as far as the Earth is concerned, and as far as our own economies are concerned. Creating unnecessary jobs is  not a sustainable solution to our unemployment problems for example. We need to find real, efficient ways to exist, and expand economically if we are to survive as a species.  Spending too much on any kind of consumption is going to throw the system out of balance, anyone can see this.  Our economic actions must be in complete harmony with our Earthly resources. Any mistakes, and we’re gonners! This is not an idle threat, but an ever growing one as we can see by the increase of both climatic heat and oceanic heat which could very well be due to our use of Four billion years of fuel in less than two hundred years.

We would be lucky to escape our fate as is, but whatever we do, we must adjust our understanding of basic human existence. The time for open ended consumerism, is dead! It is time for a new revelation that each and every one of us must experience personally. We must learn to live efficiently. We must learn to Conserve.

Global Warming: Vulcanism