The Carbon Comrade
14th July 2004
So, I was thinking (again) that throughout Star Trek, we've had our fair share of sightings of planets that are either in the middle of nowhere like the Baku Homeworld, in the middle of the Briar Patch or the Founder Homeworld, in the middle of a Nebula. Now, for those that don't know, Sunlight is required for life, be it plant, animal or human. Therefore, in theory, people on starships shouldn't be living as long as they are due to the lack of sunlight that they (aren't) getting. Ok, so, whilst I can understand that, the thing I can't understand (like the Founder & Baku homeworlds) is how they can survive, firstly without a sun, and secondly in desire places. I suppose a planet in the Briar Patch would be more dangerous than a planet in a Nebula Field. I'm aware that some planets could just be rock floating around, however, to have a planet capable of supporting life, we need sunlight, and to my knowledge, even if there was a sun close to the Baku / Found homeworld, the nebula and various gases would cause problems, and may in fact stop sunlight from reaching to that certain planet. In addition, the sky on Baku is just as it is here on earth, there are no signs there that they are living in the middle of a giant nebula-like patch and there should be. Also, I was watching 'The Marquis', a DS9 episode earlier, and they had to go chase down some Marquis, and guess where they landed? - A Class M Asteroid. I mean, seriously? An Asteroid that has trees, grass, and a happy living condition (I suppose somewhere, it would have an ocean too).
I fly. Do you fly?
9th February 2005
Meh, there are alot of things in science fiction TV shows - Not just star trek - that dont exactly follow the facts.
I've always found it annoying how almost every M-class planet they tend to visit (cept for maybe vulcan and cardassia) tend to have blue skies. Oh well, the same can be said of Stargate, Star Wars...and anything else. Not to mention that there appears to be a mass assumption in star trek that all aliens have 2 arms and 2 legs, and that most of those aliens are pink-skins. It gets annoying, but i tend to ignore it and just watch the show.
The lack of realism regarding things like sunlight, the inter-system travel (How would they navigate the Oort Cloud?) and other stuff - They're trying to tell a story, and not bombard people with scientific facts. If star trek explained every scienctific barrier that they've been able to get around in the show, it wouldnt be as interesting to watch. After all, it is meant to be a show about the future...maybe we can fill in some of the gaps ourselves.
Not true. Sunlight is not required for life to evolve. Around the 1980s, the Woodshole Oceanographic Institute submarine, Alvin submerged near the Galapagos Islands. At around 2.5km beneath the surface, the team discovered a large hydrothermal vent system. Around these vents an entire ecosystem had evolved completely isolated from solar radiation. The depth at which there sunlight penetration in the water (called the euphotic zone) is only about 100m.
In 2005, Thomas Beatty and others, published a paper through the National Academy of Sciences in which they discuss these ecosystems. While these ecosystems do require photosynthesis as a support base, the photo pigments the organisms are completely different from the chlorophyll that we learn of in basic biology. One of the things that had been found when hydrothermal vents were first discovered is that the eyes of the shrimp around those vents are sensitive to the thermal radiation. In Beatty's paper, he shows a new photosynthetic organism that does not use solar radiation but thermal radiation from the hydrothermal vents.
This process has been one of the major developments for the field of Oceanography and Astrobiology.
The Carbon Comrade
14th July 2004
^^ So, if our Sun were to die (not explode / implode) just 'die' and provided no light or energy, we wouldn't survive very long afterward. Thus, we need sunlight to live.
Your statement in the 3rd line of your first post is that "sunlight is required for life". That is no longer a scientifically true statement.
Also theoretically we can still survive by harnessing the geothermal energy of the planet. Of course we wouldn't have a large population density like used to. Humans do not use light so survive. Not directly. We can actually grow food using artificial light sources. That's something that NASA has been working on for the possibility of manned missions to Mars and farther out. The biggest problem is how do we protect the crew from some of the more harmful solar radiation that they will be exposed to once they leave the safety of the atmosphere.
15th September 2004
You don't need a star to live. Just a good source of heat and light. That planet you were referring to could survive in a nebula if that nebula gave off enough heat and light (and other required radiation) to sustain life.
The first extrasolar planets were not actually found with stars, but degenerate star (remanents). 3 planets were found revolving around a pulsar. The pulsar's x-ray beams actually generated enough heat to keep one or more of the planets warm enough that we could live on it. The pulsar beam would heat the planet every time it hit the planet.
Unfortunately, the extreme amount of radiation in those X-ray beams and from the pulsar would kill us and any life that tries to grow there pretty quickly. Still, it's an example of ample heat generation away from a solar body.
Anyway, keep it Star-Trek related, or I may move it, which isn't a bad thing.
Here's the link to the abstract of Beatty's paper. It's called An obligately photosynthetic bacterial anaerobe from a deep-sea hydrothermal vet. You can download the PDF of the whole paper from here if you want to read it. It's a bit heavy on the microbiology side, but an interesting read none the less. If you aren't used to reading scientific journals, then I don't know what to tell you. It's actually pretty short compared to other papers I've read.
The consequences of the discovery also have a great deal to do with the possibility of life on Jupiter's moon, Europa, which has a surface completely covered in ice, and perhaps the snowball earth hypothesis in which various climatologists have theorized that there was a point in time in the Neoproterozoic where all of the Earth's oceans froze down to a depth of 2 km.