Explanatory Universe

September 2, 2010

This blog is a creative writing assignment and an example of “hard science fiction”, science fiction based heavily in technical details and strives to be accurate scientifically, based on the current astrobiological paradigms. I chose to make this blog a project in hard science fiction because years earlier, I started a thought experiment in my spare time aimed at figuring out what a human explorer would experience on another habitable planet. What color would the sky be, and how would the human cope with that planet’s gravity, atmosphere, and local life forms? From there, the thought experiment evolved into a new idea: how would the indigenous life forms adapt to their environment?

I kept coming back to this idea for years, slowly building a sentient alien life form with consciousness, and working backwards to figure out what kind of environment could have spawned this creature. As I poured more and more time into this thought experiment, I began to build an animal phylogeny, and I developed a greater understanding of how climates on Earth change. For the entire time, I went without giving this planet or its inhabitants a name, referring it only as “the planet” or “the creatures”. I realized for this assignment, it might be of my benefit to give my planet and the beings on it some kind of name.

When I discuss the timeline of events leading up to the creation of sentient life on Areios, I should mention that I have decided to put all of this deep into the future, at a time long after our Sun becomes a red giant. When I discuss the origins of this solar system, I refer to the dates as relative to the point of oogenesis; the time in history where the first sentient beings were spawned on Areios. While I express this as a single well-defined event, the path to sentience is actually a convoluted path that involves a not-so-clear distinction of what’s sentient and what’s not. We’ll discuss this much later, but it should be noted that the more scientists study the nature of intelligence, the more we realize that formerly human-solely traits are actually shared by other animals, like culture, language, and emotion. But for the sake of this blog we don’t need to be that specific, so we’re going to say that Hemera and this solar system spawned 14 billion years before the advent of our sentient life-form, the Areia.

I decided to give them a name evocative of Ares, the god of war, based off my earliest model, a picture I drew as an assignment in middle school art class with a gnarly-looking alien conqueror. I named the planet Areios, in Greek it is the masculine adjective form of the word Ares. The creatures that would inhabit the planet, from the earliest microbe to the most complex multicellular creature, would be referred to as the Areia, the feminine adjective form of the word Aries. The star that these planets orbit around will be named Hemera, named after the Greek personification of day.

The three moons that would orbit this planet Areios would be named after a myth in the Illiad; two giants named Otus and Ephialtes chained Ares and put him in a bronze urn, where he remained for a lunar year. The legend continues that the giants’ stepmothers Eriboea eventually learned what happened and sent Hermes to free the God of War. The three moons of Areios are named Otus, Ephialthes, and Eriboea, with the second moon Eriboea formed by the impact theory and the first and third moon by the capture theory.

The only other planet in the Solar System is a gas giant more massive than the planet Jupiter. I named this Jovian planet Alkyoneus. Alkyoneus was the eldest of the Thracian Giants of Greek mythology. The Alkyonides were, in Greek mythology, the seven daughters of Alkyoneus; they will provide the names of the seven largest moons of the Jovian giant. These moons will be mentioned again in the final assignment of the semester, when we explore the Areia as a spacefaring civilization. In the future, the Alkyonides will serve as major space colonies for the first sentient Areia as their civilization moves beyond their homeworld.

This blog will start with a discussion of the galaxy the Hemera star system orbits around, describing how certain zones within a galaxy are thought to be more conducive to life than other. Next, I’ll move on to a discussion of the Hemera solar system, describing the mass, composition, orbit and formation of Hemera and the objects that orbit around it before delving into the characteristics of Areios than make it habitable, including the interaction of Areios with its three moons.

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