Creating a Fictional Planet’s Calendar

When humans finally manage to colonise another planet, there will be some significant differences between life on that planet and life on Earth.  One of them is the calendar.  Why would the Earth’s calendar be inadequate?

First, the orbital period of the new planet will be different than Earth’s 365.25 days.  Second, the length of the day is going to be different.  Third, with these two basic pieces of information, the year will start at different seasons, and midnight would happen at different times of day.  It would make no sense.

So, what we need to do is create a new calendar and timekeeping system.  I’m going to use my fictional world of Ariadne as an example.  I have yet to figure out the calendar, so I’m doing it on the fly as I write this post.

First of all, we need to determine the distance of the planet from the star, which is Beta Comae Berenices.  To do this, we need an equation.  We’ll start with the equation that is used to determine the temperature of a planet (and rearranged to solve for distance D).

D = (Ts^2Rs/2Tp^2)((1-a)/(1-τ/2))^1/2

D is the distance to the star, Ts is the temperature of the star, Tp is the temperature of the planet, Rs is the radius of the star, a is the albedo of the planet, and τ is the optical depth of the planet’s atmosphere.  Going through this, I want Tp to be equal to 288 Kelvin, which is similar to Earth’s.  The albedo should also be similar to Earth’s which is 0.39.  And the optical depth should be similar to Earth’s, considering the atmosphere is very similar.  Therefore, that should be 0.6.  The temperature of Beta Comae Berenices is 5,935 Kelvin, which is slightly hotter than the sun.  The star is also slightly larger than the sun, 1.106 times the size, and therefore has a radius of 770,154,252 metres.  Plug all these in the equation, and we get a distance of 152,657,589 km, which is slightly larger than the distance of the Earth from the sun.

Now, to determine the orbital period of the planet, we need the mass of the star, the orbital radius, and the mass of the planet.  We’ll use Kepler’s Third Law for this. To simplify this, I used this very handy tool to calculate the period.  The semimajor axis is set to 152,657,589 km, the mass of the planet is 1.028 Earth masses (as it’s 2.8% more massive than Earth), and the mass of Beta Comae Berenices, which is 1.15 times the mass of the sun.

We have a result of 0.961094 Earth years, or 351.046 days.

Now, as for the calendar, I’m going to be making up some numbers a bit here.  I’ll keep the numbers the same for the planet and star, but the year will be 351.1 days.  This means that the day on Ariadne is slightly shorter than Earth’s day by 13 seconds.  That’s all.  For the clock, a standard 24 hour clock with 60 minutes can continue to be used, though it’ll have to be adjusted a little.

As for the calendar, to get a nice round number of days per month is a bit difficult.  However, based on a 351 day year, a 12 month calendar with 29 day months is possible.  There are an extra 3 days, though.  They could be distributed around to 3 other months, but I’d like to do something special.  At the beginning of each year, there will be a 3 day month.  It’ll be a 3 day period for people to celebrate the colonisation of the world.

Now, to account for that extra 0.1 days, we can add leap years every 10 years.  Add an extra day on the decade to the holiday month, so on every 10th anniversary, there’s an extra long holiday.

As the year is slightly shorter, people’s ages will increase a bit faster.  So, a 50 year old person on Earth would have an age of 52 on Ariadne.  It won’t make a big difference, though.  However, colonists will have to figure out a new birthday based on this new calendar.  That can be calculated by regressing the calendar into negative years to find the birthdate.  The landing date will start with year 1, holiday month day 1.

Another matter is to name the months.  This will come at a later date, as the colonists haven’t arrived at the planet yet!  They’ll have time to name them.

I hope you found this post informative.  This is going to be Ariadne’s standard calendar, and it will be described with names in the future.

Book Review – Scavenger’s War

scavengerswarScavenger’s War is the first book of The Marlowe Transmissions by Jack Sheppard.  It’s a short post-apocalyptic science fiction novella that left me with very mixed feelings.

Desmond Marlowe is a man who has been traveling a long time through the former United States, which is now a wasteland populated by pockets of people and the scavengers, a race of part human, part technological beings who prey on people for energy.  There are a few city-states, and Dez is on his way to one of them, Detroit.  Detroit is a fortress ruled by dictator Terrence McHale.  Dez meets his daughter, and everything goes to hell for him.

The story is an interesting take on the post-apocalyptic genre, as there was no war, no alien invasion, no nuclear bomb, no asteroid impact, no disease.  It’s the result of a well-meaning attempt to expand the mind’s abilities.  People have telekinetic abilities, but it has resulted in people thinking they’re invincible, so the world became an anarchy.  War spread and the land was devastated.  This isn’t much of a spoiler, as it’s explained very early on, including in the book’s description.  It was an intriguing idea.  But I felt that there were some aspects that didn’t work for me.

The characters didn’t click with me.  Dez Marlowe seemed like a seasoned veteran of this dark future’s battles.  However, I couldn’t get the image that he was a young man for most of the book.  He was not even described until the final third of the book.  I didn’t know what he looked like or how old he was.  When he was finally described, my image of him was completely wrong.  We didn’t get to see much of Terrence McHale, but his daughter was central to the story.  Layla McHale seemed both spoiled and naive.  But she had to grow quickly.  I felt like I didn’t get enough time to like her.  There was some good characterisation, particularly with Huginn.  I liked him.

The technology is also interesting.  The scavengers seemed almost like animals acting on instinct, with only a remnant of their humanity remaining.  Some of the weapons that relied on mind control were intriguing, too.  The brain and technology interface was all telekinetic, not using a direct physical connection.  I liked that.

This story is told in first person using present tense.  This is a difficult way to write a book, and I found it somewhat jarring.  At one point, this was described as a transmission of Marlowe’s experience.  Wouldn’t he be talking about it in past tense?  I wasn’t sure why it was in present tense.  I’m not a fan of this kind of writing style.  This was the biggest problem for me.  But that’s just my personal taste.

Overall, I felt that this story had potential to be very good.  However, there were many things that didn’t make it as enjoyable as I’d have liked.  I am interested in seeing how it continues, though.  In the end, I have to give this 2 and a half stars out of 5.  Recommended for those who like post-apocalyptic stories with a twist.

Student for Life

I am a student for life.  I’m not officially a student of any school, but I consider myself a student of many things.  I am certainly not a career student, who continues to study at university accumulating degrees, but never working.  I will always be working, but also trying to learn.

Ever since I joined Coursera and FutureLearn, I’ve enjoyed studying new things, mainly in my field of study in university (astronomy), but also in my second choice (palaeontology).  But I’m not sticking with the familiar, I’m branching out.  I’m expanding my horizons.  Along with the astronomy and palaeontology courses, I’ll also be studying history, writing, philosophy, engineering, geology, and anything else that interests me.

I am also studying various languages, including Japanese, French, and Spanish.  I’ll be starting German, as well.  I’m considering Italian and Portuguese in the future.

Some people choose to stop studying once they finish school.  Not me.  I want to learn as many things as possible.  I want to know as much as I can.

There are some major benefits to studying for life.  It keeps the mind sharp and young.  It lets you keep up on new developments.  It helps prevent you from forgetting the things you’ve learned if you take similar subjects multiple times.  Learning languages has been shown to help prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.  Language skills are also very helpful for travel and future job prospects.  Knowing about many subjects can help prepare you for a return to university, if you choose to do so.

If money was no object, and I had time, I would go back to university to study geology and possibly move on to a Master’s degree and PhD, focusing on planetary geology.  Planetary science is my passion, and geology would not only help me achieve that dream, but could also be used for more earthly purposes.

Most of all, I am learning for the pure joy of obtaining knowledge.  I love to know.  I have an insatiable desire to know many things.  I’m anxiously awaiting Dawn’s arrival at Ceres.  I can’t wait for New Horizons’ arrival at Pluto.  I look forward to reading about all the new exoplanet discoveries.  I’m hoping for a Europa mission.  I would love to see a Mars colony start in the next few years.

I also want to know how I can help improve our world.  I want to be a part of helping the environment, the people, the plants and animals.  I want to be a voice of reason and to be someone who can use knowledge and reason to help resolve problems.

I learn to better myself, and in turn, better the world.  At the very least, I want to enjoy it.

Now, the questions for you is, do you want to be a student for life?

Creationism on “Cosmos?” Unlikely

When I saw this news story, I couldn’t believe it.  Honestly, who would ever believe that creationism would find a place on Cosmos, a TV show dedicated to science?

Danny Falkner of Answers in Genesis complained about Neil deGrasse Tyson not discussing the creationists’ point of view.  Of course it wouldn’t be discussed.  As Cosmos is a science show, it wouldn’t be discussing something that is strictly religious.

Let’s take a look at what Falkner said.

Creationists aren’t even on the radar screen for them, they wouldn’t even consider us plausible at all.

No surprise about this.  That’s because creationism isn’t science.  It’s religion.  Cosmos has nothing to do with religion.

The host of The Janet Mefford Show went on to say this:

Boy, but when you have so many scientists who simply do not accept Darwinian evolution, it seems to me that that might be something to throw in there, you know, the old, ‘some scientists say this, others disagree and think this,’ but that’s not even allowed.

Please, provide us a list of scientists who don’t accept Darwinian evolution.  Evolution has never been successfully refuted or falsified.  It is accepted by the scientific community.

Falkner also says this:

I was struck in the first episode where he talked about science and how, you know, all ideas are discussed, you know, everything is up for discussion – it’s all on the table – and I thought to myself, ‘No, consideration of special creation is definitely not open for discussion, it would seem.’

Yes, science is all about discussing the ideas and investigating them.  Creation isn’t considered because it is not science.  It’s that simple.  Unicorns aren’t being considered, Santa Claus isn’t being considered, the Theory of Barbaric Lemons isn’t being considered, and my mother’s pickle recipe isn’t being considered.  They’re not science!  Actually, a pickle recipe is more scientific than the others, since it’s basically a kind of chemistry.

So why should creationism be featured on a strictly scientific show?  For the same reason creationism has no place in a science class.  It’s religion, not science.

What do you think?

You’re Not a Monkey, I’m Not a Tree

My daughter has decided to dominate my time tonight.  In fact, every single time I attempted to write a blog post, she came over and tried to take control of my hands so I couldn’t type.  Then she tried to climb on me and demanded to sit on my lap, making it impossible for me to type.  She’s tired me out.  Now she’s come over to me while I type this.  Well, I guess that’s it for me tonight.  So much for productivity.

Give Some Indie Author Love

Indie authors have a bit of a tough time selling books.  They don’t have the resources publishers have to advertise and get books into bookstores.  They do have the internet, social media, and online booksellers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, though.

I think one way readers can help is to review their books. I’ve always got an indie novel going in my Kindle app.  I’m currently reading The Sword and the Dragon by M. R. Mathias.  So far, I’m enjoying it.

Other recent indie authors I’ve read and featured on this blog include S. R. Ford, Ashley Setzer, J. Thorn, and Jason Halstead.  I encourage you to check them all out, so I’ve linked their names to their Goodreads pages so you can see what they’ve written.  Also, here are their official websites:  S. R. Ford, Ashley Setzer, J. Thorn, and Jason Halstead.  I encourage you to check out their websites and Goodreads profile and buy their books!

Now, what I’d like you to do is leave a comment.  Do you have a favourite indie author you think needs more love?  Then post a link to their website and/or Goodreads page.  Are you an indie author?  Feel free to promote yourself, as well!  I’ll make a post in the coming week with your suggestions. So please post!

Camp NaNoWriMo

A year and a half ago, I joined National Novel Writing Month.  I dropped out within a few days realising how little time I had to participate.  Well, I’ve decided to join Camp NaNoWriMo, and kind of scaled down version where you set your own limit and write whatever you like.  The main NaNoWriMo event in November has a fixed target of 50,000 words, which is a short novel.

For the camp, I’ve set my target as 15,000 words and my category as fantasy short stories.  I have a few ideas I’ve been wanting to work on, and this will give me that opportunity.  What’s interesting about Camp NaNoWriMo is that you are assigned to cabins in groups of 12.  You can even request to join others by username.  If you want to join my cabin, my username is jay-dee.  I’ll need to see your username as well if we want to get grouped together.  The deadline is March 25th.  The camp begins at the beginning of April.

Hope to see you there.