No the planets are not in our solar system. They are around
other stars within a couple of hundred light years. I believe
we are up to 50 planets and either 2 or 3 planetary systems.
Lowest mass is slightly under Saturn (except maybe for those
orbiting around the pulsar). Orbits are mostly fairly eliptical,
which to some extent is a selection effect (because large
Jupiters with orbits close to the star will be discovered
first in these surveys). To get Jupiters close to stars,
you are likely to have had planetary billiards occuring
which is likely to create more elliptical orbits. I am
*hoping* as time goes by, we will get more circular orbits.
If that doesn't occur, then opportunities for life are
going to take a significant hit.
Good article in the Sept. 2000 Discover on how it may be raining
diamonds on Neptune That is the current theory on why it radiates
2.6x as much heat as it receives from the sun (rain induced friction).
*Or* you could think about it another way... Lets see -- a very large
planet with the highest fraction of methane in its atmosphere. What is
methane? CH4... Hmmmm.... Split that and you can make lots of
diamondoid thermonuclear reactors to burn the H in... If the
heat isn't waste heat from the thermonuclear reactors of the
Neptune brain, and it *is* raining diamonds, God, what a waste...
Martin, if you have access to Excel and still want a spreadsheet of
more materials properties than you want to know, let me know
and I send you one.
I'm not a big fan of Gold's theories. If I remember he argues
that the oil is deep, which means that it is going to be expensive
to extract. EvMick is right in that there is a lot of underutilized
farmland out there, that *should* be growing synfuel or synplastic
so the U.S. can fix our balance of payments deficit. And I would
call "permaculture" the greenhouses that are used when the return
justifies building the infrastructure. In Seattle my winter/spring
vegetables come from hot houses in British Columbia. In Moscow, I see
tons of flowers in the middle of winter. I'm fairly sure they come from
greenhouses as well. So Mike, if you get the price of gas up to
$5-$10/gallon, I'm sure you will see greenhouses sprouting up
all over the place or oil-apple orchids being planted. The
fundamental problem with agriculture as currently practiced
is that much of it uses annual plants. Erosion isn't as
much of a problem in orchids and your yields will be higher
because you don't have to regrow the much of the plant that
isn't used every year.
Brian, I'm currently off the list while attempting to
finish some of my work of the last several years, so I can
reorient myself to head in new directions this fall.
I still browse the archives from time to time, but am
not likely to see everything, if you have something
specific you think requires my attention, feel free to
cc: me. Thanks for asking.
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