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Anorak | Daily Mail Planet: Gliese 581 Is The New Earth

Daily Mail Planet: Gliese 581 Is The New Earth

by | 25th, April 2007

gliese.jpg“THE NEW EARTH,” announces the Mail on its front page.

“Does the discovery of a planet just like ours means there IS life out there?”

Mail Readers are offered a picture of a lump of round rock coated in cotton-wool swirls of cloud and gas.

Inside the paper, the Mail’s telescope is on full beam. And it likes what it sees.

“It’s got the same climate as Earth, plus water and gravity. A newly discovered planet is the most stunning evidence that life – just like us – might be out there,” it trumpets.

Mail readers are forgiven for expecting the accompanying pictures of Gliese 581 to feature a gentle sloping village green, an open Post Office and a figure in blue giving a smaller figure dressed in shorts, shirts and school tie a clip round the ear.

The Mail’s science editor, Michael Hanlon, notes, “Small waves lap a sandy shore and on the beach something stirs.”

If this Gliese 581 is like Earth, might it be that this stirring something is a human just like us, or, to be more precise, just like a Mail reader?

Dressed in laundered shirt (sleeves rolled up – the Gliese sun is ten times the size of our sun and it’s shirt-sleeve order), pressed shorts with crease down the front, sandals and white socks, this kindred spirit dines al fresco on his perspiring cheddar cheese and piccalilli sandwich.

Perhaps the telescope at La Silla in the Chilean Andes which detected Gliese 581 can be recalibrated to pick up sounds. What odds the figure is humming the bars to Land of Hope And Glory while a song thrush perched on the boughs of a nearby pear tree chirps: “Early One morning, just as the sun was rising, I heard a maid sing in the crater below”?

Interestingly enough, the Mail says Gliese is 20 light years away and locals would be listening to the Earth sounds from back then. And yes, that means a hearty dose of Margaret Thatcher swinging her handbag against Neil Kinnock. It is also the year of Kilroy’s TV debut.

But what if Gliese is no Daily Mail Planet? What if the figure on the beach is, say, a Polish immigrant who has got to Gliese 581 first, or a Jade Goody-Osama bin Laden chimera?

What then? Is there then hope for mankind?



Posted: 25th, April 2007 | In: Tabloids Comments (19) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink