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Roundtable: Which alien lifeforms inhabit Gliese 581g?

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Aliens are real, and they’re close.

The evidence is clear. Just last week, the UN (kinda sorta) appointed Malaysian astrophysicist Mazlan Othman as its official alien ambassador. Then, several members of the US Air Force claimed that UFOs have been spying on our nukes for over half a century.

Finally, on Wednesday, scientists announced the discovery of a planet in the Gliese (GLEE-Zuh) solar system that, according to at least one of the scientists on the project, has a 100 percent chance of life. The planet’s name? Gliese 581g. And it’s a close 21 light years away.

So, yes, obviously aliens exist, and they’re living on GLEE-Zuh. But what kind of life? What do these aliens look like? Which sci-fi alien calls GLEE-Zuh home?

To discuss the possibilities, we have assembled a small roundtable of completely unqualified fools, who also happen to write for Handshake. Enjoy, and leave your comments below.

Doxtad: Handshake editor-in-chief

Ask any real telescope peeper and she’ll tell you, “Gliese 581g is a beautiful planet, full of pristine sandy beaches and gorgeous sunny weather.” That’s a fact. Now some armchair Newtons might say, “Given Gliese 581g’s proximity to its star and the age of its solar system, the planet is very likely tidally locked.” Tidally locked objects, like our moon, have one side that’s always facing the sun. The day side burns at incredible temperatures; the rocks melt, the oceans boil, while the the dark side turns into a barren frozen wasteland.

And this is true of Gliese 581g. Luckily, when Gliese 581g finally stopped rotating it was a gorgeous Saturday afternoon on the day side and a nice, breezy Saturday evening on the night side. And that’s how it stayed. Sound familiar?

Let’s call Gliese 581g what it really is: Ursa Minor Beta, home of Megadodo publications, publisher of the great Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. This is good news and bad news. Good news: We finally have a place to launch a formal complaint about our poor planet’s review in the Guide. Bad news: Once our astronauts travel the 21 light years it takes to get there, the A-holes who run the company will probably make them wait in the lobby the entire time.

Don’t panic. I’m still willing to go. I’ve already packed my towel.

Andrew Z. Williams: Handshake contributor

Gliese 581g is the home of the so-called “Space Fetus” from 2001: A Space Odyssey. I mean, that giant fetus has gotta live somewhere, right? He needs somewhere to have a little downtime, just hang out and watch Felicity on DVD, you know?

Also, the conditions on Gliese 581g seem perfect; half of the planet is in permanent darkness, facing away from Gliese; this is great for fetuses, since they need the darkness of the womb (you want this space fetus to be born nice and healthy, and grow up into a tall, strapping space man, don’t you?). Plus, once he makes it out of his planet-sized womb, he’ll have the daylight side of the planet to lie around on, learn to crawl, potty train, etc. Trust me, when this giant space baby starts potty training, we don’t want him orbiting Earth.

Tiago Moura, Handshake web project manager

This is a poorly CGIed rendition of a bioraptor as depicted in the movie Pitch Black
I don’t know, sounds a bit Pitch Black-ish to me. The tidal lock lends itself to the procreation of light-phobic bioraptors, which would burrow underground on the far side of the planet, multiply like crazy, and eventually come out on the light side during a full solar eclipse.

If we plan on visiting the planet at any point, we’d better bring a Samus bounty hunter-type Light Suit and a whole lot of phazon packs to blast through the countless bioraptors that will inevitably try to tear us to shreds. Either that or bring a Furion, but I hear they’re unreliable.

Kevin Morris, Handshake web editor

As far as I’m concerned there are only two choices: the blob, or Superman. Why the blob? Gravity, baby. All that extra mass means that Gliese 581g’s gravity is like, way more than planet earth’s. Which means you aren’t going to have any alien giraffes, or Yao Mings.

Instead, you’ll have organisms close to ground, or maybe even stuck, blob-like to the ground. Blob-like. Therefore, the blob. This massive blow-your-mind logical acrobatics brings us to the following conclusion: the blob lives with all its evil gross brothers and sisters on Gliese 581g. And since The Blob pretty much was the first scary move I ever watched, and it stole much of my entire fifth year on this planet due to the horror it wrought on my innocent mind, I already hate this stupid fucking planet.

Second — and these are definitely not mutually exclusive — there is a good chance Gliese 581g is actually Krypton, Superman’s home planet. In the same way that the planet’s extra gravity would create blobbish blob creatures, it would also create creatures with god-like physical strength.


Take Superman’s fabled strength and ability to leap over a tall building in a single bound.

According to Kakalios, this can be explained by understanding the gravity on Krypton, Superman’s home planet.

“Just as our muscles and skeleton are adapted to earth’s gravity … Superman’s body must be adapted to the much larger gravity of Krypton to be able to leap tall buildings,” says Kakalios, during a phone interview from Minneapolis. (via UWO)

Now I hate this planet even more. Superman is the worst super hero ever. Who cares about some guy in a blue suit who can do anything he wants? And how exciting can a comic be when the biggest bad guy is a freakin green crystal?

My advice to NASA: find a batch of green crystals, attach them to like 300 nuclear warheads, and launch them towards this new planet. Then, in a few thousand years the blob and Superman and all their terrible ilk will be destroyed in a greenish mushroom cloud.


Do you completely agree with us? No? Weigh-in below and let us know what space creatures you think inhabit our new livable neighbor.

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