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Eric TF Bat said on July 25th, 2008 at 2:05 am

Wasn’t it one of the 2001 sequels that had the monolith-aliens igniting one of the gas giants to provide a sun for some new life on one of the moons? Ah yes: All these worlds are yours except Europa. Attempt no landings there.

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Eric: Sounds about right. Thank you, collective internet-brain!

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That would be 2010, I think. It was Jupiter, if I recall correctly, mainly cause it’s bigger and would be easier to torch off. But if you have the power of a plot device, I imagine you can make do with a smaller gasball.

I just checked my bookshelf, and yes, it is 2010: odyssey two

they call the new star Lucifer in the book, even. “The Light-Bringer”

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I can’t say I’ve seen it before.

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karellan said on July 25th, 2008 at 7:29 am

I came in here specifically to tell all of you that it was 2010, but it looks like you all beat me to it.

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Lister Sage said on July 25th, 2008 at 8:23 am

The last consipicy theory website I read was how Opara and Bill Cosby theatened Dave Chappell until he quit his tv show. Shit like, Opara breaking into his house with some thungs in the middle of the night and threatening him. Crazy stuff.

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A similar (and similarly terrible) story is “Rings of Ice” by Piers Anthony (although not as similar as “2010″, apparently). The author alone should clue you in to the awful, but a quick summary: the military decides to build rings of ice around the world (in space!) to somehow provide solar power, presumably WITH SCIENCE! This of course fails, and the rings of ice melt (in space!), causing a biblical flood. The head civilian scientist on the project and a bunch of random misfits end up in an RV on high ground, where lots of wacky hijinks like cannibalism and paraplegic sex to perpetuate the human race occur. Yay!

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I feel old now — I remember when they were getting ready to put Cassini UP, and the whackjobbery du jour was that it would probably explode on the launchpad or while leaving the atmosphere, blanketing the planet in Plutonium dust, wiping out all life.

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Jake:

My familiarity with Piers Anthony come entirely from reading one Xanth book, so I’m split whether your description of ‘Rings’ should blow my mind or make me chuckle knowingly. I’m stuck in some kind of feedback loop here, seriously.

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malakim2099 said on July 25th, 2008 at 10:04 am

Darnit, everyone beat me to the 2010 references.

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It sounds similar to the speculation that we accidentally nuked Jupiter with the Galileo probe. I wouldn’t be surprised if it derived from a group of nutcases who read about Galileo and extrapolated it to ridiculous proportions for Cassini.

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Are Saturn’s moons further away from Saturn than we are? I’m curious, because if not, then this plan makes even *less* sense, and that is saying something.

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In the manga series 2001 Nights, there was a story about the discovery of a tenth planet, a huge gas giant, out beyond Pluto, and coincidentally, it was also named Lucifer. When an expedition is mounted to explore it, they learn that it and its rings are made of antimatter, and speculate that the solar system was originally a binary star system, with one matter star and one antimatter one, but the antimatter star eventually cooled and became a planet. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but it was a pretty cool story, with a lot of religious discussion and interesting interpretations of Catholicism from a Japanese perspective.

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Interesting physics question- if you did make Jupiter or Saturn into a sun bright enough to potentially make its moons livable (emphasis on potentially because of all the other factors involved), would it actually have a huge effect on Earth’s temperature?

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NCallahan:

Well, it IS worse than most Piers Anthony books, but only because it is so amazinlgy, mind-blowingly bad. It’s not like his other books are actually *good*.

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Matthew J. Brady:
There is some sci-fi novel called Nemesis about a star which takes a path through the Milky Way such that it flings comets from the Oort Cloud at us every once-in-a-long-time.

I am yet again too late to contribute the missing title. Damn.

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Actually, Nemesis was actually a scientific theory for a while: after the evidence came in on the dinosaur extinction being Big Thing From Space – related, there was speculation for a while that might be the case for _all_ extinctions, which led to some people looking for a mechanism for chucking stuff at earth at long intervals. Nowadays it’s considered unlikely (the supposed periodicity of extinctions seems a matter of the human tendency to see patterns everywhere, and the biggest extinction, the Permian, looks more and more to be mainly runaway-vulcanism related)

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Coren:

If Saturn is turned into a sun, our solar system would suddenly have two suns. Earth works because we’re exactly the appropriate distance from the sun. Creating a second would make it too hot to live here, I believe is what they’re thinking. Presumably, since the moon in question is frozen as it is, turn Saturn into a sun would make it perfect.

But take all that with a grain of salt. The links were a bit tl;dr for me, and I don’t study science.

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Saturn’s about 9 times as far from us as we are from the sun, though, right?

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Thanks, Bruce, I think I got the “current science” aspect from the blurb I read about the story, but you tied it all nicely together, including reassuring us that that particular doom comes from an anthropocentric worldview. If only similar arguments against global warming were convincing…

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Coren: You’re right, I think the conspiracy theorists meant Jupiter’s moons rather than Saturn’s, on reflection. They’re crazy, but they’re not _that_ crazy.

Well, maybe some of them are.

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Every time I think I’ve seen the most batshit insane conspiracy theory, I keep getting proved wrong.

All I have to say about this one is; That violates every law of everything.

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These links sent me into a spiral of increasing “OMG WTF” for hours. Thank you.

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malakim2099 said on July 26th, 2008 at 2:59 am

Oh, for morbid entertainment…

Exit Mundi is always fun, though it hasn’t been updated in a while. It also has a fun article about the mythical “Tenth Planet” (as opposed to the real tenth dwarf planetoid or whatever).

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The hilarious part of this is the idea that there is something to be gained by igniting a second sun. Some youtube videos and websites state that our evil overlords who planned this event will “evolve” to be real overlords.

Frankly, I have trouble imagining anything more absurd than these theories.

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I’ve been contemplating this for a while and I think the absolute dumbest part of this whole theory is that if it’s true there’s absolutely nothing “we” (that is, the free-thinking people who oppose the monolithic “them”) can do to stop it. I mean, even if I believe this stuff, there’s no time for me to evacuate Earth before it becomes a lifeless husk, and there’s certainly no time for me to get to Saturn to intercept Cassini. At best I could hope to go to NASA and stop them from pushing their “send Cassini commands to blow up Saturn” button in 2010, but if I were NASA (and more importantly, if I were the evil conspiracy-theory NASA that has the technology to create stars and terraform moons) I’d have preprogrammed those instructions to Cassini before it was launched.

This is the pattern I get from these things: whether it’s the world’s governments not wanting you to discover the Earth is flat or the world’s academics conspiring to suppress knowledge of Gene Ray’s Timecube, it doesn’t matter if you believe it or not because the believers have no way of applying their superior knowledge to accomplish anything, except to feel superior. The truth may be out there, but it doesn’t help Mulder find those aliens any faster than Scully can by not giving a shit.

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Saturn is on average 9 AU away from the sun. That means that Saturn is about 8 AU from the earth at any given time. Even if Saturn was somehow to ignite into a new sun, it would have to be at least 9 times larger than the real sun in order to do any significant damage to our planet. As it is now, the Sun is only about 1,702 times bigger than Saturn is.

This conspiracy conjecture is extremely fucking doubtful.

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They didn’t get to this in the debunking yet, but if Jupiter and/or Saturn were able to become stars, they would have. And if you were able to turn them into fission factories, they would blow themselves apart because they’re too small to hold themselves together through gravity. I think this is stupid, and I’m a conspiracy nut.

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Zenrage: Heat aside, I think there would be an awful lot of *light* to contend with.

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[...] attribution, even!), NASA is planning to use it’s ostensibly harmless Cassini satellite to ignite a huge fusion reaction and turn Saturn into a new sun, thus rendering some moon or other [...]

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The Imp: Uhh, no.. light would not be an issue.

Even assuming that the Saturn-Sun was burning as intensely as the real Sun with as much surface temperature (which couldn’t possibly happen because of Saturn’s lack of volume or mass as compared to the Sun, btw), Solar Luminosity is calculated by multiplying P(total)* by the surface area of the earth and then dividing by the surface area of a sphere with a radius the distance between the earth and the Solar body.

Since the formula for calculating the surface area of a sphere is 4*pi*radius^2 and the distance between Earth and Saturn is eight times greater than the distance between Earth and the Sun, the surface area for the latter sphere would be 64 times the surface area of the sphere used in determination of the Saturn-Sun’s luminosity. This means the solar luminosity for the Saturn-Sun would be at least 1/64th the brightness of the Sun based on distance alone.

The solar constant for the sun is approx. 1366 Watts per square meter. This means, based on distance alone, the Saturn-Sun would only add a maximum of 21 Watts of power at any given time during the year.

That’s not enough to bake a cupcake in an easy-bake oven.

*I have absolutely no fucking clue what P(total) is supposed to be. There is no website that will explain this in layman’s terms.

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Evil Midnight Lurker said on August 4th, 2008 at 1:54 am

Aside from those sources already mentioned, the closest fiction to this that I can recall is James P. Hogan’s “Cradle of Saturn.” Which was a great disappointment to me as it marked Hogan’s transition from skeptic to credulous crackpot — CoS is a paean to Velikovskiyan catastrophism, involving a new planet being ejected from Saturn and rearranging the Solar System’s orbital dynamics, apparently such that the survivors of Earth flee to a newly habitable moon of Saturn. Or something, you can see why I didn’t read more than a little way in.

Hogan’s early works taught me to be wary of crackpot science. Then, in his old age, he became everything he’d ever hated. A sad case.

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