Friday, April 22, 2011

An interesting link and some housekeeping

Alien plantlife

Red Suns and Black Trees: Shedding a New Light on Alien Plants is a Universe Today article about how chlorophyll (the stuff that makes plants green) works well on Earth because of the colour of our sun. [Edit: link down as of posting because they're hosted on Amazon's servers... sorry. Edit 2: Here is an article from Astrobiology Magazine along the same lines, thanks to Patty Jansen.] On other planets, particularly those with different coloured suns, it's possible that the vegetation could evolve to be a different colour to better take advantage of the different light.

It reminded me of the red edge, which is a feature of the reflectivity of plant life. It has been proposed as a possible extraterrestrial biomarker (a way of determining if there is plant life like ours on other planets. I wonder if plants which don't use chlorophyll exhibit the same spectral properties in the infrared? That said, not overheating is a useful property, so on worlds with bluer suns, maybe the effect would be more extreme? This is pure speculation, of course.


I have decided that I am going to aim to write one long, sciencey post a week and, for the time being, the plan is to have that post go up on Wednesdays. (That's Australian Wednesdays, for those of you in less progressive time-zones. ;-) ) I may also post some shorter blogs throughout the week, such as this one, but that's less guaranteed. Sometimes I may also write posts about the science (good or bad) in books I've read.

I know more frequent blog posts are meant to be a way of keeping readers interested, but this one proper post a week is all I can really commit to, time-wise, for the moment.


  1. not overheating would be a very good thing no matter where one lives. And I shall make a note to check your blog on Wednesdays *g*

  2. True. My thinking was that it might be less important if the plants were, for example, struggling to get enough heat from a red dwarf sun. I guess it all depends on how much heat they need versus how much they get... *g*


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