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By Neal Colgrass
Published April 07, 2015
If you’re traveling to distant planets anytime soon, you might think twice about raising a ruckus: The inhabitants likely weigh an average of 650 pounds, a cosmologist says.
Apparently it all comes down to planet size and the conservation of energy,CNET reports. “Throughout the animal kingdom, species which are physically larger invariably possess a lower population density, possibly due to their enhanced energy demands,” says Fergus Simpson of the University of Barcelona.
That’s quite true on Earth, where we have seven billion (relatively big) people, and, the BBC noted last year, up to 100 trillion (tiny) ants.
Which brings us to outer space, where, Simpson says, “most inhabited planets are likely to be closer in size to Mars than the Earth.” And “since population density is widely observed to decline with increasing body mass, we conclude that most intelligent species are expected to exceed 300kg (660lbs),” he adds.
A scientist in Scotland says Simpson’s “average size calculation is reasonable,” but doesn’t account for gravitational pull—and planets with stronger gravity would probably have smaller animals, Newsweek reports.
SETI Institute researcher Seth Shostak says Simpson’s paper, published at arXiv.org, also leaves out evolutionary theory: With humans, for example, it’s our ability to walk upright and use opposable thumbs that gave us the upper hand on Earth.
“Polar bears are large but do not write great literature and build radio towers,” he says, “and a lot of that is probably because they are walking around on all fours.” (See which moon is the top contender for life outside Earth.)
This article originally appeared on Newser: Scientist: Aliens Are Likely Huge
UV LIGHT REVEALS ERASED ADDITIONS TO THE WELSH ‘BLACK BOOK’
(NEWSER) – Experts have uncovered what LiveScience calls “ghostly” secrets hidden in a medieval manuscript, which happens to be one of the first to reference King Arthur and Merlin. “The Black Book of Carmarthen” was compiled around 1250, but contains poetry, religious verses, and other texts dating as far back as the 9th century. While perusing its old pages with an ultraviolet light, however, experts at the University of Cambridge uncovered additional lines of verse and “quite creepy” ghost-like faces, the Independent reports. High-resolution photos helped researchers get a closer look at what they now think are drawings added to the 54-page tome after its creation. They were perhaps erased by someone named Jaspar Gryffyth, who penned his name in the book now housed at the National Library of Wales.
“It was a living text that was constantly added to,” but “this man in the 16th century went through the book tidying it up,” researcher Paul Russell tells the BBC. “The owner erased a lot of material from the left, right, top, and bottom margins. Anything he thought was an addition, he got rid of.” As the pages of the book are vellum, or stretched animal skin, Russell says a pumice stone was likely used. “It takes off a slight layer off the surface, but the ink has penetrated a bit further so what we can do is use UV light to bring out that ink.” Researchers were startled to find faces, a drawing of a fish, and what may be a never-before-seen Welsh poem. They’re continuing to search for more. (Another medieval discovery: a cemetery beneath Cambridge.)