Archive for August 17th, 2011

Seltzer Water and Venus

The things I learn.  I’ve been doing a watch through of Cosmos lately, and got to the episode on Venus.  I listened closely as Sagan recounted a history of the theories about Venus.  Naturally it started with the one I was the most familiar with, the theory that the cloud cover of Venus must be water vapor clouds (the only kind known to humanity at the time).  Therefore Venus must be a wet world, covered either with a primordial swamp or made up entirely of a planet-wide ocean.

I know I’ve talked about this theory before.  I’m even working on a story right now around the theory, and it’s a fun write.

But then it went on.  As we became more sophisticated in our science, humanity came to learn there was not water vapor around Venus, but that the cloud layer that covered the planet was, by and large, carbon dioxide.  However, just because one part of our knowledge of Venus was proven wrong doesn’t mean that we abandoned other parts.  People were still convinced that Venus was covered in an ocean, but with carbon dioxide skies.

So logically, there must also be a lot of CO2 in the water.

So therefore Venus must be covered by an ocean of seltzer water.

This is what I love about old scientific theories.  Sometimes they made fantastic leaps to answers that seem absurd to us today, but each was through a series of seemingly logical steps.  Clouds meant water.  Water meant oceans.  CO2 meant seltzer.  And they open up to us worlds that feel unimaginable, but at points in human history have been seen as “fact.”  Perhaps not by the world at large, but by anybody.  And these factual worlds make for just awesome story settings.

Adding now to my list of titles-first-plots-later stories:  Pirates of the Seltzer Seas.

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