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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  1. avatar

    #1 by Day Al-Mohamed on August 19, 2011 - 9:36 pm

    I have to admit, the idea of Pirates on Seltzer Seas is very very appealing. You better write this one soon or I may have to petition to have a go at it. It is super cool and got me thinking. Probably more than I should

    Is a seltzer sea more or less buoyant than a regular sea?

    Is it salty and seltzerey too?

    What kinds of critters live in a seltzer sea?

    Can you swim in it easily? Does it sting your eyes?

    How about scuba diving?

    Would fish be REALLY weighted down?

    Umm, what would happen if you got into the seltzer sea and happened to have mentos in your pocket?

    Just thinking…

  2. avatar

    #2 by DLThurston on August 19, 2011 - 11:47 pm

    I wonder if there would be less buoyancy, but if it might then be counteracted by ending up being covered in little bubbles and lifted that way.

    I’d bet with that much dissolved carbon dioxide in the water, life would have developed reverse respiration from earth, breathing in CO2.

  3. avatar

    #3 by Day Al-Mohamed on August 22, 2011 - 6:08 pm

    *grumbling* I’ve wasted a couple of hours perusing the intertubes to find information about “swimming in soda…”

    And then how would it impact our rain cycle…

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