While recovering from jet lag and a head cold (thank you, Air Canada) last night, I happened upon a cool faux-documentary on the Discovery Channel called Alien Planet. The show imagined an interstellar voyage to a planet 4 light years away:
The drama takes place on Darwin IV, a fictional planet 6.5 light-years from Earth, with two suns and 60 percent gravity. Having identified Darwin as a world that could support life, Earth sends a pilot mission consisting of the mothership Von Braun and three probes: Balboa, Da Vinci and Newton. This unmanned fleet is responsible for finding and assessing any life-forms on Darwin IV. Initially, the expectation is to find microscopic life, but the probes soon find themselves in the middle of a developed ecosystem teeming with life of all sizes.
The science was, of course, highly speculative. It was somewhat legitimized by an array of actual scientists commenting on the voyage and its mission. I suspect they’ll rerun this show often, as it’s a valuable (not to mention expensive) property. If you’re at all space-geekily inclined, you should check it out.
Bonus link: Via Kotaku, here’s three minutes of game designer extraordinaire Will Wright talking about, well, I’m not entirely sure. It has something to do with life on a galactic scale.