Given the fact we are born on such a ball, we’re rather used to the idea of planets being solid, nigh eternal things. The truth is they are not. Nothing cuts you down to size like astronomy. We who can go to the Moon if we like, live by nature’s whim. One fell swoop and our whole world is done.
All of it. Us, life, and even the hint that any such thing ever came to be. Impact makes quite the eon.
I’m at that point in the story now where all-too-powerful Jocaster’s threat turns all-too-very real. So I paused to read up on the ancient earth turning impact that we presume made the Moon. Science is not quite certain of it yet, but the giant impact hypothesis is certainly the front runner for explaining our odd couple of a big moon and little planet. So much so that the smart money seems to be on finding the right ingredients for our simulations instead of seeking the answer somewhere else.
The idea was that Theia — another early planet, about the size of Mars and named for the mother of the Moon – slammed into our world early in its history. An unbalanced collision like that doesn’t answer some of the problems in the measured facts however, as Earth and Moon are too similar in substance while Theia should have left a trace. So recently the idea of a much more even strike has come to the fore. The kind of impact to completely destroy both worlds.
Take a look at the picture. The collision it shows is not so much catastrophic, as a true cataclysm. It’s hard to even imagine such a thing, so much energy and so great a transformation: the melting and the merger of two entire worlds. Needless to say, even with my fondness for fluid dynamics as a metaphor for magic, I am daunted at the notion of describing it!
Or even just the imminence of its risk.
The cosmic zoo doesn’t disappoint us. Collisions on this scale are common out there around other stars. Early worlds in young planetary systems are in fact a hellish place to be. It’s there in the name, no less! Indeed, not only worlds but stars themselves collide quite often in the cosmos. Our universe, so still upon the vault of our night sky, isn’t anything like as heavenly or as calm as it looks. We live in the turmoil of an inexplicable creation, an infinity of unanswered questions preceding us and our happenstance jewel of a world. Its contemplation is just one of our longest lived hobbies! And the setting for my book.
In any case, my draft was well and truly paused as I went down that rabbit hole. You shouldn’t be the least surprised I even wondered if I could make my own such simulation. I’ve already explored another such project on the side. But my history of completing those is no better than my main work on the book, so I’ll try not to dwell on it. I’m far from the first to like to think things through in figures when I write a story, or the most competent frankly either. It’s really not my strong point. Just enough to settle curiosity ought to do.
Speaking of which: the Pleiades are indeed on the other side of Earth from India this moment in the story. Phew! Good guess.