An Introduction to Earth

An Overview For First-Time Visitors


The following is a condensed, free translation of the article on Earth in the Tourist’s Book of Facts; a very popular reference work which is as terse as a dictionary and as encyclopedic as a—well, as an encyclopedia. Numbers have been converted to decimal. Omitted text is described in italics.

Summary

The planet Earth is a Homeland-like planet orbiting a Tau-Cetian-like star called “Sol” in the constellation of the Falling Scepter. The inhabitants are a Homelanderoid species, and are for the most part visibly and medically indistinguishable from Homelanders.

Unique Characteristics:

Astronomy

Of all the planets known to be inhabited by a Homelanderoid species, Earth is the closest to our sun, Tau Ceti. From a navigational standpoint, spacecraft traveling from Homeland to Zerpick pass through the vicinity of Earth after the first third of the journey. On the map, Earth lies at one end of the Spiral Arm Cultural Interchange, just beyond us. The text refers to a diagram.

The Solar system is not markedly different from the Tau Cetian system: Inner planets are Homeland-like and the outer planets are gas giants, as one would expect. The most unusual feature is the Earth itself, since the Earth and its smaller companion planet Moon form a unique double-planet system in Sol’s third planetary orbit.

Earth’s axial tilt, which is slightly greater than Homeland, combines with the gravitational effects of its companion planet to give it somewhat more violent and unpredictable weather patterns than our planet and most other inhabited worlds.

Humans erroneously refer to Moon as a moon; however, the true nature of the double-planet system is well-known to Human astronomers. Probably because of the gravitational complexities of the double-planet system, neither Earth nor Moon have any true moons. In compensation, Humans enjoy a spectacular nighttime sky whenever Moon is visible.

Earth’s day is about 28 of our hours long, about 89% the length of a Homelander day. Humans divide their day into 24 “hours” of 60 “minutes” each. (Thus an Earth “hour” is longer than our standard hour.) Earth orbits Sol in a little over 365 of its days. Moon and Earth orbit each other in about 29 Earth days.

Geography

In geography, Earth almost resembles an upside-down Homeland, in that most of the land mass and the population are located in the northern, rather than the southern hemisphere. Because the land mass is divided up among so many continents, it is not possible to travel around the Earth without the aid of ocean-going vessels or aircraft. Only two of the six land masses lie entirely within the southern hemisphere, and one of them is polar and uninhabitable. By Human count there are seven land masses, since one end of the largest continent is considered to be a continent on its own. There are historical reasons for this oddity.

Names and descriptions of the continents are given at this point.

Flora and Fauna

The plant and animal life of Earth exhibits the usual diversity found on any comparable planet. The text refers to the article on “Theoretical Exobiology” for a discussion of the Theory of Convergent Evolution. Details of the plants and animals of Earth may be omitted for the Human reader. The most interesting oddity is that Humans are unaccompanied by a companion species, such as Hugmups.

The Humans

Humans are a typical Homelanderoid species, and are totally indistinguishable from Homelanders on the basis of appearance. The species are also medically equivalent above the genetic level. Most differences are statistical and have little practical relevance; for example, normal body temperature is 95.0 degrees Halakanian for a Homelander, and a small fraction of a degree less for a Human.

The highest national average life-span among Humans is currently about 75 years; by comparison, the average Homelander life-span is 106 years. Individual Humans have been documented to have lived in excess of 112 years.

Most cultures on Earth use base ten for most purposes. Binary, octal and hexadecimal numbering systems are used in computers. Base sixty is used in some time and angular measurements, and the vestiges of base twelve appear in time measurements and casual quantification. Most Earth cultures use an international base-ten measurement system.

Human Affairs

Most of the Human race lives under primitive, pre-technological conditions. Ignorance, illiteracy, and poverty are the norm. In the last hexacentury, Humans have exhibited a rapid technological growth that gives many areas of Earth a standard of living that approaches Homeland. Although a sizable number of Humans either benefit from technology directly or know of the benefits of technology, anti-intellectualism is still a major factor, even in more advanced societies.

Humans remain amazingly immature, despite their rapid technological and scientific advances. They retain a strong tendency towards social decay, and have not yet emerged from the adolescent yearning for social, cultural, and linguistic uniformity. Currently, Humans live in hundreds of nation-states, speak thousands of languages, and have a delightful variety of cultures, philosophies, and religions. Many different political and socio-economic systems coexist—but this variety is not harmonious. Humans have not yet completely lifted themselves from their childhood desire to make everyone else conform with themselves. This uneasiness with cultural and linguistic diversity has caused the Human race to waste much in the line of time and resources by seeking a consensus where none is needed.

A few facts about Human progress:

Because Moon is lifeless and has a day which is equal to its orbit around the center of the double-planet system, one hemisphere of Moon is never visible from Earth. The World Council of Countries has taken advantage of this fact, and has established Earth Watch Base as an underground facility on the outer side of Moon. The text refers to a related article.

Theories about Humans

The most interesting aspect about Humanity is that it combines relatively advanced technology with somewhat delayed maturity, as compared to other Homelanderoid species. There are two scientific theories to explain this phenomenon:

The first theory, favored by technologists, states that Humanity’s maturity is normal, and that its technological progress has been accelerated by the psychological effects of living in a double-planet system and the violent, unpredictable weather. Humans had to develop astronomy to determine planting seasons and geometry to measure fields after floods somewhat early in their history.

The second theory, favored by anthropologists, maintains that Humanity’s technological progress is normal and that its maturation has been retarded by the lack of a Hugmup-like species. Advocates of this view discount the effects of Moon and the weather and point to the fact that Humans are the only species thus unaccompanied.

Obviously, the first theory assumes that Humanity is a young race, while the “missing Hugmup” theory would require it to be somewhat older. Accordingly, one of the tasks of Homelander researchers on Earth is to determine the age of the species through our world’s multi-disciplined probe. Workers are gathering data in all fields, from mythology to technology; and contacting Humans of all walks of life, from the destitute to the academe.

The text refers to related articles for discussions on theories that have sought religious or philosophical reasons for the Human condition.

Once we have determined the cause of the Human condition, we can begin to devise and apply a large-scale cure. In the meantime, workers are instructed to intervene in individual cases, to alleviate as much suffering as possible.

Career Note

Earth Studies is an exciting and growing field which will reward its students with employment opportunities for hexacenturies to come.