Blow Your Mind: Tidally Locked Perpetual Darkness

BY Robert Lamb / POSTED March 1, 2012

Why do we never see the moon’s backside? What would the Earth be like if one side always faced the sun? In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Julie and I contemplate tidally locked planets and moons, where one side of the globe burns while the other freezes in perpetual darkness.

Along the way, I mention several science fiction visions of tidal locking, so let’s roll through those real quick…

“Jack of Shadows” by Roger Zelazny
The planet is tidally locked, so one side is a world of light, the other a world of darkness. Science rules on the dayside, while magic holds sway in the night. The title character is a darksider, magically reborn in the world of night following each of his many deaths.

“The Night Land” by William Hope Hodgson
This 1912 book centers around a far-future, postapocalyptic world in which the sun has burned out and the remnants of humanity retreat to massive, geothermal-powered pyramids and grow crops in subterranean, hydroponic chambers. Whew! Heap on telepaths, spinning disc weapons, posthumans, monsters, and you have an amazing fantasy world. Too bad it’s stuck in such a dreadfully written book. Read more of my thoughts on this over a Tor.com.

Oh, and then there’s the planet Remus from “Star Trek.” You can read up on that fictional world over at Memory Alpha.

So there you have it! You can find the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast on iTunes, Zune and the RSS feed. And don’t forget the free HowStuffWorks App!

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