A Tale of Two Planets

May 24, 2010
Once, millions of years ago in a distant galaxy, there was a very ordinary solar system. In this solar system, there was an ordinary main sequence star, surrounded by twelve ordinary planets. Out of these twelve planets, eight of them where planets where they were made of rock instead of gas. Now, some of the more unusual features are present. Out of the eight rocky planets, five of them contained water. Out of these five, the temperature was warm enough to keep the water from freezing yet cold enough to keep it from evaporating on two. On these two planets with liquid water, something amazing happened. Nowadays, scientists are able to understand how amazing it is that life developed on our planet and how low the odds are of life developing on others. Yet in a universe with trillions of other planets, life was bound to develop somewhere else. That is exactly what happened in this solar system. Yet instead of just one of the planets with liquid water developing life, both of them did. Since they were in the same solar system and the planets were very similar, the life forms on the planet evolved very similarly. Yet there was one key difference. On the planet closer to the sun, where the temperatures where warmer and food was abundant, the intelligent species did not ever gain the ability to plan. On the one further away from the sun, where life was more difficult, planning became a necessity for survival and the intelligent life was able to plan far into the future. This is where the story begins.

It was the annual planetary festival, where the residents of the winter traveled to the summer planet for a week of celebrating, feasting and relaxing. Every year, the winter planet offered to host the celebration, but the summer planet refused. The summer planet never developed the necessary ships to travel there, yet why should they? It had nothing to offer them and the winter planet did all the traveling anyway. The summer planet was quite content reaping the benefits of trade without doing any of the traveling, and the winter planet was fine with transporting all the goods and traders. After all, the summer planet did pay them for it, so it was another chance to boost their income. However, the summer planet was greedy. Every time the winter planet completed a job for the summer planet, the summer planet attempted to cheat them of their money. All the money the summer planet made went into building massive cities, monuments to their greatness. The denizens of the winter planet lived in very modest dorms, which seemed to look invisible in the landscape. For this the summer planet citizens often teased them, saying, “Look at your pathetic buildings. How do you expect to be remembered with nothing left to support your existence? To which came the winter planet’s strange and ominous response. “The cities will not last forever. Besides, there are other ways to be remembered.” Now back to the present. It was the final day of the planetary festival, where per tradition, the leader of the winter planet made a speech of gratitude to the summer planet for their generosity. Also as per tradition, the leader of the winter planet said the one part of the speech that was always constant. “A society grows great when old people plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in. we thank our older people who planted the seed of friendship that grew into a wonderful tree whose shade we sit in now. Let us hope that this tree will stay alive for many more billions of years, and whose shade will be enjoyed.” However, while the summer plant applauded greatly, they always thought that this part of the speech was unnecessary and idiotic. No one cared about the future or past all that mattered was the present.
Meanwhile, the winter planet reached the point where they planned all the way, to when the sun went nova, and they were terrified about it. “How will our race continue to survive?” they wondered. Then they realized that they would have to develop star craft able to travel to new solar systems, and they set about it at once. The summer planet laughed at them unmercifully, after all, the sun would not go nova until billions of years in the future, why worry about it now? They agreed to give the summer planet materials to build the spaceships after all, they knew a good business opportunity when they saw one, and there were more cities to build that needed money. So on this went, for billions of years, until the sun visibly started to change.
The sun was on its death throes, and they all knew it. While the winter planet calmly began preparing the ships, the summer planet went to chaos. “Take us with you!” the summer planet pleaded. “We cannot.” was their response. “We only have enough room for everyone on our planet; we can’t fit one of you on board.” Therefore, they flew off, into space. Then, BOOM. The sun exploded and the summer planet with all its marvelous cites was instantly destroyed along with the winter planet. The people of the winter planet looked back and shed a tear, for the friends and home they lost. “What happened to the people of the winter planet?” is a question that is often asked. It is said that they found a new planet, one with both summer and winter, so that their decedents would be able to enjoy a bountiful harvest yet still retain the ability to plan.

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