I wonder if Trisolarans have Seasonal Affective Disorder

The Earth orbits the Sun from about 93 million miles away. It spins on its axis at about 1000 miles/hour. At that speed, it takes about 24 hours for the earth to complete a full rotation. The sun rises each day in the East, and sets in the west. The days are shorter and colder in the winter and longer and hotter in the summer, but the climate is fairly stable and predictable. That’s basically what a Stable Era is like on Trisolaris.

Triolaris is a planet in the Alpha Centauri Star System, the closest star system to our solar system, which is 4.37 light years away. Instead of one star, like the Sun in our solar system, there are three: Centauri A, Centauri B, and Centauri C. So, Trisolaris will orbit one of these stars for a while, then, periodically, and unpredictably, just kind of fly off into space, getting pulled by one or more of the other star’s gravity,and float around for a while, until one or more stars pull it back into orbit. When Trisolaris is orbiting one star, the sun sets and rises once a day and things are fairly predictable. The inhabitants of Trisolaris call this a Stable Era. Alternately, when the planet is not linked up to a single star, nights can last weeks or years making the planet extremely cold and uninhabitable. Or, the sun can rise, but then expand, as Trisolaris is pulled closer and closer to that one star, until everything on the planet bursts into flames. That’s also bad for the Trisolarans. To cope with this unpredictable climate, the Trisolarans have developed the ability to completely dehydrate themselves, removing all liquid from the body. What’s left are canvas like throws, that can be rolled up like a Yoga mat. The dehydrated Trisolarans are then stored in dehydratories and lay there waiting for the next Stable Era, at which time they are rehydrated, kind of like Ramen noodles.

Back here in our Solar system, the earth is passing the sun at an angle where if you extended a plane indefinitely in all directions from the equator, that plane would pass through the center of the sun, an event also known as the Equinox. The duration of night and day are almost equal on the Equinoxes of Spring and Fall. And because the Earth revolves around a single star, the Sun, it’s been happening this way, predictably, for all of human existence. The September Equinox signals the beginning of Fall, when days begin to be shorter than nights.

And after millions of years, life here on Earth has evolved to respond to the changing seasons. Most vertebrates, including humans, have a Pineal Gland in the brain that is thought to be an internal sensor. The Pineal Gland reacts to light and affects melatonin and serotonin production in humans. The further away from the equator you live, the more the duration of day and night fluctuates. In some humans, especially those where the winter brings really short days, your Pineal Gland may be particularly sensitive to this shift and you might feel more tired and kind of depressed, and even have more of an appetite for sweets and more carbohydrate rich foods.

It is pretty.

Summer is my favorite season and usually I get a little bummed that it’s over. Maybe it’s my Pineal Gland. At least I’m going to use that as my excuse for my recent indulgences in pancakes and donuts. I really don’t like winter and I’m not looking forward to it. But at least we’ve got it better than the Trisolarans. So I’m going to make an effort to not take fall for granted.

This fall, I intend to live it up. I’m going to embrace the change of seasons and check out some corn mazes, fairs, and definitely some good hikes during peak foliage. And maybe I’ll get a light box to help me get through winter. Probably not. I think I just need to make sure I do more fun stuff.

I’m going to ride just for fun for a while and not worry about miles or times or anything. Fall in New England is really great riding weather and why not enjoy it while it lasts. Some time in later October I’ll start the indoor training again. I need to pick a race or two to train for. Maybe I’ll train for the QC Nemba Fun Ride at Goodwin State Park. Maybe something to plan a trip around.

This year I need to make more of an effort to get out and socialize when it’s dark out by 4:30. During the summer, I spend many a night after work riding my bike, alone, and it’s a lot of fun. It’s a bummer not to be able to do that for much longer as the days grow shorter, but maybe it’s an opportunity to find other things to do and to make plans with friends and family instead of being such a loner. I do have lights and could find some night rides if I really need a mountain biking fix. And hopefully the Earth will continue on it’s predictable course around the sun, and eventually the long days will return. Or, maybe I’ll just dehydrate myself until then.

Lights are all ready to go.

Trisolaris is the creation of Chinese Sci Fi writer Liu Cixin, in his novel, The Three Body Problem, which was translated by Ken Liu.

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