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, well, an encyclopedia. Italicized text summarized editorial deletions.
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.
- By Homelander astronomical standards, Earth is half of a double-planet system. By human astronomical standards, Earth is a solitary planet with a large moon. Don’t get confused, the name “Moon” refers to the smaller planet of the system.
- Humans enjoy a spectacular nighttime sky whenever Moon is visible.
- Humans possess an unusual combination of characteristics: overdeveloped technology and underdeveloped maturity, like five-year-olds armed with nuclear weapons. The equivalent of a playground squabble could lead to extinction.
- Humans are unaccompanied by a companion species, such as hugmups.
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 aside from the fact that the planets are spaced farther aparts: Inner planets are Homeland-like and the outer planets are gas giants. 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 that we have discovered so far.
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.
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.
Humans are a typical homelanderoid species, and are totally indistinguishable from Homelanders on the basis of appearance. Both species are also medically equivalent down to, but not including 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 of the human race lives under primitive, pre-technological conditions. Ignorance, illiteracy, and poverty are the norm. In the last century, 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. 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 it’s chaotic, 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:
- Humans cannot provide food to all, and much of the planet lives in famine. Part of this disability must be attributed to unstable climates that result from living in a double-planet system, where agriculture is part planning and part sheer luck. Humans are further distracted by debates aimed at forming an unneeded consensus about methods, means, and procedures of food production and distribution.
- Humans can travel in space, but mainly in government-sponsored exploratory missions to nearby planets. The only planet that has actually been reached by humans without outside help is Moon. Humans have begun to explore the rest of the Solar system with automatic equipment and telemetry.
- Humans have developed a complex global communications system and transportation to all inhabited portions of their planet. It is technologically possible for a person to travel between any two places on Earth within an Earth day.
- Humans have not developed a quick means of responding to disease. Human surgical and medical progress is proceeding at a respectable pace, however.
Because Moon is lifeless with a day that 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 apparent arrested maturity is actually normal, and that its technological progress has been accelerated by the psychological effects of living in a double-planet system with 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.
Earth Studies is an exciting and growing field which will reward its students with employment opportunities for centuries to come.