As my girlfriend is so fond of reminding me, diamonds are a girl's best friend. The girl whose man loves her the most, then, should anticipate a trip to the romantic confines of 55 Cancri e, a lonely, far-off planet that is eight times the size of Earth and at least 30% diamond.
How many carats is that, I wonder? From Reuters:
Diamond planets have been spotted before but this is the first time one has been seen orbiting a sun-like star and studied in such detail.
"This is our first glimpse of a rocky world with a fundamentally different chemistry from Earth," Madhusudhan said, adding that the discovery of the carbon-rich planet meant distant rocky planets could no longer be assumed to have chemical constituents, interiors, atmospheres, or biologies similar to Earth.
David Spergel, an astronomer at Princeton University, said it was relatively simple to work out the basic structure and history of a star once you know its mass and age.
"Planets are much more complex. This 'diamond-rich super-Earth' is likely just one example of the rich sets of discoveries that await us as we begin to explore planets around nearby stars."
If the constellation of Cancer is a Cracker Jack box—and I've seen no evidence to suggest otherwise—then 55 Cancri e is the decoder ring inside. Any theater company—or theater reporter—whose bank balance makes them sigh should consider making the 230 trillion mile trip.
Of course, any company that's having trouble staging a fall season probably can't affod the R&D necessary to put together an intergalactic space cruiser. What's more, by the time the crew had emerged from the hypersleep necessary to survive an eighty light year round trip, their taste in theater would be hopelessly out of date. While their audience is zipping around in jet packs and pet dinosaurs, our starfaring thespians would still be grappling with the repercussions of the '08 recession and what it means to have an iPad.
Claiming the bounty of 55 Cancri e—and really, can we get De Beers working on a catchier name for that?—will fall either to an intergalactic mob syndicate trying to placate a planet's worth of mistresses, or a single mad billionaire who wants to fashion a palace of diamonds and has decided this is the simplest way.
How truly sad. The most valuable planet in the galaxy, and no one to marvel at its brilliance. There's a terrible poem in there, I'm sure.
In any case, now is as good a time as ever to revisit this: