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Planets, Twitter, and Creative Constraint

Posted by Samuel Arbesman  October 14, 2010 09:53 AM

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Everyone's talking about the recent (possible) discovery of the first potentially habitable extrasolar planet Gliese 581g. But now, Gliese 581g is talking back. Witness, the twitter account of Gliese 581g @gliese581_g:

Some sample tweets:

Clearly somewhat hit-or-miss, but an intriguing idea. And in fact, there are other similar Twitter accounts. For example, interested in what the laws of the universe have to say? See @physicallaws

Of course, these accounts have the potential for their jokes to get old really fast, but perhaps there is something to be said for such single-minded dedication to a topic. This is essentially the argument of creative constraint. Work within some well-defined boundaries or conventions, and it can actually make you more innovative. All of Twitter, with its 140-character limitation, has this feature and is also essentially the idea behind sonnets or haikus. And LOLcats.

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
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