What’s life like on Kepler 452b? A little like this, maybe? – The Washington Post

Below is the text from the July 26, 2015 article in The Washington Post.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/whats-life-like-on-kepler-452b-a-little-like-this-maybe/2015/07/26/2fc8d95a-3215-11e5-8f36-18d1d501920d_story.html

 Columnist

I awoke from my cryopod with the tingling elbows and knees that I’d been told to expect as a consequence of extended hypertravel. I eased my bare feet onto the floor and did a couple of quick jumping jacks to get my blood flowing. Then I peered through the venetian blinds at the place I had traveled so far to see: Washington 452b.

Ever since NASA announced the discovery of the exoplanet Kepler 452b, people have been eager to know what that mystery world was like. And here I was, borne 1,400 light years from Earth in a process too complicated for me to explain right now.

I went to sit in one of the empty seats, but Brenda 452b coughed and nodded toward a sign: “Priority Seating for Senior Citizens and People With Disabilities.”

“I guess I’ll stand,” I said.

The crowded train moved swiftly through the exurbs. I could see through the windows that traffic was light on the Dulles 452b Toll Road. It was light on the Beltway 452b, too.

We changed lines at the Georgetown 452b Metro station. As we rode the escalator to the lower platform, I noticed that everyone stood on the right.

My presence in the polite, well-dressed crowd didn’t draw much attention. People were too busy reading newspapers, magazines and books. A few listened to music on devices, but what those alien songs sounded like, I couldn’t tell. The volume was set at an appropriate level. Every man, woman and child — even a baby being pushed in a stroller — had a goatee.

I was not surprised when we emerged at McPherson Square 452b. But instead of turning right onto 15th Street 452b NW toward the White House 452b, we turned left.

The fractured sense of deja vu was disorienting. The scenery looked familiar, but each street had a bike lane protected by a low wall. Traffic lights cycled through separate signals for cyclists, pedestrians and vehicles.

“Let’s wait here until our light turns green,” said Brenda 452b.

When it did, we crossed L Street 452b NW and came to a stunning building. All the downtown buildings, I’d noticed, were stunning — there was not a boring glass box among them — but this one was especially beautiful. Its architecture included classical elements blended with playful modern touches. A sign at the top read The Washington 452b Post.

The fractured sense of deja vu was disorienting. The scenery looked familiar, but each street had a bike lane protected by a low wall. Traffic lights cycled through separate signals for cyclists, pedestrians and vehicles.

As we got on an elevator, Todd 452b handed me a copy of that day’s paper. The lead story — front page, above the fold — was about a cabdriver who had returned a lost wallet. Other front-page articles were about a duckling family stopping traffic, a retired lunch lady who had just turned 100, a fond remembrance of a beloved restaurant that had closed and a plea for donations so that an amateur mime troupe could travel to Italy 452b.

“It’s all human interest stories,” I gasped.

“Well, technically not human interest,” said Todd 452b.

“And the entire paper isn’t these sorts of stories,” said Sheila 452b. “Every day on Page B3 there’s a column about murder, assault, arson, car crashes, embezzlement, politics and other nasty and unpleasant things. Ah, here we are.”

The elevator doors opened, and a handsome man strode toward me, arms outstretched in the universal sign of greeting. I always wondered what I’d look like with a goatee.