Toroidal Planets: a Science Fiction Writer’s Dream
So, recently, astrophysicists discovered through computer simulations that it is possible for planets to form in a toroidal (or doughnut) shape, with a hole in the middle. There’s a number of interesting results of this:
- If such a planet had a moon, it would be theoretically possible for it to orbit vertically or in a figure-eight through the hole!
- If you were standing on the inside of the planet, you might be able to see the other side.
- A toroidal planet would be quite unstable, and likely to collapse if hit by a large enough asteroid, after which it would reform into a normal spherical planet. This would mean that, without special protection, it would be unlikely to develop complex life (beyond microscopic plants and (maybe) animals).
- If some life did develop on one (perhaps due to deliberate protection by existing intelligent life?), depending on the thickness of the atmosphere, there might be balloon plants with incredibly long roots connecting them to the ground, floating around in the middle of the planet to take advantage of the microgravity. There might even be floating herbivores as well, living out their entire lives in space-like microgravity, eating the balloon plants.
- Intelligent life on a toroidal planet would likely be divided into the outer-edge societies, the inner-edge societies, and top and bottom societies. The outer-edge societies would probably be most like societies on spherical planets, the top and bottom similar to the small groups of people who live on Earth’s ice caps, and the inner societies would probably be much less focused on the sun, since they wouldn’t see it as often, and might have quite a bit of focus on the floating plants and animals in the center.
- A space-faring race on a toroidal planet would likely launch most or all of their spacecraft from the inner edge, where it’s easier to reach space because of the microgravity directly overhead.
I think you could probably write a very interesting book centered around the idea of a toroidal planet, exploring the biological and societal implications, perhaps similar to the various works exploring the implications of artificial space habitats (ringworlds, Dyson spheres, etc).