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Posts Tagged ‘extraterrestrial life

[BLOG] Some Monday links

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  • Claus Vistesen of Alpha Sources notes that though the stock market might be peaking, we don’t know when.
  • blogTO warns that Toronto might consider a bid for the 2024 Olympics.
  • James Bow thinks about Ex Machina.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly looks forward to her impending visit to Maine.
  • Centauri Dreams features an essay by Michael A.G. Michaud looking at modern SETI.
  • Crooked Timber finds that even the style of the New York intellectuals of the mid-20th century is lacking.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes that a search for superjovians around two nearby brown dwarfs has failed.
  • The Dragon’s Tales considers the flowing nitrogen ice of Pluto.
  • Geocurrents compares Chile’s Aysén region to the Pacific Northwest.
  • Joe. My. God. shares the new Janet Jackson single, “No Sleeep”.
  • Language Log looks at misleading similarities between Chinese and Japanese words as written.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money argues that the low-wage southern economy dates back to slavery.
  • Marginal Revolution is critical of rent control in Stockholm and observes the negative long-term consequences of serfdom in the former Russian Empire.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes how Jamaica is tearing down illegal electrical connections.
  • Savage Minds considers death in the era of Facebook.
  • Towleroad looks at how the Taipei city government is petitioning the Taiwanese high court to institute same-sex marriage.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy argues restrictive zoning hurts the poor.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at how Tatarstan bargains with Moscow, looks at Crimean deprivation and quiet resistance, considers Kazakh immigration to Kazakhstan, and argues Russian nationalist radicals might undermine Russia itself.

[LINK] Three cautionary Kepler-452b links

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  • Centauri Dreams featured Paul Gilster’s post “Earth 2.0: Still Looking”.
  • Kepler-452b, about 1400 light years from us, has now been confirmed as a planet, and it’s an interesting world, one that orbits a star much like the Sun, being about 5 percent more massive and 10 percent brighter. The planet itself is about 5 times the mass of the Earth, with a radius 50 to 60 percent larger. Moreover, Kepler-452b orbits only 5 percent farther from its parent star than Earth orbits the Sun, with a 385-day year. Jon Jenkins (NASA Ames) is lead author on the paper on this work. He pointed out at the NASA news briefing today that gravity on this world would be about 50 percent larger than that of Earth, on a world with a thicker atmosphere and a larger degree of cloud cover. The star is also older than our Sun[.]

    This is a planet that has been in its star’s habitable zone for longer than the age of the Earth, ample time, as Jenkins noted, for life to begin. Although the size of the world — intermediate between Earth and Neptune — makes it too large to be a true Earth analogue, Jenkins believes that it has a “better than even chance of being rocky.” Thus we could be looking at a world that models changes our planet will be making in the remote future.

  • Imageo notes that the nature of the world is still open to debate.
  • It’s 6 billion years old, 1.5 billion more than Earth. It’s also about 60 percent larger in diameter, and its mass is may be five times that of Earth, give or take.

    So, about that caveat: Astronomers can’t yet say what Kepler-452b is made of. For it truly to be just like Earth, it would have to be made of rock. And that’s why we still do not know for sure, despite today’s announcement, whether there really are other Earth-like planets circling stars like our Sun within a region where it’s not too hot or too cold for liquid water to exist on the surface. Liquid water is thought to be a requirement for life.

    But Jon Jenkins of NASA’s Ames Research Center, home of the Kepler project, told the New York Times that there’s a 50 percent to 62 percent chance of Kepler-452b being rocky.

    Or as NASA puts it, “previous research suggests that planets the size of Kepler-452b have a good chance of being rocky.

  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes that this world is one of twelve candidates.
  • Scientists analyzing four years of data from NASA’s Kepler mission have released a new catalog of exoplanet candidates.

    The catalog adds more than 500 new possible planets to the 4,175 already found by the famed space-based telescope.

    “This catalog contains our first analysis of all Kepler data, as well as an automated assessment of these results,” says SETI Institute scientist Jeffrey Coughlin who led the catalog effort. “Improved analysis will allow astronomers to better determine the number of small, cool planets that are the best candidates for hosting life.”

    The Kepler space telescope identifies possible planets by observing periodic dips in the brightness of stars. However, confirmation of their true planetary status requires observations by other instruments, typically looking for slight shifts in the motion of the host suns. Historically, the overwhelming majority of Kepler’s discoveries have turned out to be actual planets.

    The new catalog includes 12 candidates that are less than twice Earth’s diameter, orbiting in the so-called habitable zone of their star. This zone is the range of distances at which the energy flux from the star would permit liquid water to exist on the planet’s surface.

    Written by Randy McDonald

    July 25, 2015 at 12:07 am

    [BLOG] Some Friday links

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    • Centauri Dreams explores Pluto and its worlds.
    • Crooked Timber considers the question of how to organize vast quantities of data.
    • The Dragon’s Gaze links to two papers on exoplanet habitability, noting that the composition of exoplanets influences their habitability and suggests exomoons need to be relatively massive to be habitable.
    • Geocurrents notes the inequalities of Chile.
    • Joe. My. God. notes an article about New York City gay nightclub The Saint.
    • Language Hat links to a site on American English.
    • Language Log suggests that the Cantonese language is being squeezed out of education in Hong Kong.
    • Languages of the World notes a free online course on language revival.
    • Peter Watts of No Moods, Ads, or Cutesy Fucking Icons examines the flaws of a paper on a proto-Borg collective of rats.
    • Spacing Toronto looks at the Toronto connection to a notorious late 19th century American serial killer.
    • Towleroad notes a study suggesting that people with undetectable levels of HIV can’t transmit the virus.
    • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the issues of compliance with lawful orders.
    • Whatever’s John Scalzi likes the ASIS Chromebook flip.
    • Window on Eurasia notes the connection between the wars of Yugoslavia and eastern Ukraine, looks at Buryat-Cossack conflict, and notes disabled Russian veterans of the Ukrainian war.

    [LINK] On the discovery of Earth-like exoplanet Kepler-452b

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    Today’s NASA announcement of the discovery of Kepler-452b, a relatively Earth-like planet orbiting the relatively Sun-like yellow dwarf star Kepler-452, 1400 light years away in the constellation of Cygnus, has made headlines. The CBC’s coverage is representative.

    Kepler 452b, discovered using the planet-hunting Kepler Space Telescope, is about 60 per cent larger than Earth, making it a type of planet called a super-Earth, but scientists think it likely to be rocky, NASA researchers said at a news conference today.

    [. . .]

    John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s science mission directorate in Washington, said the planet appears to be the “closest twin, so to speak, to Earth … that we’ve found so far.”

    However, he said it’s more like a “close cousin” than an exact twin because of its larger size, which would give it five times the mass of the Earth and double the gravity. But it’s less than twice the diameter of Earth, which means it’s likely to have a rocky surface. Planets larger than that are not solid, but gassy, like Jupiter.

    Planetary geologists and atmospheric scientists think Kepler 452b would have a thicker atmosphere than Earth, with more cloud cover, and is likely to still have very active volcanoes, said Jon Jenkins, Kepler data analysis lead at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

    The star it orbits is the first G2 star — similar to our sun — ever found with a small planet in its habitable zone.

    Note that while the planet is broadly Earth-like in its particulars, we know nothing about actual conditions. Most critically, we have no idea what its atmosphere is like, preventing us from knowing if it might support life of some kind.

    Written by Randy McDonald

    July 23, 2015 at 7:35 pm

    [BLOG] Some Monday links

    • James Bow describes his recent visit to California.
    • City of Brass’ Aziz Poonawalla argues that orthodox Muslims in the United States should celebrate nation-wide same-sex marriage out of their own enlightened self-interest.
    • Centauri Dreams features a guest post from J.M. Nielsen looking at the “zoo hypothesis”.
    • Cody Delistraty examines, with photos, Audrey Hepburn’s lifelong love of Paris.
    • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper noting that very young star MWC 758 seems to be forming planetesimals.
    • The Dragon’s Tales reports on a woman with a cyborg arm, and examines the history of Mars’ atmosphere loss.
    • Geocurrents maps the relationship between Turkey’s HDP and the Kurds.
    • Kieran Healy looks for sleeping beauty papers in philosophy.
    • Imageo examines the New Horizons‘ photos of Pluto and Charon.
    • Language Hat notes a comparative dictionary of Siouan languages and notes the dynamics of swearing in Québec French.
    • Language Log notes the contribution of an American missionary to the development of Korea’s hangul script.
    • Marginal Revolution suggests that low rates of poverty amogn Scandinavians and descendants in the United States has to do with culture not policy, and is scathing about Greece.
    • Peter Rukavina looks inside a hard drive.
    • The Russian Demographics Blog maps Kazakhstan by ethnicity.
    • Torontoist looks at the 1899 Canadian National Exhibition.
    • The Financial Times‘ The World looks at the shared interests of Britain and Australia in Asia.
    • Window on Eurasia notes that Russians are moving away from identifying Ukrainians as part of their nation, looks at the collapse of the Russian world, and looks at disasters in Sochi.

    [BLOG] Some Tuesday links

    • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly comes out in favour of not trying to lead the life of an overachiever.
    • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper noting the extent to which circumstellar habitable zones are influenced by the evolution of their stars.
    • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers the sociology of summer vacations. Who gets to take one?
    • Language Hat notes the complexities of Unicode.
    • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the sweatshops of Argentina.
    • The Planetary Society Blog’s Emily Lakdawalla shares the latest pictures of Pluto while Jason Davis shares the first photos taken from the interior of the Society’s solar sail.
    • Towleroad notes Caitlyn Jenner’s outpouring of support on Twitter.
    • Window on Eurasia notes the practical collapse of federalism in Russia.

    [BLOG] Some Monday links

    • 3 Quarks Daily notes, after the Economist, that badly-educated men have not adapted well to global trade, high technology, and feminism.
    • blogTO notes that the High Park peacock roaming around Roncesvalles may have returned to its home in the zoo.
    • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly provides tips for people moving to freelance writing from staff employment.
    • The Cranky Sociologists shares a parody of the new movie Aloha, set in Hawaii yet dominated by whites.
    • The Dragon’s Gaze notes the unique astronomical biosignature of photosynthesis.
    • The Dragon’s Tales compares the clays of Earth and Mars.
    • jsburbidge examines the concept of the literary canon.
    • Language Log considers the complexities of Chinese character usage in an unacknowledged multilingual China/Taiwan space.
    • Marginal Revolution considers China’s heavy investments in the new Silk Road project.
    • Progressive Download’s John Farrell looks to a historian who suggests the world needs a new origins story based on science.
    • Towleroad notes how a gay couple dissolved the adoptive relationship that once united them to become married.
    • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the illicit sexuality involved among the Republicans opposed to Clinton in the 1990s.
    • Window on Eurasia argues that Crimea is set to be Russified and notes the importance of Russian rural agriculture in the time of sanctions.
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