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Posts Tagged ‘extraterrestrial life

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

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  • Antipope’s Charlie Stross and Whatever’s John Scalzi react to the Sad Puppies’ shut-out at the Hugos.
  • blogTO notes a poll suggesting that 85% of Torontonians think taxis are safer than Uber.
  • Centauri Dreams considers the potential role comet impacts may have had on the development of life.
  • Crooked Timber’s Corey Robin engages with Ta-Nehisi Coates.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze considers ways to detect life on worlds inhabited by extremophiles and examines the impact of ultraviolet radiation on hypothetical Earth-like exoplanets.
  • The Dragon’s Tales is upset that the United States suggested Ukraine should not immediately respond to the intrusion of Little Green Men.
  • Far Outliers notes the extreme casualty projections for an invasion of Japan in the Second World War.
  • Language Hat notes the controversy over the question of who the Indo-Europeans were.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the life of a Brazilian leader of a famous naval rebellion.
  • Marginal Revolution tries to start a debate on what the United States would look like if it had open borders.
  • The Planetary Society Blog features a report by Marc Rayman noting the ongoing mapping of Ceres.
  • Savage Minds carries an interview with anthropologist Christian Zloniski regarding export agriculture in Baja California.
  • Torontoist describes the controversial visit of a Toronto journalist to the Soviet Union in 1932.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that Crimea is removing Ukrainian from its education system and wonders if Belarus is moving away from Russia.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • blogTO notes that Toronto has been ranked as the most liveable city in the world by the Economist.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly talks about the allure of learning something difficult.
  • Centauri Dreams describes circumbinary planet Kepler-453b.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to an attempt to date the Gliese 504 system, reports on a new definition for planets, and suggests that the abundances of biologically necessary material on planetary surfaces and atmospheres is quite variable.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes the latest on the war in the Donbas.
  • The Frailest Thing’s Michael Sacasas is trying to crowdfund the last four courses he needs for his doctoral degree.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that it has moved to www.joemygod.com.
  • Language Hat considers the third wave of Russian emigration to the United States.
  • Language Log displays a decorative Japanese dialogue written in romaji, Roman script.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes who Tea Partiers think should benefit from bankruptcy.
  • Marginal Revolution notes Singapore spends little on education as a proportion of its GDP, a consequence of its very low birth rate.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes that Uber does work better than traditional taxis in the outer boroughs of New York City.
  • Strange Maps considers fire maps of old.
  • Torontoist looks at the story of Toronto’s first parks commissioner, John Chambers.
  • Towleroad quotes George Takei’s explanation why Star Trek did not feature gay characters and looks at a Swiss Catholic bishop facing jail time for inciting anti-gay violence.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy considers if the lessons of ancient Greek democracy are relevant for us post-moderns.
  • Window on Eurasia notes divisions on the Russian left over Crimea, suggests China is benefitting from Russia’s new dependence, notes that the United States did not recognize the Donbas in the Cold War, and quotes a Ukrainian writer who suggests that the Serb republics in the former Yugoslavia show the likely future of the Donbas states.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • blogTO notes chain Second Cup’s reboot of its Toronto cafes.
  • Centauri Dreams notes that the Rosetta probe’s comet is approaching perihelion.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper connecting stellar metallicity to a galactic habitable zone.
  • The Dragon’s Tales updates us on the Donbass war.
  • Joe. My. God. notes a Swiss Catholic bishop’s approval of murderous homophobia.
  • Language Log notes that the Spanish of Jeb Bush is actually pretty decent.
  • Languages of the World looks at the complex grammar of the Mohawk language.
  • Towleroad notes the fight for same-sex marriage in the Philippines.
  • Window on Eurasia is critical of Russia’s claims to a unique position in Crimea.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • 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

  • 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

    • 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

    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


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