November 3, 2004

Some article links

Some interesting articles I found today:

Marketing to the Mothership
Astrobiology Magazine

Summary: It is sometimes said that the best form of advertising is education. But what products would our global marketplace tolerate at the borders of an encounter with another, perhaps far different civilization? To get some perspective, an expert entertains the question of how to advertise our presence to a more universal demographic.

Three Newly Discovered Exoplanets Have Masses Comparable to Neptune's
Physics Today

Summary: Unlike Neptune and Uranus, the ice giants of our solar system, the new planets may be rocky "super−earths."

In the past 10 years, some 120 planets have been discovered outside the solar system. With the exception of three lightweight oddballs orbiting a millisecond pulsar—the dead remnant of a supernova—all of these exoplanets have been at least two orders of magnitude heavier than Earth. Though observational biases clearly favor the discovery of such giants, astronomers couldn't help wondering whether, for some unknown reason, lighter exoplanets might in fact be much rarer than gas giants like our own Jupiter and Saturn.

Now the catalog of known exoplanets has suddenly become more diverse. Three teams of planet searchers recently announced the discovery of three exoplanets with masses on the order of Neptune's. The masses of Neptune and Uranus, the so−called ice giants of the solar system, are 17.2 and 14.6 M♁ (where M♁ is Earth's mass). By contrast, the masses of Jupiter and Saturn are 318 and 95 M♁.

Ancient Supernova Sparked Humanity?
Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News

Summary: A stellar blast might have helped initiate human evolution three million years ago, according to German scientists who have found clear traces of an ancient supernova explosion deep beneath the Pacific Ocean.

Sifting through dust on the ocean floor at a depth of 15,750 feet, Gunther Korschinek and colleagues at the Technical University of Munich in Germany found 28 layers of iron-60, a radioactive isotope of iron which experts believe is unlikely to have come from anything other than the heat, pressure and nuclear activity of a supernova.

U.S. Air Force Takes a Look at Teleportation
Bill Christensen,

Summary: It seems that mere stealth technology is not enough; the United States Air Force wants to get from here to there without even traversing the space in between.

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