Archives for: September 2010
First Potential Habitable Exoplanet

A team of planet hunters from the University of California (UC) Santa Cruz, and the Carnegie Institution of Washington has announced the discovery of a planet with three times the mass of Earth orbiting a nearby star at a distance that places it squarely in the middle of the star’s “habitable zone.”

This discovery was the result of more than a decade of observations using the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, one of the world’s largest optical telescopes. The research, sponsored by NASA and the National Science Foundation, placed the planet in an area where liquid water could exist on the planet’s surface. If confirmed, this would be the most Earth-like exoplanet yet discovered and the first strong case for a potentially habitable one.

To astronomers, a “potentially habitable” planet is one that could sustain life, not necessarily one where humans would thrive. Habitability depends on many factors, but having liquid water and an atmosphere are among the most important.

“Our findings offer a very compelling case for a potentially habitable planet,” said Vogt. “The fact that we were able to detect this planet so quickly and so nearby tells us that planets like this must be really common.”

Is this our ticket to living on different planets? Sounds exciting! You can find the discussion on sci.space.news or read the full article here.

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The Great Firewall of… the USA?!

Have you heard about S. 3804: Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA)? No? Well, if you’re a fan of the great firewall of China and censorship in general you’ll love this one. It comes in the guise of preventing infringing activities but what it will really do is make it possible for sites to be blocked from US access. What kind of sites could be blocked if it passes? How about YouTube? Yes, the Google owned site that has given many of us lols would be fair game if this passes. Under current law because they follow the DMCA takedown procedure YouTube is not liable for any infringing content that its visitors may provide. If COICA passes all that has to happen is that interested parties convince a court that the site is being used for infringing activity (despite the fact that it would likely be taken down by YouTube under DMCA) and block the entire site in the US.

But that’s through a court system where sites at least have a fighting chance to protect themselves you may say, but wait. All it takes is an order from the attorney general to get a site added to the blacklist. ISPs will be required to block all sites on the list made by court order and be given immunity for blocking all sites on the list made by the attorney general. Given the immunity I would expect the number of ISPs blocking those on the second list to be hovering somewhere around 99.99%-100%.

But won’t there be ways that users could still get to these sites? Of course there will always be ways around things like this, but at what cost to the US? Currently the US is the hub for most of the internet. A lot of traffic flows through our tubes and many domain names are registered in the US. If this passes it won’t be long till the traffic slows down and people and companies begin hosting their sites outside of the US costing thousands of jobs in the process.

If you’re interested in learning more check out the EFF, Demand Progress, Tech Dirt, and sign the Demand Progress petition as well.

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New Harry Potter Book on the Way?
J.K Rowling Posted in alt.fan.harry.potter, J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter hit series will be making an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show this Friday, October 1st. She rarely gives any interviews, so buzz about a possible new Harry Potter book could be answered!

Rowling spoke about coping with fame, pressure and she “shares her thoughts on the possibility of ever writing another Harry Potter book in the future,” Scholastic said in a statement.

Will it be the end? Hopefully not! The two-part film adaptation of the final book of the series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” will debut in November. Check out the trailer if you haven’t seen it yet. It looks pretty awesome.

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UN Appoints Space Alien Ambassador

Apparently the UN doesn’t share Stephen Hawking’s view about contact with extra terrestrial life and has appointed Mazlan Othman as the new Space Ambassador. Now I’m not sure what the fine folks in alt.aliens.they-are-here think about this development, but I for one think we need to have our bases covered. Sure its highly unlikely that any species capable of interstellar flight would want to talk to us for any reason beyond strip mining our planet. Sure its less likely now that we’ll be found as radio transmissions are of less power and won’t penetrate as far into space as they had in the past. There is always the chance that if they exist and want to be nice they could be. Besides you could always vote for Kodos if they take over the planet.

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Happy 6th Anniversay to “Lost”

As said in alt.tv.lost, today marks the 6th year anniversary for when Lost was aired. Sad to see it run its last season this year, and angry how it ended, but it kept me occupied and interested to say the least. Turns out some of the Lost sets and actors are being used in the new series remake, Hawaii Five-0 that aired on last Monday on CBS. Daniel Dae Kim, as known as Jin Kwon in Lost plays Detective Kelly on the new show. I just might have to pick up on this new drama. Never saw the original, but the remake could be better…

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