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Spectrum of Light Captured From Distant World 32

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Cosmos: "Astronomers have made the first direct capture of a spectrum of light from a planet outside the Solar System and are deciphering its composition. The light was snared from a giant planet that orbits a bright young star called HR 8799 about 130 light-years from Earth, said the European Southern Observatory (ESO). ... The find is important, because hidden within a light spectrum are clues about the relative amounts of different elements in the planet's atmosphere. 'The features observed in the spectrum are not compatible with current theoretical models,' said co-author Wolfgang Brandner. 'We need to take into account a more detailed description of the atmospheric dust clouds, or accept that the atmosphere has a different chemical composition from that previously assumed.' The result represents a milestone in the search for life elsewhere in the universe, said the ESO. Until now, astronomers have been able to get only an indirect light sample from an exoplanet, as worlds beyond our Solar System are called. They do this by measuring the spectrum of a star twice — while an orbiting exoplanet passes near to the front of it, and again while the planet is directly behind it. The planet's spectrum is thus calculated by subtracting one light sample from another."

Gold Sold From Vending Machines In Germany 472

There are fewer hassles for an adventurer or business traveler bigger than lugging around bags of silver and copper pieces. Luckily TG-Gold-Super-Markt has installed gold vending machines in 500 locations including train stations and airports all across Germany. The machines charge about 30% more than the current trading price for gold, and are updated every few minutes. All are closely monitored by cameras, and like 3rd and 4th edition, electrum pieces are not accepted.

Infrared Fibers Can Protect Against Chemoterrorism 71

Hugh Pickens writes "Although most Americans take the safety of their drinking water for granted, ordinary tap water can become contaminated within minutes, says Prof. Abraham Katzir of Tel Aviv University's School of Physics and Astronomy who has developed a fiber-optic system that can detect poisons such as pesticides in water in amounts well below the World Health Organization safety threshold using 'colors' in the infrared spectrum which distinguish between pure and contaminated water. 'With our naked eyes we can't distinguish between pure water and water that contains a small amount of alcohol or acetone. They're all clear,' says Katzir. 'But we can clearly distinguish between liquids using an infrared spectrometer which can distinguish between "colors" in the invisible infrared spectrum.' Connected to a commercial infrared spectrometer, the fibers serve as sensors that can detect and notify authorities immediately if a contaminant has entered a water reservoir, system, building or pipeline. 'Toxic materials are readily available as pesticides or herbicides in the agriculture industry, and can be harmful if consumed even in concentrations as low as few parts per million,' says Katzir. Cities like New York are especially susceptible to a chemoterrorist threat. With many skyscrapers holding water reserves on the top of the building, a terrorist only needs to introduce poison into a tank to wreak havoc. 'A terrorist wouldn't have to kill tens of thousands of people. Only 50 deaths — as horrible as that would be — would cause nationwide panic,' says Katzir."

Submission + - Designer Babies - Like It Or Not, Here They Come (

Singularity Hub writes: "The Fertility Institutes recently stunned the fertility community by being the first company to boldly offer couples the opportunity to screen their embryos not only for diseases and gender, but also for completely benign characteristics such as eye color, hair color, and complexion. The Fertility Institutes proudly claims this is just the tip of the iceberg, and plans to offer almost any conceivable customization as science makes them available. Even as couples from across the globe are flocking in droves to pay the company their life's savings for a custom baby, opponents are vilifying the company for shattering moral and ethical boundaries. Like it or not, the era of designer babies is officially here and there is no going back."

Comment Re:Insert standard replies here... (Score 5, Informative) 158

Advanced Placement. It's a program offered by the College Board that allows high school students to receive college credit for courses completed in high school, teaching college-level curriculum, and evaluated by a test (that the College Board administers and scores). The number of credits and exact course translation toward your university is usually determined by your AP test score (on a scale of 1-5). Shaved close to a year off college with these puppies :)

HD DVD Player Sales Grind To a Halt 507

Lucas123 writes "While the news may fall under the 'Duh' category, it's still relatively shocking how quickly the death knell for HD DVD player sales came on after Warner Bros. announced they were dropping dual hi-def DVD format support in order to back only Blu-ray. According to a Computerworld story, the week after Warner's announcement, sales of HD DVD players dropped to 1,758, down from 14,558 players the week before. In contrast, consumers bought 21,770 Blu-ray Disc players, up from 15,257 the previous week."

The Secret of the Sun's Heated Atmosphere 158

eldavojohn writes "There has long been speculation on why the Sun's surface is a mere ten thousand degrees while the atmosphere can reach millions. is reporting that the mystery has now been solved. Researchers looked for Alfven waves in the solar chromosphere and found them. Followup studies employing simulations demonstrated that the energetics work out to transfer energy from the Sun's surface to its overlying corona.. The magnetic waves may also be the power source behind the solar wind."

Submission + - Creating a Successful Startup

calumtdalek writes: "Economist Larry Smith discusses how to create a successful software startup company. He notes that many students have the technical knowledge to create a product but lack the skills necessary to market their product and manage a software company. Smith gives specific examples of University of Waterloo startups (with names redacted) that have been successful and others that have been unsuccessful."

You are in the hall of the mountain king.