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Submission + - Extreme Exoplanet Volcanism Possibly Detected on 55 Cancri e (

astroengine writes: Using data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, astronomers have revealed wild atmospheric changes on a well studied exoplanet — changes that they suspect are driven by extreme volcanic activity. Over a period of 2 years, the team, led by University of Cambridge researchers, noted a 3-fold change in temperature on the surface of 55 Cancri e. The super-Earth planet orbits a sun-like star 40 light-years away in the constellation of Cancer. It is twice the size of Earth and 8-times our planet’s mass. 55 Cancri e is well-known to exoplanet hunters as the “diamond planet” — a world thought to be carbon-rich, possibly covered in hydrocarbons. But this new finding, published today in the arXiv pre-print service, has added a new dimension to the planet’s weird nature. “This is the first time we’ve seen such drastic changes in light emitted from an exoplanet, which is particularly remarkable for a super-Earth,” said co-author Nikku Madhusudhan, of Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy, in a press release. “No signature of thermal emissions or surface activity has ever been detected for any other super-Earth to date.”

Comment Re:Yeah... (Score 1) 1105

You're right, you personally reducing your output by 1/3 doesn't do much of anything. But if your neighbors and friends see you doing it and do it too, then so do their neighbors and friends and so on and so forth. Maybe enough momentum builds that your city's researchers and planners notice, and start a new recycling program, or spring for a renewable energy source of some kind. Now something big and useful and worthwhile is happening that couldn't have happened without the aggregate momentum of all those little things that didn't feel like they did anything.

What really riled me up about the post I replied to was that tired-ass old assertion that it's all politics, that basically "both sides are just as bad." No. Not on climate change they're fucking not.

They did a study recently and found that conservatives, even when told it will cost them more money in the long run, will refuse to buy energy efficient bulbs that make any kind of ecological statements on their packaging? That's a real thing that was demonstrated recently. So I refuse to let people like that sit and say people who care about energy efficiency are fucking blinded by politics. Not when their ilk will knowingly cost themselves money and their children a stable ecosystem in the name of political allegiances. No.

Comment Re:Yeah... (Score 1) 1105

We have to cut everywhere and everybody has to do it.

I don't follow. It's not like there's a direct causal relationship between one person cutting their emissions and another person raising theirs. If anything there's a decent causal relationship in the other direction. As more people and nations begin to take energy efficiency seriously it gets easier and easier to shame those who don't into not being selfish assholes any more.

Comment Re:Yeah... (Score 5, Informative) 1105

You're right with your point that cars and incandescents aren't "SOLELY" to blame...but with that one little adjective you're reduced to tilting at straw men.

FACTS: Worldwide 15% of CO2 emissions are from personal vehicles, and that number is rising. The United States accounts for half of that. Our houses use so much energy that they produce twice the CO2 that our cars even do. That means American personal cars and homes produce between 1/4 and 1/5 of the world's CO2 emissions. Given our wealth and the relative ease with which we can invest in energy-saving technology, that makes them pretty good places to start trying to improve efficiency.

If you want to reduce greenhouse gases, improving the efficiency of American cars and homes is important by any reasonable standard. That's a fact. No politics involved.

Manufacturers would also be a good place to look, but since publicly traded companies can only look as far ahead as their next earnings report I imagine you've drunk their Kool-Aid and would start shrieking "OMG TEH JOB CREATORZ" at the slightest whiff of regulation.

Comment My Experience (Score 3, Informative) 264

About a year ago I stuck a GTX 550 Ti in a machine that was at the time pushing five years old.

I generally upgrade video cards at least twice after the initial build of my computers, every 2 years or so. My needs for upgrading other components are generally low, because...really...who needs a top of the line processor? I generally stick to the top of the mid tier and it does anything I might need done for the next 5-6 years. As far as RAM goes, whenever I get a new motherboard I just put as much RAM as it supports in it, and have been known to spend more on RAM than CPU when building a computer.

I just recently rebuilt my computer (new motherboard, CPU, RAM, and a second GPU) for about $550, and that got it to a point where it can play Crysis 2 with max settings. I expect it will be able to play any game the makers throw at it for another two years before performance starts to become a real issue. Maybe longer, because it seems to me that game-makers are getting better at building games that still run (albeit less prettily) on older hardware.

If it hadn't been for some recent hardware failures I'd probably STILL be rocking the last machine, which would be over 6 years old now. I just didn't feel like throwing money down the drain buying a replacement motherboard that used and old-ass socket.

I think the only reason to buy absolute top-of-the-line hardware these days is to stroke your e-peen.

Comment Re:MLK and friends went to jail as well (Score 1) 243

The difference is that when you sit in the street or chain yourself to a tree to stop a construction project or disrupt traffic the general public understands what you're doing. A prosecutor might be able to *try* to press terrorism charges, or some other trumped up nonsense, but at the end of the day enough of the public will understand the story to say "wait. He was just sitting in the street." So the crazy-ass charges won't fly for long.

When you engage in a little hacktivism, though, not enough of the public understands what you've done to protect you from overzealous prosecution. The prosecutor can throw around a few terms like "cyber criminal," "hacking," and "digital crowbar." All of a sudden in the eyes of the majority of the public you're some sort of criminal mastermind, wielding dark arts to bring society to its knees -- even if all your *really* did was essentially run wget on a website.

That's why we need to be more careful in how we craft "cyber crime" laws, and prosecutors and judges need to be more careful in how they interpret them.

Comment Re:You Disgust Me (Score 1) 382

Wrong. A crime is not a crime, regardless. Copyright and contractual violations (such as breaking JSTOR or MIT's EULA) require the wronged party to actually take the offender to court.

That's why the feds were charging him with ridiculous crap like wire fraud and damaging protected computer systems, because they couldn't press charges unilaterally on the crimes that he *actually* appears to have committed.

Comment Re:You Disgust Me (Score 1) 382

Let's assume Swartz was completely in the right on all of his actions. What, precisely, would you have MIT and the US Government do differently to prevent this suicide? What actions of theirs do you find culpable for forcing Aaron Swartz into no other choice than to take his own life?

Remember that the feds were acting unilaterally. They had not been asked by the supposedly wronged parties to bring these charges. In fact, they had been asked by one of them -- JSTOR -- to *not* bring these charges against Swartz.

You know, that almost sounds like an endorsement for suicide which is probably one of the most disgusting and vehement posts I've read here so far. There is nothing rational nor sane about taking one's own life. When I was 16 one of my friends committed suicide and more recently a roommate's girlfriend came over while my roommate was gone and committed suicide. As someone who has witnessed the aftermath both to someone who meant so much to me and someone I barely knew, I will tell you right now that it is a terrible act that impacts everyone -- and most often in a profoundly negative way. To call it 'rational' or 'sane' in any case reveals that you do not know anything about suicide.

Thank you for that, though.

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