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Comment Re:Primary mission already over (Score 1) 76

Kepler has very likely found al the hot Jupiters in the field of view. Almost all hot Jupiters were found in the first few weeks of the mission. The mission may be able to continue to search for Jupiter-sized planets on Earth-like orbital periods. However, it's not clear whether this is either possible or worth the expense. The cost will be high given an entirely new mode of operations will need to be designed in a relatively short space of time.

Comment Re:A planet or a dwarf planet? (Score 5, Interesting) 71

Hi, I wrote this paper: We actually looked very carefully whether this planet has cleared its neighborhood. The smallest reasonable mass we can assume for this planet is 0.01 Earth masses. With this mass it would clear its orbit of other bodies. However, if it were much further away from its star (like at the distance Pluto is from the Sun) then it would probably be considered a dwarf planet.

Comment Re:Binary planet? (Score 1) 78

The interpretation which seems most likely is that there is a planet on an outer orbit which is causing the transit timing variations. For the unseen companion to cause these transit timing variation it needs to be in an orbital resonance with the transiting planet. The most likely orbital period ratio is 4/3 for the two planets. We can rule out any stellar mass companion to the star Kepler-19 because we do not see any stellar wobble - radial velocity variation in the stellar spectrum.

Comment Re:Weird (Score 2) 38

Kepler looks at a region of the say covering around 115 square degrees. However, due to bandwidth limitations we are only able to download data for a limited number of pixels. We predefine around 150k pixel masks and download the data for these. While our primary mission is to find dips in brightness of stars caused by planets passing in front of them we also observe other types of time variable astrophysics. Scientists from around the world write proposals to observe interesting astrophysical phenomena and the best are chosen to have a pixel mask places around. This source was part of a proposal by a team lead by an astronomer called George Jacoby to observe planetary nebulae. There is no intention to do any planetary science with these observations.

Fastest (and Most Compact) Stellar Spinner Confirmed 47

gregg writes "HM Cancri has been confirmed as a binary system of two white dwarfs orbiting each other so closely that they complete one orbit every 5.4 minutes; they are separated by a mere 8 Earth diameters. 'These are the burnt-out cinders of stars such as our Sun, and contain a highly condensed form of helium, carbon and oxygen. The two white dwarfs in HM Cancri are so close together that mass is flowing from one star to the other. HM Cancri was first noticed as an X-ray source in 1999, showing a 5.4 minutes periodicity, but for a long time it has remained unclear whether this period also indicated the actual orbital period of the system. It was so short that astronomers were reluctant to accept the possibility without solid proof. '"

Comment Re:Singularity? (Score 1) 804

Change "brilliant medical ethicist" to "faceless bureaucratic peon"

Change "faceless bureaucratic peon" to members of the community who voluntarily work on ethics panels.

If I can afford to pay for a private doctor and the private equipment to keep my "vegetable" family member alive for an extra week at home, completely out of the health system should I be "allowed"

Who ever said that?! Thats fine. You can do whatever you want with your money. Personally I would be horrified if I found out that I would be kept as a vegetable for an extended period of time. There is such a thing as dying with dignity

what's to stop the rich from hiring all the best doctors privately for themselves?

Shock, Horror. Some people go into the the medical profession to help people, not keep vegetables alive and pander to the rich.

Totalitarian is the best word to describe the NHS and any model that places heavy restrictions on doctors practising privately

Where an Earth did you get this? It is simply not true. This idea that the NHS is awful is totally wrong. Is it perfect, no, would we like to get rid of it, hell no! Yeah we complain about the NHS all the time but we are British, we complain about everything!


First Rocky Exoplanet Confirmed 155

Matt_dk writes "The confirmation of the nature of CoRoT-7b as the first rocky planet outside our Solar System marks a significant step forward in the search for Earth-like exoplanets. The detection by CoRoT and follow-up radial velocity measurements with HARPS suggest that this exoplanet has a density similar to that of Mercury, Venus, Mars and Earth, making it only the fifth known terrestrial planet in the Universe. The search for a habitable exoplanet is one of the holy grails in astronomy. One of the first steps towards this goal is the detection of terrestrial planets around solar-type stars. Dedicated programs, using telescopes in space and on ground, have yielded evidence for hundreds of planets outside of our Solar System. The majority of these are giant, gaseous planets, but in recent years small, almost Earth-mass planets have been detected, demonstrating that the discovery of Earth analogues — exoplanets with one Earth mass or one Earth radius orbiting a solar-type star at a distance of about 1 astronomical unit — is within reach."

James Murdoch Criticizes BBC For Providing "Free News" 703

Hugh Pickens writes "News Corporation's James Murdoch says that a 'dominant' BBC threatens independent journalism in the UK and that free news on the web provided by the BBC made it 'incredibly difficult' for private news organizations to ask people to pay for their news. 'It is essential for the future of independent digital journalism that a fair price can be charged for news to people who value it,' says Murdoch. 'The expansion of state-sponsored journalism is a threat to the plurality and independence of news provision.' In common with the public broadcasting organizations of many other European countries, the BBC is funded by a television license fee charged to all households owning a television capable of receiving broadcasts. Murdoch's News Corporation, one of the world's largest media conglomerates, owns the Times, the Sunday Times and Sun newspapers and pay TV provider BSkyB in the UK and the New York Post, Wall Street Journal, and Fox News TV in the US." Note that James Murdoch is the son of Rupert Murdoch.

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