WorldCon 2016: Two suns in the sky

Disclaimer: I am not perfect and neither are my notes. If you notice anything that requires clarification or correction, please email me at melanie (dot) marttila (at) gmail (dot) com and I will fix things post-hasty.

TwoSuns

Panellists: Eva Elasigue, Courtney Schafer, [Mel’s note: Joe Haldeman was unable to attend.]

Joined in progress …

CS: Kepler discovers exoplanets by observing the subtle signs of a planet passing in front of its star. It’s focused on a small area and it’s only covered 3% of that space in detail so far. The number of exoplanets discovered is large, but only a fraction of circum-binary systems have planets that might be habitable. The planets discovered in those systems are massive, though. It’s exciting that so many planets have been discovered.

EE: One of Larry Niven’s conjectures is that a planet in a binary system would have an off-center core.

CS: It’s possible that a planet in a binary system could have a figure eight orbit. It could also be more easily ejected from the system. Since circum-binary systems are fairly common, there might be a large number of rogue planets out there. To discover the composition of a planet, you need to use spectroscopy.

Q: Is there publicly accessible software for fact-checking the plausibility of an invented system?

A: There are solar system simulators.

CS: You can also check with your local amateur astronomy club.

Q: Is Alpha Centauri A, Rigil Kentaurus, a binary star?

CS: That’s the current understanding. One thing to keep in mind is the force that would be exerted on planets in these systems. If we look at the moons of Jupiter, they need to have their own magnetospheres to maintain an atmosphere. Otherwise, Jupiter strips it away.

EE: You should check out Galaxy Zoo. It’s a citizen science initiative.

[At this point, the ideas starting coming fast and furious. To be honest, I’m not sure who said what.]

The most favorable binary systems for planets are those in which both stars are around 80% of the sun’s size. They’re also fairly close to each other. The minimum stable radius for a planet in a binary system is 2-4 times larger than [… sorry didn’t catch this. I think it’s Jupiter. Wikipedia indicates this would be correct. If the planet is a gas giant, it may not support life, but its moons might. Smaller stars would accommodate smaller planets, but the planets may not be habitable, depending on their orbits and the relative light and heat they receive from their suns.]

They probably didn’t form in their current orbit. There’s an instability in binary systems which could result in the planet spiralling into one of the stars, or being flung out of the system. Planets in binary systems would move around unless they could find a stable orbit.

There are also mismatched binary systems. A blue giant with a red dwarf, for example, or a sun-type star with a black hole.

And that was time.

For more information: If you Google the term circum-binary systems, you will find a lot. Navigate to dependable sources, like NASA, or Space.com (unlike yours truly). Or head for fun but dependable sites like Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy column, currently hosted by Blastr.

Next week: we’re terraforming terra 🙂

Until next I blog, be well, be kind, and stay strong.

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Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, May 8-14, 2016

Lots of thoughty for your big squishy brains this week!

The Jian Gomeshi case was in the news again this week. Another complainant came forward, but chose not to go to court and accept a peace bond. The agreement? Gomeshi would admit his wrongdoing and apologize publically. Kathryn Borel released this statement outside court after the unsatisfying apology. The Toronto Star.

Sandy Garossino reports that Borel’s counterpunch blindsides Henein and knocks out Gomeshi. National Observer.

The UN champions essential services for survivors of violence against women and girls.

 

Here are a couple of fabulous articles by Lindy West. First, the ‘perfect body’ is a lie. Then, break the period taboo. The Guardian.

Are you a cool girl? ASAP Thought wants you to help dismantle the patriarchy 🙂

 

Latinos are now the largest ethnic group in California. The Los Angeles Times.

You may remember that I’ve mentioned in the past how careful we need to be with media reports of scientific studies. This explains why. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Scientific Studies.

 

How World War II changed Walt Disney. Time.

Clint Edwards gleans lessons from The Goonies, and from the loss of unsupervised time for kids. The Washington Post.

John Reed tells a tale almost too creepy to believe: my grandma, the poisoner. Vice.

The CDC releases new statistics on suicide in the US.

And on the other side of the death coin: when patients and doctors disagree about end-of-life care. The Washington Post.

Sarah Kurchak shares depression-busting exercise tips for people too depressed to exercise. The Establishment.

Not to be facetious, but Emily Hartridge lists 10 reasons why . . . she’s grateful to have anxiety.

 

BigThink offers proven tools for lifting a bad mood.

IndiHope lists 51 Dr. Seuss quotes on happiness.

This is just cool. The brain dictionary, on AmpLIFEied.

Kepler reveals a new bounty of exoplanets, including nine in the ‘Goldilocks’ zone. Phil Plait for Slate.

It’s okay to be smart. The cosmic afterglow:

 

William Gadoury discovers a link between the constellations and the locations of Mayan cities. YourNewsWire.com

And this is just funny. Ken Ham tried to disprove science using . . . science. Epic fail. Slate.

It’s okay to be smart: the most important moment in the history of life:

 

Weird science: can corpses turn to stone?

 

David Bowie on being authentic:

 

The Buddha Weekly focuses on the consciousness of non-human beings. I’m really sorry. I enjoy the meats 😦

Have a happy Friday, and we’ll see you on the weekend!

Thoughty Thursday

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, July 19-25, 2015

Thoughty Thursday is back with a thick, frosty shake of inspiration-y, research-y bits. Just watch you don’t get a brain freeze 😉

Ten words every girl should learn. Alternet.

Surprise, surprise . . . Men who harass women online are, quite literally, losers. The Washington Post.

Matt McGorry provides a Twitter lecture on why responding to #BlackLivesMatter with #AllLivesMatter is pure dip-shittery. Buzzfeed. Peeps have tried this before with #YesAllWomen/#NotAllMen etc. What’s the best way to promote social injustice? Waste energy denying you’re part of the problem/trying to distract from the real solution. #MethinksTheyProtestTooMuch

No, it’s not your opinion. You’re just wrong. The Houston Press.

Danielle Seewalker invites us to meet the generation of incredible Native American women fighting to preserve their culture. Marie Claire.

If your dream is calling to you, are you willing to answer? Anna Lovind guest posts on Carri-Anne Moss’s Annapurna Living.

Anna, on her own blog, writing about how to address fear in your creative life.

i09’s True Crime beat presents the mystery of Agatha Christie’s disappearance. In response, a friend posted this article from The Guardian (from 2006, no less), which reveals the cause. Either way, Doctor Who got it wrong (OMG!).

NASA shares their “blue marble” gallery via National Geographic.

A brief history of everything with Neil deGrasse Tyson. IFLS.

NASA’s Kepler mission discovers a bigger, older Earth-like planet. Please note: the images you may have seen in media are artists’ concepts. There’s no way Kepler could see that kind of detail 🙂

The science of stress: Our emotions affect our susceptibility to burnout and disease. BrainPickings.

This teen developed a test that can diagnose Alzheimer’s before symptoms are exhibited. IFLS.

I’m not sure why, but i09 ranks the five best and worst demons by which to be possessed.

Weird, but marvelous: a wearable hummingbird feeder. Incredible Things.

Here’s a feel-good puppy story for you. Just because. Good.

See you Saturday for the Ad Astra 2015 wrap post and the next chapter update.

Thoughty Thursday