Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Exoplanet circles 'normal star'

1RXS J160929.1-210524 and its planet (Gemini Observatory )
The candidate planet is pictured as a dot above the star
A planet has been pictured outside our Solar System which appears to be circling a star like our own Sun - a first in astronomy.

Most of the potential exoplanets imaged to date have been seen orbiting brown dwarfs, which are dim - making it easier to detect companion objects.

The new planet is huge, with a mass about eight times that of Jupiter.

The Canadian team that obtained the picture says the parent star is similar to the Sun but somewhat younger.

Three astronomers from the University of Toronto used the Gemini North telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii to take images of the young star 1RXS J160929.1-210524 and the planetary candidate.

The star and its companion lie about 500 light-years from Earth.

"This is the first time we have directly seen a planetary mass object in a likely orbit around a star like our Sun," said lead author David Lafreniere.

"If we confirm that this object is indeed gravitationally tied to the star, it will be a major step forward."

Far out

The planet itself lies out at a great distance from its parent star: about 330 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun.

By comparison, the most distant planet in our Solar System, Neptune, orbits at about 30 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun.

Dr Matt Burleigh, from the University of Leicester, UK, commented: "This is a very good candidate for a first picture of a planet orbiting a normal star.

"Now the team needs to make more observations to hopefully confirm that the two are moving together through space," he told BBC News.

Finding a planetary-mass companion so far from its parent star came as a surprise to the astronomers, and poses a challenge to theories of star and planet formation.

The astronomers used adaptive optics technology to reduce the distortions to the image caused by turbulence in the Earth's atmosphere.

The near-infrared images and spectra of the planetary candidate indicate that it is too cool to be a star or a brown dwarf - a failed star.

It may take about two years to confirm that the star and its probable planet are moving through space together.

The object is about 1,500C (1,800 Kelvin) - much hotter than Jupiter, which it resembles in terms of size.

The work that led to this discovery is part of a survey of more than 85 stars in the Upper Scorpius association - a group of young stars formed about five million years ago.

- Sandesh Kumar -

Android to Be Announced Sept. 23

T-Mobile said Tuesday that it would unveil details of the first and much-anticipated mobile phone based on Google’s Android software on Sept. 23 at a press conference in New York.

Google Phone

The phone itself, which is being manufactured by HTC, is not likely to be available until next month. But top executives from Google, T-Mobile and other companies are expected to unveil details about the phone’s release date, pricing, plans and software at the press conference.

The phone is expected to become a challenger to other high-end phones like Apple’s iPhone and the BlackBerry line of devices made by Research In Motion. Other manufacturers and cellphone carriers are expected to introduce Android-based phones in the coming months.

Google is promoting Android phones as a way to ensure that its services, as well as other services that may use its advertising system, are available on a broad range of mobile phones. But Google also stands to benefit from the popularity of devices like the iPhone, whose PC-like Internet browser has greatly increased the likelihood that its owners will conduct Web searches on their phones.

- Sandesh Kumar -

Slumdog Millionaire wins as audience favourite

TORONTO — Slumdog Millionaire, an inspirational comedy about a poor Mumbai orphan who unexpectedly knows all the answers to the Indian version of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?, was the audience favourite at the 33rd Toronto International Film Festival, which came to a close on Saturday.
The film, by English director Danny Boyle ( Trainspotting, 28 Days Later) won the $15,000 Cadillac People's Choice Award. Boyle credited the generosity of the city of Mumbai with the warmth of the story, which was adapted by Simon Beaufoy ( The Full Monty) from the book Q&A by Indian writer Vikas Swarup.
The first runner-up for the People's Choice Award was the American basketball documentary, More than a Game. The second runner-up was The Stoning of Soraya M, an American movie based on the real-life stoning of an Iranian woman on a phony adultery charge.
Indian actress Freida Pinto, 23, who co-starred in Slumdog Millionaire and who has relatives in Mississauga, Ont., was on hand to accept the audience award.
The part-time model and TV show host said the role was her first part in a movie. “I did my first audition and had to keep on auditioning twice a month for six months until I was finally told I got the part,” she said.
Slumdog Millionaire, which played at Telluride Festival and will close the upcoming London Film Festival and the Goa Film Festival later this fall, is expected to open in late November in North America.
The Toronto International Film Festival, which co-director Cameron Bailey described as the biggest public film festival in the world, lasted 10 days and screened more than 300 films. In addition to the usual screenings, about 150,000 people participated in free films and concerts at Yonge-Dundas Square in the city's core.
Though the festival received some criticism for favouring donors in its drive to complete fundraising for the festival's new centre, the $196-million Bell Lightbox, TIFF's director Piers Handling said the festival had run with few bumps and he had positive feedback from the public and industry. (So far, $147-million has been raised for the Bell Lightbox.)
Mr. Handling noted that at a time when the economics of the movie industry are “gloomy”, the industry's reception of this year's TIFF was generally buoyant.
Among the break-out films among critics at this years event were Jonathan Demme's sprawling family movie, Rachel Getting Married, starring Anne Hathaway as a recovering drug addict attending her sister's wedding, Darren Aranofsky's The Wrestler, with Mickey Rourke as a professional wrestler who can't stay away from the ring despite life-threatening health problems, and Katherine Bigalow's punishingly tense Iraq drama, The Hurt Locker.
The $30,000 City of Toronto-CityTv Award for best Canadian feature film went to Roderige Jean's Lost Song, something of an upset against higher profile films including Paul Gross's opening night film Passchendaele and Deepa Mehta's Heaven on Earth. The drama follows a couple, Elizabeth (Suzie Leblanc), and Pierre (Patrick Goyette), who move to a cottage in a remote area north of Montreal, where Elizabeth sinks into a depression. The jury described the film as “profound, masterful and devastatingly sad.” LeBlanc, an internationally known Acadian-born soprano in her first acting role, said she was “very surprised” by the prize.
As well, the Canadian film jury awarded a special citation went to Atom Egoyan's Adoration for its “seismic ambition” and exploration of cultural complexities.
The $15,000 CityTv Award for best Canadian first film went to Marie-Hélène Cousineau and Madeline Piujug for Before Tomorrow. Cousineau, who lives in Montreal but has travelled back and forth to Igoolik for the past 18 years, had high praise for her collaborator, Piujug, a 65-year-old Inuit woman who also co-starred in the film with her real-life grandson as the survivors of an illness that has destroyed their community.
The film is the third feature from the Nunavut-based Igloolik Isuma Productions ( Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, The Journals of Knud Rasmussen).
The best Canadian short film went to Chris Chong Chan Fui's Block B, with a special citation to Denis Villeneuve's Next Floor.
In other awards, the Diesel Discovery Award, voted by the festival's press corps of about 1,000 journalists, picked director Steve McQueen's Hunger, a harrowing look at the last days of Irish hunger striker Bobby Sands, who died in the Northern Ireland Maze prison in 1981.
The International Critics jury picked the American director Derick Martini's Lymelife as their top film from the Discovery program. The film, starring Rory Culkin and Alec Baldwin, is a coming-of-age story set in the late 1970s. In the Special Presentations category, the jury chose the Australian film Disgrace, based on the Booker prize-winning author J. M. Coetzee's novel about a South African professor (played by John Malkovich) who has a scandalous affair with a student.
In place of the usual invitation-only party, the festival held its wrap party for the public at Yonge-Dundas Square, following a free screening of the people's choice winning film at the Visa Screening Room at the Elgin Theatre.

- Sandesh Kumar

Monday, June 30, 2008

No Ice on North Pole this Year : Maybe ....

scientists are predicting an ice-free North Pole this summer, but closer look at the data shows something less alarming. Sea ice will melt in the region to allow ships to move through the area. In essence, the article says that thicker ice has been melted or blown away by winds and that only thin year-old ice is left. This thin ice is susceptible to melting and some scientists say there’s a 50/50 chance that the North Pole itself will be ice-free by September.

While many people immediately point the finger at global warming and excessive carbon dioxide emissions, some scientists disagree – others even disagree that the North Pole will be completely ice-free this summer.

“Nobody knows for sure” much of the first-year ice does melt in the summer, “not all of it does.” There’s a good chance that it will all melt away at the North Pole, it’s certainly feasible, but it’s not guaranteed.” So these were the story of two publications National Geographic and Independent cherry picking quotes to prove their respective cases.

Despite the differences, most of the scientists agree that the historic data shows an alarming trend at the Pole with the total amount of sea ice decreasing every summer. According to a Scientific America article, soot from cars, forest fires and factories could be causing the snow and ice to melt faster. Pure ice and snow is obviously white and reflects light and heat, but the ice turns grey or even black when soot falls onto it.

Underwater volcanoes could also be melting Arctic, but there is another thought that volcanoes are too deep and that water of varying densities stops the transfer of heat and ice.

So by September there might not be any ice at the North Pole, but hey lets keep watching and keep reading my blog for updates

Take Care,

Sandesh Kumar

Mars Soil 'Friendly To Life'

Hey Friends,

I want to share with you the latest results from the soil of the planet Mars. I am going to have my farm house over there and will go on weekends to see how my plants are doing. But, after these gas prices come down. Maybe after that ....

Results from the "wet" chemical analysis of soil of Mars show that the planet harbors many of the nutrients needed for life. The soil was similar to what people would find in their back yards on Earth.

Earlier Viking missions to Mars in the 1970s failed to find evidence of carbon.

The new findings come from the suite of chemistry labs on the Phoenix lander, which has been digging up soil from the northern polar area of Mars since it touched down late last month.

In the wet lab experiments, the first ever conducted beyond Earth, the Lander analyzers moisten the soil samples and then superheat them to the point that the component elements can be analyzed.

The chemicals identified by the instruments included magnesium, sodium, potassium and chloride.

The experiments found a pH level of 8 to 9, which is on the alkaline side. Some researchers had predicted a Martian pH of 1, which would be acidic making it unhibitable

The soil seemed similar to that found in dry valleys of Antarctica. The surface where Phoenix landed shows polygonal patterns remarkably similar to some seen in Antarctica. Scientists speculate that they could be the result of cycles of freezing and thawing.

The Phoenix has dug two small trenches, called Wonderland and Snow White, with its eight-foot robotic arm. Yesterday's results came from samples taken about an inch deep in Wonderland.

The most dramatic results came from MECA, the microscopy, electrochemistry and conductivity analyzer, which determined the pH of the soil and identified numerous salts in it.

Another instrument, the thermal and evolved-gas analyzer (TEGA), used its eight tiny ovens to bake the soil to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit and found water that had been chemically bound to elements of the soil long ago.

Phoenix was aimed at the north polar region because earlier surveys showed that is where water ice is most likely to be present. Scientists are convinced that surface water flowed on Mars billions of years ago, a conclusion reached by studying geologic features of the Martian landscape. Today, conditions on Mars do not allow for liquid water, in large part because the atmosphere is only 1 percent as dense as Earth's.

In 2002, the Mars Odyssey orbiter discovered that large amounts of water ice lay just beneath the surface in permafrost that covers much of the planet's far north. The region, which is notably flat and smooth, may have once been the bottom of a large ocean.

Scientists generally believe that water is necessary for life, but the recent discovery of microbes and bacteria living in extreme environments on Earth has led to a rethinking of where life can survive. If properly protected, the soil could be used to grow vegetables for astronauts.

Take Care,

Sandesh Kumar

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Train v/s Truck

Truck is parked at a wrong parking spot and check out what happens next ....

read more | digg story

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Hydrogen Powered Car introduced by Honda: Can you buy one?

The Honda FCX Clarity will be the world's first commercially available hydrogen fuel cell car

A lot has been said about hydrogen fuel cell cars for years now. Today, the first mass produced hydrogen car is a reality. Honda has introduced it's FCX Clarity. It is powered by a fuel cell filled with hydrogen gas. It uses no gasoline, and doesn't pollute.

Can you buy a Hydrogen Car?
Hydrogen car is going to be introduced in Los Angeles. The vehicles are being leased to customers at a cost of $600 per month through three dealers in California. Honda has not said when it plans to begin full mass production. This is going to be a slow roll out: Honda will make only 200 hydrogen fuel cell cars which will be available in next 3 years. And it will only lease them for now: It would retail for nearly $100,000 if sold.

There are also speculation that you could make Car to run on water for just $40. If you really know how to google, you will find those instructions how to make it. But, had it been that easy why would company like Honda will be spending billions of dollars on R&D of Hydrogen fuel cell cars.

What do you say about my post. Leave a comment and let me know.

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Sandesh Kumar