Friday, January 11, 2013

Links 11/01/13

I seem to be looking at a lot of space-based stuff lately. Maybe I'm unconsciously searching for new subject matter, or maybe it's just that there's been a huge number of amazing new discoveries.  There's evidence that Titan's hydrocarbon seas may have hydrocarbon icebergs floating on them, for instance, and three-dimensional imaging of weather patterns in a brown dwarf with the catchy name 2MASSJ22282889-431026: wind-driven layered clouds 'composed of hot grains of sand, liquid drops of iron, and other exotic compounds.' And astronomers have discovered an incredibly old star just 190 light years away: with an age of at least 13.2 billion years old, HD 140283 is only slightly younger than the universe, but because it possesses small amounts of heavy elements it is probably a second-generation star (only hydrogen and helium formed immediately after the Big Bang; all other elements heavier than iron were created by supernovae). Meanwhile, Cassini scientists list their top ten discoveries in and around Saturn and its rings and moons, in 2012.

As Kevin Kelly observed in a recent thought-piece, thanks to the panopticon of phone cameras and the internet, the improbable is becoming the new normal.  Kelly, ever the optimistic, thinks this will change us in interesting ways; web pioneer Jaron Lanier thinks the whole Web 2.0 thing may have been a terrible mistake. Even though it links you, instantly, to stuff like this - 2001: A Space Odyssey comics, with space squids.


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