Kepler Team Announces Discovery of Earth-Sized Planet in Habitable Zone


Since its launch in the spring of 2009, NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has been hunting exoplanets. The holy grail being a planet that is essentially like ours in terms of size, composition, and habitability: an Earth-twin. While we still haven’t found a planet that exactly fits that bill, Kepler has now confirmed the discovery of an Earth-sized exoplanet in its star’s habitable zone. The announcement was made at a press conference and the findings have been published in Science.

Kepler-186f is about 10% larger than Earth and orbits an M dwarf star around 500 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus. The star is about half of the size and mass of our sun, and it takes Kepler-186f about 130 Earth days to complete a revolution. On the outer edge of the star’s habitable zone, the planet receives about a third of the radiation from its parent star as we do from ours.

Life as we know it requires the presence of liquid water, so a planet with the potential for life would be not too close to the star (which would be too hot and the water would be vapor) yet not too far away (where it would be too cold and the water would be ice). Habitability requires a “Goldilocks Zone” where conditions are just right.

“We know of just one planet where life exists — Earth. When we search for life outside our solar system we focus on finding planets with characteristics that mimic that of Earth,” said Elisa Quintana, lead author of the paper. “Finding a habitable zone planet comparable to Earth in size is a major step forward.”

Co-author Thomas Barclay added: “Being in the habitable zone does not mean we know this planet is habitable. The temperature on the planet is strongly dependent on what kind of atmosphere the planet has. Kepler-186f can be thought of as an Earth-cousin rather than an Earth-twin. It has many properties that resemble Earth.”

Determining the composition of planets out in the habitable zone isn’t as easy as those who are incredibly close to the star, because there isn’t as much radiation from the parent star available to determine what is or isn’t getting absorbed. While previous findings have indicated that Kepler-186f is a rocky planet, further analysis must be done before any definitive conclusions can be made.

Fully-animated, feature-length film about the history, technology, regulation and social effects of media


BEWARE OF IMAGES is a feature-length, animated documentary about the history of visual representation. The movie explores the intricate relationship between the technology, regulation and social effects of media.

From cave paintings to video games, BEWARE OF IMAGES will take its audience on a fascinating journey that is insightful, harrowing and hopeful.

The film is divided in 14 chapters, which deal with a variety of interconnected subjects such as: the history of visual language and its application to propaganda, gender and cultural stereotypes, media violence, the emergence of broadcasting technologies, the rise of modern advertising, the commercial takeover of the public airwaves, the consolidation and cultural consequences of media conglomerates, the effects of intellectual property on innovation and creativity, the information economy, Net Neutrality and the future of the open Internet.

See the campaign here

World View


Imagine floating in the immensity of space, gazing at spectacular views of our planet – the curvature of the earth, its biosphere and atmosphere, painted in saturated hues of white, blue and green against the blackness of an infinite cosmos. Now this captivating, transformative experience – once reserved only for astronauts – is a voyage you can take to the frontier of space for a view of our world like none other.

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The War on the Poor and Middle-Class Families (VIDEO)

Most Americans are on a downward escalator. Median household pay is dropping, adjusted for inflation. A smaller share of working-age Americans are in jobs than at any time in the last three decades.

Only 113,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy in January, on top of a paltry 75,000 in December.

We need a new WPA to rebuild the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, a higher minimum wage, strong unions, investments in education, and extended unemployment benefits for those who still can’t find a job. When 95% of the economic gains go to the top 1%, the middle class and poor don’t have the purchasing power to keep it going.

Yet too many still believe in trickle-down economics — that the wealthy are the job creators, and tax cuts for big corporations and the rich will boost the economy. The real job creators are the vast middle class and the poor — when they have enough money in their pockets. That’s the only way out of the vicious cycle we’re now in.


‘NATO 3′ found not guilty of terrorism charges

Defendants in the ‘NATO 3’ trial were found not guilty of terrorism charges on Thursday. The three young men, accused by the state of Illinois of plotting violent acts at the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago, were found guilty on two counts of mob action.

Brian Jacob Church, Brent Betterly and Jared Chase were acquitted of charges including material support for terrorism and conspiracy to commit terrorism.

The defendants were found guilty of two much lesser mob action charges and one count each for possessing an incendiary device to commit arson, which carries the possibility of up to 30 years in prison.

After nearly three weeks of trial proceedings, the jury in the case deliberated for just under eight hours before the verdict was read at around 16:15 CST. Closing arguments lasted around five hours on Thursday.



Tens of Thousands in “Mass Moral March” Pushing back against rightwing legislation

Tens of thousands of people are marching through downtown Raleigh, North Carolina Saturday in what organizers describe as a “Mass Moral March” to push back against rightwing legislation.

The march, also known as the ‘Historic Thousands on Jones Street’, or HKonJ, was organized by the NAACP and its NC president, the Rev. William J. Barber. The NAACP and Barber drew national attention last year for organizing the so-called Moral Monday demonstrations to protest “immoral” legislation enacted by the North Carolina Legislature.

The annual HKonJ march takes place the second Saturday of February and has grown over the years since it started in 2007. Organizers claim partnerships with 150 other groups representing teachers, working families, religious leaders and civil rights advocates.


David Puttnam: What happens when the media’s priority is profit?

In this thoughtful talk, David Puttnam asks a big question about the media: Does it have a moral imperative to create informed citizens, or is it free to pursue profit by any means, just like any other business? His solution for balancing profit and responsibility is bold … and you might not agree. (Filmed at TEDxHousesofParliament.)

After a much-awarded career as a film producer, Lord David Puttnam now works at the intersection of education, media and policy.


Humans Might Be Able to See the Earth’s Magnetic Field, Like Birds Do

Without realizing it, humans might be able to innately detect Earth’s magnetic field, thanks to a compound found in our eyes. Or we may have been able to do so some time in the past.

Plenty of animals are known to be able to perceive geomagnetism, using it to navigate and even to hunt their prey. Proteins called cryptochromes, which exist throughout the plant and animal kingdoms, lend several species this ability. The proteins are related to the circadian rhythms of animals and plants, and recent studies have shown it apparently enables light to serve as a geomagnetic locator.

Electrons in cryptochrome molecules come in entangled pairs, and the Earth’s magnetic field may cause one of the electrons to wobble. A chemical reaction in response to the wayward electron’s altered spin lets birds see magnetic fields in color, according to a theory published last summer.

But as far as researchers thought, cryptochrome doesn’t do much to help us orient ourselves, hence why people have to rely on celestial objects, known landmarks and GPS to figure out which way is north.

But a new study suggests the protein could actually express itself in the retina to help detect geomagnetism. Neuroscientists at the University of Massachusetts took a human version of cryptochrome 2, and inserted it into fruit flies that lacked their own version. The fruit flies’ magnetic perception was restored, as Wired Science reports.

It may not work this way anymore — there are not exactly voluminous reports of humans navigating simply by peering at magnetic field lines — but it could have proved valuable in helping our earliest ancestors navigate, according to researchers who spoke to Wired. Maybe someday researchers will figure out how to exploit this ability once again, and you won’t need that GPS function in your smartphone after all.


Revolutionary Scuba Mask Creates Breathable Oxygen Underwater On Its Own

Designer Jeabyun Yeon has created something great.  Essentially it turns humans into fish.

- It extracts oxygen under water through a filter in the form of fine threads with holes smaller than water molecules.

- This is a technology developed by a Korean scientist that allows us to freely breathe under water for a long time.
- Using a very small but powerful micro compressor, it compresses oxygen and stores the extracted oxygen in storage tank.
- The micro compressor operates through micro battery.
- The micro battery is a next-generation technology with a size 30 times smaller than current battery that can quickly charge 1,000 times faster.” – Yanko Design

With the Triton Oxygen Respirator, it might be possible to breathe beneath the surface of the water as if you were a fish. Requiring no bulky tank to keep your lungs pumping properly, this invention of scuba diving equipment is much more ergonomic and organic in design.

The regulator comprises a plastic mouthpiece that requires you to simply bite down. There are two arms that branch out to the sides of the scuba mask that have been developed to function like the efficient gills of a marine creature. The scaly texture conceals small holes in the material where water is sucked into Jeabyun Yeon’s Triton. Chambers inside separate the oxygen and release the liquid so that you can breath comfortably in the ocean.