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Apr 172014
 

kepler186f_artistconcept_1by Ralph Carr, contributing writer

So, the boys at NASA Ames in Mountain View, California, have found a planet, which is Earth-sized, and on the cool edge of the “Goldilocks” region of the system: the region at which liquid water, if it exists, can be found. The planet, Kepler-186f, as it is fondly known, orbits a class-M dwarf (Red Dwarf) star in the Cygnus (The Swan) constellation, about 500 light years from us.

The thing that has caught the attention of NASA is that it is the first Earth-sized planet to be found in the Goldilocks zone, and although nothing is known yet about the planet’s composition or mass, yet, if it proves to be of Earth-type mass, then it will be big enough to hold its own atmosphere. If Earth conditions were replicated then it would be rather chilly, with the sun at midday, only being equivalent to an hour before sunset here … so exactly the same as mid-summer in Wales! Joking aside, we don’t yet know if 186f has an atmosphere, or what its composition is, if it has one.

Though the planet is potentially habitable, at a distance of 500 light years, Kepler-186f, is out of reach of the human race, with its current technology. At present achievable speeds, (Voyager I reached velocity of 38,000 mph) and an unhindered passage, an Earth ship would take 886,000 years to get there.

When you look at how we behave in close quarters, it is doubtful whether present-day humans could get there sociologically, never mind technologically.

The SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) organization is involved with the Kepler adventure, and the search for ET at home goes on.

To be of real use to the human race, an exo-planet would have to be very close to Earth (less than ten light years), lower on the evolutionary scale (no intelligent life forms), capable of supporting or having vegetation (for renewable oxygen), and myriad other favorable conditions. In addition, Earth energy supplies would have to be a fraction of current prices, to even begin considering colonizing.

So, it seems that even if Kepler-186f were a mirror copy of Earth, our chances of getting there are, with current tech, vanishingly small, and we have no way of enjoying it, but from afar. Still, it stirs the imagination to think of the future possibilities.

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Apr 142014
 

GoogleglassNot, it’s not a typo, and it’s not April Fool’s, either. On Tuesday, April 15, 2014, Google is opening sales of the coveted Google Glass to anyone who is over 18 years old and is a U.S. resident with a U.S. shipping address, and, of course, has $1,500 (plus tax and shipping) to spend. The sales event will be open to the public only on April 15, starting at 9:00 a.m. EDT (6:00 a.m. PDT).

Google Glass posted on their Facebook page, “Over the past several months, we’ve been trying out different ways to expand the Explorer program. Some of you signed up at Google I/O, some told us what you would do #ifihadglass, some were referred by a friend, some joined through their school or university. Our Explorers are moms, bakers, surgeons, rockers, and each new Explorer has brought a new perspective that is making Glass better. But every day we get requests from those of you who haven’t found a way into the program yet, and we want your feedback too. So in typical Explorer Program fashion, we’re trying something new.”

They also note that based on feedback from current Explorers, Glass now comes in different frame styles and colors. And just to whet your appetite, they’ve just posted that Glass now has more photo sharing capabilities,and it now runs on Android KitKat, which offers better battery life and stability, easier updates, and it will be easier for developers to write more apps for it.

So, $1,500 to be a beta tester for what is arguably one of the coolest ideas of a generation. What do you think, Kryptonians? Are getting up early and jumping into the wild world of Google Glass? Let us know in comments!

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Apr 142014
 
Photo courtesy of NASA

Photo courtesy of NASA

by Nur Hussein, contributing writer

When my editor asked me to do an article on today’s “blood moon” eclipse, I joked with her about it heralding the first night of the Cyborg Monkey Uprising of 2014, tongue firmly in cheek.

Jokes aside, there are a few superstitions and legends surrounding eclipses. People from ancient times often thought of it as a sign of an impending apocalypse. A Mongolian myth tells us of a dragon named Arakho who chases the sun and moon, and when he catches either of them an eclipse occurs.

As science fiction and fantasy fans, the term “blood moon” sounds fanciful and ominous and might be good inspiration for poetry or a few good fantasy stories, but in real life an eclipse is just the earth’s shadow passing over the moon.

Tonight’s eclipse will be a total lunar eclipse, which means the moon will pass entirely into the earth’s umbra (if it only passes partially into the umbra, we have a partial eclipse). However, the moon does not completely disappear from sight; some light still gets refracted through the edges of the earth’s atmosphere, rendering the moon a dark, deep red. That’s how it gets the name “blood moon.” There isn’t anything magical about it, every total eclipse gives you one.

Today’s eclipse is the first of a series of four total eclipses that will occur this year and in 2015; the next one is scheduled for October 8th 2013, and then another on April 4th of 2015, and yet another on September 28th 2015. These series of total eclipses is called a tetrad.

Today’s eclipse will be visible throughout the entirety of North and South America. The show begins 1:58 a.m. EDT (April 15) or 10:58 p.m. PDT (April 14) and will last over three and a half hours. If the weather permits, you’ll see the moon turn a deep, blood red by 3 a.m EDT.

So if you’re in the Americas, stay up and watch the skies, and perhaps put on some Creedence Clearwater Revival as in the accompanying video to this article (which has killer space monkeys, an occurrence that is assuredly not going to happen during the eclipse).

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We’d love to see your photos of the blood moon! Tag us on Facebook, Instagram or Tumblr (#kryptonradio), or email us.