Steve Ballmer Reboots
With the stock hung for 10 years, no one thought to reboot Ballmer until now?!
Very much more serious is the role of Joseph Ratzinger, before the church decided to make him supreme leader, in obstructing justice on a global scale. After his promotion to cardinal, he was put in charge of the so-called “Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith” (formerly known as the Inquisition). In 2001, Pope John Paul II placed this department in charge of the investigation of child rape and torture by Catholic priests. In May of that year, Ratzinger issued a confidential letter to every bishop. In it, he reminded them of the extreme gravity of a certain crime. But that crime was the reporting of the rape and torture. The accusations, intoned Ratzinger, were only treatable within the church’s own exclusive jurisdiction. Any sharing of the evidence with legal authorities or the press was utterly forbidden. Charges were to be investigated “in the most secretive way … restrained by a perpetual silence … and everyone … is to observe the strictest secret which is commonly regarded as a secret of the Holy Office … under the penalty of excommunication.” (My italics). Nobody has yet been excommunicated for the rape and torture of children, but exposing the offense could get you into serious trouble. And this is the church that warns us against moral relativism! (See, for more on this appalling document, two reports in the London Observer of April 24, 2005, by Jamie Doward.)
Astronomers using data from NASA’s Kepler mission have discovered the three smallest planets yet detected orbiting a star beyond our sun. The planets orbit a single star, called KOI-961, and are 0.78, 0.73 and 0.57 times the radius of Earth. The smallest is about the size of Mars.
The three planets are very close to their star, taking less than two days to orbit around it. The KOI-961 star is a red dwarf with a diameter one-sixth that of our sun, making it just 70 percent bigger than Jupiter.
The method by which the first exoplanets were ever detected was through a phenomenon known as stellar wobble.
So what sort of exoplanets are you most likely to detect using this method? The ones that are most massive and closest to their star, because the closer they are, the more quickly they orbit!
In other words, we didn’t find these “Hot Jupiters” because they’re so common and we’re so rare, we found them because those are the easiest things to see! In fact, the idea that we see more of the things that are easier to see has been around in astronomy since 1922, and is known as Malmquist bias.
So fast forward to today, where we’ve got a much better, more successful way to find exoplanets than by this “primitive” wobble method.
Using the transit method, our most sophisticated planet-finding spacecraft, Kepler, has found thousands of planets, compared to the dozens that were found with the wobble method. When an exoplanet passes in between our line-of-sight and its parent star, it blocks some portion of the star’s light. This temporary “dip” in the brightness of a distant star is how we can detect a planetary transit, and hence infer the existence of an exoplanet.
So, think about it for a minute: what types of planets will we be most likely to see? Which ones will be the easiest to see and verify? Well, that would be
→ the biggest ones, because they’ll block the most light and be the most noticeable,
→ the innermost ones, because they’ll be most likely to transit in our line-of-sight to the star, and
→ the ones that orbit the fastest, because it takes multiple transits to confirm that this is, in fact, an exoplanet rather than just a rogue object or stellar fluctuation.
In other words, the types of planets its most likely to find are large inner planets: super-Earths!
Any guesses, mind you, as to what the theoretical limit of how small a planet Kepler could possibly detect, at the very limit of its power?
Did you guess something just barely smaller than Earth, and only then if it’s mind-bogglingly close to a star that’s significantly smaller than our Sun?
So don’t be surprised at all the super-Earths so far, the smaller planets are just harder to see, and we’re only starting to get there. By time the next generation of planet-finding telescope comes along, we’re going to be rolling in Earths and mini-Earths, just you wait!
It’s one thing for Google to tightly integrate their own social network with their web search results, using their monopoly (or, if you prefer, monopsony) to give Google Plus a significant competitive advantage over Facebook and Twitter. Some see this as anticompetitive behavior; others see this as good clean competitive hardball. Are they unfairly abusing a monopoly, or fairly using their best strength to their own advantage? That’s up for debate.
But to deny that they’re doing it at all? It defies belief.
I honestly don’t know what’s worse: if Google is so institutionally delusional that they actually believe this isn’t giving Google Plus a tremendous advantage (fair or unfair) over every other social network in the world, or if Google thinks so poorly of everyone outside the company that they think anyone is actually going to buy this line of bullshit. The best case scenario for Google is that Eric Schmidt, in his new role as chairman, has turned into a loose cannon who should just shut the fuck up.