New periodic table sorts 3,700 known exoplanets into 18 categories

November 17, 2017 by  
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A new Periodic Table of Exoplanets guides scientists and science fans alike through over 3,700 known exoplanets, including those that may host life . To organize the thousands of worlds identified since the first exoplanet was discovered in 1992, astronomer Abel Méndez? of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico created a chart that sorts the exoplanets into 18 distinct categories. “We know of over 3,700 planets around other stars. They are very diverse,” Méndez? said in an interview with Gizmodo . “We can roughly classify them by their size and temperature. Only warm planets with the right size, similar to Earth, might provide some of the conditions for extraterrestrial life.” At the most general level, exoplanets , or planets beyond our solar system, are categorized based on distance from the star around which they orbit and their temperature. This places them in one of three zones: Hot Zone, Warm Zone, or Cold Zone. The exoplanets are also distinguished by size and composition (rocky “terran” planets vs. gas giants like Neptune and Jupiter ). As in the actual periodic table, each exoplanet category has a number assigned to it, which indicates how many of a particular kind of planet have been discovered. Related: Scientists discover new Earth-like planet only 11 light years away According to the Periodic Table of Exoplanets, there are 53 known exoplanets with the appropriate size, temperature and features such as liquid water and a stable atmosphere to potentially host life as we know it. “Unfortunately, we don’t know yet if they also have the right amount of water (e.g. oceans ) or the right atmosphere for life too,” said Méndez?. As for the disproportionate number of hot planets on the Table, Méndez? explained that this is due to the relative ease of discovery for hot planets and not necessarily because there are more of them. At the top right corner of the Table, a chart indicates the number of stellar systems and the number of known exoplanets for each system. To Méndez, the possibilities are endless. “I’m overwhelmed by the number and diversity of planets in the stars around us. So many places to explore in our own Solar System , but much more is waiting for us beyond,” Méndez? told Gizmodo . “I won’t be very surprised by another planet with life, Earth is the example that this is possible. I will be more surprised by something we haven’t seen before.” Via Gizmodo Images via  Planetary Habitability Laboratory/University of Puerto Rico at Aricebo and NASA

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New periodic table sorts 3,700 known exoplanets into 18 categories

This solar-powered floating farm combines agriculture and dining under one roof

November 17, 2017 by  
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As urban farming becomes increasingly popular, people are finding new, unexpected ways of incorporating agriculture into cities. From rooftops and community gardens, urban farming has descended to waterways and lakes – as in this solar-powered floating farm that doubles as a restaurant. Lotus is designed to grow fresh produce with a vertical hydroponic garden and then serve it in indoor and outdoor dining areas where visitors can enjoy waterside views and learn more about the production of the food. Lotus is a future-oriented farming system that aims to solve problems relating to the production, sale and distribution of crops and produce in urban areas. Its design also addresses the issue of global warming exacerbated by increased emissions of methane and carbon dioxide. Related: Could solar-powered floating farms provide enough food for the entire world? Designers Taeung Kim, Sunae Shin, Sungho An, Seungjun Lee & Mirae Park conceived the structure for client HYDROKOREA, and they were recognized by this year’s K-Design Award – an international design contest held by DESIGNSORI . Via Yanko Design

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This solar-powered floating farm combines agriculture and dining under one roof

Scientists discover new Earth-like planet only 11 light years away

November 15, 2017 by  
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Scientists have discovered an Earth-like planet only 11 light years away that may support life. Named after the star around which it orbits, Ross 128b was identified by a team of researchers at the European Southern Observatory as having a projected mass of 1.35 times that of Earth and may have surface temperatures suitable for sustaining life as we know it . Although scientists are withholding their judgement as to whether the planet is habitable, they are nonetheless encouraged by positive signs they have observed thus far. Although Ross 128b is currently 11 light years away, it is moving in Earth’s direction. Within 79,000 years, a blip on the cosmic timeline, Ross 128b will become Earth’s closest Earth-like neighbor, dethroning the current titleholder, Proxima Centauri b. Ross 128b was discovered after European scientists made 157 observations of Ross 128 while working at the HARPS spectrograph in Chile . Through these observations of the star , HARPS was able to confirm Ross 128b’s orbit of 9.9 days, meaning that it is 20 times closer to its star than Earth is to the sun. Related: Scientists say ice may fizz and bubble like champagne when floating in outer space Ross 128b could boast surface temperatures as low as -76 degrees F or as high as 69 degrees F. “It is probably preferable to refer to Ross 128 b as a temperate planet,” wrote the study’s authors . Its proximity to a small star is encouraging for scientists who seek more Earth-like planets, as it is easier to detect these planets near M dwarf stars like Ross 128. “They’re literally all over the place,” said Emily Rice, research associate in astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History, in an interview with Gizmodo . “It’s so much parameter space that we haven’t explored, like the size of these stars and the size of these planets . You don’t just want one. You want a bunch of them to figure out the general properties of these things.” Via Gizmodo Images via  ESO/M. Kornmesser (1)

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Scientists discover new Earth-like planet only 11 light years away

Kepler data reveals 20 potential habitable worlds

November 2, 2017 by  
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Many people once thought Earth was unique in outer space in its ability to support life. Recent discoveries could shatter that notion, like one new analysis of information from the Kepler Space Telescope . An international team led by Susan Thompson of the SETI Institute has discovered there might be 20 worlds where life could dwell. There could be as many as 20 habitable planets in space , according to this new discovery. One of the most promising worlds is KOI-7923.01. It’s 97 percent Earth’s size, and has a year comprised of 395 days. It is a bit colder than Earth – think more tundra and less tropical island – but it is warm enough, and it’s big enough to hold liquid water so crucial for life. Jeff Coughlin of the NASA Ames Research Center told New Scientist, “If you had to choose one to send a spacecraft to, it’s not a bad option.” Related: First hints of water detected on Earth-sized TRAPPIST-1 planets Many of the habitable worlds orbit stars similar to the sun. The star KOI-7923.01 orbits is a little colder than the sun, and that fact together with the exoplanet’s distance away makes KOI-7923.01 cooler than Earth. The time to complete an orbit varies among the potentially habitable worlds – at 395 days, KOI-7923.01 takes the longest. Some of the worlds finish an orbit in mere Earth weeks, or months. The quickest orbit is just 18 Earth days. Coughlin told New Scientist his team is around 70 to 80 percent sure these habitable worlds are solid candidates – they’ll need to confirm their hunch with further observations, such as from the Hubble Space Telescope or ground-based observatories. The original Kepler mission unearthed the planets, but it gazed at the same part of the sky for just four years until its reaction wheels broke, hindering its aiming ability. That means we’ve only glimpsed the planets just once or twice, and, according to New Scientist , the signals could be wobbly. The scientists recently submitted their research to a journal in the middle of October. Via New Scientist Images via NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle and NASA/W. Stenzel

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Kepler data reveals 20 potential habitable worlds

Dead rabbits found at Iowa wind farm likely used to lure and kill eagles

November 2, 2017 by  
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In a story that may have come  two days late , a local landowner-farmer in Delaware County, Iowa was shocked to discover over a dozen deceased rabbits, each with their necks broken, scattered beneath wind turbines on their land. The land is leased by RPM Access, a company that owns several wind farms throughout the state. “I don’t understand who would do something like this? I really don’t,” said Linda Slobodnik, an environmental consultant for RPM Access, according to KWWL News . Slobodnik, who has stated that this act of violence is the most disturbing incident she has seen in her 10 years in the wind industry, believes the rabbits were used to lure in eagles or other birds to the turbines, likely to kill them as well. Why would someone seek to lure and kill eagles, using dead rabbits as bait? “There are a lot of anti-wind people. At this time, we are looking at new places for projects, and I am thinking that possibly someone would like us to not build another wind farm in the area,” said Slobodnik. “I think there is a lot of people who will speak against the wind turbines. I think a lot of what they do is out of ignorance,” said RPM Access Project Manager, Kevin Lehs, according to KWWL News . Despite some local resistance, Iowa has made enormous progress towards a clean energy economy, primarily through wind power , which provided more than 36 percent of all electricity used in 2016. As it stands, Iowa is the most wind-powered state in the United States . Related: The world’s first floating wind farm just switched online Although the dead rabbits were deliberately placed, it is true that wind turbines can kill local wildlife. It is estimated that 300,000 birds are killed by wind turbines each year. That may sound like a lot, but it’s important to see these numbers in context. Wind power kills 1/15th the number of birds that fossil-fuel generated power does each year. Glass buildings in cities are also frequent bird killers. And, of course, outdoor and feral cats kill hundreds of millions of birds annually. Via Elektrek and KWWL News Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Dead rabbits found at Iowa wind farm likely used to lure and kill eagles

Scientists observe ‘diamond rain’ similar to that found on icy giant planets

August 24, 2017 by  
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You may have heard that icy planets like Neptune and Uranus experience diamond rain. But now, scientists have been able to mimic conditions of those planets and observe diamond rain at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California. Since it’s difficult for us at this point to directly observe the interiors of these planets, such research could help scientists better understand and classify worlds. For a long time, scientists have hypothesized that diamond rain arises over 5,000 miles below the surface of planets like Neptune and Uranus. In this recent experiment, a group of researchers simulated the conditions of these planets “by creating shock waves in plastic with an intense optical laser ” in the laboratory , according to a recent press release. They were able to observe that almost every carbon atom of the plastic was incorporated into diamond structures. The diamonds were tiny – only around a few nanometers wide – but on Uranus and Neptune, the researchers think the falling diamonds could weigh millions of carats. Related: Mysterious object near Neptune just made space a lot weirder Study lead author Dominik Kraus of research center Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf said in a statement, “We can’t go inside the planets and look at them, so these laboratory experiments complement satellite and telescope observations.” The scientists think diamond rain could produce an energy source, generating heat as it falls. Beyond observing a neat phenomenon, the experiment could help scientists learn about how elements mix together under pressure in the interiors of planets, providing them with more information on a planet’s defining features. These researchers plan to apply their methods to study the processes of other planets as well. Nature Astronomy published the study online this week. 23 scientists of institutions in Germany, Japan, the United States, and the United Kingdom contributed to the research. Via SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory Images via Greg Stewart/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

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Scientists observe ‘diamond rain’ similar to that found on icy giant planets

Fly down a zipline in the Willy Wonka-esque Future Forest in London

August 24, 2017 by  
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Bompas & Parr are like real-life Willy Wonkas—and they brought their magic touch to the inside of a UK shopping mall. The design duo launched a free ‘Future Forest’ in the Westfield London shopping center with the theme of urban reforestation. The immersive experience is an incredible indoor forest playground with a fantastical Fruit Cloud, electricity-producing plants, a historic tree circus, and even a 40-meter-long zip-line that starts atop a 5.3-meter-high treehouse. The Future Forest is envisioned as rural escapism in the concrete jungle that promotes relaxation, health, and wellness as well as environmental awareness . “Imagining how we can co-exist in nature is one of the key challenges facing our collective future, where we face increased urban populations while climate change and pollution threatens the stability of the natural world,” says Harry Parr, Director of Bompas & Parr. “We’ve tried to bring to life these concerns in a fun and interactive way that conveys important messages and delivers big on the fun factor too. What better way to engage young people in the future of our urban environment than by zorbing through Westfield or experiencing the fruit cloud?” Related: London to Launch Edible Fireworks Display to Ring in the New Year! The temporary nature-inspired installation first popped up earlier this summer at Westfield Stratford City and has now moved to Westfield London , where it will stay until August 28. The move to Westfield also comes with the new addition of the Adventure Zip-Line that offers an exhilarating 40-meter descent front the top of a treehouse . It is the only indoor zip-line in the UK, and free to the public. A Fruit Cloud that immerses visitors in a breathable aromatic cloud with regularly changing flavors, as well as other inspiring installations, complements the zip-line. + Bompas & Parr Images © Ann Charlott Ommedal and Bompas & Parr

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Fly down a zipline in the Willy Wonka-esque Future Forest in London

A wave of buckets hijacks public space in Mexico City

August 24, 2017 by  
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How much fun can you have with paint buckets? The designers at Factor Eficiencia and 5468796 Architecture prove that objects as mundane as paint buckets can be transformed into a vibrant public space with the power of creative thinking. The interactive installation, called ‘One Bucket at a Time,’ is a wave-shaped space with seating developed for MEXTROPOLI 2017, a four-day architecture festival in Mexico City. Mexico City is one of the largest cities in the world with a population of over 20 million. Unsurprisingly, traffic is a nightmare in the city as is the shortage of available parking. To capitalize on the situation, thousands of “viene viene” entrepreneurs swarm the city streets, using painter’s buckets to claim a piece of the street in order to charge drivers a fee in exchange for parking in the illegally claimed spot. Inspired by this hijacking of public (parking) space, Factor Eficiencia and 5468796 Architecture created One Bucket at a Time, a pop-up installation made from paint buckets. Related: Giant animal faces take over Mexico City’s forest for environmental awareness Curled up on the edges, the wave-like pavilion is created with a grid of ropes that form the underlying structure. The attached buckets are strong enough to withstand the weigh of visitors who walk, run, and play on its modular surface. Overturned buckets are also used as seating around the installation. “By using buckets—a symbol of holding the public space hostage—we are highlighting and questioning this pervasive condition, and also empowering people of Mexico City to reclaim ownership of their public space, one bucket at a time, even if only for a few days,” wrote the designers. + Factor Eficiencia + 5468796 Architecture Via Contemporist Images by Jaime Navarro

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A wave of buckets hijacks public space in Mexico City

New research shows there may be 10 planets in our solar system

June 23, 2017 by  
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Don’t get your hopes up – scientists aren’t making Pluto a planet again just yet. But the number of possible planets that we haven’t discovered was recently bumped up to two. Last fall researchers published a study on the mysterious Planet Nine , which could explain the unusual tilt of the sun. Now University of Arizona (UA) scientists think they may have found evidence for yet another planetary mass object – and it could be closer than Planet Nine. Planet Nine – which scientists think might be 10 times Earth’s mass – could be lurking out past Pluto’s orbit. But Planet Nine might not be all we’ve missed in our solar system . Kat Volk and Renu Malhotra of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at UA think they’ve found an unknown planet that’s between the mass of Earth and Mars. What gave this potential planet away was the fact it could be controlling the orbital planes of Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) – a group of space rocks. Related: New research suggests an unseen 9th planet may be tilting the solar system In the Kuiper Belt, the furthest away of the KBOs don’t orbit the sun with orbital tilts scientists would expect. Instead, they’re tilted away by around eight degrees, suggesting a mysterious something might be warping their orbital planes. Volk, lead author on a study slated for publication in the Astronomical Journal , said in a statement, “The most likely explanation for our results is that there is some unseen mass. According to our calculations, something as massive as Mars would be needed to cause the warp that we measured.” Why haven’t we yet stumbled across this potentially rather large planet? Volk and Malhotra say we haven’t searched the whole sky for distant objects in the solar system – Planet 10 may have been hiding among the densely packed galactic plane. We might catch a glimpse of Planet 10 when the construction of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope – an instrument operated by a consortium including UA – is completed, possibly in 2020. Via Futurism and the University of Arizona Images via Heather Roper/LPL

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New research shows there may be 10 planets in our solar system

Solar-powered Cloverdale house is made of reclaimed wood from a 1970s kit home

June 23, 2017 by  
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This solar-powered home in Cloverdale, California was built using reclaimed wood from an existing 1970s kit log home. Turnbull Griffin Haesloop Architects utilized existing site elements to create the new 2150-square-foot house with minimal impact on the environment. The owners of the property commissioned the architects to design a sustainable home that’s easy to use and doesn’t disrupt its natural surroundings. Inspired by traditional screened porches , the architects designed a screened-in living space and included the porch in the body of the house as an entry to the guest bedrooms. This double role of the porch reduced the need for circulation and helped keep the footprint of the house to it minimum . Related: Kentfield Hillside Residence Rises Under a Green Roof North of San Francisco A solar array installed on the south-facing roof, along with solar hot water panels, provide enough power to meet most of the energy requirements of the house. PV-powered heat pumps provide radiant heating or cooling, depending on the weather conditions and seasonal needs. In order to reduce construction costs, the architects reused the wood of the original kit log house as decking, interior and exterior wood paneling. + Turnbull Griffin Haesloop Architects Via Dwell Photos by Matthew Millman

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Solar-powered Cloverdale house is made of reclaimed wood from a 1970s kit home

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