Extreme Exoplanets & Language | SciByte 52

Extreme Exoplanets & Language | SciByte 52

We take a look at extreme exoplanets, saving languages, the 50 gigapixel camera, a positive work environment, medical diagnostic tools, Spacecraft updates, and as always take a peek back into history and up in the sky this week.

Direct Download:

MP3 Download | Ogg Download | Video | YouTube

RSS Feeds:

MP3 Feed | Ogg Feed | iTunes Feed | Video Feed

Support the Show:


No SciByte next week, July 3rd

Extreme exoplanet discoveries

You Tube Channel pacargile | Credit: NASA; Frank Melchior

  • Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope (KELT) North
  • – Telescope
  • Roughly as powerful as a high-end digital camera, making it slightly more diminutive than Kepler
  • KELT North scans the northern sky from Arizona
  • KELT South covers the southern sky from Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Rather than staring at a small group of stars at high resolution, the twin KELT North and KELT South telescopes observe millions of very bright stars at low resolution
  • The small ground-based KELT telescopes provide a low-cost alternative for exoplanet hunters by primarily using off-the-shelf technology. The hardware for a KELT telescope costs less than $75,000
  • – KELT–1b
  • Located approximately 825 light-years away in the constellation of Andromeda
  • Mostly metallic hydrogen, is slightly larger than Jupiter, but contains a whopping 27 times the mass
  • It tentatively been classed as a brown dwarf due to its mass
  • Completes one orbit in a mere 29 hours
  • Surface temperature is likely above 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit (~ 2,200 degrees Celsius)
  • Receiving 6,000 times the amount of radiation that Earth receives from the sun
  • – Kelt–2Ab
  • Located about 360 light-years away in the constellation of Auriga
  • 30 percent larger than Jupiter with 50 percent more mass.
  • KELT–2Ab’s parent star is so bright it can be seen from Earth through binoculars and is slightly bigger than the sun, within a binary system
  • One star is slightly bigger than our sun, and the other star is slightly smaller. KELT–2Ab orbits the bigger star, which is bright enough to be seen from Earth with binoculars
  • The star is so luminous that researchers will be able to make direct observations of the planet’s atmosphere by examining light that shines through it when the star passes within KELT North’s field of view again in November.
  • Follow-up observations are also being planned from both ground based and orbiting observatories including the Hubble Space Telescope and the infrared Spitzer Space Telescope.
  • Closely Orbiting Planets
  • Astronomers have discovered two alien planets around the same star, 200 light-years from Earth, whose orbits come so close together that each rises in the night sky of its sister world
  • This means they are closer than any other pair of planets known, and are about 20 times closer together than any two planets in our solar system
  • At their closest approach, the two planets are roughly three times closer to their host star than Mercury
  • The two planets meet up every 97 days in a conjunction that would make each dramatically visible in the other’s sky.
  • While they are as different in density as Earth and Saturn they are separated by five times the distance between the Earth and the moon [1.2 million miles/1.9 million kilometers]
  • The larger planet is pushing the smaller planet around more, so the smaller planet was harder to find
  • The timing of their orbits means they’ll never collide
  • – Kepler 36a
  • A star likely a bit hotter than our star
  • Several billion years older than our Sun, and at this time is known to have just two planets
  • – Kepler–36b
  • Has an orbit of about 14 days and sits about 11 million miles (18 million km) from the star.
  • Kepler–36b, appears to be a rocky “super-Earth” 4.5 times as massive as our planet
  • Probably has lava flows on its surface
  • A super-Earth just 1.5 times wider than our planet. Iron likely constitutes about 30 percent of its mass, water around 15 percent and atmospheric hydrogen and helium less than 1 percent
  • Probably formed relatively close to the star
  • – Kepler–36c
  • Has an orbit of about 16 days, at an average distance of 12 million miles (19 million km)
  • A gaseous, Neptune-size world about eight times as massive as Earth
  • About 3.7 times wider than Earth, likely has a rocky core surrounded by a substantial atmosphere filled with lots of hydrogen and helium
  • Likely took shape farther out
  • Multimedia
  • YouTube : KELT–2Ab Discovery Light Curve | pacargile
  • YouTube : KELT–1 LC| pacargile
  • Twitter Image : The orbit of the exoplanets Kepler–36 b and c | @ExoplanetApp
  • Twitter Image : Kepler–36a/b are 20 times more closely spaced than any adjacent planets in the Solar System! | @ExoplanetApp
  • Social Media
  • Exoplanet App ‏ @ExoplanetApp
  • NASA Kepler ‏ @NASAKepler
  • Spitzer Telescope ‏ @SpitzerScope
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Planetrise: Astronomers spy two planets in tight quarters as they orbit a distant star | [phys.org]
  • What a View! Exoplanet Odd Couple Orbit in Close Proximity | UniverseToday.com
  • Odd Alien Planets So Close Together They See ‘Planetrise’ | Space.com
  • ‘Weird’ Alien Planets Found by Small Telescope | Space.com


50 Gigapixel Mega Camera

  • The low down
  • Traditionally, one way of making better optics has been to add more glass elements, which increases complexity
  • Researchers have developed a prototype “supercamera” that stitches together images from 98 individual cameras to create a 960-million-pixel image
  • Significance
  • This camera captures up to 50 gigapixels of data, which is 50,000 megapixels, while most consumer cameras range from 8 to 40 megapixels
  • The resolution of this camera, five times better than 20/20 human vision, have enough resolution to spot a 3.8-centimeter-wide object 1 kilometer away
  • The prototype camera itself is two-and-half feet square and 20 inches deep, with only about 3% of the camera is made of the optical elements
  • The camera is so large now because of the electronic control boards and the need to add components to keep it from overheating
  • Other camera systems can generate gigapixel-and-larger images, those composite views are stitched together from individual images taken sequentially with one camera as it is panned across the scene
  • This new system takes all 98 images simultaneously, providing a “stop action” view of a scene, with some overlap
  • Of Note
  • Researchers believe that within five years, gigapixel cameras should be available to the general public
  • The camera is being developed by Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering, University of Arizona, University of California, and Distant Focus Corp
  • Multimedia
  • Credit: Duke University Imaging and Spectroscopy Program
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • ScienceShot: Get Ready for Gigapixels | new.ScienceMag.org
  • Engineers build 50 gigapixel camera | phys.org


Words heard round the world

YouTube Channel : endangeredlanguages

  • The low down
  • Only half of the approximately 7,000 languages spoken today are expected to survive past the end of this century
  • Wed, June 21 Google introduced an Endangered Languages Project website where people can find, share, and store information about dialects in danger of disappearing.
  • Significance
  • Endangeredlanguages.com is designed to let users upload video, audio, or text files and encourages them to memorialize recordings of rare dialects.
  • A range of collaborators have already begun to contribute content ranging from 18th-century manuscripts to modern teaching tools like video and audio language samples and knowledge-sharing articles
  • Technology can strengthen these efforts, by helping people create high-quality recordings of their elders (often the last speakers of a language)
  • Of Note
  • Google’s philanthropic arm seeded the project, leadership of which will be ceded in coming months to the First People’s Cultural Council and the Institute for Language Information and Technology at Eastern Michigan University.
  • Endangered Languages Catalog (ELCat), is sponsored by the University of Hawaii, will also be contributing to the project.
  • Multimedia
  • YouTube : Introducing the Endangered Languages Project | endangeredlanguages
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Endangeredlanguages.com
  • Google sets out to save dying languages | phys.org

A win for a positive work environment

  • The low down
  • A new study challenges previous research that says the threat of penalty is more effective for getting increased effort
  • Significance
  • A scientific experiment in which participants played the role of supervisor and employee
  • Some employees were subjected to a bonus program implemented by the supervisor, others worked under a penalty system.
  • Employees subjected to the bonus exhibited more effort and this was driven by greater trust in the supervisor
  • Those subjected to penalties tend to distrust the supervisor and, because of that, work less hard
  • Of Note
  • This study is the first to identify this trust factor.
  • This suggests that employees who receive bonuses for their efforts will work even harder, increasing productivity and potentially bolstering profits
  • Examples of penalties in the business world include pay reduction, demotion and sanction or other disciplinary action, such as a salesperson with lower performance getting less territory to work.
  • Multimedia
  • Credit: Michigan State University
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Carrots, not sticks, motivate workers | phys.org

A possible new diagnostic tool for Parkinson’s Disease

  • The low down
  • Parkinson’s is a degenerative disease that slowly rob those afflicted of their faculties
  • Currently there is no blood test for the disease
  • Some notable people that have it are Michael J. Fox, Muhammad Ali, Andy Grove (one of the founders of chip maker Intel)
  • Mathematician Max Little has found a computer program he’s devised, is remarkably good at diagnosing the disease by analyzing voice alone.
  • Working on his PhD at Oxford applying math algorithms to voice disorders
  • During his work he found a repository of vocal recordings by Parkinson’s patients
  • The recordings were meant to be used as anecdotal testimony to help researchers learn more about the progression of the disease
  • Comparing 50 patient voices to non-afflicted people he found he was able to detect which voices belonged to those with the disease in 86% of cases
  • To increase the number of voices in the system Little has set up a website with phone numbers for people, both affected and not, to call in and leave a voice message to add to the database
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Parkinson’s Voice Initiative
  • Mathematician develops vocal method of testing for Parkinson’s disease | MedicalXPress


The Shuttle Enterprise’s Tent

  • Last time on SciByte
  • SciByte 50 | Dinosaurs & Neutrinos : Shuttle Enterprise’s last landing
  • Significance
  • Two weeks after arriving on top of the aircraft carrier-turned-Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City, Enterprise is now underneath the inflatable canopy that will house its public display.
  • On Tuesday (June 19) Enterprise was covered by an opaque-white fabric shelter to protect it from exposure to the elements and to meet NASA’s display requirements for a climate-controlled facility
  • Some final work configuring the canopy is still underway however, including the removal of scaffolding that supported the fabric being raised, which led to it being deflated again.
  • The now pressurized enclosure extends over Enterprise’s tail, which tops out at 57 feet (17 meters) high, and beyond the shuttle’s 78-foot (24-meter) wingspan.
  • It occupies the rear of the Intrepid’s flight deck with the shuttle’s nose pointed out toward the Hudson River
  • The display is set to open to the public on July 19 when visitors will get the chance to closely view and circle around the prototype winged orbiter
  • Of Note
  • The location for the permanent Enterprise exhibit is still to be decided.
  • Intrepid officials have said that they are considering locations across the street from where the aircraft carrier is docked and also alongside the museum on the pier.
  • Multimedia
  • Credit: Intrepid/Earthcam
  • Social Media
  • Intrepid Museum @IntrepidMuseum
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Shuttle Enterprise Lands on the Deck of Intrepid in Manhattan
  • Space shuttle ‘grazes’ wing in final river voyage

New SpaceX Competition

Want to know more about the space station? There’s an app for that

  • The low down
  • NASA has created a free app for smartphones and tablet computers
  • Users can navigate through a realistic 3-D recreation of the station’s flight control room in Houston
  • Space Station data, including temperatures and work timelines for each of the six crew members living on board
  • It also shows where the space station is in orbit, as relative to the real positions of the Earth, moon and Sun.
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Space Station Live!
  • collectSpace
  • Space Station Live! NASA App Puts Orbiting Lab at Your Fingertips | Space.com


Looking back

  • June 30, 1908 : 104 years ago : Tunguska Meteorite
  • At around 7:15 am, northwest of Lake Baikal, Russia, a huge fireball nearly as bright as the Sun was seen crossing the sky. Minutes later, there was a huge flash and a shock wave felt up to 650 km (400 mi) away. Over Tunguska, a meteorite over 50-m diameter, travelling at over 25 km per second (60,000 mph) penetrate Earth’s atmosphere, heated to about 10,000 ºC and detonated 6 to10 km above the ground. The blast released the energy of 10–50 Megatons of TNT, destroying 2,200 sq km of forest leaving no trace of life. Taurid Meteor storm that crosses Earth’s orbit twice a year. The first scientific expedition for which records survive was made by Russian mineralogist Leonid Kulik in 1927
  • In 1938, Kulik arranged for an aerial photographic survey of the area covering the central part of the leveled forest (some 250 square kilometres [97 sq mi]). The negatives of these aerial photographs (1,500 negatives, each 18 × 18 cm or 7.1 x 7.1 in) were burned in 1975 by order of Yevgeny Krinov, then Chairman of the Committee on Meteorites of the USSR Academy of Sciences. Tunguska event | Wikipedia

Looking up this week

Question? Comments? Contact us here!