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JP Harvey
Earning the milk money.
Earning the milk money.


Hey all, we should have another Xfac event before it gets wicked hot. What about something in Tivoli Village? Thoughts?

Time for beer!

+Nancy Good So sorry we missed seeing you in Vegas several weeks ago. We ended up buried in my son's competition schedule at the ATA Spring Nationals. :-( One of these days, can Steph and I come visit your studio?

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Play Ingress?  Check these portable chargers out!

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This incredible new poster from Pop Chart Lab details 56 years of space exploration. Over 100 exploratory spacecraft, and hundreds of orbits around planets, moons, comets, and asteroids.

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After a #YearInSpace, astronaut Scott Kelly returns to Earth from the International Space Station on Tuesday. Watch live NASA TV coverage and see all the milstones:

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Gotta love science!
Death of a planet

Mercury is hot.  It orbits the Sun every 88 days.

But in 2012, astronomers using the telescope on NASA's Kepler satellite found a planet called KIC 12557548b that orbits its star once every 16 hours!  And it seems this planet is disintegrating.

The star is  K-type main sequence star, meaning it's a bit smaller and cooler than our Sun.  But the planet's distance from this star is only twice the star's diameter!  So it must be very hot, probably about 2000 °C.  

But why do we think this planet is falling apart?  We know this planet exists only because of how it dims the star when it comes in front of it.  But the amount of dimming varies each time it goes around!  The planet blocks between 0.2% to 1.3% of the star's light.  How are these changes possible?

Another clue is that the dimming is asymmetrical: the star gets dim slowly and then bright more quickly.

The best theory so far is that the planet is evaporating and falling apart, creating a cloud that changes size.  If this cloud has a long tail, as shown here, it would produce asymmetrical dimming.

Scientists love puzzles like this.  In 2013 two astronomers named Daniel Perez-Becker and Eugene Chiang studied this planet, and argued that it is losing mass at a rate of about one-tenth the mass of the Earth per billion years.  We know it's not very heavy, because it's not making the star wiggle detectably.  But Perez-Becker and Chiang argued that actually it's lost most of its initial mass, with only the inner iron core surviving.  

This is their paper:

• Daniel Perez-Becker and Eugene Chiang, Catastrophic evaporation of rocky planets.  Available at

This is another good paper on this planet, with lots of nice graphs:

• T. I. M. van Werkhoven, M. Brogi, I. A. G. Snellen and C. U. Keller, Analysis and interpretation of 15 quarters of Kepler data of the disintegrating planet KIC 12557548 b.  Available at

The picture was made by a NASA artist and appears in the Wikipedia article on this planet:

#spnetwork arXiv:1311.5688 arXiv:1302.2147 #exoplanet #astronomy

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Hacking like there's no tomorrow...

New player to Ingress & resistance in Las Vegas.

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A delicious IPA brewed by a buddy locally at the Beer & Loathing Brewery. Delicious!
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