Some Japanese researchers did the math on the fate of the billions of tons of rocks and water that were tossed into space when Earth was hit by an asteroid 65M years ago. It turns out that much of that material probably bore life, and it wound up not just on the Moon, but also on on Mars and the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Some of the ejecta (about 1,000 rocks) would have even wound up on an Earth-like planet orbiting a red dwarf star, located 20 light years away. This math tells us that life would only have needed to evolve at 25 sites throughout the Milky Way for these sorts of spores from those planets to have seeded the entire galaxy with life. →
- Boston Globe: Worcester woman’s two-faced cats makes the record books
Two-faced and two-headed cats generally live for days or weeks at the most. "Frank and Louie"—one cat, two faces—is twelve years old now, and is doing just fine. (Other than being not entirely pleasant to look at.)
- Twan van Laarhoven: Finding rectangles
Solving problems like this is my favorite thing to do, as a programmer. Locating a rectangle in an image is a task that could seem conceptually simple, but is actually pretty tricky, especially given the inevitable need to do so efficiently. When broken down thoughtfully, it's entirely logical.
- Technology Review: One-Third of Sun-Like Stars Have Earth-Like Planets In Habitable Zone
That's a lot of habitable planets. We just keep solving more variables in the Drake equation.
- Open: Emphasis Update and Source
The New York Times has a great feature that I'd never noticed—the ability to link to pages with specific content highlighted. It's perfect for calling attention to specific paragraphs or sentences when sharing a link with somebody. It's cleverly implemented, too.
- Time: Why Some Languages Sound So Fast
All languages, when spoken, have basically the same information density. If more meaning is packed into shorter words, its speakers talk more slowly. If it takes them a lot of sounds to get a concept across, they talk quickly.
- NPR: Tracks, Equipment Left By Apollo Missions Visible In New Moon Photos
New photos from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter provide an aerial view of the site of the Apollo 12, 14, and 17 missions. The lunar module, the abandoned lunar rover, and astronauts' tracks across the surface are all visible.
- Snopes: Obama Lends $2 Billion to Brazilian Oil Company
Heard the one about how the President Obama is spending billions on offshore drilling…in Brazil? Snopes rates it “mostly false.” This is another case of conservatives getting riled up about something that's not true and dates from President Bush's time in the White House.
- ThinkProgress: Exxon Makes $30.5 Billion, So GOP Votes Unanimously To Give Them Tax Breaks
All the Republicans and 7 Democrats in the House voted to block a bill that would cut $1.8B in annual subsidies to the oil industry. Republicans voted unanimously to keep them in March, too. Remember, kids: welfare is bad, unless it's going to the world's most profitable industry.
- NASA: Results of Epic Space-Time Experiment
I love theoretical physics. Albert Einstein came up with all of these ideas about how space and time should work, based solely on doing math on paper, and as science catches up with him, we keep finding that he's right. In this case, Einstein forecast that mass should curve spacetime. For instance, the mass of Earth should cause the very fabric of the universe to twist and warp around it. By launching some gyroscopes into space seven years ago—containing the most perfect spheres ever made—and observing how their spin drifts, it was observed that Einstein's calculations were spot-on. NASA's work on the project began 47 years ago, culminating in this magnificent confirmation of how the universe works.
Ice on Mars. Or, at least, something frozen and white found underground that melted when exposed to the sun. If this is, as it appears to be, H2O, then there has got to be life on Mars.
Oodles of photos of the shuttle being prepped for launch. I want to see how the liquid fuel tanks are recovered.