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Space Earth

Strange New World Discovered: The "Mega Earth" 147

Posted by samzenpus
from the thing-that-should-not-be dept.
astroengine (1577233) writes "Meet 'mega-Earth' a souped-up, all-solid planet that, according to theory, should not exist. First spotted by NASA's Kepler space telescope, the planet is about 2.3 times larger than Earth. Computer models show planets that big would be more like Neptune or the other gas planets of the outer solar system since they would have the gravitational heft to collect vast amounts of hydrogen and helium from their primordial cradles. But follow-up observations of the planet, designated as Kepler-10c, show it has 17 times as much mass as Earth, meaning it must be filled with rock and other materials much heavier than hydrogen and helium. 'Kepler-10c is a big problem for the theory,' astronomer Dimitar Sasselov, director of the Harvard Origins of Life Initiative, told Discovery News. 'It's nice that we have a solid piece of evidence and measurements for it because that gives motivations to the theorists to improve the theory,' he said."
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Strange New World Discovered: The "Mega Earth"

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  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Monday June 02, 2014 @05:44PM (#47149995)
    "2.3 times larger" is grossly ambiguous in at least 2 different ways:

    Until we read further, we are left to guess whether that means 2.3 times the diameter, 2.3 times the volume, or what. A few sentences later they clarify a bit, but it's still sloppy writing.

    Second, "times larger" is ambiguous in English. If Earth has diameter 1, then a diameter 2.3 times as large would be 2.3. Technically, a diameter 2.3 times larger would be 3.3 (1 + 2.3).

    Call that nitpicking if you want, but it's still sloppy writing.
  • by HeckRuler (1369601) on Monday June 02, 2014 @05:49PM (#47150037)

    The galaxies are ACCELERATING away from each other, and we don't have a real solid answer for why.
    Cosmology, the study of where all these planets and stuff came from and how, is still a young field with really big and really interesting discoveries yet to be made.

    For all of those people claiming that there's nothing new to discover, point them to the stars and ask how the hell that happened.

    And the state of the art is getting to the point where we don't need placeholders to conveniently fill in the gaps.

    Exciting times.

  • by Arker (91948) on Monday June 02, 2014 @05:55PM (#47150095) Homepage
    "The second one is not at all ambiguous. "2.3 times larger" means "multiply how large the first thing is by 2.3" to absolutely anyone."

    No, that would 2.3 times the size. 2.3 times *larger* strongly implies the correct answer (for x=1) is 3.3, not 2.3.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 02, 2014 @06:05PM (#47150169)

    The galaxies are ACCELERATING away from each other, and we don't have a real solid answer for why.

    Yes we do: space is inflating. Why this is happening is the more pertinent question.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Monday June 02, 2014 @06:21PM (#47150307)

    The second one is not at all ambiguous.

    If it's not ambiguous, then it's just wrong.

    1 + 1.3 = 2.3. Thus 2.3 is 1.3 more (or larger) than 1.

    Similarly, 1 + 2.3 = 3.3. I.e., 3.3 is 2.3 larger than 1.

    2.3 is 2.3 times 1. But not "times larger". That confuses addition and multiplation.

    If the article had said "2.3 times", and left out "larger", it would have been correct.

  • Re:pffff.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by harperska (1376103) on Monday June 02, 2014 @06:49PM (#47150515)

    Not exactly. A reply I made the last time there was a slashdot article about a planet discovered by Kepler that required planet-forming models to be reevaluated is still particularly apropos.

    When scientists say "This shouldn't happen according to current models", they are really saying "Holy shit, this is awesome! We get to come up with new models!".

    Meanwhile, the mainstream media hears that and reports it either as "Scientists say this shouldn't happen. The universe is fucked up" or "Scientists say this shouldn't happen. Science is fucked up" depending on their political bent.

  • by Radical Moderate (563286) on Monday June 02, 2014 @07:36PM (#47150831)
    Gender. As in the blessed lack thereof.
  • by avgjoe62 (558860) on Monday June 02, 2014 @08:56PM (#47151333)
    I also lay aside all ideas of any new works or engines of war, the invention of which long-ago reached its limit, and in which I see no hope for further improvement... - Sextus Julius Frontinus, governor of Britania, 84 C.E.

    Mathematics is inadequate to describe the universe, since mathematics is an abstraction from natural phenomena. Also, mathematics may predict things which don't exist, or are impossible in nature. - Ludovico delle Colombe

    The abolishment of pain in surgery is a chimera. It is absurd to go on seeking it... Knife and pain are two words in surgery that must forever be associated in the consciousness of the patient. - Dr. Alfred Velpeau

    When the Paris Exhibition closes electric light will close with it and no more be heard of. - Erasmus Wilson

    This `telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a practical form of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us. - Western Union internal memo, 1878

    Rail travel at high speed is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia. - Dr. Dionysus Lardner

    That the automobile has practically reached the limit of its development is suggested by the fact that during the past year no improvements of a radical nature have been introduced. - Scientific American, Jan. 2, 1909.

    There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will. - Albert Einstein

    Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible. - Lord Kelvin, 1895

    There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home. - Kenneth Olsen, president and founder of Digital Equipment Corp

  • by tragedy (27079) on Monday June 02, 2014 @10:40PM (#47151923)

    Other people have commented on the lousy "size of Texas"-style "2.3 times larger than Earth" bit, but there's so much more wrong with this. There's the now standard "artists representation" header artwork/slideshow teaser that doesn't even have any sort of disclaimer that it's not a representation of any kind of this planet. There's also an appalling lack of any of the figures people really want to know such as what the surface gravity would be on this planet. I'm getting about 3.3 G based on the diameter and mass they give. Surface area is about 5 times that of Earth. The year is about 1 and a half Earth months. The temperature is over 200 degrees celcius, close to the melting point of tin.

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