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Our Solar System: Rare Species In Cosmic Zoo 197

astroengine writes "Pulling from 20 years of research since the first discoveries of planets beyond our solar system, scientists have concluded that Earth and its sibling worlds comprise what appears to be a relatively rare breed in a diverse cosmic zoo that includes a huge variety of planet sizes, orbits and parent stars. The most common systems contain one or more planets one to three times bigger than Earth, all orbiting much closer to their parent stars than Earth circles the sun, says astronomer Andrew Howard, with the University of Hawaii."
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Our Solar System: Rare Species In Cosmic Zoo

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  • Re:Hrm... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Friday May 03, 2013 @12:38AM (#43617443)

    Who knows what they meant, but taken literally "one to three times bigger" means

    x+x ... x+3x

    "one to three times as big" would be

    1*x ... 3*x

    Being somewhat of the anal retentive disposition, it annoys the hell out of me when someone says "200% increase" when they mean "doubled", which is merely a 100% increase.

    (And since this is *very* common, I stay annoyed the hell out of most of the time.)

  • Re:God made it. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Samantha Wright ( 1324923 ) on Friday May 03, 2013 @01:42AM (#43617635) Homepage Journal

    Two fun facts:

    1. In TOS, it was somewhat legitimate science fiction [] to suppose that alien worlds could be identical to Earth. It was theorized that we might be the "optimal" path for evolution to take, and hence things might develop along extremely similar lines. This is why there is literally an episode [] where they find a planet that has gone through World War III, which ends with Shatner moralizing about the virtues of the US Constitution. This was much-loved because it meant they could re-use props from other productions. Other exciting examples of this kind of imaginary thriftiness include the modern Roman empire [], although many were softened: the 20s gangster planet [] was created by accidentally leaving a history book behind, and the Nazi episode (TM) [] was deliberate meddling by "a Federation historian" (whom I guess we'd call a neo-Nazi today.)

    2. By TNG, the technobabble problem was so bad that the actors sometimes rehearsed with scripts where the technobabble hadn't even been filled in yet []. The writers wanted to write a human drama, and science was just a prop thrown in, to support that. To their credit, it at least created a popular show, something which other science fiction programmes had a lot more trouble doing.

  • Re:And yet... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tehcyder ( 746570 ) on Friday May 03, 2013 @10:00AM (#43619541) Journal

    Once someone figures out how to survive in space, there will be thousands hot on their heels.

    Why? I really don't see that there are going to be "space miners" hacking out asteroids with picks and shovels. Surely it would be easier (and cheaper) to get robots to do it all?

    And apart from harvesting raw materials, who the fuck else would want to live in space for more than a few months until the novelty value wore off?

    To paraphrase Samuel Johnson on being in the Navy: no man will live in space who has contrivance enough to get himself into a jail; for being in a spaceship is being in a jail, with the chance of being asphyxiated, dying of radiation poisoning or irreversibly altering your muscles and organs. A man in a jail has more room, better food and commonly better company.

To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire