The Daily Flash -Eco, Space, Tech (5/10)


Astronomers Could Soon Find Moons Outside the Solar System–Even Habitable Ones

In the past two decades, the roster of known planets in the galaxy has mushroomed. Astronomers have added to the handful in our own solar system roughly 450 so-called exoplanets orbiting other stars. Most of those planets are more massive than Saturn, which makes them unpromising from a habitability standpoint—such giants tend to be gaseous bodies without a surface to walk on. If those planets have satellites, as would be expected, they could provide a real-life counterpart to the Endors and Pandoras of science fiction—livable worlds that are not planets but moons.No one has yet discovered any extrasolar moons, but some researchers think the capacity to detect them—and even analyze them for habitability—may be just over the horizon. “It’s going to happen,” says astrophysicist Sara Seager of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It’s just a matter of time.”

Antarctica Had Warmest Year on Record in 2009

While many critics of global warming continue to argue that the phenomenon is not real, scientific data again show that tragic truth. According to the datasets released by the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, in Antarctica, the southern continent experienced its highest annual temperature mean in more than 53 years. Since 1957, when scientists first began keeping tabs on temperature averages at the location, there have been no warmer years than the last one. The average temperature level in Antarctica for 2009 was minus 54.2 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 47.9 degrees Celsius).

2034452099_634a614e91 Awareness of Twitter Now Almost Equals Facebook

While Twitter has nearly equaled Facebook in awareness among Americans — 87 percent now know of it, compared with 26 percent last year — it still lags behind in use, Teddy Wayne writes in The New York Times. In addition, according to an Edison Research study, Twitter is disproportionately popular among African-Americans. A quarter of users are African-Americans, the study found, about double their percentage of the American population. Twitter users are also far more likely to have graduated from a four-year college, attended graduate school and live in households making over $50,000 a year. Though slightly more than half of regular users never post status updates on Twitter, 70 percent do so on social networking sites like Facebook, among others. The disparity, the report notes, suggests that Twitter functions more as a “broadcast medium” compared with Facebook.

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