The Daily Flash -Eco, Space, Tech (9/02)

TransitSpectrscopy New Technique Finds Gaseous Metals in Exoplanet Atmospheres

A previously undetected element has been found in the atmospheres of two different extrasolar planets. Using a new technique at a new telescope, two separate groups of exoplanet scientists have discovered potassium in the atmospheres of two hot Jupiters more than 190 light-years from Earth.“I’m really excited about this,” exoplanet expert Sara Seager of MIT, who was not involved in the new discoveries, said in an e-mail. “Together with other ground-based advances it is changing exoplanet atmosphere studies in a huge way.” The two groups, one led by exoplanet scientist David Sing of the University of Exeter and the other led by University of Florida grad student Knicole Colón, used the 34-foot-wide Gran Telescopio Canarias in the Canary Islands to observe the planet XO-2b, located around 500 light-years from Earth, and the planet HD 80606b, about 190 light-years from Earth.

Marineanimal Marine animals Point to a trans-Antarctic Seaway

A tiny marine filter-feeder, that anchors itself to the sea bed, offers new clues to scientists studying the stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. This new finding, published this month in the journal Global Change Biology, leads the science team to conclude that these animals could have spread across both seas only by means of a trans-Antarctic seaway through what is now a 2 km solid layer of ice. They suggest also that this seaway opened up during a recent interglacial (warm period between ice ages) perhaps as recently as 125,000 years ago when sea level was about 5 metres higher than today.

OE_in_orbit-660x443 China’s Secret Satellite Rendezvous ‘Suggestive of a Military Program’

Earlier this month, two Chinese satellites met up in orbit. Depending on who you believe, it’s either a sign of China’s increasingly-sophisticated space program — or a sign of its increasingly-sophisticated space warfare program. A well-regarded Russian space watcher was the first to note that the two satellites, newly-launched SJ-12 and two-year-old SJ-06F, had performed maneuvers indicating a cutting edge procedure called non-cooperative robotic rendezvous. A loose network of amateur space spectators and astronomers soon congregated online, and confirmed that the sats had, indeed, converged.

9 Netflix Classics Worth Streaming on Your Puny iPhone

Now that Netflix has released an iPhone app that allows mobile cinephiles to stream their instant queues, it's worth considering reorganizing those queues for smartphone screening. So we put together a handy list of films across all genres that ought to look just fine on the iPhone's comparatively tiny display. Once they're all available, that is. As expected, there's not a flick among them that contains ubiquitous subtitles or indispensable minutiae. They're all wide-screen blasts, whose broad strokes and deceptively simple compositions screen nicely on handsets.


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