Finding Rocky Planets With TESS


(Syfy Wire::Bad Astronomy) – Phil Plait:

Kepler was designed to look deep into the galaxy, sensitive to faint stars to maximize the number of planets it could find. The question Kepler was tasked to answer is “How many and what kind of exoplanets are out there?”

TESS will answer a different but no less important question: “Where are the nearest rocky planets?” …

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TESS: Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite


Rachel Getting Married


(Independent Film) – Darren Richman:

Jonathan Demme picked Anne Hathaway out of a crowd to star in his final masterpiece, playing a recovering addict attending her sister’s wedding .

This is a beautiful picture filled with music and warmth even as it addresses the difficulty of recovering from a trauma. Very few films so expertly render the dynamics of a bickering family or the pathos of feeling as though you don’t belong at an ostensibly happy occasion; Demme was a true master of his craft and this is undoubtedly one of his finest works. …

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Rachel Getting Married, 2008 film

Cool Germany


(Economist Leaders) – Since the fall of the Berlin Wall the Ampelmännchen, the jaunty, behatted “little traffic-light man” of communist East Germany, has escaped his dictatorial roots to become a kooky icon of Germany’s trendy capital. Tourists pose with life-size models and snap up memorabilia in souvenir shops. The Ampelmännchen’s quirky coolness is an increasingly apt symbol of the country as well as its capital. As our special report in this issue describes, Germany is entering a new era. It is becoming more diverse, open, informal and hip. …

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Ampelmaennchen on Brandenburg Gate

The Extinction of Starlight


(Syfy Wire::Bad Astronomy) – Phil Plait:

When you think of the word “extinction,” you probably think of a species-ending event like an asteroid impact or catastrophic climate change (or maybe a Stargate movie that never got made).

When an astronomer thinks extinction, they think… dust. …

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Westerlund 1 star cluster, by HST

Shaving the Christian God with Occam’s Razor


(Patheos::ATP) – Jonathan MS Pearce:

Based on Christian claims, God was all; he chose to create the world as we know it, most notably, he created human beings out of their innocent nothingness, knowing when he did so, that they would sin – and more, knowing all the sins they would commit against innocents (Hitler-Stalin-Mao).

He knew more than half of all mankind would, at death be consigned to an eternity of suffering, unrelieved ever by any mercy or forgiveness.

Atheists say the act of knowingly creating persons God knew would be sent to eternal suffering, when he had unlimited alternatives and all power, was an unsurpassable act of malignant evil.

Thus, God as defined by Christians is impossible. Or, God as defined is a deceit, because the words used do not mean what people all over the world think they mean. In short, the Christian God is a fraud. …

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William of Ockham

Wikipedia: Occam’s Razor

Shakespeare: The End


(Good Tickle Brain) – Mya Gosling:

Shakespeare Month is winding down, as is our boy Will’s theatrical career. …

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Mya Gosling: Shakespeare: The End

The Cops Have Not Always Been This Bad


(FTB stderr) – Marcus Ranum:

Americans my age grew up to imagery in LIFE Magazine, of cops beating black protesters. Oddly, I think of desegregation as something that happened, and Jim Crow was a bad period we mostly grew out of.

That’s completely wrong, unfortunately.

The cops have gotten worse, not better. Back in the 60s they beat people with impunity, today, they kill them. …

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Hands up - Don't shoot

How Faith Breaks You


(Patheos::Godless in Dixie) – Neil Carter:

Faith of the kind I was exposed to renders us susceptible to emotional manipulation of so many kinds that some mental health professionals have begun calling the resulting condition Religious Trauma Syndrome. Even in settings where diagnosable abuse has never occurred, faith still validates such a wide range of emotionally manipulative relational habits that it mimics the behavior of an emotionally abusive lover. …

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Abusive Relationship

Space Grade Electronics


(Planetary Blogs) – Jatan Mehta:

How NASA’s Juno survives near Jupiter …

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Juno spacecraft approaches Jupiter

Rickrolling Anniversary


(xkcd) – Randall Munroe:

This month marks ten years since the peak of the Rickrolling phenomenon.” …

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Randall Munroe: xkcd 1981: Rickrolling Anniversary