April 2007

Radiation Shielding and Magnetic Sails

April 30, 2007

The Royal Astronomical Society’s recent meeting was laden with interesting papers, enough so that, with the added distraction of Gliese 581 c, I find myself still clearing out the backlog of newsworthy items. Otherwise, Centauri Dreams would have examined Ruth Bamford’s work on radiation shielding much earlier. Bamford (Rutherford Appleton Laboratory) and team are working […]

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A Conference on Warp Drive

April 28, 2007

If we ever develop a true ‘warp drive’ that can take us to the stars well within a human lifetime, we’ll probably look back at Miguel Alcubierre as the theorist who took a science fictional idea fully into the realm of scientific calculation. The physicist’s 1994 paper (reference below) suggests that manipulating the spacetime continuum […]

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Gerald Nordley: Doubts on Gliese 581 c

April 27, 2007

We’d all like Gliese 581 c to be as Earth-like as possible, but not everyone puts high odds on the planet being even potentially habitable. In an e-mail discussion circulating among space professionals, Gerald Nordley took issue with the ‘terrestrial world’ concept and pointed out how the results of Stephane Udry and the Geneva exoplanet […]

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Administrative: RSS Feed Glitch

April 26, 2007

Some of you have reported getting only a summary rather than the full text from the Centauri Dreams RSS feed today. I think the problem is fixed, but if it persists, please let me know. Ah, the joys of administration…

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A Gliese Moment

April 26, 2007

Exoplanets are a niche topic for many people, rarely brought to mind except to note an occasional discovery before moving on to the rest of the day’s news. But Gliese 581 c is causing ripples. Yesterday, BBC radio host Eddie Mair referred to it as ‘the planet everyone is talking about.’ And last night on […]

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Gliese 581 c: Chances for Habitability

April 25, 2007

Just what might we find on Gliese 581 c, the potentially habitable planet announced yesterday? Much depends on where the planet formed in its circumstellar system. For that kind of information I listen to Greg Laughlin (University of California at Santa Cruz), whose work on planetary formation via core accretion seems to gain stature with […]

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A Potentially Habitable Earth-like World

April 24, 2007

This is a big one, and it happens several years earlier than I had expected. A planet of about five times Earth mass, one whose radius is only 1.5 times that of our own world. Moreover, a planet that’s smack in the middle of its star’s habitable zone, with a mean temperature estimated at between […]

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A Huge Intergalactic Cloud

April 24, 2007

In light of yesterday’s post on black holes and their role in spreading heavy elements through the cosmos, the news out of Los Alamos provides an additional fillip of controversy re these enigmatic objects. A research team led by Philipp Kronberg has also been looking at clouds in deep space and their association with black […]

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A Practical Positron Rocket II

April 23, 2007

Almost exactly a year ago, I posted a story called A Practical Positron Rocket, about Gerald Smith’s work at Positronics Research on a positron reactor. Antimatter is always a hot topic, given its potential for remarkably powerful engines and its implications for deep space work, but the post in question generated responses that ranged far […]

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Black Holes May Stir the Cosmic Broth

April 23, 2007

One of the problems of explaining the universe we live in is the presence of heavy elements. After all, the cosmos was a simple matter right after the Big Bang, with hydrogen and helium its only ingredients. Creating the heavier elements required stars, the model being that their eventual death in massive supernova explosions scattered […]

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