Thursday, April 26, 2007

New 'super-Earth' found in space

Mass: Five times Earth's mass
Orbit: 13 days
Temperature: 0C - 40C
Distance: 20.5 light years
Constellation: Libra

The new planet is not much bigger than the Earth

Astronomers have found the most Earth-like planet outside our Solar System to date, a world which could have water running on its surface.

The planet orbits the faint star Gliese 581, which is 20.5 light-years away in the constellation Libra.
Scientists made the discovery using the Eso 3.6m Telescope in Chile.
They say the benign temperatures on the planet mean any water there could exist in liquid form, and this raises the chances it could also harbour life.
"We have estimated that the mean temperature of this 'super-Earth' lies between 0 and 40 degrees Celsius, and water would thus be liquid," explained Stephane Udry of the Geneva Observatory, lead author of the scientific paper reporting the result.

"Moreover, its radius should be only 1.5 times the Earth's radius, and models predict that the planet should be either rocky - like our Earth - or covered with oceans."
Xavier Delfosse, a member of the team from Grenoble University, added: "Liquid water is critical to life as we know it."
He believes the planet may now become a very important target for future space missions dedicated to the search for extra-terrestrial life.
These missions will put telescopes in space that can discern the tell-tale light "signatures" that might be associated with biological processes.
The observatories would seek to identify trace atmospheric gases such as methane, and even markers for chlorophyll, the pigment in Earth plants that plays a critical role in photosynthesis.

'Indirect' detection
The exoplanet - as astronomers call planets around a star other than the Sun - is the smallest yet found, and completes a full orbit of its parent star in just 13 days.

Indeed, it is 14 times closer to its star than the Earth is to our Sun.
However, given that the host star is smaller and colder than the Sun - and thus less luminous - the planet nevertheless lies in the "habitable zone", the region around a star where water could be liquid.
Gliese 581 C was identified at the European Southern Observatory (Eso) facility at La Silla in the Atacama Desert.
To make their discovery, researchers used a very sensitive instrument that can measure tiny changes in the velocity of a star as it experiences the gravitational tug of a nearby planet.
Astronomers are stuck with such indirect methods of detection because current telescope technology struggles to image very distant and faint objects - especially when they orbit close to the glare of a star.
The Gliese 581 system has now yielded three planets: the new super-Earth, a 15 Earth-mass planet orbiting even closer to the parent star, and an eight Earth-mass planet that lies further out.

The latest discovery has created tremendous excitement among scientists.
Of the more than 200 exoplanets so far discovered, a great many are Jupiter-like gas giants that experience blazing temperatures because they orbit close to hot stars.
The Gliese 581 super-Earth is in what scientists call the "Goldilocks Zone" where temperatures "are just right" for life to have a chance to exist.

Commenting on the discovery, Alison Boyle, the curator of astronomy at London's Science Museum, said: "Of all the planets we've found around other stars, this is the one that looks as though it might have the right ingredients for life.
"It's 20 light-years away and so we won't be going there anytime soon, but with new kinds of propulsion technology that could change in the future. And obviously we'll be training some powerful telescopes on it to see what we can see," she told BBC News.
"'Is there life anywhere else?' is a fundamental question we all ask."
Professor Glenn White at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory is helping to develop the European Space Agency's Darwin mission, which will scan the nearby Universe, looking for signs of life on Earth-like planets. He said: "This is an important step in the search for true Earth-like exoplanets.
"As the methods become more and more refined, astronomers are narrowing in on the ultimate goal - the detection of a true Earth-like planet elsewhere.

"Obviously this newly discovered planet and its companions in the Gliese 581 system will become prominent targets for missions like Esa's Darwin and Nasa's Terrestrial planet Finder when they fly in about a decade."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007`s Photo of the Week - April 23, 2007

Jeff Grant
Return to Turrimetta #5
90628 times
34 ratings, Aesthetics: 6.32/7 Originality: 5.85/7
Exposure Date
City: SydneyCountry: Australia
Hasselblad 503 CW
Film / Media
Fuji Velvia 100
Hasselblad 120mm

Affordable Europe: City Guides


Yes, the euro remains strong, but you don't have to max out your credit card to indulge in some of Europe's timeless luxuries. From stylish hotels that won't break the bank, to offbeat boutiques favored by local bargain hunters, the correspondents and contributors of The New York Times offer money-saving tips for visiting 15 major European cities. You can also read suggestions from other Times' readers and share your own tips on visiting Europe affordably.

Click on each city to see details.

Amsterdam still harbors a strong bohemian and laid-back spirit, which means plenty of bargains.

Walk through Barcelona, and forget this is the most expensive city in Spain.

Eighteen years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the city's depressed economy has kept prices down.

It may be home to the European Union and NATO, but Brussels still has cheap beer.

Don't worry about the high euro prices. The Hungarian forint is still used.

Ranked among the world's most expensive cities, Copenhagen doesn't advertise its bargains.

Affordable hotels exist in Florence, but you have to dig.

The Turkish city is chic, but is it cheap? If you know where to look.

London's most stylish residents shop in the city's secondhand stores.

Moscow restaurants, even expensive ones, offer a fixed-price lunch on weekdays.

There's plenty of freebies in Paris, from wine tastings to tango lessons.

Some of the best restaurants in Prague are also the cheapest.

Bargains can be had — if you're prepared to haggle.

St. Petersburg
Many of St. Petersburg's glories are free or relatively cheap.

The key to low-cost Vienna? Avoid the tourists and go where the Viennese live.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Dell Tablet PC coming this Fall?

by Peter Rojas


Quite a few people have been hoping that PC maker Dell would come out with a Tablet PC. Not only would a Dell Tablet PC help validate the platform it would also make it easier for companies who use Dell computers exclusively to make Tablet PCs available for those employees who prefer them. There have been rumors of a Dell Tablet PC for months and I recently received some additional information that sounds very credible. A jkOnTheRun reader who wishes to remain anonymous recently discussed the Dell Tablet with two Dell representatives at two different public events and this is what he was told by Dell:

Dell will release a Tablet PC in the September/ October 2007 time frame
The Tablet PC will be based on the Latitude D420 notebook computer and will be a convertible Tablet.
It will be compatible with all Latitude D series accessories such as docking stations, power adapters, etc.
This Tablet PC will be the last system released in the popular Latitude D series.
The Dell Tablet PC will have an active digitizer only.
Wireless Broadband will be an option
Widescreen display

Like all Dell Tablet PC rumors you need to take this with a grain of salt but it seems like a very credible piece of information. It's worth a look at the Latitude D420 specs to get a feel for what the Tablet PC might have under the hood:

Intel Core Duo up to 1.2 GHz processor
Up to 2 GB of RAM
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 (up to 224 MB shared memory)
WXGA (1280 x 800) 12 " widescreen
SATA hard drive (up to 60 GB)
Three primary battery options (4, 6, 9 cell)
Bluetooth, WiFi (a/b/g)
WWAN CDMA from Verizon

Saturday, April 21, 2007

12 Questions To Ask Yourself About Happiness

by Eddie Chandler


1- Are you happy to get up in the morning?
If you wake up feeling rested, you're sleeping well, so you're probably quite content with your life. If you routinely drag yourself out of bed after pressing the snooze button several times, and you still feel weighted down after a shower and a coffee, it's time to assess your stress levels. Career and personal pressures can adversely impact your enjoyment of life and affect your happiness.

2- Is your happiness conditional?
Is your happiness always contingent on something? Do you tell yourself, "I'll be happy... when I get in shape" or, "...when I get a promotion" or even, "...when I pay off my car"? It's great to look toward continued and increased happiness, but not at the expense of enjoying the present. Focus on the right now. Learn to recognize the things that you enjoy and their positive impact on your life today.

3- Does the thought of happiness make you nervous?
Some people are afraid of being happy because they equate happiness with resigning oneself to the status quo; they feel that once one is content, one no longer has any goals to aspire to. This is not the case. Even if you are happy at the moment, there is nothing to stop you from building upon this happiness. There's no reason why your contentment should restrict your ambitions.

4- Do you look forward to seeing your friends and family?
When social and family events seem more like obligations, something's holding you back from being happy. Your interpersonal relationships add a valuable dimension to your life. Get together with people whose company you enjoy. If they challenge you intellectually, make you laugh and accept you just the way you are, you'll feel happier.

5- Are you only happy when you buy something?
Tying your overall happiness to material goods is not healthy. Too many people associate happiness with a new car or a dream vacation. Be careful about thinking that such acquisitions bring contentment with them. Don't fall into that trap.

6- Are you healthy?
Although it's often overlooked, one's health is intimately tied in with one's happiness. Often, it's only when one encounters others who are suffering from health issues that one gains perspective. When you focus on what's going right in your life, you'll feel more contented. Some men only realize how good they have it after tragedy has struck -- don't let it come to that.

7- Do you feel productive?
Think about the things that make you feel fulfilled and incorporate them into your day-to-day activities. If making a difference in the world is important to you, you don't necessarily have to tackle world peace or cure cancer. Your eye contact and a kind word will make a difference today to the barista at the coffee shop, the homeless man on the street or the elderly person on the subway. Finding meaning in your life and feeling productive will increase your sense of success and happiness.

8- Where were you a year ago today?
It's a good idea to occasionally look back to see how far you've come. It's easy to become so focused on the future that you forget to acknowledge how far you've come. This doesn't mean whining about the good old days when you had less work, more beer money and fewer responsibilities; it's about assessing your progress and development, and recognizing the positives.

9- What makes you the happiest?
Understanding what makes you happy will give you a guideline on seeking and enjoying happiness. Think of things you feel good about. Assess your talents. Look at your relationships. Consider the aspects of your job that you enjoy. Find ways to build on those positive influences and experiences to bring more enjoyment to your life.

10- Do you find happiness in the little things?
Do you stop to smell the proverbial roses? We're all in a rush with deadlines and time constraints, but if you make a conscious effort to notice and enjoy life's little pleasures, you'll create happiness for yourself and others.

11- What's stopping you from being happy?
Quit blaming other people for impeding your happiness. Stop complaining that circumstances are conspiring against you. Being bitter, wallowing in self-pity and pointing fingers at others won't help you feel happier. Take control and accept responsibility for your own happiness.

12- Do you have balance in your life?

It's important to maintain balance. If you believe your entire happiness is linked to the lady you love, you're in for a big fall if you lose her. If she walks away, will 50% of your happiness go with her? Maybe you've recently become a department manager, a great achievement considering how early you are in your career. If the company goes into Chapter 11 and you're suddenly unemployed, will you lose your identity with your job? Maintain a posi-real attitude and acknowledge the way that happiness ebbs and flows.`s Photo of the Week - April 16, 2007

Photographer Philippe Rapoport
Caption demain sur nos tombeaux...
Views 40539 times
55 ratings, Aesthetics: 6.02/7 Originality: 5.71/7
Exposure Date 2006-05-08
Location Country: France
Equipment Camera Nikon D70

First Citywide Sensor Network Planned

By Tracy Staedter, Discovery News


A network of sensors to be installed on and powered by city streetlights in Cambridge, Mass., could make urban monitoring easier than a doctor's visit.
After all, a city's health, like a person's, can benefit from regular checkups. But monitoring such physical factors as weather and air quality are typically time-consuming and labor-intensive.
The CitySense project, led by researchers from Harvard University and Cambridge-based BBN Technologies, will disperse about 100 wireless devices to collect weather and air quality information about the city, and will also serve as a research platform for other scientists to experiment with sensor networks.

"Our network is a backbone. It's an experimental testbed. Scientists from all over the world will be able to program these nodes," said Matt Welsh, team leader and assistant professor at Harvard.
The network will consist of nodes, each about 6 inches by 6 inches square and 3 inches deep, bearing a processor and a memory board sheathed in a weather-resistant case. They will run on Linux and use a USB memory card for storing data, as opposed to an internal hard drive that could fail in the extreme weather swings of Massachusetts.
Instead of receiving and transmitting data to and from a central hub, each node will communicate with its nearest neighbors to form a mesh network. In these networks, data hops from one node to the next, leapfrogging over those that are busy or damaged.
Several sensors attached to each device will monitor pollution and weather variables such as humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed, wind direction, temperature and rainfall. That's for starters, but there is the potential for expansion.
The idea, said Welsh, is that scientists would be able to log onto an Internet site for the network and request research time. They could upload and test their own software or work with Welsh's team to integrate other sensors into the network.

But before that can happen, the group needs to make the system robust. By the end of this summer, they plan to have about 20 sensors deployed around the Harvard campus as well as on the BBN Technologies building, a couple of miles away. In another three years or so, they plan to have the remaining 80 sensors distributed across Cambridge.
"The challenge is to keep it up and running," said Ramesh Rao, professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology at the University of California, San Diego.
And that may require a lot of handholding and some customer support that currently doesn't exist.

"The difficulty should not be understand estimated," he said.
Public perception could also be an issue. People may not approve of the sensors, even if the devices promise not to infringe upon privacy, said Rao.
"When you say the sensors can do 'x' but not 'y,' do people believe you? That sounds like a 'trust me' statement. How do they know that for sure?" he said.
Initial data gleaned from the CitySense project will be incorporated into one of the first high-resolution studies of urban pollution. Welsh is also working with Tufts University to develop a educational curriculum for K-12 students to better understand sensor networks.

Lenovo: Down So Long, It Looks Like Up

Integrating IBM's PC division continues to tax China's No. 1 computer maker, but growth is up, and more job cuts are cheering investors

by Bruce Einhorn

Promising a Payoff
Although the IBM deal catapulted Lenovo into the top tier of PC makers globally, the company has been losing market share. On Friday, market research firm International Data Corp. announced its numbers for the first quarter, showing that Taiwanese rival Acer had climbed into a tie with Lenovo at 6.7%.
The Taiwanese have the wind at their backs: While Lenovo's sales climbed 17.4%, Acer's jumped 41.4% (see, 1/07,
"Acer Closes in on Lenovo").
Still, Amelio promises the payoff is coming. Lenovo's first-quarter sales growth wasn't as sizzling as Acer's, but it still topped the 10.9% growth of the overall market and certainly outshone the 6.9% slide that Dell suffered. Moreover, the newest cutbacks will cost the company between $50 million and $60 million (to be charged this quarter), but management believes Lenovo will see $100 million in savings for the year.
Are there more cuts to come? Maybe, but Amelio says the shrinking at Lenovo might be over.
"We believe the 'tipping point' is within reach," the executive said in a statement released by the company as it announced the layoffs. "If we can combine optimal cost competitiveness and efficient delivery capabilities with innovative, best-engineered products, we can generate more profitable growth, gain market share, and make further reinvestments into the business, fueling more growth."

Moving Up in the World
Investors were cheered by the news of the layoffs. Lenovo's stock price rose 2.1% in Hong Kong trading on Friday. Some other good news for Lenovo came on Friday with the announcement by IDC that the company had expanded its lead in Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) in the first quarter.
While the market as a whole grew 17.6% year-on-year in the first three months of 2007, Lenovo enjoyed 24.3% growth. Lenovo is tops in the region, with 17.8% of the market, compared to No. 2 Hewlett Packard's (
HPQ) 15.4%. And this progress came at a time when sales in China slumped because of the weeklong Chinese New Year holiday; that's a sign Lenovo is becoming more of a player in other countries around the region.