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Exoplanet Reports Exaggerated

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the visit-the-off-world-colonies dept.

Space 55

The Bad Astronomer writes "The reports of the first direct picture of an exoplanet are misleading. The real news is that an image of a probable exoplanet taken in 2008 using a telescope in Hawaii have been confirmed — it's a planet. In fact, exoplanets have been directly imaged before; the first was in 2005. More images of other planets were released in 2008. To be specific: this new planet is the first to be directly imaged orbiting a sun-like star using observations made from the ground. That's actually still quite a technological achievement, but don't be misled by hyperbolic headlines."

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Slashdot: Don't believe everything you read on /. (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 3 years ago | (#32747764)

I don't believe it.

Re:Slashdot: Don't believe everything you read on (3, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#32747914)

To be fair, if you browse the comments after things have settled down a bit you generally get the corrections long before most other sites get around to posting corrections (if they ever do). There were several comments in the earlier article that were rated up that say... well, basically exactly what this article says.

Re:Slashdot: Don't believe everything you read on (1)

somegeekynick (1011759) | more than 3 years ago | (#32749502)

Most of the times, I get disinterested reading comments beyond a point if the first few are off topic or just plain silly. In fact, I knew that the story was not as what the title suggested (essentially what Phil is talking about), but I did not bother posting it only for it to get buried.

This is /. (4, Funny)

sribe (304414) | more than 3 years ago | (#32747780)

...but don't be misled by hyperbolic headlines.

Uhm yeah, we're pretty much at the wrong site for that advice...

Re:This is /. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32747912)

Where did you get that? All I see is

Exoplanet Reports Exaggerated

And now for my exposition based solely on my first impressions and well considered opinions....

Re:This is /. (1)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 3 years ago | (#32748142)

Actually, isn't Slashdot the perfect place for such a warning? You put "Watch for crossing deer" signs near places where deer cross frequently, not where it seldom happens! ;)

Re:This is /. (2, Funny)

sribe (304414) | more than 3 years ago | (#32748290)

Actually, isn't Slashdot the perfect place for such a warning? You put "Watch for crossing deer" signs near places where deer cross frequently, not where it seldom happens!

Good point. I cede to you superior word skills ;-)

Re:This is /. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32750306)

Apple is suing Freetype.

Pot and the fucking kettle (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32747788)

"Don't be misled by hyperbolic headlines."

Unless it's on /.

Re:Pot and the fucking kettle (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32748092)

something Soviet something something, something something exoplanet headlines something something you!

Periscopic Photographs (5, Funny)

PurpleCarrot (892888) | more than 3 years ago | (#32747822)

Waiting for the first photograph of an exoplanet from an underwater observatory. And you though atmospheric refraction was a pain on land!

Re:Periscopic Photographs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32747996)

Dr. Destructo did that back in the 70s. He had to do it to target Planet X with his Uridium-392 missile. The Great Justice managed to stop his plan, but ended up destroying the telescope in the process. Super heroes never stop to consider the collateral damage.

Re:Periscopic Photographs (2, Interesting)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#32748562)

Ya, it's always "blow up the evil base", "destroy his equipment", etc, etc. Don't they realize it's advantageous to loot the evil base for technology and resources? The badguy always has some spiffy superweapon that borders on physically impossible. ... or is that how Batman gets a spiffy new car in every movie?

    I still want to take the "Tumbler" [wikipedia.org] for a drive.

Re:Periscopic Photographs (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 3 years ago | (#32749290)

Dr. Jonas Venture was smart enough to do that when he took over Spider Skull Island.

The first line is quite clear... (1)

Orga (1720130) | more than 3 years ago | (#32747868)

An anonymous reader noted a report confirming the first ever exoplanet actually photographed from telescopes on earth. If you still don't know how to read into the media's game of provacative article titles I truly pity you.

OOH! Is there still time? (1)

dmomo (256005) | more than 3 years ago | (#32747884)

For me to go to the original story, post this summary and get a +5 insightful?

Re:OOH! Is there still time? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#32748076)

Maybe for the Knuth story, instead of this one. This one seems more evolutionary, another instrument has confirmed something that everyone figured was true, all right. But Knuth's announcement of the MMIX app store via financing from the "Bank of San Seriffe" is likely to he revolutionary.

http://news.slashdot.org/story/10/06/29/2233219/Knuth-Plans-Earthshaking-Announcement-Wednesday [slashdot.org]

Exaggerated (2, Funny)

dimethylxanthine (946092) | more than 3 years ago | (#32747900)

Exoplanet Reports Exaggerated

Well yeaaahh - did you see the original picture? Glad that got cleared up :)

That being said, it did provide some great amusement value too: image [adbus.com.ua]

Thanks Slashdot! (3, Insightful)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 3 years ago | (#32747924)

Thank you Slashdot, for letting us know that all those other sites that were exagerating the importance with hyperbolic headlines [slashdot.org] were totally doin it rong!

(To be fair it's usually considered a sign of maturity to be able to admit that you made a mistake after the fact, but just i couldn't resist the dig. Guess i'm not mature enough.)

I prefer (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 3 years ago | (#32747956)

parabolic headlines myself.

"but don't be misled by hyperbolic headlines" (1)

vxice (1690200) | more than 3 years ago | (#32747964)

Don't worry I wasn't.

News reporting is exaggerated?!?! (1)

dougmwne (958276) | more than 3 years ago | (#32747972)

I wonder if /. editors realize that they could post a follow-up "nothing to see here" clarification for 99% of all news. In fact, I think they should start doing so. THIS JUST IN!!!ohwaitnevermind.

another puzzling english statement? (1)

Michael Kristopeit (1751814) | more than 3 years ago | (#32748010)

when i first read "first pictures of an exoplanet" i assumed they were talking about the first pictures of a specific new exoplanet, as i've already seen other pictures of exoplanets...

were a lot of people led to believe this was the first picture of ANY exoplanet?

if this exoplanet was born on a tuesday... nm.

I'll remain calm. (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 3 years ago | (#32748040)

Okay, I'll try not to get too excited about A PHOTOGRAPH OF ANoTHER FRICKIN' PLaNET OUT IN SPACE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

Re:I'll remain calm. (1)

Iron Condor (964856) | more than 3 years ago | (#32748330)

Astronomers confirm: Still planets in space!

Further studies needed to monitor Planet situation.

So it's like most Space Nuttery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32748056)

Full of deluded nerds spewing their childhood mythology as fact? I'm surprised.

it was known its a planet actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32748086)

I think the uncertainty wasn't whether its indeed a planet, but whether its gravitationally bound to that star. http://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=13192 [centauri-dreams.org]

What is this "exaggerated" bs? (1, Interesting)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#32748116)

No, the reports are not exaggerated. They exist. They are out there. Whether directly observed with fancy optics or by red shift because of their stars wobbling around their centers of of gravity, they have been detected.

A star doesn't wobble if there is nothing to pull on it, and that means a mass.

We have even observed the spectra of some exoplanets to see what their atmospheres are like because they've passed between their star and ours.

The only exaggerations here are those of peoples' expectations. People want to see at least Voyager quality photographs. Well, it's not happening. Not until we go out there ourselves.

There is a lot about the universe that we have to measure indirectly because of distance and time scales. It doesn't mean that the methods are bogus. To say that not measuring up to popular expectation means "hurr there really isn't much evidence for exoplanets hurr" is bullshit.

Stop reading the tabloids. Stop listening to Fox News who will get it wrong deliberately. Sky & Telescope and Astronomy (both SKY publications) are good enough to start with. And if you want to get it from the horse's mouth these days, you can now more than ever.

--
BMO

Re: Clarification (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#32748210)

The above response was triggered by the summary, not by the article itself which is pretty good.

Yeah, yet another bogus Slashdot headline.

--
BMO

The summary is actually perfectly fine (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 3 years ago | (#32748588)

The above response was triggered by the summary, not by the article itself which is pretty good.

Yeah, yet another bogus Slashdot headline.

Make up your mind. Are you talking about the summary or the headline?

Your first post makes sense if you just read the headline and jumped to conclusions about what the alleged exaggeration was.

But the summary exactly spells out what is exaggerated: The claim that this was the first exoplanet directly imaged. It is not. It is the first exoplanet around a sun-like star imaged from ground-based telescopes.

That's all in the summary. The summary is perfectly fine, and the headline is fine assuming you then go on to read the summary instead of fill in the blanks, because the previous Slashdot story was, in fact, exaggerated in exactly the way claimed.

This isn't that surprising since the summary was written by the same person who wrote the article which says exactly the same thing only in more detail.

So no, not another bogus /. headline. I know I'm as surprised as you, but you still can't just assume every /. headline is bad. Though I guess it's fairly safe to play the odds, if that's what you were doing. Heh.

Re:The summary is actually perfectly fine (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#32748628)

I plead lack of coffee.

Must have some.

--
BMO

Re:The summary is actually perfectly fine (2, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 3 years ago | (#32748766)

I'll forgive you then, since after all if I was on the jury for your murder trial I'd let you off with the "lack of coffee defense".

Re: Clarification (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32748652)

The headline and summary are both perfectly correct. The only thing bogus here is your knee-jerk ranting without apparently reading closely enough to know what you're ranting against.

Re:What is this "exaggerated" bs? (1)

euxneks (516538) | more than 3 years ago | (#32748498)

And if you want to get it from the horse's mouth these days, you can now more than ever.

You mean: http://horsesmouth.typepad.com/ [typepad.com]

I fail to see how a blog about water sports is relevant?? ;)

Re:What is this "exaggerated" bs? (4, Insightful)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 3 years ago | (#32748558)

Wow, you didn't even read the summary above, did you? The summary pretty nicely explains what's been done and what's new here, even without reading the linked piece Phil wrote. It really doesn't take much effort in this case.

Also: insulting Phil Plait's ability to get to the real source and read it makes you look like a fool. Phil is a PhD'ed astronomer and one of the most active and followed astronomy popularizers in the field today. Telling him to go to S&T or Astronomy is insulting.

Re:What is this "exaggerated" bs? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 3 years ago | (#32748638)

Also: insulting Phil Plait's ability to get to the real source and read it makes you look like a fool. Phil is a PhD'ed astronomer and one of the most active and followed astronomy popularizers in the field today. Telling him to go to S&T or Astronomy is insulting.

Yeah, it's doubly silly because Phil wrote both the article which the OP praises, and the submission which the OP insults.

Re:What is this "exaggerated" bs? (2, Informative)

The Bad Astronomer (563217) | more than 3 years ago | (#32749164)

Well, it's not insulting. I've written for both magazines! :) However, my source was the news release from Gemini, as well as a few previous articles I had written on this topic as well as this particular object.

Re:What is this "exaggerated" bs? (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 3 years ago | (#32749368)

I figured it was insulting in that you were certainly aware of both magazines, not that they're not worthy. :-)

Re:What is this "exaggerated" bs? (3, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#32748668)

Please mod this down. I don't know what I was thinking.

--
BMO

Re:What is this "exaggerated" bs? (1)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 3 years ago | (#32748822)

No, the reports are not exaggerated. They exist. They are out there. Whether directly observed with fancy optics or by red shift because of their stars wobbling around their centers of of gravity, they have been detected.

Nobody said different.

A star doesn't wobble if there is nothing to pull on it, and that means a mass.

We have even observed the spectra of some exoplanets to see what their atmospheres are like because they've passed between their star and ours.

Nobody said different.

The only exaggerations here are those of peoples' expectations. People want to see at least Voyager quality photographs. Well, it's not happening. Not until we go out there ourselves.

Nobody said anything about the images being low resolution, and thus, not as cool as the headline made them sound. Except you, I mean.

There is a lot about the universe that we have to measure indirectly because of distance and time scales. It doesn't mean that the methods are bogus. To say that not measuring up to popular expectation means "hurr there really isn't much evidence for exoplanets hurr" is bullshit.

Nobody said this. Honestly, what on Earth were you reading? You have nice points if ANYBODY at all was saying that there are no such things as exoplanets because inference is invalid, or if anybody said this direct image wasn't convincing because it's so small. Nobody said that, so you're just complaining about your fictional stereotype of what the average reader thinks in their head, without any sort of factual basis.

What the actual complaint about "exaggeration" is is that technically this isn't the first exoplanet to be directly imaged, it is the second. However, since the first was not confirmed as an actual image of an exoplanet (as opposed to just a nearby body, or an image artifact) it technically is the first confirmed image. The "exaggeration" is that the original headline said that the first image has been confirmed. However, I think the headline was just fine. The headline was "First Direct Photo of Alien Planet Finally Confirmed". I read that not as meaning "The first direct image that was thought to be of an exoplanet has been confirmed" but rather, as "Scientists have, for the first time, confirmed a direct image of an exo planet". To use an analogy, if I saw the headline "First AIDS vaccine finally enters human trials" I would read that as being the first time an AIDS vaccine has reached that stage of testing, not that this is the first AIDS vaccine ever developed. (It could BE, but the headline wouldn't be stating that it is, per se).

Re:What is this "exaggerated" bs? (1)

The Bad Astronomer (563217) | more than 3 years ago | (#32749126)

Well, the link first posted by /., to an article on space.com, called this the first ever direct image of an exoplanet. That is factually incorrect, so it's not really the tabloids or Fox.

Hyperbolic (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 3 years ago | (#32748286)

That's OK, I make it a point to only listen to parabolic headlines, with just a touch of linearity.

Exoplanets? (1)

nickdwaters (1452675) | more than 3 years ago | (#32748642)

They aren't in my book so they don't exist.

wow (1)

calderra (1034658) | more than 3 years ago | (#32748798)

Slashdot can now make a new headline about how poory researched a previous headline was?

Sorry Bad Astronomer but you're partly wrong (4, Interesting)

superluminique (1567063) | more than 3 years ago | (#32749114)

I'm an astrophysicist and yes I find that most press releases about astronomy are somewhat exaggerated and have hyperbolic titles (it's probably true for anything about science). The obvious reason for that is to make them more attractive to the lay reader. I guess that something like "Imaging of 1RXS 1609 Companion Using Speckle Subtraction" would make people run away. Of course, there should be a compromise between sensationalism and news but it's not always obvious how to spin things the right way, especially when news writers barely know anything about science (believe me, I've had to deal with explaining relativity to the media).

Regarding this discovery, I don't agree with Bad Astronomer who seemed to have found a way to bash about "exaggerated scientific news" (as I said I do agree with him on the general statement). The other star that Bad Astronomer claims has been imaged in 1995 is Formalhaut. Yes, there is a point source somewhere in the debris disk around the star that is a planet. The thing is that this planet was only found last year, in a recent Hubble image. Astrophysicists saw it in the recent image and went back to the archives and also identified it in the 1995 archive image.

The exoplanet of the present discovery, around the star 1RXS 1609, has been found with direct imaging prior to the detection of the one around Formalhaut. I won't get into the details but all evidence were showing that it was an exoplanet orbiting that star. Of course, there is always a small chance of coincidence but the confirmation just came about -- this is what the news is about -- since clear orbital motion is now visible. So, technically, 1RXS 1609b was the first exoplanet to be formally identified using direct imaging, though Formalhaut's exoplanet had been photographed before without people recognizing it. Off course, this whole /. and Bad Astronmer's news is all about nitpicking on words. It's even hard for astrophysicists to unambiguously decide which one should be first. My last sentence would simply be that this /. post title "Exoplanet Reports Exaggerated" is totally hyperbolic and exaggerated since I was sure that it was reporting about something really bad like half the exoplanets are in fact not real or something like that...

Re:Sorry Bad Astronomer but you're partly wrong (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 3 years ago | (#32750346)

The thing is that this planet was only found last year, in a recent Hubble image. Astrophysicists saw it in the recent image and went back to the archives and also identified it in the 1995 archive image.

2004, according to Phil. And unless he's deliberately being misleading, they were in fact looking for the planet:

OK, but a planet already has been directly imaged orbiting the star Fomalhaut. That star is hotter and more massive than the Sun, but is far more sun-like than a brown dwarf. The first image of the planet Fomalhaut b was taken in 2004 using Hubble Space Telescope, and the second confirming image in 2006. It took two more years to make sure everything was correct, and the news announced in 2008. So while this was announced after the image of 1RXS 1609b was first taken in 2008, the first image of Fomalhaut b was taken in 2004, four years earlier.

(I, for one, can recall people identifying locations where a planet ought to be in that disk as early as Fall 2002. So it's credible to me that they'd be looking with HST in 2004.)

Granted, they didn't announce it right away. But, then, that's also the basis for you claim for priority of 1RXS 1609, so it seems like Phil is still right.

Re:Sorry Bad Astronomer but you're partly wrong (2, Informative)

superluminique (1567063) | more than 3 years ago | (#32750904)

Good point CheshireCatCO and I got stressed about talking too fast so I went and read the actual papers.

The thing is that this planet was only found last year, in a recent Hubble image. Astrophysicists saw it in the recent image and went back to the archives and also identified it in the 1995 archive image.

2004, according to Phil. And unless he's deliberately being misleading, they were in fact looking for the planet:

The 2004 actually refers to a 2005 Nature paper (A planetary system as the origin of structure in Fomalhaut's dust belt [harvard.edu] ), presenting the modelling of the debris disk which strongly suggests that a planet has to be there. There is no mention of any candidate point source in the image.

(I, for one, can recall people identifying locations where a planet ought to be in that disk as early as Fall 2002. So it's credible to me that they'd be looking with HST in 2004.)

Granted, they didn't announce it right away. But, then, that's also the basis for you claim for priority of 1RXS 1609, so it seems like Phil is still right.

Of course, from the 2005 paper and strong prior evidence, they decided to follow up on the source and got images in 2006 and in 2008. Unless I missed the article there is not paper identifying a point source in the image as a candidate planet until the 2008 Science paper announcing the discovery of a planet around Formalhaut (Optical Images of an Exosolar Planet 25 Light-Years from Earth [harvard.edu] ). If there was a peer-reviewed paper, it would be cited in the 2008 Science paper and, moreover, it is logical there is none since 1. they didn't want to be scooped, 2. they had to be cautious until the discovery was confirmed.

So even if people saw speckles in the debris disk of Formalhaut, it would have been difficult to claim them as planets unless spectroscopy would confirm or proper motion as it ended up being the case. In the case of 1RXS 1609, things are different since not only was there an optical detection but also a spectrum. The spectrum clearly showed it was a planet but could not unambiguously tell that it was gravitationally bounded to the star because of the lack of proper motion. So regardless of whether or not the planet was gravitationally bounded to the star (say, it could have been ejected from another system and just being running away), it still would have been, arguably, the first direct detection of an exoplanet.

Anyway, as everyone can see, the whole thing relies on what the definition of "first" is. Is it first published detection? First recorded image that shows it? etc. In any case, Phil does good work and I appreciate it. I just found that, ironically, the news about the news was being made a bit too spectacular.

Re:Sorry Bad Astronomer but you're partly wrong (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 3 years ago | (#32751260)

First of all, you're changing the argument. You never said "boo" about published papers before, just when the observations were made/analyzed. And correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this the first publication of the 1RXS 1609 result? (Actually, it doesn't even appear to be published yet.) If so, aren't you still wrong?

Re:Sorry Bad Astronomer but you're partly wrong (2, Informative)

superluminique (1567063) | more than 4 years ago | (#32752122)

Sorry, I forgot to include the link to the 1RXS 1609 papers: the original "discovery" paper [harvard.edu] and the "confirmation" paper [harvard.edu] . So to answer your question, no this isn't the first publication about 1RXS 1609, the 2008 one did announce the discovery. And I don't think I'm changing my argument. Not sure exactly what the "boo" about published papers means but in my first post, when I talk about discoveries and findings I implicity (sorry if I didn't make it clear) refer to literature. Here, the point is simply that if someone noticed anything around Formalhaut before the 2008 paper, it hasn't been published or announced so then it's kind of irrelevant. Of course, it's irrelevant to the extent of what one considers a "first".

Anyways, one would probably agree that arguing about it is a bit pointless because there is no clear answer and it just becomes circular after a while. I personally know many of the authors on both the Formalhaut and the 1RXS 1609 teams, and I can say that I've witnessed very good ethics from them. For instance, during a talk one of them would refer to the discovery as the "first" with quotation marks and mention the other one as also being the "first". One last remark is that fact that peer reviewed journals usually forbid the use of words like "first" and such. Science and Nature are very strict about it and it's certainly a good thing because it alleviates unneeded arguments ;-)

Re:Sorry Bad Astronomer but you're partly wrong (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 4 years ago | (#32752238)

So the original paper on 1RXS 1609 is from December 2008... the end of the same year that the original paper on Fomalhaut was published? (So a month later, according to your links.)

I'm sorry, I'm just seriously confused as to why you say Phil is wrong. What am I missing?

Re:Sorry Bad Astronomer but you're partly wrong (2, Informative)

superluminique (1567063) | more than 4 years ago | (#32753460)

The actual printed publication of 1RXS 1609 came out after that of Formalhaut but the results came up earlier. The reason being that Science and Nature (Formalhaut's was published in Science) have a much quicker turn around from the time the paper is initially submitted to the point where it comes out of press (it depends but it can be something like a month), whereas more specialized journals like the Astrophysical Journal in which 1RXS 1609's was published are extremely long (several months). Of course, no one in the field waits for the printed paper; typically they are put on ArXiV [arxiv.org] way before, most of the time after they have been accepted so that the authors know it has been referred and won't be modified further (there are still a few months between the time the paper gets accepted and it gets published). So, the 1RXS 1609 discovery came out and made up the headlines before, though again everything can be argued and I personally think it's pretty much a tie game. Bottom line, I don't say that Phil is all wrong, all I'm saying is that things are a bit more complicated that they look like. I hope it can help you understand. Cheers.

Exoplanet... Schexoplanets (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 3 years ago | (#32749210)

"Directly imaged"? IDTX (I Don't Think Xo). Not unless you consider any Kim Kardashian photo you've ever seen to be "directly imaged".

As for planetary status--they even got Pluto wrong FFS... and that's just an endo-whatever.

Disappointing nomenclature (1)

dugeen (1224138) | more than 4 years ago | (#32754292)

I'm upset to find that the coding system uses letters, and starts with 'b', eg 51 Pegasi b. I wanted them to use the numeric science fiction system where planets have codes like 'Sol 3' or 'Vega VIII'.

Re:Disappointing nomenclature (1)

superluminique (1567063) | more than 4 years ago | (#32758662)

I also wish we had nice names like in sci-fi movies. One of the problems is that most of the stars are designated by a number, like HD 2135 (for the stars from the Henry Draper catalog) or KIC 321 (for stars of the Kepler Input Catalog; Kepler being a satellite search transiting planets). There are also stars designated by their coordinates in the sky J1324-4355. For this reason, adding numbers at the end would make it confusing and letters are more appropriate.

Ahh of course! (1)

pinkushun (1467193) | more than 4 years ago | (#32754886)

To be specific: this new planet is the first to be directly imaged orbiting a sun-like star using observations made from the ground.

Up Next: new planet photographed before it's discovered by conjoined twins who are blind since birth, standing on a soap box eating fruits while reciting the alphabet backwards. Stoned.
Tagline: "We would've announced it sooner, but my twin was away on a business trip in Bermuda, the triangley part."

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