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Shag (3737) writes "Type Ia supernovae are used as cosmological "standard candles" to measure distance because of their strong similarity to one another. This has made possible, for example, the research into universal expansion that led to the Nobel-winning discovery of "dark energy." For years, astrophysicists believed white dwarves exploded when they accreted enough mass from companion stars to reach a limit of 1.38 times the mass of our Sun. A decade ago, the "Champagne supernova" (SN 2003fg) was so bright astrophysicists concluded the limit had been exceeded by two white dwarves colliding. Now a new paper from the Nearby Supernova Factory collaboration suggests that type Ia supernovae occur at a wider range of stellar masses. Fortunately, there appears to be a calculable correlation between mass and light-curve width, so they can still fill the "standard candle" role, and research based on them is probably still valid. (I took data for the paper, but am not an author.)" top
Shag (3737) writes "My wife is a huge fan of James Bond movies, so this year's 50th anniversary "Bond 50" boxed set was the perfect birthday present. To keep her from guessing what it was, I provided an "unboxing experience" very different from the typical iProduct, featuring 4 boxes, 9 layers of wrapping, and additional weights. But like those other folks, I took photos of the process... unsurprisingly, she's vowed revenge." Link to Original Source top
Shag writes "Adobe co-founders John Warnock and Charles Geschke and IBM's Blue Gene supercomputer are among the recipients of the 2008 National Medal of Technology and Innovation, announced today by President Obama and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. The awards will be handed out at an October 7 White House ceremony." Link to Original Source top
Shag writes "The planners of the Thirty Meter Telescope have chosen a plateau near the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii as the site where the telescope will be constructed. (Cerro Armazones, in Chile, was the other possibility.) The telescope will use a mirror of hexagonal segments, like those first used at the Keck Observatory, but where each Keck telescope mirror is made up of 36 segments, the TMT mirror will have 494. Construction is expected to take close to a decade, once the permitting process is completed." Link to Original Source top
Shag writes "A lot of astronomers look for planets around other stars, but a team in California have come up with a plan for finding Earth-like planets around Alpha Centauri B, one of our nearest neighboring stars, less than 5 light-years away. Manned spacecraft would take 100 millennia to get there at speeds we've already achieved, but if the faster speeds necessary for interstellar travel are ever attained, this star system could be an excellent first stop." Link to Original Source top