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We have now detected smaller ExoPlanets (planets around other stars) than ever before, for the first time bringing us to the range of rocky planets, rather than gas giants. Some of them orbit at the right distance from their stars to make life as we know it possible. The odds that we are not alone in the Universe have once more gone up!

The announcement came today both from NASA and the ESA, and reading the two different stories gives you the feeling that their group was the one that made the discovery, in a vacume (pun intended) with no other players.

Astronomy is based on a world-wide network of investigators and equipment, most of them unpaid amateurs, in constant touch with each other to verify their findings. While I consider this story to be major news, I am a bit disappointed in the way each of the two major, government-funded organizations responsible for launching the satellites that brought in the raw data play it up as if it was theirs alone. Just the fact that they released the story on the same day underscores how the astronomy community works. Now if only we could keep the government media flacks out of the loop… LOL

On 30Jun1908 an explosion occurred in Tunguska, Siberia; the cause has been a mystery to this day, with the most common culprit being assumed to be a meteor. Because of the strength of the blast, antimatter or a mini black hole have been speculated as being involved.

But now something even stranger is being reported; an Alien device has supposedly been discovered, along with a 50 kilogram meteor remnant. The discovery was made based on leads given from orbital photographs, and some surprisingly respected news sources (including The Economist and the Register) have been reporting it. There is a lack of follow-up details, however; either it is not true, or perhaps someone slapped a lid on it.

If anyone has more hard facts, please send them my way, or the links to them. While waiting for that data, here are the links I have so far… from the Turkish Press, Space Daily, Yahoo, and Interfax RU.

If it is true, I don’t find it very comforting. I was hoping for the first non-human contact to be in the form of a research probe entering our solar system, or a trading consortium stopping by to see what trinkets they could swap us in return for buying Jupiter as a refueling station on their way to more profitable markets. I don’t believe in the “Aliens will Save Us” outlook. I also don’t believe in the cold-war inspired attitude of “What isn’t Us is the Enemy” portrayed in so many Hollywood productions. I do believe that any intelligence we meet will have been shaped by basic evolutionary needs to survive first, communicate second, and work with us only when it is to their own advantage.

All of which leads me to the conclusion that if first contact was made by blasting a few hundred square kilometers of our planet into twisted wreckage, we may have a problem. Maybe that problem was a malfunctioning probe, or something that has drifted between the stars for millennium before chance caused it to impact with Earth. But it could have also been a ranging shot, or a small Berserker device doing what it could to destroy as much life as possible with it’s limited resources.

Bottom line is, I need more info than this sparse report gives us.

The estate of Terry Nation has reached an agreement with the BBC; We will have Daleks in the new Dr. Who TV series as a result! In honor of that, I want to pass on a few of my favorite Dalek links. The first one is from the website where I learned the news, Andrew Hearn’s Doctor Who World. Taking it a step farther, The Sun reports that Daleks may be given legs this incarnation!

For those of you wondering what a Dalek is, let me point you to the Googlism: What Is A Dalek. Or for an actual definition, you can go with:
dalek n. a member of a race of hostile alien machine-organisms which appeared in the BBC television science-fiction serial Dr Who from 1963. [invented word, named after an encyclopedia volume covering the alphabetical sequence dal-lek] The Oxford English Reference Dictionary, © Oxford University Press 1996

If you want to add a Dalek to your own collection, you can build, buy, or render one. One of the best places to see what has been buyable in the past is the Skaro Toy Museum. For current merchandise, try the BBC Shop . If you want to buy a life-size Dalek, you should visit: LifeSize

If you like to build your own physical Dalek’s, you should check out Steve Phillips Daleks for a reproduction of the original instructions. If you want to render Daleks into your 3D software, two great choices are Mimrie’s Online Dalek Resources and Who3D.

The last link is the one to beware of; someone is starting to build Daleks! Check out this story from The Register ! Enjoy!

Douglas Adams had a wonderful writing style and a world-class sense of humor. And while he is no longer with us, his projects live on. His best known work, the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, is about to be rendered again, not once but twice.

The new Radio version takes up where the original left off, with never-before heard presentations of Life, The Universe And Everything, So Long And Thanks For All The Fish, and Mostly Harmless. The original vocal crew returns (with one exception), and Douglas himself does a character. For information, including air times, check these links:

For those like me who don’t live in England, you can catch the show online at:

If you haven’t listened to the BBC online, test it before the night of the first show. You may need to download and install a player, and it would be a shame to miss the first part of the program while you were doing that! It adjust for your bandwidth, so even dialup users can listen with a good computer.

The other new treat is the movie version of Hitchhiker’s. They are filming it now, so the official web site is fairly sparse yet (not much to put there at this point). The Blog is live and worth checking, though. So is Martin Freeman’s site, the actor who get’s to be Arthur Dent this time around. And just because you can never get enough Douglas Adams, a few more links….

And finally, the indirect link to the classic computer game from the ’80s. This was the first game (and one of a small handful) that caught my attention to the point where I played it to the end. Enjoy!

The next major exploration we humans are going for is Saturn. The Cassinni-Huygens probe is burning it’s way into SOI (Saturn Orbital Insertion) as I type this, and in about 7 hours the first images should be returned to earth. That is assuming it doesn’t burn up while doing the Saturn Aerobraking (our first aerobraking attempt on a gas giant); and even if it does, we will learn a lot from the data it sends before it turns into a crispy critter.

My own hope is it will survive long enough to make it into a stable orbit. And even better, to fullfill its 4 year mission, and fully map Saturn and explore that planet’s satellittes before it stops reporting back to us!

Here are a few of the better links for you to use to check on it’s progress…

NASA Cassinni Site

To view the Video as it arrives…

Cassinni Video

Where Is It Now…

Where Is It Now

There are a LOT more; this isn’t just a NASA project, it includes the ESA and some others! But this should get you started, at least! LOL…

I wanted to trumpet the news about SpaceShip1, but by the time I had time to do an entry for it here the whole world already knew about it. So all I can really do is sing the praises about a space program that can be done for minimum money, and without the Government (ANYBODIE’S government, of whatever flavor) having a say in how, when, and why it all gets done!

For the migration into space to work to humanity’s advantage, it has to be done by people, not paramilitary organizations. SpaceShip1 is the only attempt that actually succeeded in breaching the atmosphere so far, in anything large enough to carry a human. There is hope for us yet; with hard work, luck, and the right attitude we will get there!

And their home page is:

SpaceShip1 Home