Gas dwarf (Science News)
In our solar system, there are two clearly distinct classes of planets, the rocky little "terrestrial planets" with thin atmospheres (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars), and the big "gas giants" with deep, thick atmospheres (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) (and then there's Pluto and the dwarf planets, but let's not go there). Now, data from the late lamented Kepler telescope has shown us KOI-314c, a planet 200 lightyears away in Lyra. It's no more massive than Earth, but is 60% wider. That has to mean it has a thick, deep atmosphere like a gas giant, only it's no giant. It's a new class of planet.
Starfish eyes (Science News)
We've known for over a century that starfish have eyespots on the tips of their arms, but it turns out that they are more than just light-sensitive spots. They can actually form images, though not with much high definition. Biologists determined this by the gruesome process of collecting a bunch of starfish and clipping the arm-tips (and eyes) off half of them, then dumping them on the sea-bed some distance from their reef. Only the ones with eyes could see the reef and head toward it. (I am happy to say that starfish recover from treatment like that, and grow everything back.)
The Big Five and you (BBC)
The Big Five is the current favorite personality test among psychologists. The five traits it measures are Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. (The first four correlate, roughly, with the four scales of the Myers-Briggs personality system.) The BBC has conducted a personality inventory on a large number of people and come up with some trends in the population:
- Men trend higher on Openness.
- Women trend higher on Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Neuroticism.
- Extroverts like jobs with lots of social contact. Duh.
- Open people like jobs using creativity and abstract thinking.
- Agreeable people like service and education jobs.
- Conscientious Extroverts usually like their jobs, whatever those jobs are.
- Agreeable people have better health.
Most of which is interesting, but in an "I always thought so" kind of way.
Gordon Bell, lifeblogger (New Scientist)
Gordon Bell, major computer engineer and leading light of the former Digital Equipment Corp., records his life as he goes along, electronically. "Lifeblogging," he calls it. He says cell phones have made it way easier, but raise privacy issues, since not everyone around him wants their life blogged...