Archive for August 25th, 2011

Diamond Planet

August 25, 2011
A model of a neutron star's internal structure

Image via Wikipedia

This is really cool. Astronomers have discovered a planet made largely of carbon that happens to be fairly dense. What form of carbon is fairly dense, diamonds. So, evidently this is a planet with a crystalline structure.

The new planet is far denser than any other known so far and consists largely of carbon. Because it is so dense, scientists calculate the carbon must be crystalline, so a large part of this strange world will effectively be diamond.

“The evolutionary history and amazing density of the planet all suggest it is comprised of carbon — i.e. a massive diamond orbiting a neutron star every two hours in an orbit so tight it would fit inside our own Sun,” said Matthew Bailes of Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne

A neutron star is a stellar remnant that is very massive but very small so it is very, very dense. A star twice as massive as our sun compressed down to about the size of a city.

Pulsars are tiny, dead neutron stars that are only around 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) in diameter and spin hundreds of times a second, emitting beams of radiation.

In the case of pulsar J1719-1438, the beams regularly sweep the Earth and have been monitored by telescopes in Australia, Britain and Hawaii, allowing astronomers to detect modulations due to the gravitational pull of its unseen companion planet.

The measurements suggest the planet, which orbits its star every two hours and 10 minutes, has slightly more mass than Jupiter but is 20 times as dense, Bailes and colleagues reported in the journal Science on Thursday.

It would be wonderful to send a probe to this planet to get some pictures but it is too far away, about 8000 light-years away. Too bad.

 

New Constitution for Libya

August 25, 2011

Although the Libyan rebels have been busy taking Tripoli and breaking into Qadaffi’s compound, they have still managed to write a first draft of a new Libyan constitution. You can see it in pdf form here. At first glance it looks promising.

Libya is an independent, Democratic State in which the people are the source of authorities…The State shall guarantee for non-Moslems the freedom of practising religious rights.

The State shall seek to establish a political democratic regime to be based upon the political multitude and multi party system in a view of achieving peaceful and democratic circulation of power.

Human rights and his basic freedoms shall be respected

Freedom of opinion for individuals and groups…shall be guaranteed by the state.

There’s more like that. It sounds very liberal, something our own founding fathers might have written, except for one small detail.

Islam is the religion of the State and the principal source of legislation is Islamic jurisprudence (Sharia).

That cancels out all of the fine sentiments expressed elsewhere in this document. It is sort of like the old Soviet constitution in which all sorts of freedoms and rights were guaranteed but only so long as those rights did not interfere with the goal of building communism. So, in effect the citizens had no rights. Under this constitution it would seem that the people of Libya will have all sorts of freedoms and rights guaranteed by the State but only so long as these rights do not conflict with Sharia. I am afraid that we have exchanged one tyrant for another in Libya

Here is an analysis from Stratfor on what is likely to happen next in Libya.


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