Link roundup for 25 March 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012

Some interesting things to mention this weekend:

--- This article on Germany's massive project to shift to renewable energy. This is without a doubt one of the most interesting things going on in the world right now, and largely because it is Germany that is doing it: I see no reason for countries in non-earthquake-prone areas to do away with nuclear power, and would see this project as a big mistake for many countries, but if Germany is going to use Fukushima as an impetus to try to recreate its energy grid then I want to see them try, and hope it succeeds. Mistaken or not, some countries simply may have too much anti-nuclear sentiment to bother trying to convince them of its beneficial nature. Fortunately there was not much nuclear power in Germany in the first place - 17% or so. Now if France (78.8% nuclear power) were to try something like this, it would be a mistake of catastrophic proportions.

--- Not news yet, but the Estonian Wikipedia will be at 100,000 articles in perhaps a month or so. The number of articles per capita is about the same as Icelandic, which is quite impressive.

--- Some nice pictures from the Large Binocular Telescope, still taken with just one of its two mirrors. The image on the right is the star HR 8799 and four of its planets.

--- Mountaintop blasting for the Giant Magellan Telescope has begun. This is one of the three massive earth-bound telescopes scheduled to go into operation in 2018.

--- An article on Vesta, and how those studying it have a hard time not calling it a planet, because it simply acts like one. Studying Vesta and Ceres (and flying by Pluto in 2015) will be most interesting in the debate over exactly what a planet is. I have no problem with the term dwarf in front of a planet, as long as the planet part is emphasized. In other words, Ceres and Earth and Jupiter are planets...and if we want to be more precise, Ceres is a dwarf, Earth is a medium-sized terrestrial, and Jupiter is a gas giant. The idea that a planet needs to 'clear its orbit' to be a full planet though is a silly one, because not only is it vague but nearly impossible to prove or disprove in other solar systems.


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