Category Archives: Science fiction

the red sun of krypton

Two news items caught my attention today. Though they don’t actually have anything to do with each other, reading them one after the other evokes a certain comic-book planet:

An international team of astronomers from Switzerland, France and Portugal have discovered the most Earth-like planet outside our Solar System to date. The planet has a radius only 50 percent larger than Earth and is very likely to contain liquid water on its surface.

Unlike our Earth, this planet takes only 13 days to complete one orbit round its star. It is also 14 times closer to its star than the Earth is from the Sun. However, since its host star, the red dwarf Gliese 581, is smaller and colder than the Sun – and thus less luminous – the planet lies in the habitable zone, the region around a star where water could be liquid.

“We have estimated that the mean temperature of this super-Earth lies between 0 and 40 degrees Celsius, and water would thus be liquid,” said Stiphane Udry from the Geneva Observatory, Switzerland and lead-author of the paper in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

The planet is about 20 light years away, definitely visiting distance. It would definitely be a strange new world, but the presence of water (and all that implies) puts it at the top of the list of Places To Investigate.

In other news, a new mineral was discovered in a mine in Serbia:

“Towards the end of my research I searched the web using the mineral’s chemical formula – sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide – and was amazed to discover that same scientific name, written on a case of rock containing kryptonite stolen by Lex Luther from a museum in the film Superman Returns.

“The new mineral does not contain fluorine (which it does in the film) and is white rather than green but, in all other respects, the chemistry matches that for the rock containing kryptonite.”

Super-Earths, kryptonite… it just goes to show that truth is stranger than fiction. Now where’s that jet pack I ordered?

Obi-Wan Kenobi cloak rediscovered

[Adam says:]

Personally, I think garments’ lost travels are more interesting than the post cards you sometimes see of a garden gnome traveling the world:

The cloak worn by Sir Alec Guinness in Star Wars has been rediscovered after nearly three decades.

After Guinness wore the garment for his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi, it was returned to British costume firm Bermans.  The cloak was subsequently loaned to other films including 1999′s The Mummy, and even hired out as fancy dress.

It was identified in a stock check earlier this year and now forms part of a film memorabilia exhibition at the Harrods department store in London.

NaNoWriMo blog team go!

K and I are going to give National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) a try this year. It goes something like this: starting on November 1st, each of us has to write a 50,000-word (175-page) novel by midnight on November 30th. It’s not as crazy as it sounds; hordes of people finish every year, mostly by lowering their expectations from ‘bestseller’ to ‘will not make someone vomit’ (in the words of one of the organizers).

You can follow our progress along the way by visiting our NaNoWriMo pages; a handy pair of links is included in the sidebar here. I’m not sure exactly what they’ll contain, but at the very least it’ll include up-to-date word counts. If you decide (due to some mad urge) to join us and write a novel of your own, let me know your author URL and I’ll add it to the links.