Different Skies

Its Your World

Renegade Planets: Weird Alien Worlds Challenge Theories

Over the past 200 years, a standard model has emerged to explain how solar systems form. Using our own solar system as a guide, the model explains the existence of a central star (our Sun), an inner system of rocky, “terrestrial” planets, and an outer system of “gas giant” planets, all orbiting in nearly the same plane of rotation as the central star.

Recent discoveries of planetary systems around other stars have challenged this model. These exoplanet discoveries have included gas giant planets in close orbit around their stars, some of which are in radically different planes of rotation from their primary stars. [The Strangest Alien Planets]

In the generally accepted model for solar system formation, everything begins with a nebula (or cloud) containing gas and dust. Gravitational attraction causes the cloud to collapse, and if the collapse is less than perfectly symmetric, angular momentum will lead the cloud to form a nearly flat rotating disk.

The greatest concentration of material collects at the center of the disk, forming a protostar, while protoplanets may form at some distance from the center around areas of higher than average density within the disk. When the protostar eventually collects enough matter, fusion reactions begin and it becomes a young star, heating the inner portion of the disk and vaporizing any gases that may have collected – which naturally explains why planets that form near the star are rocky.

At greater distances, gases can remain in icy form and accrete into gas giant planets. The limiting radius that defines the division between the rocky inner planets and outer gas giants is called the “ice line”.

Whether inside or outside the ice line, planets sweep out material within a particular radius of the disk as they orbit the star, and over time bring together whatever dust (and beyond the ice line, gas) are available at that radius. Interaction between the planets and central star eventually put most of the planets in stable, near-circular orbits.

Over the past few years, as exoplanets have been discovered around other stars, we’ve learned that not every solar system follows our recipe. Among the first exoplanet findings were so-called “Hot Jupiter” gas giant planets in close orbit around stars.

Then there’s the case of a gas giant planet orbiting a brown dwarf star in a system that hasn’t been around long enough to provide time for the slow accretion of icy particles predicted by the condensation model. In addition, a team of astronomers at the Geneva Observatory recently announced that a majority of 27 “Hot Jupiter” exoplanets are not orbiting in the same plane of rotation of their host star, with six actually in retrograde orbit (opposite the direction of rotation of the host star).

Various schemes have been suggested to explain how a gas giant could form beyond the ice line and then move inward toward the star to become a “hot Jupiter.”

One model, called “migration”, involves interaction between a gas giant and a ring of debris in the protoplanetary nebula. Tidal interaction between the gas giant, the primary star and the debris ring could cause the gas giant to slowly spiral in, ultimately arriving in a circular orbit close to the primary star.

However, this model would still leave the gas giant orbiting in the plane of the primary star’s rotation. It cannot explain the high inclination and retrograde orbits observed by the Geneva team.

Predicting Backwards Orbits

There is, however, a model that can explain them: In a 2007 paper, Princeton graduate student Daniel Fabrycky, expanding on earlier work by others, showed how they could occur in a binary star system. In this scenario, the primary star is orbited by a distant companion star, and gravitational interaction between a gas giant planet orbiting the primary star and the companion star could destabilize the gas giant’s orbit.

This would turn the planet’s circular orbit in the plane of the primary star’s rotation to an eccentric orbit much like that of a comet, tilted significantly to the plane of rotation. Over time, tidal interaction between the gas giant and the primary star circularizes the gas giant’s orbit at its closest distance to the primary star – making it a hot Jupiter.

When Fabrycky used computer simulation to model variations on his theory, he found that a significant proportion of the gas giants he modeled wound up in retrograde orbit, opposite the direction of rotation of the primary star – as was subsequently observed by the Geneva group.

Even without a distant binary companion, the orbit of a gas giant could be destabilized if a number of other giant planets in the same system happen to come close together. A 2008 paper by Mikio Nagasawa of the Tokyo Institute of Technology found that interactions between gas giant planets could produce a significant percentage of hot Jupiters, with “a broad range of orbital inclinations (even retrograde ones).”

As Fabrycky (who is now a fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) says, “If you have a planet in a high-inclination, comet-like orbit, the orbital elements couple. That gives you very little angular momentum, and makes it easy to change the orbit into a retrograde motion.”

Fabrycky believes the discovery of hot Jupiter exoplanets in retrograde orbits does not invalidate the standard accretion model, but their existence does “raise a new point of view. In general, solar systems are chaotic and violent,” which means that our own “relatively peaceful” solar system may be something of an exception.

Destabilizing the Possibility for Life

Rory Barnes, a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Astronomy and Astrobiology at the University of Washington, agrees with Fabrycky on that point. “The simple quiescent model we think of with our solar system isn’t ubiquitous. There are a lot of things going on that we didn’t anticipate.”

Barnes also agrees that a companion star in a binary system could destabilize planetary orbits, but adds, “I have a hard time believing that improbable events like this could lead to a large percentage of planets in retrograde orbits.”

Whatever the mechanism, any process that destabilizes the orbit of a gas giant enough to change the plane of its orbit and move it close to the primary star would spell doom for any terrestrial planet in the same system. Interaction with the gas giant would probably destabilize the orbit of planets in the inner solar system, potentially tossing them out of the solar system entirely and making it unlikely that life as we know it would have time to develop.

Thus, if planetary systems with renegade gas giants turn out to be common, life as we know it may be very rare.

Original article: Renegade Planets

How to Date Out of Your League

White sands 2

She’s a goddess. You’re a mere mortal. Here’s how to make her worship you

You see them everywhere: chatting, smiling, quietly contemplating world peace as they suck on the ends of their Ray-Bans. You want to talk to them, but you wonder if there’s any point. After all, you aren’t a billionaire. You don’t model underwear. You aren’t even an actor in rehab.

We are speaking, of course, about the universal beauties you’ve always assumed were beyond your grasp. Well, you’re wrong. In reality, great- looking women fall for nice guys like you, guys who have only one thing you lack: a strategy.

To this end, we have probed the minds of leading relationship experts and the lives of regular guys who have taken their modest, farm-team talent to the Big Show. From the evidence gathered, we have compiled a definitive, eight-point plan to help you attract and keep all those women you’ve been fantasizing about.

The really good news? None of our steps requires mail-order aphrodisiacs.

Show Her You Are A Gutsy Guy

Because most men are intimidated by overwhelming looks, the amount of competition for beautiful women is much smaller than you might think. In fact, the reason many unassuming guys are with knockouts is simple: They were the only ones who took the risk.

“Two of the main traits beautiful women are attracted to in men are power and self- confidence,” says Warren Farrell, Ph.D., author of The Myth of Male Power and an expert on man-woman relations.

“If a man is intimidated by a woman’s looks, she assumes he’s going to be intimidated by the world in general.” A guy who takes a risk, however, exudes power by overcoming the initial desire to run when he comes face-to-face with stunning beauty. And while perfect 10s get zillions of propositions from newly brave yokels soaked with alcohol, they encounter comparatively few serious (and sober) suitors. You can score big points with a beautiful woman simply by making a mature, confident approach and by treating her like a normal person–which is probably what she is, underneath that leather mini and skimpy halter top.

Worship at the Altar of Larry King

The talk- show host and serial husband is living proof that you can’t predict what women will find attractive. “Sometimes beautiful women prefer a handsome man, and sometimes they don’t; sometimes they prefer a wealthy man, and sometimes they don’t,” observes David Deida, a lecturer on the sexes and author of The Way of the Superior Man.

Although you may not need extraordinary looks or money to attract a ravishing woman, you do need something. So use your best social selling points when you approach her. My buddy, an ad sales representative in San Diego, says humor works well for him. “If you can make a woman laugh, you can probably make her do anything,” he says. He recounts one occasion when he approached a woman at a club and offered to buy her a drink. She curtly refused. He then asked her to dance and received the same response. He finally asked, “Well, can I just stand here?” She laughed despite herself, and within minutes he had her name and phone number.

Don’t Hit on Her, Talk to Her

The problem with an opening line is that it’s just that–one sentence that seldom leads to anything.

Him: “Hey, you come here a lot?”

Her: “No.”

Him: “Oh.”

Besides, most good-looking women have had more lines tossed their way than the entire Wallenda family put together.

You’ll fare better by starting a real conversation. Farrell recommends hunting for something the two of you have in common, no matter how small. Asking her advice on the relative ripeness of melons in the produce aisle just might punch your ticket. It’s been done before, but it demonstrates that you value her opinion.

Another guy I know, a software entrepreneur in San Francisco, made eye contact with Ellen one morning on his commuter bus. She was a knockout; he’s an average guy with a big nose. “When I saw her on the same bus a couple weeks later,” he says, “I told her, `I was hoping to see you here again. Do you work downtown?'” She responded, and they were off.

Don’t Intimidate Her

What? You intimidate her? You bet. Most guys fail to appreciate that romantic approaches make even the prettiest of women just as nervous as they make you. Making her feel comfortable will calm you both down and improve your odds of success. Smiling, asking for advice (“My parents are coming to town– what show should I take them to?”) and listening attentively (think about follow-up questions, not about her breasts) are proven ways to put her at ease. “Even the way you breathe makes a difference,” adds Deida. (Think slow and deep. And don’t drool.)

Focus on Something Other Than Her Looks

“Beautiful women are like a second-term president: insecure,” says Farrell. “They know their powers are ephemeral, and that one day, inevitably, someone will replace them.” (Pray it’s not Gore!)

So, even at the height of their radiance, women like to be appreciated. When courting her, catalog her subtler virtues and let her know you admire them. Also, compliment her appearance at the moments when she feels least beautiful– when she’s sweaty, tired, or just waking up.

But Don’t Ignore Her Looks

A lot of men believe you should never let a woman know you think she’s beautiful because it puts you in a “vulnerable” position. That’s a load of bull.

Gorgeous women know they’re beautiful, and they know you know it. If you try too hard to play it cool, they simply see you for what you are: a phony. But while you don’t want to mask your attraction, neither do you want to express it lewdly (“Nice rack”) or in a manner that fails to distinguish you from the scores of other guys who compliment her (“Gee, you’re pretty”).

Instead, focus on the quieter aspects of her loveliness. “Beautiful women are suspicious of the grand compliment,” says Farrell. Tell her you like the way she wrinkles her nose when she smiles or the way she tilts her head when she talks to you. Notice things that only women notice amongst themselves– how well her scarf matches her eyes–and you’ll impress her with your sensitivity and powers of observation. Either that or she’ll think you’re a closet Elsa Klensch fan.

Use Your Brain, Not Your Wallet

If your intended is as great-looking as you think she is, she’ll still have plenty of opportunities to date other men–rich men, actually, with silvery hair and tight little convertibles. That’s just something you have to accept.

Because men tend to associate female beauty with sex, we often mistakenly assume that a beautiful girlfriend is a sex object waiting to be bought by a higher bidder. In the rare case that it’s true, say good riddance to the superficial bimbo. Otherwise, advises Deida, “the best way to encourage fidelity is to show her what she’d be missing if she weren’t with you. Challenge her beyond her expectations.” Does she like to dance? Sign up for ballroom lessons. Does she like to paint? Keep her in brushes. If a woman recognizes that you not only make her happy but also help her grow, she won’t want to lose you.

Don’t Tie Her Down

A ravishing woman has too much beauty for you to hog. Grow up and let her share it with the world. “When a woman realizes that her beauty is a gift, that it can bring joy to other people, then her beauty deepens and she becomes radiant,” says Deida.

By encouraging her to smile, strut and show off, you won’t lose a piece of her beauty; you’ll gain a grateful chunk of her heart–a chunk she has probably never shared with a guy before. What about other guys, who will try to steal her? Your extreme options are to fight or flee, but both choices are foolish. Instead, says my software-selling buddy, “steal the guy’s attention yourself and strike up a conversation. When he finds out you’re a nice guy, he won’t want to disrespect you.” If he does, that’s where a martial-arts background really comes in handy.

Original article: How to Date Out of Your League

Snake Facts & Types of Snakes


There are more than 3,000 species of snakes in the world and there is at least one type of snake on every continent except Antarctica. While the snake has a bad rap as a pest, snakes can often be quite helpful and even a fun pet.


With so many different species, there are snakes of many different sizes. The world’s smallest snake, according to National Geographic, is the thread snake, which grows to only about 3.9 inches (10 centimeters) long. It looks much like an earthworm. The largest snake, the reticulated python, can grow to a whopping 30 feet (9 meters). The largest snake fossil ever discovered is called the Titanoboa. This creature lived 60 million years ago and would have been 50 feet (15 meters) long.

Snake eggs & baby snakes

It is a common misconception that snakes build nests for their eggs. Only one species of snake, the king cobra, will build a nest for its young. Not all snakes lay eggs, either. About 70 percent of snakes lay eggs. These types of snakes are called oviparous.

The other 30 percent give birth to live young, much like mammals. This is because some climates are too cold for eggs to develop and hatch, so snakes living in colder climates do not lay eggs.

What do snakes eat?

Snakes are carnivores. This means that they only eat meat. Snakes are often seen as pests, but they actually can help keep pests at bay by eating rodents.

Many people think that all snakes kill their prey by biting it and injecting the prey with poison. This isn’t true. Cobras, vipers and other related species are the only snakes that use venom to hunt.

Most snakes simply swallow their prey whole. Large snakes, such as the python, will strangle their prey to death and then swallow it whole. Snakes can eat other animals 75 to 100 percent bigger than their own size, according to National Geographic. They have been known to eat animals such as crocodiles and cows. To fit the large prey into their mouth, the snake’s jaw will unhinge.

Once the animal is inside, the snake’s body releases enzymes to break the food down into useable energy. Snakes don’t need to eat as often as other animals because they have a very slow metabolism rate. King cobras, for example, can live for months without food.

Sometimes, though, eating a live animal can result in disaster. Snakes have been known to explode after eating a living animal, though it is not known why.

Where do snakes live?

Snakes live in almost every corner of the world. They are found in forests, deserts, swamps and grasslands. Many call underground burrows or the spaces under rocks home. Some snakes, like the cottonmouth water moccasin of North America live in water part of the time.

Though they are found all over the world, snakes do not, however, like the cold. This is because they are cold blooded or ectothermic. This means that they don’t have the means to regulate their body temperature like warm blooded creatures. If it is cold outside, then the snake will be cold, too, since their bodies do not use energy to create heat to warm them. When it is cold, many snakes hibernate in tunnels underground. Others seek warmer areas, such as inside humans’ homes.

Classification / Taxonomy

According to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS):

Kingdom: Animalia
Subkingdom: Bilateria
Infrakingdom: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclass: Tetrapoda
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Infraorders: Scolecophidia (blind snakes) & Alethinophidia (all others)
Families: 3 in Scolecophidia; 15 in Alethinophidia
Subfamilies: 9 in Alethinophidia
Genera: 15 in Scolecophidia ; 316 in Alethinophidia
Species: 305 in Scolecophidia; 2,618 in Alethinophidia, including:

  • Black mamba — Dendroaspis polylepis
  • Coral snakes — 6 genera & 81 species, such as Arizona coral snake (Micruroides euryxanthus), Eastern or common coral snake (Micrurus fulvius) and Texas coral snake (Micrurus tener)
  • Corn snake — Pantherophis guttatus
  • Cobras — 28 to 270 species, depending on definition, such as King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) and Indian cobra (Naja naja)
  • Water moccasin (Cottonmouth) — Agkistrodon piscivorus
  • Garter snakes — 28 species, such as common garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis), San Francisco garter snake (Thamnosis sirtalis tetrataenia) and Western ribbon snake (Thamnophis proximus)
  • Rattlesnakes — 32 species, such as Timber rattler (Crotalus horridus), Eastern diamondback (Crotalus adamanteus) and Western diamondback (Crotalus atrox)

Conservation status

The rarest and most endangered snake is the St. Lucia racer. It is believed that there are 18 to 100 of these snakes left in existence. Other snakes, such as the Amami Takachiho and the Adelophis copei are considered vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources since their populations are decreasing.

Other facts

Snakes don’t smell with their noses like humans. They have a forked or split tongue that they use to smell and taste chemical compositions in the air.

Snakes don’t have eyelids or ears, either, and their eyes don’t move. To hear they feel vibrations through the ground.

Humans’ skin flakes off a little at a time, but snakes shed their entire skin nearly three times a year. This is called molting.

Snakes aren’t slimy. Their scales are smooth and dry. Corn snakes use their scales as climbing equipment. They can angle the scales so that it digs into bark, allowing them to climb trees.

The paradise tree-snake of Southeast Asia can fly. It swings its body through the air and then flattens into a C-shape to catch the airflow. If it flips its body back and forth it can change directions as it falls.

There are several ways to tell if a snake is poisonous. For example, if its pupil is shaped like a diamond, then the snake is poisonous. Snakes that are non-poisonous will have round pupils. Color is another good clue. This rhyme helps people tell the difference between coral snakes, which is poisonous, and scarlet king snakes, which is not poisonous:

  • If red touches yellow, it will kill a fellow
  • If red touches black, it’s a friend of Jack

Original article: http://goo.gl/P5CfVB

Your Bride


There is nothing — cars, suits, houses, jobs — that rises to the level of importance of your Bride.

Here you are not selecting mere assets, salaries, or rates, but personality, wit, mind, heart, and soul.

Beyond this, you are selecting the one creature in all the known universe who will bring forth your children.

There is no greater, celebrated, and precarious choice than marriage.


Archimedes Owl

“This is Archimedes, a highly educated owl.”

Merlin introducing Archimedes to Sir Ector.

Archimedes is a the tritagonist from The Sword in the Stone. He is Merlin’s pet owl who has the ability to speak like a human.


Little of Archimedes’s past is known. At some point, he became the pet owl of Merlin and gained the ability to speak. Archimedes is known for being somewhat grouchy and sarcastic, especially in the morning. Though he is loyal to Merlin, he is not afraid to point out the Wizard’s shortcomings and often does. He is, however, very well educated, and possesses a great deal of practical knowledge.

Archimedes is based on Merlin’s talking owl, from the book The Sword in the Stone, which the film was based on. Like the movie, the book version of Archimedes can talk and teaches Wart to fly.


The Sword in the Stone

Archimedes first appears with Merlin in their forest cottage. He scoffs at Merlin’s idea that someone will join them for tea. Later, when a young boy named Wart does appear, he snidely reminds Merlin about his limits, when Merlin states that he can see everything in the future, as Merlin had no clue who the person was that would be joining them.

Archimedes accompanies Merlin as they travel to Sir Ector’s castle, where Wart lives. Merlin introduces Archimedes as a “highly educated owl,” which sends Sir Ector into hysterics, much to the offense of Archimedes. The next day, Archimedes protests that Merlin should return to the woods, as Sir Ector has placed the two of them in a crumbling tower, referred to as the “guest room.” It rains that night, and Archimedes is soaked due to the numerous leaks in the tower. After Merlin sees Sir Pellinore come with news, Archimedes is sent to investigate. In the dining room, Archimedes overhears the men speak of an upcoming tournament, where the winner would become king of England.

The next morning, Archimedes is forced to remind a forgetful Merlin of where they are. The two then watch as Wart helps Kay practice his jousting. When Merlin scoffs at the idea that jousting is a science, Archimedes points out that Wart likes the sport just as much as the rest do. Merlin then reveals his plan to use magic to help Wart learn the value of an education.

Archimedes later accompanies Merlin as the wizard gives Wart a lesson. Merlin forgets the spell he intended to cast, and awakens a sleeping Archimedes for the spell. Archimedes is shown to be very cranky early in the morning and finds a nice tree to sleep in, while Merlin and Wart swim through the moat as fish. Archimedes doesn’t get much rest, as he is soon forced to come to the rescue of Wart, who is being chased by a giant pike. After Wart and Merlin are human again, Merlin slyly notes that Archimedes cared a lot about Wart’s safety. This leads Archimedes to excuse himself on the basis that young perch is his favorite dish, and that he intended to eat Wart.

Later, when Merlin and Wart have transformed themselves into squirrels for another lesson, Wart is being chased by a lovestruck female squirrel. Archimedes’ sleep is once again disturbed by Wart landing on top of him, to which the owl shoos Wart away, not knowing who he is.

Archimedes is next seen after Wart is fired as Kay’s squire. Merlin begins Wart’s education in earnest by talking about very complicated theories. Archimedes sees that Wart is getting confused and forcibly takes over Wart’s education. Archimedes is shown to be much more practical than Merlin. He first tasks Wart with reading a mountain of books, but when he discovers that Wart can’t read or write, Archimedes teaches him. During a break, Merlin demonstrates a model airplane. Archimedes believes that it won’t work, and becomes hysterical when the plane crashes, due to it being caught in Merlin’s beard.

When Merlin turns Wart into a sparrow, so that Wart can fly as he dreamed, Merlin begins to explain the concept of flight using Archimedes’s wings as a model. Archimedes quickly stops this and decides to teach Wart to fly himself, as he himself is a bird. He teaches Wart to fly by making him do it. Everything is going well when a hawk appears and tries to eat Wart. Archimedes attempts to delay the hawk, and Wart is able to dive into a chimney to escape. When Archimedes sees that Wart is now in the hands of Madam Mim, Archimedes flies off to warn Merlin. Archimedes next appears as the Wizard’s Duel is about to start, and he explains the premise to Wart. Alongside Wart, he watches the duel and occasionally yells out advice to Merlin.

At Christmas, Wart is made Kay’s squire, to which Archimedes kindly congratulates him, but Merlin is furious with Wart’s decision and goes to Bermuda. Archimedes stays with Wart, accompanying him to London to the tournament. He goes with Wart as he attempts to find a sword for Kay. When Wart attempts to retrieve the Sword in the Stone, Archimedes warns him against pulling it. Later, he witnesses Wart being officially recognized as the rightful king Arthur and shows a mixture of happiness and disbelief.

After the coronation, Arthur feels unprepared for the duties of king. Archimedes tries to help him run away, but they are unsuccessful as the castle is surrounded by cheering subjects. Merlin magically reappears to guide Arthur again, and Archimedes presumably chose to stay with them.

From Disney: Archimedes