CD’s are slowly becoming useless pieces of plastic, and good old vinyl records are making a comeback. I am sad to say that I only recently jumped on the vinyl bandwagon (at least for new releases). My vinyl collection really only consisted of the old records I will eventually inherit from my dad, plus a few other old Beach Boys records. I only recently started buying new releases on vinyl, but I’m totally in love with the idea of having a record at home, plus a digital version of the album for the trusty ol’ iPod. I think this is the future of music formats- embracing the greatness of the format of the past, while also embracing the format of the future. I think every release should be available on vinyl with a free download code inside the packaging. Normally the record label has the digital download on their website, but Insound is putting a new twist on this whole phenomenon by offering the albums for free download with a vinyl purchase, putting the digital end of the transaction in the hands of the online retailer, instead of the record label. Kudos.

Three exoplanets orbiting a young star 140 light years away are captured using Keck Observatory near-infrared adaptive optics. The planets are labeled and the two outer ones have arrows showing the size of their motion over a 4 year period.

Three exoplanets orbiting a young star 140 light years away are captured using Keck Observatory near-infrared adaptive optics. The planets are labeled and the two outer ones have arrows showing the size of their motion over a 4 year period.

The first-ever direct images of extrasolar planets have been released by NASA. This marks a major milestone in the search for that ever-elusive extrasolar “earth twin” that astronomers are looking for. Not only did they image one planet, they imaged three! I’m a huge fan of the effort to detect an earth-sized extrasolar planet, and I’ve eagerly awaiting the day that the science community announces such a discovery. Astronomers seem to mostly agree that there are earth-like planets lurking out there, it’s just that we haven’t been able to detect them yet. The smallest extrasolar planet detected thus-far is about 5 times bigger than earth. The vast majority of extrasolar planets are gigantic- several times the size of Jupiter, which makes them easy to detect through indirect methods. Earth-sized planets will be much harder to detect, and we just don’t have instruments or telescopes sensitve enough to detect them. Thus, I will probably have to wait until well after the launch of the new James Webb Space Telescope or the Kepler Observatory to get that exciting news.