Today the science is the top story! You can only imagine how giddy I was to hear about the French COROT satellite’s latest find- an exoplanet only twice the size of earth! That’s UNPRECEDENTED, people. Unfortunately, we don’t know much about it besides its size. COROT looks at other stars and watches for the slight dimming by a planet transiting in front of it. It’s sensitive enough to detect the miniscule dimming caused by this comparatively tiny planet, but that’s all it can do. In order to know what it’s made of, we have to know its mass, and the only way to know that is to watch how much the planet tugs on its parent star as it orbits, and since the planet is so small, the tug is also VERY small. We just don’t have anything capable of detecting such a tiny doppler shift…. yet. This planet is also orbiting so close that it’s practically touching the surface of its parent star, so it is VERY HOT, and thus completely uninhabitable. In fact, it’s very possible that if it has a rocky or metal surface (which is almost certain given its size), then its surface is molten. All this and more info can be found on the Bad Astronomy post from which this information was taken. Dr. Plait even goes so far as to say that we might find an earth twin (a planet roughly the same size as earth, in roughly the same orbit around a sun-like star) in the next few years. But again, we won’t be able to know much about it for several more years, until we get more sensitive telescopes operational.

Space Shuttle Discovery’s launch got delayed until at least Feb. 19th due to issues with a control valve that regulates the flow of hydrogen from the external tank into the orbiter’s engines during liftoff.

Credit: Jared Lazarus/Miami Herald

The economic slump has claimed its first music festival victim of 2009, the Langerado Festival, which is normally held in southern Florida. (This year it was slated to take place in Miami.) According to this article, artists confirmed to play included Death Cab for Cutie, Broken Social Scene, Ryan Adams & the Cardinals, The Faint, The Pogues, Girl Talk, Black Kids, and many others. The promoters cited poor ticket sales as the sole cause of the cancelation. I have a sick feeling this may happen to some of the other smaller festivals that have popped up in recent years. People are much more hestiant to spend money on entertainment right now. The sticker shock of $100 or more for a ticket to your favorite yearly music festival is hard to overcome in times like these. More details can be found in this Miami Herald article.

In my last post I listed the Bonnaroo lineup for 2009. Bonnaroo is arguably the nation’s biggest outdoor music festival, and I definitely don’t think it will suffer the same fate as Langerado. It’s in a different class altogether. I also think that the inclusion of Phish in the lineup pretty much makes it recession-proof. If there’s any band out there that can bring in thousands of obsessively dedicated fans who will literally scrape the bottoms of their wallets to see them, it’s Phish. If you know me, you know that I hate jam bands and can’t stand most of their fans, but I think getting Phish to headline (along with Springsteen of course) was probably the smartest thing they could’ve done to counteract the dismal economy’s influence on ticket sales. I can hear the hippies now…. “duuuude… the economy like, totally blows… but duuuude, PHISH is rockin’ two nights at the ‘roo this year! We GOTTA find the money! Even if it means buying less weed!”

Nashville cream was waiting on the Bonnaroo website to announce it right about now… but Nashvillest did some digging and found that TV on the Radio leaked it on their myspace blog. Here it is. Yep, we have to endure not one, but TWO Phish sets.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Phish (2 Shows)
Beastie Boys
Nine Inch Nails
David Byrne
Al Green
Snoop Dogg
Elvis Costello (Solo)
Erykah Badu
Paul Oakenfold
Ben Harper and Relentless7
The Mars Volta
TV on the Radio
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Gov’t Mule
Andrew Bird
Merle Haggard
The Decemberists
Girl Talk
Bon Iver
Béla Fleck & Toumani Diabate
Rodrigo y Gabriela
Band of Horses
The Del McCoury Band
of Montreal
Allen Toussaint
Coheed and Cambria
Booker T & the DBTs
David Grisman Quintet
Lucinda Williams
Animal Collective
Neko Case
Jenny Lewis
Robert Earl Keen
Citizen Cope
Femi Kuti and the Positive Force
The Ting Tings
Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
Kaki King
Grizzly Bear
King Sunny Adé
Okkervil River
St. Vincent
Zac Brown Band
Raphael Saadiq
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
Crystal Castles
Tift Merritt
Brett Dennen
Mike Farris and the Roseland Rhythm Revue
Toubab Krewe
People Under the Stairs
Alejandro Escovedo
Vieux Farka Touré
Elvis Perkins In Dearland
Todd Snider
Portugal. The Man.
The SteelDrivers
The Knux
The Low Anthem
Delta Spirit
A.A. Bondy
The Lovell Sisters
Alberta Cross

3 2 1 Contact!

January 8, 2009

I don’t think I really need to say anything about this video…. other than the fact that you have to be at least 23 or so years old to appreciate it.

Hippies, get ready to do your happy little hippie dance- Phish has officially revealed their full reunion tour. And yes, you read that right, they’re strongly rumored to be headlining Bonnaroo… *groan*

In case you didn’t know, I’ve started doing some DJ gigs as DJ Burgers. I started a myspace profile for it. Get on it and add me if you haven’t already. Pardon the ridiculous flashing logos, but it’s all part of the gimmick, ya know? My next gig for it will be a party on Jan. 24th at 3609 Pilcher Ave. in west Nashville, featuring Jensen Sportag, Makeup & Vanity Set, and my bandmate Seth’s new solo project, Home Keys[asdfjkl;]. I’ll be DJing between bands and after. Come and dance. Or maybe vice-versa?

Now for some nerdy space stuff-
Since the first discovery of a planet orbiting a star outside our own solar system, the holy grail of astronomy has been discovering an earth-like planet outside our solar system. As in, roughly the same size, mass, and density of earth, and also with a stable atmosphere, and orbiting within that star’s “habitable zone.” A star’s habitable zone is a region of distance from the star in which water can easily exist in a liquid state on the surface of a planet- not too hot and not too cold. Now that astronomers have found literally 100’s of huge, Jupiter-like, gaseous exoplanets, they’ve started finding what are called “super-earths,” or solid, rocky planets roughly 5-10 times the size of earth. The few of these we’ve seen were discovered through the transit method- they passed across in front of their parent star, and we detected the slight dimming of the star due to that transit. This Universe Today article talks about how astronomers are taking it one step further, by attempting to determine the composition of those super-earth’s atmospheres. They do this by subtracting the chemical signature when the planet passes behind the partent star. We’re so close, EVER so close to detecting an earth-like planet. It will only be a few more years, once the Kepler mission and the James Webb Space Telescope get into orbit and operation, until we find one. This is one of my greatest hopes in life. I look forward to the discovery of an earth twin orbiting a distant star like an Emperor penguin looks forward to spring in Antarctica. Crazy analogy, I know… just go with it.

In other NASA news, it looks like NASA chief Michael Griffin will step down, along with the rest of the presidentially-appointed staff under him. This article also lists some likely candidates on Obama’s shortlist to replace him. I don’t know how I feel about this. I kind of feel like that right now what NASA needs is continuity rather than change. But who knows?