Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council Press Release
July 3, 2003 - Astronomers looking for planetary systems that resemble our own solar system have found the most similar formation so far. British astronomers, working with Australian and American colleagues, have discovered a planet like Jupiter in orbit round a nearby star that is very like our own Sun. Among the hundred found so far, this system is the one most similar to our Solar System. The planet's orbit is like that of Jupiter in our own Solar System, especially as it is nearly circular and there are no bigger planets closer in to its star.
"This planet is going round in a nearly circular orbit three-fifths the size of our own Jupiter. This is the closest we have yet got to a real Solar System-like planet, and advances our search for systems that are even more like our own," said UK team leader Hugh Jones of Liverpool John Moores University.
The planet was discovered using the 3.9-metre Anglo-Australian Telescope [AAT] in New South Wales, Australia. The discovery, which is part of a large search for solar systems that resemble our own, was announced July 3rd 2003 by Hugh Jones (Liverpool John Moores University) at a conference on "Extrasolar Planets: Today and Tomorrow" in Paris, France.
"It is the exquisite precision of our measurements that lets us search for these Jupiters - they are harder to find than the more exotic planets found so far. Perhaps most stars will be shown to have planets like our own Solar System", said Dr Alan Penny, from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.
The new planet, which has a mass about twice that of Jupiter, circles its star (HD70642) about every six years. HD70642 can be found in the constellation Puppis and is about 90 light years away from Earth. The planet is 3.3 times further from its star as the Earth is from the Sun (about halfway between Mars and Jupiter if it were in our own system).
The long-term goal of this program is the detection of true analogues to the Solar System: planetary systems with giant planets in long circular orbits and small rocky planets on shorter circular orbits. This discovery of a Jupiter-like gas giant planet around a nearby star is a step toward this goal.
The discovery of other such planets and planetary satellites within the next decade will help astronomers assess the Solar System's place in the galaxy and whether planetary systems like our own are common or rare.
Prior to the discovery of extrasolar planets, planetary systems were generally predicted to be similar to the Solar System - giant planets orbiting beyond 4 Earth-Sun distances in circular orbits, and terrestrial mass planets in inner orbits.
The danger of using theoretical ideas to extrapolate from just one example - our own Solar System - has been shown by the extrasolar planetary systems now known to exist which have very different properties. Planetary systems are much more diverse than ever imagined.
However these new planets have only been found around one-tenth of stars where they were looked for. It is possible that the harder-to-find very Solar System-like planets do exist around most stars.
The vast majority of the presently known extrasolar planets lie in elliptical orbits, which would preclude the existence of habitable terrestrial planets. Previously, the only gas giant found to orbit beyond 3 Earth-Sun distances in a near circular orbit was the outer planet of the 47 Ursa Majoris system - a system which also includes an inner gas giant at 2 Earth-Sun distances (unlike the Solar System). This discovery of a 3.3 Earth-Sun distance planet in a near circular orbit around a Sun-like star bears the closest likeness to our Solar System found to date and demonstrates our searches are precise enough to find Jupiter- like planets in Jupiter-like orbit.
To find evidence of planets, the astronomers use a high- precision technique developed by Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institute of Washington and Geoff Marcy of the University of California at Berkeley to measure how much a star "wobbles" in space as it is affected by a planet's gravity. As an unseen planet orbits a distant star, the gravitational pull causes the star to move back and forth in space. That wobble can be detected by the 'Doppler shifting' it causes in the star's light. This discovery demonstrates that the long term precision of the team's technique is 3 meters per second (7mph) making the Anglo-Australian Planet Search at least as precise as any of the many planet search projects underway.
The team is supported by the UK Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council, the Australian government and the US National Science Foundation.
Full-size David A. Hardy illustration (1 MB - 4488 X 3386 pixels) at http://www.pparc.ac.uk/Nw/Artcl/newplanet.jpg
Astroart - http://www.astroart.org
Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council - http://www.pparc.ac.uk
Anglo-Australian Planet Search - http://www.aao.gov.au/local/www/cgt/planet/aat.html
Exoplanets (CA and Carnegie Planet Search) - http://exoplanets.org
Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia - http://www.obspm.fr/encycl/encycl.html
Geneva Extrasolar Planet Search - http://obswww.unige.ch/~udry/planet/planet.html
Institut de Recherche Pour le Développement Press Release
July 7, 2003 - The eastern slopes of the Andean Cordillera, in the Ecuador province of Zamora-Chinchipe, bordering Peru, form part of the Amazon piedmont. This region of undulating topography, situated between 500 and 2000 m altitude, had not up to now been the focus of any systematic archaeological research. This area was occupied in historical times (from the end of the first millennium) by groups belonging to the Jivaro linguistic family, the Bracamoros, who were probably the inhabitants the Spanish conquistadors encountered in the XVIth century.
The monumental structures brought to light at the Santa Ana Florida site, in the high valley of the Rio Palanda, testify to complex construction techniques used for funerary or ceremonia purposes. 14C dating figures obtained during excavation yielded a probable date of around 2450 B. C., which means that the supposed age of the first developed agricultural societies of the western Amazon Basin is more ancient than thought.
The site's main feature, which greatly enhances its importance, is the presence, in emplacements which have not yet been dated, of offertory accumulations including finely polished stone recipients decorated with carvings in animal forms (feline shapes, condors, snakes).
These figures and representation modes show many points in common with the later Peruvian Chavín and Cupisnique cultural traditions.
This discovery yields clear evidence of the presence of ideological elements which were part and parcel of the first great Andean civilizations in a tropical environment where they had not up to now been known to exist.
Many tropical regions suffer from a reputation as inhospitable places and therefore destined for chronic underdevelopment because of the harshness of their environment.
This view is essentially founded on their geography and on analysis of the effects of colonization.
Long-term studies on pre-European settlements in many different tropical zones (Cameroon forests, the valleys of southern Sumatra, Australasian islands, mangroves and tropical forests of Ecuador) conducted by IRD's research unit "Human adaptation to tropical environments during the Holocene" helps put this viewpoint into better perspective.
The sociocultural developments which have taken place over the past few millennia in the regions studied reveal the nature of geographical constraints, as well as the weight of cultural heritage, which are, even in the present day, decisive factors of development. In Ecuador, this research is the subject of two partnership agreements, signed in 2001 and 2002, with the National Institute of Cultural Heritage and the culture department of the Ecuador Central Bank
The field work focuses on two distinctive areas, situated in the northern and the southern extremities of the country (in the provinces of Esmeraldas and Zamora-Chinchipe).
Institut de recherche pour le Développement - http://www.ird.fr
(In English) - http://www.ird.fr/us
New Scientist Press Release
June 26, 2003 (New Scientist) - A plan for pilotless aircraft to begin operating routinely from ordinary airports in the US is being greeted with alarm by aviation safety campaigners. They say such operations would put at risk the safety of other planes, passengers on the ground and people living near the airports.
The plan, which also involves giving unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) easier access to US civil airspace, is the result of a powerful partnership led by the Pentagon, NASA, Lockheed-Martin, Northrop Grumman and Boeing. Called Access 5, the group aims to loosen restrictions on where UAVs can operate within 5 years.
For most of their flight, UAVs are controlled by a pilot on the ground via a satellite radio link. At present, anyone wanting to fly one in civilian airspace has to file a detailed flight plan with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) at least 30 days in advance. Access 5 wants UAVs to be allowed to fly on the day the plan is filed, like any other aircraft. The group hopes that this rapid approval for UAV flights will allow the craft to fly more flexible missions. But critics fear it may eventually pave the way for pilotless cargo flights.
The prospect of UAVs sharing runways with passenger planes is raising serious concerns. "What happens if a pilotless plane hits an airport terminal or another plane?" asks Gail Dunham of the National Air Disaster Alliance, an airline safety pressure group based in Washington DC. "We are totally opposed to this plan."
Warren Morningstar at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association in Frederick, Maryland, says avoiding collisions with other aircraft is the major concern. "How do you accomplish that when you don't have a pilot on board?" he asks.
UAVs have been used for military scouting and attack missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo and elsewhere. But they will also become important to civilian scientists performing environmental monitoring, volcanic observation and atmospheric sampling because they can stay aloft far longer than piloted planes.
A group led by Glenn Hamilton of NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, has modified a military Predator UAV for such applications. Called the Altair, the craft made its maiden flight this month.
But before such a UAV is allowed to fly in civilian airspace, its operator has to prove to the FAA that it has an equivalent level of safety to a piloted aircraft. This is a lengthy process that currently takes between 30 and 60 days. The operator files a detailed flight plan with the FAA, listing every detail of the craft's journey: where it will be flying, how it is controlled and, perhaps most importantly, what will happen if the radio link with the pilot on the ground is lost. Only then will the FAA allow it to take off. These restrictions mean that UAVs only fly in controlled US airspace about 10 times a year.
Advocates of UAVs say these controls are far stricter than they need to be. The Pentagon admits that the Global Hawk UAV has a crash rate more than 50 times that of F-16 piloted fighter jets, and has set a target to reduce this by 2009. Even then, the 25 crashes per 100,000 flying hours that the Pentagon is aiming for will still exceed that of piloted planes. But the UAV's proponents claim these figures can be misleading. For example, when a military UAV fails to return from a mission it can be impossible to tell whether it was shot down, or crashed because of a systems or communications failure.
One crucial question for safety campaigners is what will happen if the link between the ground pilot and the UAV is interrupted while the craft is taking off or landing. Hamilton describes the chances of this happening as "minuscule", because for these operations there are two direct line-of-sight radio links, rather than just a satellite link. But airline safety analyst Todd Curtis of Airsafe.com insists that plans must always be in place to deal with the loss of the control link, however unlikely that is.
Denis Chagnon of the International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal believes global civil UAV operations are, ultimately, unstoppable. "Pilotless aircraft are coming," he says. "We just have to be ready for them."
New Scientist - http://www.newscientist.com
Cordelia Will Return But Angel Seeks New Gal
Hollywood July 8, 2003 (eXoNews) - TV Guide's Michael Ausiello reported yesterday that Angel fans can expect an "appearance or two" from Cordy (Charisma Carpenter) next season, but the show is looking for a new Wolfram & Hart employee to become a possible romantic interest for one of Angel's five leading men. (It is rumored elsewhere that the character's name is Eve.)
Miss Carpenter announced that she would not return to the show after the (real life) birth of her first child around the time of Angel's fourth season finale. Carpenter's pregnancy was worked into the fourth season, but her character was often missing from the action. Cordelia was left in a coma in the finale, despite best efforts by Angel (David Boreanaz) and his gang to save her.
The TV Guide news didn't specify which guy gets the new blood, but with the addition of Spike (James Marsters) to the Angel male roster, Amy Acker (as Fred) is the only lady left aboard and she is already somewhat torn between Gunn (J. August Richards) and Wesley (Alexis Denisof).
One of Wesley's flames, the usually evil Wolfram & Hart lawyer Lilah (Stephanie Romanov) had her throat slit by a possessed Cordy toward the end of the season, but was resurrected for the final fourth season episode.
No word on whether Lilah will be back for season five.
Our bet is a rivalry between Angel and Spike for the new gal - or is that too obvious for a Joss Whedon show? Maybe Lorne (Andy Hallett) is due for a girlfriend?
Personally, I always liked the occasional Electric Girl character Gwen Raiden (Alexa Davalos) for Angel, but she seems to go for Gunn.
And there's always Willow. The eXoNews Buffy Exit Poll currently has Alyson Hannigan's character as the number one crossover favorite to the Angel gang over all the other BVS characters.
Willow is even beating out Buffy and Spike!
Official Angel Site - http://www.thewb.com/Shows/Show/0,7353,||139,00.html
The eXoNews Buffy Exit Poll will run until the new Angel season starts.
eXoNews Buffy Exit Poll - http://flatdisk.net/buffy
William Marshall Memorial Service
Los Angeles July 9, 2003 (eXoNews) - The family of actor William Marshall has announced that a memorial service will be held on July 11 at 1PM at the First AME Church in Los Angeles. The memorial service will be officiated by Rev. Cecil “Chip” Murray, senior pastor of First AME Church, and is free and open to the public.
The announcement continues:
"Mr. Marshall, who died June 11 after a long struggle with Alzheimer's disease and diabetes, was a distinguished actor of the classical theater who also created many memorable roles for television and the big screen.
"His best-known television roles were Dr. Daystrom on Star Trek, and The King of Cartoons for PeeWee's Playhouse. Among his notable roles for film were "Othello," for the London stage; abolitionist statesman and former slave, "Frederick Douglass: Slave and Statesman" for PBS, the Emmy-award winning Adam Early, in "As Adam Early In The Morning," the cult classic vampire film, "Blacula," for which he created the role of an African prince doomed by the curse of the undead.
Actors Sidney Poitier, Ivan Dixon, Paul Winfield, Marla Gibbs and others will deliver tributes at the service.
Dead Zone Versus TV Pop-ups!
Hollywood July 8, 2003 (eXoNews) - Michael Piller delivered the first of six new Dead Zone episodes on Sunday and it was one of the best ever, but I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!
Johnny Smith and his friend Bruce Lewis encounter a freak hailstorm as they drive Bruce's cool Chrysler down a highway in Maine. Tension builds as the rain of ice increases and we see that the hail is the size of golf balls.
"Get out of the car!" Johnny yells over the din. They argue, but Bruce knows that Johnny can foretell doom. The windshield cracks with the impact of a hailstone. They race for the shelter of a concrete storm drain. The hail is now the size of baseballs.
"My car!" Bruce shouts, and we see from their POV that the car has completely vanished from the road.
A gun appears in the lower left of the screen and fires a shot, barely audible over the hailstorm.
Bruce's cool Chrysler slams down on the road upside down. Johnny and Bruce look at each other in amazement.
The gun vanishes and is replaced by a tiny animated Tom Berenger dressed as a cowboy and the word Peacemakers.
Tom Berenger fades away.
What is wrong with this scene? Everything.
Basic cable is caught in a feeding frenzy. The same sharks that deftly squeeze hundreds of hours of weekly entertainment out of big buck advertisers have begun to eat their own.
Pop-up ads, once the scourge of the Internet, have infected television. What began a decade ago as a simple translucent unobtrusive network logo over pay cable feature films (ostensibly to prevent bootlegging) has become a caustic, constant and offensive interruption in the flow of television programming.
The dramatic impact of Bruce's cool Chrysler falling from the sky in a freak hailstorm was completely shot to hell by Tom Berenger's six-gun!
The original TV pop-up was a simple message that told us what we were watching and to remind us of what was next on the same station. This is a somewhat excusable intrusion.
Viewers know that network programmers work hard to keep us from flipping. We also know what we are watching and what is on next, but some TV Guideless traveling soul in a motel room tuning into our favorite show late or at random might not be so sure. That same motel soul is as likely to buy the products that keep our favorite shows on the air as we are, so we forgave the sharks for wiggling a little bait now and then.
We learned to ignore the little text crawl. Look past it, it's only a bug. You can't live with cockroaches, though. You can't live with them because they breed.
Pop-ups are worse than cockroaches. The simple reminders have become a virus. They have mutated from a single line of text to a multitude of quarter-screen full-color animations with sound marching into view at the beginning and end of every program segment.
I was watching FX a couple of weeks ago when giant red dice rolled into the bottom of my screen accompanied by the sound of a slot machine. This pop-up was an ad for the season finale of Lucky, a show I like, but the sound effects drowned out the audio of what I was watching and the animation was so big that it blocked the action.
I flipped in disgust.
The rolling dice pop-up aggravated me into a negative response.
FX lost me and every other viewer who fit my exact profile at that particular moment. FX lost every angry viewer jolted out of his pleasant couch-potato alpha-state and robbed of a last bit of dialogue by that noisy pop-up, and FX lost us before the commercial.
We were tuned in but we tuned out. I don't have the numbers on that incident, of course, but I bet there were thousands of us. A revolution was born.
You can defeat a web site infected with pop-up ads. You can get yourself a pop-up blocker or you can abandon that site forever. You just don't go back. You can always find another site without pop-ups.
There are no pop-up blockers for television channels, so all you can do is stop tuning in.
I watched Lucky's finale, and it was a good one, but the rolling dice pop-up had nothing to do with my return to FX. I have a gimmick on my VCR that automatically flips to programs I watch or tape regularly. It's the digital nerd equivalent of highlighting your favorite shows in the print version of TV Guide.
I'm not saying I won't go back to USA next Sunday to watch The Dead Zone or Friday for Mr. Monk or tune in to see Tom Berenger shoot his gun dressed as a cowboy.
I will tune in less to USA and any network employing pop-up ads from now on. I will approach them with caution, expecting to be disappointed by rude advertising at crucial plot turns. I'll be more likely to tune out.
And that can't be good news for the sharks.
The Dead Zone Official site - http://www.usanetwork.com/series/thedeadzone
Mr. Monk's Official site - http://www.usanetwork.com/series/monk
Peacemakers Official site - http://www.usanetwork.com/series/peacemakers
Lucky Official site - http://www.fxnetwork.com/shows/originals/lucky
Peta's Extraordinary Vampire Inspired by Redgrave
PHILADELPHIA July 7, 2003 (AP) - To get into character to play a vampire, actress Peta Wilson sat in front of the TV.
Wilson, 32, best-known for her four-year stint as a sultry assassin on TV's "La Femme Nikita," watched videos of cats and rented a Vanessa Redgrave film before tackling "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen."
"I looked at Vanessa Redgrave in 'Isadora,' because Isadora Duncan was like a real-life vampire — she sucked the life out of the people. And I watched films of cats, of jaguars, panthers, leopards, because there was something catlike about my character," Wilson told The Philadelphia Inquirer in Sunday's editions.
In "League," the blond Australian becomes a tall, raven-haired Brit, Mina Harker of Bram Stoker's tale "Dracula." The movie is based on the comic books by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill.
The film, opening Friday, also features fantasy figures Captain Nemo (Naseeruddin Shah), the Invisible Man (Tony Curran), Tom Sawyer (Shane West), Dorian Gray (Stuart Townsend) and Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde (Jason Flemyng), with global adventurer Allan Quatermain — played by Sean Connery.
Peta Wilson Official site - http://www.petawilson-online.com
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Official site - http://www.lxgmovie.com
Iggy Pop Still Top Dog
By Sarah Tomlinson
BOSTON July 3, 2003 (Billboard) - As the wild banshee who fronted Detroit rock trailblazers the Stooges, Iggy Pop taught the original punks how lust and fury could be mixed with squalling guitars into a rock 'n' roll tsunami.
And 35 years later, he's still showing the kids how raw rock can be, as he proved by strutting, slithering and raging through a 17-song, career-spanning set on June 27 in Boston.
Teasing the audience with a warm-up shimmy at the back of the dark stage, Pop earned a wild cheer even before he bounded to the mic, immediately blazing into two classics from the Stooges' 1970 record "Fun House" and never letting up from there.
On show opener "Loose," he spat out the lyrics "I'll stick it deep inside" with as much gleeful menace as ever, and during a rambunctious "Down on the Street," he pulled himself onto the bass speakers, riding the stack suggestively and beating his chest.
Pop whipped up the crowd with more Stooges material during the first half of the set, driving "Search and Destroy," to the thundering drum crescendo and leading his band, the Trolls, through a stripped down and revved up "Raw Power." For his raucously sexy "Now I Wanna Be Your Dog," Pop leapt into the midst of the dancing crowd at the front of the stage.
Interspersed with the classics were songs from his 2001 solo album "Beat 'Em Up," including "Drink New Blood" and "Death Is Certain," on which his rap-like vocals don't rival the primal wail he still achieves on the old numbers, but pack plenty of punk aggression.
Dressed only in skin-tight blue jeans, Pop's bare, vein-mapped torso writhed and wriggled as he roamed the stage like a hyperactive bad seed, giving the audience the finger and pounding the air with fists like sledgehammers. He hit the highlights from almost two decades of solo material, including 1999's "Corruption," which rages with a bit of the old evil, 1990's riff-heavy "Home," which ends in a big, crooning finish, and an organic rock take on "The Passenger" from 1977's classic collaboration with David Bowie, "Lust for Life."
His encore opened with the threatening grind of The Stooges' "T.V. Eye," during which he ran into the crowd as the guitar solo wailed, and ended with a hip shaking "Sixteen," for which he raged and shadow-boxed until the end. Then, pausing to soak up the electricity in the air, he swaggered offstage like the godfather of punk that he is.
Iggy Pop Virgin Records site - http://www.iggypop-virginrecords.com
Janeway May Return to TV as Hepburn
By Robert Simonson
NYC July 1, 2003 (Playbill) - Tea at Five, the Matthew Lombardo bio-play starring Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek: Voyager), which closes its engagement at the Promenade Theatre Off-Broadway July 13, may be made into a television mini-series, Variety reported.
Variety's Army Archerd said producer Richard Fischoff is being offered the project and that Peter Bogdanovich is being sought as director.
Tea at Five concerns actress Katharine Hepburn, who died on June 29. Act One of the play offers a young Kate in 1938; Act Two shows the actress in her post-Spencer Tracy period.
The setting is Hepburn's home in her Fenwick Estate in Old Saybrook, CT.
Tea at Five will have a a run in West Palm Beach later this year, after which a national tour will start.
By the close at the Promenade Theatre run, the John Tillinger-directed production had played 13 performances and 128 regular performances. The play began Feb. 25 and opened on March 9.
Kate Mulgrew Official site - http://www.totallykate.com
New Cassavetes Flick to Depict Drug World
SANTA BARBARA July 7, 2003 (AP) - Screenwriter and director Nick Cassavetes is writing a movie about a fugitive drug dealer, saying details of the case hit close to home.
Jesse James Hollywood, 23, is wanted for allegedly ordering the 2000 execution of 15-year-old Nicholas Markowitz in the San Fernando Valley in retaliation for an unpaid drug debt.
Cassavetes said his teenage daughter briefly went to the high school that Hollywood and Markowitz attended.
"I guess this story just hits close to home because it could have been my own daughter," he said. "It was in my back yard."
He sees the story as depicting the intersection of the drug underworld and middle-class suburbia.
"I think it bears true to how things can go wrong so fast and then there's no turning back, only the wreckage of people's lives," Cassavetes said.
Kevin Connolly is set to direct the film. Actors Tobey Maguire and Leonardo DiCaprio will produce it and help arrange financing, but won't appear in the as-yet untitled film, Cassavetes told the Santa Barbara News-Press for a story published Saturday.
Production should begin by year's end, he said.
High-Definition Video Format in the Works
TOKYO July 7, 2003 (AP) - Sony Corporation and three other Japanese electronics companies will collaborate to develop a way to record and play high-definition digital video on cassette tapes now in use, the companies said Friday.
The group, which includes Canon, Sharp Corp. and Victor Co. of Japan, plans to complete the technology by September.
High definition TV broadcasting, which delivers a far higher quality of images than regular TV, began in Japan in 2001. It has also begun in other parts of the world, including the United States.
Consumer interest is slowly growing here, although high definition broadcasts are still limited.
Products in the new format can use the same product parts as the old format because they use the same DV and Mini-DV cassettes.
Sony - http://www.sony.com
Daltrey Defends Townshend Over Porn Caution
LONDON July 7, 2003 (Reuters) - Who vocalist Roger Daltrey has leapt to the defense of guitarist Pete Townshend, calling his arrest for child pornography a "witch hunt."
Police found Townshend had visited a Web Site containing child abuse images in 1999 and the guitarist was placed on a register of sex offenders after being formally cautioned.
"If this was the Sixties, more people would see this witch hunt for what it is and start a protest," Daltrey told the Daily Telegraph in an interview on Monday.
"It's about having some control over our lives and not letting the police do whatever they want," he added. "He was treated as though he was guilty of the worst crimes and crucified without a trial by people with no accountability. It's a disgrace. Everything they did to him was appalling."
The Who shot to fame in the late 1960s with the zeitgeist anthem "My Generation" and cemented their reputation with the albums: "Tommy," "Who's Next" and "Quadrophenia."
The band has been dogged by tragedy, with Daltrey and Townshend the only two surviving original members.
Bass player John Entwistle died in a Las Vegas hotel room last year from a heart attack triggered by cocaine use, while 25 years earlier, the band's original drummer, Keith Moon, died of an accidental pill overdose.
Who Information Center - http://www.the-who.net