Tuesday, April 24, 2007

when science imitates art

First, there was this from the Associated Press:

'Kryptonite' found in Serbia
April 22, 2007

LONDON -- A mineral discovered in Serbia has the same composition as kryptonite -- the fictional substance that robs Superman of his powers -- the British Museum said Tuesday. While the mineral isn't a perfect match, its chemical breakdown is strikingly similar.

"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 Luthor from a museum in the film 'Superman Returns,'" said mineral expert Chris Stanley at the Natural History Museum.

Then came this, from Reuters:

Scientists spot most Earth-like planet yet
April 24, 2007

European astronomers have spotted what they say is the most Earth-like planet yet outside our solar system, with balmy temperatures that could support water and, potentially, life. They have not directly seen the planet, orbiting a red dwarf star called Gliese 581. But measurements of the star suggest that a planet not much larger than the Earth is pulling on it, the researchers say in a letter to the editor of the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

"This one is the first one that is at the same time probably rocky, with water, and in a zone close to the star where the water could exist in liquid form," said Stephane Udry of the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland, who led the study."We have estimated that the mean temperature of this super-Earth lies between 0 and 40 degrees Celsius (32 to 104 degrees F), and water would thus be liquid."

Most of the 200 or so planets that have been spotted outside this solar system have been gas giants like Jupiter. But this one is small. "Its radius should be only 1.5 times the Earth's radius, and models predict that the planet should be either rocky, like our Earth, or covered with oceans," Udry said in a telephone interview. It appears to have a mass five times that of Earth's.

Let's see. First they find Kryptonite on Earth. Then they announce the discovery of a new planet, a planet that orbits a red dwarf star, which is a red sun, and is one of the nearest stars to the Sun. The planet is half again as large as the Earth, has a surface temperature like Earth's, is a rocky world that may have oceans, and has a surface gravity almost two and a half times as strong as Earth's.

We've found Krypton! Now all we need to do is find the Kent family and we'll finally have the hero that we need to save our skins!

Perhaps there's hope after all.


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