Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Open the trapdoor

For the adventurous blogger- I have another blog. Why another one? Well I guess I like to keep my ideas neatly organised. Waking up the Sleeping Land will remain my blog about Siberia. In One Ear is a chance for me to say anything I want. The next bunny trail is for specific crazy stories about visas and immigration control etc. As a traveler these things come up quite often. I thought it would be fun to collect as many of my own and other people's stories as possible.

Check out http://visatales.blogspot.com

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Pluto is NOT a planet


It's official. There are only 8 planets in our solar system. Pluto has been demoted to the status of "dwarf planet." This was decided by a vote during the congress of the International Astronomical Union on August 24th in Prague.
This is not the first time such a demotion has occured. Ceres, in the asteroid belt was formerly a planet 150 years ago, but was demoted because many other objects in the asteroid belt would have been planets too. Thus the new term "asteroid" was created.
The solar system is made up in neat layers: the first four planets- Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars are rock planets; then comes the asteroid belt; then comes the four gas giants- Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune; lastly comes the Kuiber belt- ice objects that orbit the sun.
The new definition of a planet is: 1) Must be an object that orbits the sun. 2) Must have enough gravity of its own to make itself spherical. 3) Must have significantly cleared other objects from its path. 4) Must not orbit another sattelite of the Sun.
Ceres is not a planet because it has many asteroids in close vicinity. Ceres has been elevated to the status of "dwarf planet." Xena, Pluto and Charon (a satellite of Pluto) are not planets, due to their location in the Kuiber belt, in close vicinity to thousands of ice satellites.
Throw this trivia question at some one to stump them! How many planets does our solar system have? 9. Wrong- it's now 8.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Interplanetary Wars


August 24 is the date set for the showdown in Prague. There are two camps in Astronomical circles. One camp believes that the definition of a planet should be "any star-orbiting object so large that its own gravity pulls in its rough edges and produces a near-perfect sphere." The other camp believes that it should be based upon size and Pluto would miss the cut.
Three new candidates have been put forward that fall in line with the gravity definition. It is thought that the vote is likely to go through. The smaller camp want Pluto struck off the list. Their dissent over the matter is because the gravity definition would leave the door open for hundreds of new planets in our solar system. The size definition camp believe these smaller star orbiting objects should be called Plutons.
Personally I am rather excited that the holiday options for space tourism have just broadened. However I not relish teaching 100 planets to my daughter. So I think I lean towards striking Pluto from the list. Siberia is cold enough without going to Pluto.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Weird mystery night sound

We woke up in the middle of the night three nights ago because our baby was crying. The windows were open. The most bizarre noise was filling the sky outside. Keep in mind that night time is usually silent or close to silent. During the day time we are used to hearing back ground noise in the city, such as traffic etcetera, but not at night time.

The noise sounded similar to the noise a plane makes when it flies over head. Except this noise hung around for about two hours. Sometimes it got louder and sometimes softer, as if the source of the noise was sometimes further away sometimes closer. It felt eerie, if not at least very weird and inexplicable.

The first thought that came into my mind was "is this some sort of government military experiment?" If it were I cannot imagine them getting away with it during the day, far too many people would be asking questions. I think people ask less questions about things that happen during the night.

Another possibility is that it could have been a fire. That is a fire would burn up oxygen and could create a rush of air and a loud sound. My response was that it would have to be a VERY large and dangerous fire and there would be no doubt we would hear something about it in the news the following day. No news. I wasn't so sure it could be a fire anyway.

We have heard the noise the following two nights only softer and further away.

It's strange and I have no explanation.
video