Blofeld Is Pleased; Goldfinger Silently Bides His Time

Artist's interpretation. Via NASA
Nothing devalues the cost of a product faster then abundance. So, diamond companies must be happy that this whole thing is going down 40 light years away.

Yale University’s Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics has announced the discovery of a planet in orbit around 55 Cancri. What makes this discovery amazing (apart from all the other planets we've discovered in orbit around stars that is not our own) is that, according to their analysis, the planet's core could be up to one third solid diamond, and the surface largely molten graphite.

Let me explain. Diamonds are simply pieces of carbon which have been put under extreme pressure. Chemically, there is no difference between the diamond on an engagement ring, and the graphite tip of your pencil. Only time and pressure. So, remember that the next time your significant other asks you for jewelry. But concentrations of carbon are rare on Earth, which is why diamonds are rare, and heavily localised. And because scientists still haven't gotten it around their heads that not every place might be like Earth, the same assumption was made about every other planet in the universe (scientists can be dumb some times). This planet is good evidence that these assumptions are wrong.

But how do we know, you may ask. Well, good question. We observe planets by watching for them to pass between us and their local star. By watching these transits, we can determine a lot of information. How far away it is from the star, the length of a year, the composition of it's atmosphere based on the reflection and refraction of light through the planet, and the size and mass. Once we know the mass, astronomers can make very educated guesses on what the planet is comprised of, to account for it's behaviour (a smaller, high mass solid planet will behave differently then a larger, low mass, gaseous planet, etc.)

According to the team of  Nikku Madhusudhan and Kanani Lee, of Yale, and Olivier Mousis, of the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Plan├ętologie in Toulouse, France, the planet's behaviours make sense if the core were comprised of diamond, iron and silicon carbide. And considering the planet orbits it's star every 18 hours, and the surface temperature is upwards of 2100 degrees Celsius, the surface is most likely molten graphite.

This is why planatary exploration funding needs to be increased, across the board. Federal, state, provincial, national, multinational, private, public, and the little girl next door's lemonade stand. Discoveries like this are the only thing that increase our knowledge, and understanding, of the universe. We can't know about it unless we investigate, and we can't investigate if we can't afford it. And knowing more has never been a bad thing.

In fact, knowing more is only ever what stops bad things.

Via The Toronto Star.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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