Thursday, July 11, 2013

The blue exo-planet

For the first time the colour of a planet outside of our solar system has been measured, and its blue! HD 189733 b is a planet 63 light years away, orbiting the star HD 189733. The planet is Jupiter sized and similarly is a giant ball of gas. The colour of the planet was discerned using a spectrograph onboard the Hubble space telescope. During an eclipse of the planet light reflected off the atmosphere was found to be blue however as the planet is a gas giant that blue colour is unlikely to be due water.

It is thought the blue colour may come from silicon clouds in the atmosphere. Another possibility is light scattering caused by hydrogen in the atmosphere.

Blue planet HD 189733b around its host star (artist’s impression) from HubbleESA on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

RIP Doug Englebart

Doug Englebart died yesterday in his sleep. Now he may not be as famous as some other major figures in computing but his impact on computing and the way we live now was profound. Basically if you are looking at this or most computer screens these days you are looking at interfaces and concepts he first devised.

Basically the WYSIWYG concept of computing, use of the mouse and multi-windowed user interfaces,  hyperlinks, video conferencing, multimedia documents, instant messaging, keyword searches... Why not just see the demo he made in 1968 of these concepts, it really did change everything.