Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Man cooking squirrel with propane torch may have started apartment-building fire -

Man cooking squirrel with propane torch may have started apartment-building fire - 

Authorities say a blaze that displaced dozens of people from a southwest Michigan apartment complex may have been sparked by a resident trying to cook a squirrel with a propane torch.

Fire Chief Jim Kohsel tells MLive.com that the resident apparently planned to eat the animal and was burning off its fur on a third-floor deck at the building in Ottawa County’s Holland Township when the fire broke out Wednesday. Flames spread to the roof. Kohsel says eight apartments are destroyed and others damaged.

The resident’s name wasn’t immediately released.

Kohsel says a firefighter broke a toe. No residents were injured.

Resident Tiffany Camburn told The Holland Sentinel that she and her neighbours had to evacuate their apartments.

The American Red Cross arranged temporary shelter and clothing for displaced residents.


Massive planet made out of diamonds discovered in space -

Massive planet made out of diamonds discovered in space - 

Astronomers have discovered a planet twice the size of Earth made largely out of diamond which is orbiting a star that is visible with the naked eye.

The rocky planet, called “55 Cancri e,” orbits a sun-like star 40 light years away in the constellation of Cancer and is moving so fast that a year there lasts a mere 18 hours.

Discovered by a U.S.-Franco research team, its radius is twice that of Earth’s but it is much more dense with a mass eight times greater. It is also incredibly hot, with temperatures on its surface reaching 3,900 degrees Fahrenheit (1,648 Celsius).

“The surface of this planet is likely covered in graphite and diamond rather than water and granite,” said Nikku Madhusudhan, the Yale researcher whose findings are due to be published in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The study — with Olivier Mousis at the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planetologie in Toulose, France — estimates that at least a third of the planet’s mass, the equivalent of about three Earth masses, could be diamond.

Diamond planets have been spotted before but this is the first time one has been seen orbiting a sun-like star and studied in such detail.

“This is our first glimpse of a rocky world with a fundamentally different chemistry from Earth,” Madhusudhan said, adding that the discovery of the carbon-rich planet meant distant rocky planets could no longer be assumed to have chemical constituents, interiors, atmospheres, or biologies similar to Earth.

David Spergel, an astronomer at Princeton University, said it was relatively simple to work out the basic structure and history of a star once you know its mass and age.

“Planets are much more complex. This ‘diamond-rich super-Earth’ is likely just one example of the rich sets of discoveries that await us as we begin to explore planets around nearby stars.”

Read more -