Are we at the beginning of a sci-fi movie?
We've done a lot of writing in the past about potentially "Earth-like" (generally meaning potentially rocky and habitable) planets outside of our own solar system, but this new one has a noteworthy distinction: It orbits a star in the Alpha Centauri system—the closest star system to Earth. That means there's a potentially habitable world just around 4.37 lightyears away.
The Sun, it will surprise no one, is very, very hot. What is surprising -- and consistently baffling to researchers -- is that there are certain parts of the sun that are actually rather chilly.
You know, in comparison to the rest of the Sun, which, as we've covered, is just exceedingly warm. The European Space Agency's (ESA) Herschel observatory may have made a stride or two towards understanding the strange phenomenon
, though, as it has recorded the first evidence of a similar cool outer layer in a star that isn't the Sun. The same cool layer has been observed for the first time in Alpha Centauri A, a relatively nearby star noted for its similarities to our own Sun.
This week has been really awesome for planet discovery. First amateur "citizen scientists" discovered a planet with four suns
; now, astronomers at the European Southern Observatory have found an Earth-sized planet in the Alpha Centauri system, the closest solar system to our own.
(For Hitchhiker's Guide
fans, Alpha Centauri is the site our "local planning department," where the orders to demolish Earth were on display for 50 years before the Vogons showed up to vaporize everything. So we might want to up NASA's budget so we can hurry over there and double-check we're not slated for annihilation. Just to be on the safe side.)
In an announcement that is surprising no one, Firaxis has announced that Civilization V
is under development. And while much is being made of the game's promised features -- including additional civilizations, leaders who speak in their native tongues, and long-range bombardment by units (but wait, wasn't that in Alpha Centauri
a decade ago?) -- no one seems to be covering the drastic change apparent in the screenshots.
That's right -- the map uses hexagons instead of squares! What is this, some Avalon Hill
monstrosity? Sid Meier must be rolling in his #9 Power Grid slot
Today was going to be MMO-focused, what with the launch of Star Trek Online and the debut of our associated Power Grid, but an unexpected deluge of Civilization-related news has turned this into Civ Day (or...We Love the King Day?)
Anyway: FreeCiv, the open-source member the Civilization family, is now available for free, in your browser. Forget Battlefield: Heroes and browser Quake -- this is how the twenty-something creative underclass should be wasting its daylight hours.