(1) BIG PLANET. New evidence suggests a ninth planet is lurking at the edge of the solar system.
Astronomers at the California Institute of Technology announced Wednesday that they have found new evidence of a giant icy planet lurking in the darkness of our solar system far beyond the orbit of Pluto. They are calling it “Planet Nine.”
Their paper, published in the Astronomical Journal, describes the planet as about five to 10 times as massive as the Earth. But the authors, astronomers Michael Brown and Konstantin Batygin, have not observed the planet directly.
Instead, they have inferred its existence from the motion of recently discovered dwarf planets and other small objects in the outer solar system. Those smaller bodies have orbits that appear to be influenced by the gravity of a hidden planet – a “massive perturber.” The astronomers suggest it might have been flung into deep space long ago by the gravitational force of Jupiter or Saturn.
Accompanying the Post article is a short video with the delightfully hideous title “Planet Nine from outer space.”
(2) IN WORDS OF MORE THAN ONE SYLLABLE. Read the paper here.
3. ANALYTICAL THEORY
Generally speaking, coherent dynamical structures in particle disks can either be sustained by self-gravity (Tremaine 1998; Touma et al. 2009) or by gravitational shepherding facilitated by an extrinsic perturber (Goldreich & Tremaine 1982; Chiang et al. 2009). As already argued above, the current mass of the Kuiper Belt is likely insufficient for self-gravity to play an appreciable role in its dynamical evolution. This leaves the latter option as the more feasible alternative. Consequently, here we hypothesize that the observed structure of the Kuiper Belt is maintained by a gravitationally bound perturber in the solar system.
(3) WORLDCON LODGING. MidAmeriCon II hotel reservations open January 25.
Heads up ! Hotel booking confirmed open from Monday 25th ? watch this space for more linky previews over the weekend https://t.co/WdoBTjJ0Ml
— MidAmeriCon II (@MidAmeriCon2) January 20, 2016
(4) FAKING IT. According to The Digital Reader, the “Number One Book Brits Pretend to Have Read is 1984, But for Americans, It’s Pride and Prejudice”.
A recent survey of 2,000 Brits has revealed that 62% of respondents had pretended to have read one book or another in order to appear smart. The top ten books that people pretend to have read are an impressive list of books, with Orwell’s 1984 and War and Peace taking the top 2 spots.
Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien is sixth.
(5) HARLAN SAVES. Elon Musk described the influence of Harlan Ellison on his thinking during this interview. The reference comes at about 13:20 into the video.
It’s possible that Harlan will save the human race. Elon has funded research on A. I.’s with the idea that when they emerge that they will be friendly to us humans. “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” frightened Elon enough to get him to fund the research therefore, if that research helps avoid an unfriendly A. I., then Harlan saved all of us
In the second part of this interview, Elon Musk talks about Artificial Intelligence and the deep concerns its causing him. But first he talks about Tesla building an affordable car, Apple’ rumoured electric vehicle and the future of autonomous driving.
(6) REMEMBERING HARTWELL. Dozens of deeply moving and historically fascinating tributes to David G. Hartwell are appearing at this hour. Representative is Michael Swanwick’s memorial:
I was in Chicago a couple of years ago for Gene Wolfe’s induction into the literary hall of fame there when the phone rang and David Hartwell said, “I’m sitting in Fred Pohl’s kitchen with him, going through J. K. Klein’s photos, looking for pictures of old time writers. Do you want to join us?” You bet I did. I think back to that brief call and I can hear him grinning. The joy in his voice was infectious. That was the key to David G. Hartwell: he loved science fiction, he loved work, he loved making worthwhile things happen….
(7) SARTORIAL SPLENDOR. Here’s the David G. Hartwell Necktie Exhibit that celebrates his garish neckties.
(8) VIEW TIPTREE SYMPOSIUM. The first in a series of videos from December’s James Tiptree, Jr. Symposium at the University of Oregon is now online.
It shows Professor, Carol Stabile convening the symposium, welcome remarks by UO Dean of Libraries, Adriene Lim and Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Doug Blandy, and the keynote talk by Tiptree biographer Julie Phillips, followed by Q&A.
(9) LIVED EXPERIENCE. Sarah A. Hoyt pays it forward in a column of mentoring for indie and other fledgling writers. In a few places I was nodding my head, especially section 3.
However, with the proliferation of indie, I’m seeing a lot more kid writers running around the net (and conferences) with their metaphorical pants around their metaphorical ankles and fingerpainting the walls in shades of brown.
I would hate for that to happen to one of mine, even if just one who follows my lessons here or over at PJM and as such, I’d like to at least ward off some of the worst behavior….
3- Speaking of marking you as a newbie:
Just a few years ago, I realized either a lot of people were naming their kids Author, Writer or Novelist, or the newbies in my field had got off their collective rocker.
This used to be advice given to us before social media: don’t put writer on your card. If you’re doing it right, they’ll remember that.
I guess it’s more needful than ever for people’s egos to affirm their real writerness (totally a word) now that there are no gatekeepers.
Look, the way to affirm you’re a writer is to write, and to take it seriously. Putting “writer” or novelist, or author on your card, your facebook page or your blog isn’t going to make you any more “real” than you are.
But Sarah, you’ll say, how will people know it’s me, and not another Jane Smith?
Well, if they’re looking for you, they’ll know.They’ll know because of your friends, your place of origin, the stuff you post. Fans are amazing that way.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
- January 20, 1920 – DeForest Kelley.
- January 20, 1930 — Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, the second man to set foot on the moon.
(11) SHOW HIM THE MONEY. Stephen Harper Piziks on Book View Café doesn’t work for free anymore.
“We just don’t have the money to pay you,” say the moochers. “We’re barely making our other expenses as it is. Even our president is a volunteer!”
Then maybe you should charge more for admission. Or get some sponsors. Or just realize that you can’t have speakers at such a low-budget event.
“But you’ll get exposure,” goes more whining.
Tell you what. You talk to the grocery store, the electric company, and the mortgage people and get them to accept exposure instead of cash, and I’ll speak for exposure.
I once showed up at a local convention where I’d been scheduled to speak on five panels (that’s five hours of public speaking) and was informed that I owed =them= $30 to cover my admission. It was only when I turned to walk out that they grudgingly allowed me free entry. Later, the con chair denigrated me by name on Twitter. I thanked him for the exposure.
And that brings me to final reason I charge. No one, including event organizers, values something they get for free. You get what you pay for, and an author who speaks for nothing is worth nothing. Certainly they’re treated that way. At festivals and conventions where I spoke for free, I’ve been ignored, pushed around, insulted, and denigrated. This has never happened at places that paid me.
(12) THE SECRET OF TIMING. Vox Day, while reporting this morning that David G. Hartwell was not expected to recover, identified him as part of this history:
Hartwell was John C. Wright’s editor at Tor Books; he was also friendlier to the Puppies than any of the SF-SJWs are likely to believe. I had the privilege of speaking with him when he called me last year after the Rabid Puppies overturned the SF applecart; he was the previously unnamed individual who explained the unusual structure of Tor Books to me, using the analogy of a medieval realm with separate and independent duchies. He wanted to avoid cultural war in science fiction even though he clearly understood that it appeared to be unavoidable; it was out of respect for him that I initially tried to make a distinction between Tor Books and the Making Light SJWs before Irene Gallo and Tom Doherty rendered that moot.
(13) IT’S A THEORY. Scholars told the BBC why they believe some fairy tales originated thousands of years ago.
Using techniques normally employed by biologists, academics studied links between stories from around the world and found some had prehistoric roots.
They found some tales were older than the earliest literary records, with one dating back to the Bronze Age.
The stories had been thought to date back to the 16th and 17th Centuries.
Durham University anthropologist Dr Jamie Tehrani, said Jack and the Beanstalk was rooted in a group of stories classified as The Boy Who Stole Ogre’s Treasure, and could be traced back to when Eastern and Western Indo-European languages split more than 5,000 years ago.
Analysis showed Beauty And The Beast and Rumpelstiltskin to be about 4,000 years old.
[Thanks to Gary Farber, Will R., and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day JJ.]