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A second planet has been discovered at the edge of our solar system by astronomers in Chile.     Photo: nukleerkedi/Thinkstock

New Planet Found Beyond Pluto

Named after Joe Biden

Take the distance between Earth and the sun, multiply that by 80, and look toward Pluto. These are the directions an astronomer would give to describe the location of a newly discovered planet. After a decade of research, the discovery of a second dwarflike planet beyond Pluto was announced this week. For now, the planet is named 2012 VP113 after Vice President Joe Biden.

VP113 was found beyond the known edge of our solar system in a region just past the Kuiper Belt called the Oort Cloud. In 2003, another planet, Sedna, was discovered in the same region, but VP113 is estimated to be at least four astronomical units (the distance between Earth and the sun) beyond Sedna.

Astronomers are still unsure about what gravitational forces affect Sedna and VP113 in the Oort Cloud. A popular theory states there is sister star to the sun that has created its own stable orbital subdivision. VP113 is likely the first of many planets to be discovered in the Oort Cloud. Astronomers think there could be nearly 1,000 other similarly orbiting objects out there, some even rivaling the size of Earth.

Scott Sheppard and Chadwick Trujillo are the astronomers responsible for the find. Using a 4-meter telescope in Chile, the duo searched vast areas of sky looking for faint objects. Once identified, the astronomers were able to determine the orbit and other information using another 6.5-meter telescope in Chile.

In other space news, NASA has turned to the public for help on designing its next space suit. More than 80,000 people have already cast their votes for three different prototypes for the updated Z-2 suit. The three options are named Technology, Biomimicry, and Trends in Society, each sporting its own sense of space fashion. Voting ends on April 15, and the suits are expected to undergo testing as early as this November.


High-Impact Exercise Builds Bone Density

Hips don’t lie

Every time your feet pound the pavement while running this spring, think about all the bone density you’re building. Believe it or not, high-impact exercise is good for you, the New York Times Magazine reports.

According to a study from researchers at the University of Bristol, subjecting bones to abrupt stress helps them add mass. Data was gathered from male and female adolescent subjects wearing activity monitors. Those who experienced impacts of 4.2 Gs or greater had sturdier hip bones. Further research found that the only way to generate 4.2 Gs is to run at least a 10-minute mile or jump onto and down from a box at least 15 inches high.

The only bummer: Women age 60 and older in the study never reached 4.2 Gs of force during their exercise, meaning they were unable to build bone density. The good news? High-impact exercise might still help adults maintain bone mass, says Dr. Jon Tobias, a professor of rheumatology at the University of Bristol who led the experiments.

Another study originally published in Frontiers in January found that women between age 25 and 50 who hopped at least 10 times twice a day, with 30 seconds between each hop, significantly increased their hip bone density after four months.

The takeaway: Run and jump fast and hard; your hips will thank you.


Vail Resorts offered to buy Park City Mountain Resort's base assets this week.     Photo: markwalkersmith/Getty Images

Vail Offers to Buy PCMR Assets

Days before lawsuit goes to trial

In a surprise move, Vail Resorts offered to buy Park City Mountain Resort’s base area and parking lots this week.

The buyout offer comes just days before the two companies head to trial over a lease dispute that could leave Vail in control of the Utah ski resort.

On Tuesday, Vail Resorts chief Rob Katz sent a five-page letter to John Cumming, CEO of Park City Mountain Resort’s parent company. In the letter, he promised “fair market value for any of the assets you have that would be helpful for us in operating the resort.”

But Cumming responded that his company “won’t agree to a Vail takeover.”  

“We have repeatedly made it clear to Vail that PCMR is interested in exploring all possible solutions that will preserve the independence of PCMR as the nation’s premier family ski resort,” he wrote.

When Vail took over the operation of Canyons last year, it also inherited a lease dispute between Talisker Corporation and Park City Mountain Resort. Canada-based Talisker—which owns Canyons and a large section of PCMR land—argues that the family-owned resort failed to properly renew its lease.

PCMR disagreed and sued Talisker in 2012. The plot thickened last August when Vail Resorts filed an eviction notice demanding that PCMR get off Talisker-owned land.  

The fate of the Utah ski resort will ultimately be decided in the upcoming trial. District court hearings are scheduled for April 3 and 8.


Child mother active

If you want your child to be more active, then you need to get out more yourself.     Photo: BlueOrange Studio/Getty Images

Active Moms Equal Active Kids

Kids aren't just naturally active

Mothers might not feel like they have any extra seconds in the day to exercise, but a new study finds that being a more active mom will make your young children more active too.

A study from the University of Cambridge published in the journal Pediatrics tracked 554 mothers and their four-year-olds using accelerometers. The data showed that when mothers boosted their physical activity, children's moderate to vigorous activity increased 10 percent.

"We saw a direct, positive association between physical activity in children and their mothers—the more activity a mother did, the more activity her child did," study leader Kathryn Hesketh told the New York Daily News.

However, it is still not clear whether active moms inspired their children to be more active or if already active children were making their mothers run around after them, Hesketh cautioned.

Efforts to promote physical activity should include both mothers and children, study co-author Esther van Sluijs told NPR. Instead of driving to the park, parents and children should walk, Slujis recommends, and substituting a board game with a game of tag can pay big dividends in children's fitness over a month or a year.

Want to get your family more active and raise children who rip? Check out Outside's 2014 Active Family Guide.