Swiss astronomers announced on Tuesday the discovery of a new planet in the Alpha Centauri system. The “lava world,” which orbits the star Alpha Centauri B, is the closest to Earth yet found. Though its temperature is likely too extreme to support life, the yet-unnamed planet orbits a star much like our own sun and has a mass roughly the same as Earth. Geneva Observatory astronomer Stéphane Udry called the new planet a “landmark” discovery. The Swiss team who discovered it also found the first extrasolar planet in 1995. Though the Alpha Centauri system contains known habitable zones, where temperatures are friendly to life, a trip there would still take our current robotic spacecraft roughly 40,000 years to complete.
The Canadian government knew of Russ George’s plans to dump 100 tons of iron sulfate into the Pacific Ocean over the summer, according to a report in The Guardian. The paper obtained documents revealing that officers from Environment Canada were aware of the impending dump before it happened. They expressed concerns about the idea of ocean fertilization, but it doesn’t appear that they took any further action. George maintains that the government’s involvement went way beyond that. "Canadian government people have been helping us,” he told The Guardian. “We've had workshops run where we've been taught how to use satellite resources by the Canadian space agency. [The government] is trying to 'cost-share' with us on certain aspects of the project. And we are expecting lots more support as we go forward." The dump caused a huge algal bloom that can been seen from space, and it is in violation of two international conventions that outlaw for-profit ocean fertilization attempts. Environment Canada did not comment on the story, saying, “The matter is currently under investigation.”
Via The Guardian
Ski season is underway in the Rockies with the opening of Arapahoe Basin in Keystone, Colorado. With an 18" base, the ski area was only able to open one lift and one intermediate run with the help of some aggressive snow-making. "It was incredibly cold up here. We just made a ton of snow. We've been making snow since then and we've got enough to get it open," Alan Henceroth, A-Basin chief, said. The ski area is typically one of the first to open, but other ski resorts are crossing their fingers for a good snow season. "We always anticipate a big year. But this year it's looking like it's lining up for some southern flows early on which we always get excited about at Eldora," Eldora Resort's Rob Linde said.
Via Denver Post
Following the long-anticipated release of the United States Anti-Doping Agency's lengthy report last week that detailed allegations of doping, Lance Armstrong has announced that he is stepping down as chairman of Livestrong, the cancer-fighting charity he founded in 1997. Armstrong has been a vocal leader of the non-profit, which also goes by the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF), for the past 15 years, but decided to distance himself so that "it can focus on its mission instead of its founder's problems," according to the Associated Press. Minutes later, Nike Inc. announced that it is terminating its contract with Armstrong. "Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in any manner," a statement read. "Nike plans to continue support of the Livestrong initiatives created to unite, inspire, and empower people affected by cancer."
Via Associated Press
A 4.0-magnitude earthquake centered in southern Maine shook businesses and houses in New England on Tuesday, sending tremors as far away as Connecticut. The rare quake, which was centered about 20 miles west of Portland and lasted for several seconds, caused little damage. "The whole house shook," said Saco, Maine, resident Sue Hadiaris. "It was very unnerving because you could feel the floor shaking. There was a queasy feeling." While uncommon, earthquakes on the East Coast can spread 10 times further than they would in the west, due to the region's geology.