The darkest planet

Astronomers using the Kepler telescope have detected the darkest known planet. It has a faint, reddish glow. Its surface temperature is about 1800 degrees C., which makes it too hot to form methane clouds that would reflect more light. Its chemistry is partially known. It is

…a Jupiter-sized exoplanet some 750 light-years away that is so black that it reflects just one percent of the light that reaches it. TrES-2b is so black that it’s darker than coal, or any other planet or moon that we’ve yet discovered. It’s less reflective than black acrylic paint….. TrES-2b’s atmosphere is made up of things like vaporized sodium, potassium, and titanium oxide–things that actually compound the problem by absorbing heat. But even these don’t fully explain the planet’s extreme blackness, which is still puzzling astronomers. There’s some kind of strange chemistry going on out there that even Kepler can’t see.

PZ Myers wins International Humanist award

The face of a bearded, cheerful, middle-aged man with the Thames river and London in the background

Prof. PZ Myers

PZ Myers, author of the blog Pharyngula, has been named the International Humanist of 2011, at the 18th World Humanist Congress of the International Humanist and Ethical Union in Oslo, Norway. He’s now the distinguished author!

Commenter Strange Gods before Me pointed out:

This puts you [PZ] in very distinguished company (besides us [his loyal readers], I mean).

http://www.iheu.org/iheu-awards

International Humanist Award

1970: Barry Commoner (USA), environmentalist professor, for his activities in the field of preservation of the world environment. Commoner played a major role in achieving worldwide commitment to the cause of ecology.

1974: Harold Blackham (UK), who played a key role in founding IHEU, for his long-standing involvement with ethical Humanism in Britain and his achievements in the field of moral education.

1978: V M Tarkunde (India), a former judge of the Bombay court, who had shown great courage during the state of emergency in his country. He defended the values of democracy and dealt with many cases that were related to the repressive measures of the Indian government in that period.

1982: Kurt Partzsch (Germany), a former Minister for Social Affairs of Lower Saxony, for his contributions to the cause of human well-being and for his initiatives in social work in particular.

1986: Arnold Clausse (Belgium). A professor emeritus of education, who as president of the Ligue Internationale de l’Enseignement had promoted a public educational system based on the principles of equal chances for all, free inquiry and high quality.

1986: The Atheist Centre (India), for their efforts to being Humanism in practice, by means of education, social work and their fight tagainst superstition and religious intolerance.

1988: Andrei Sakharov (USSR), atom scientist and winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace, for his indefatigable struggle for the cause of human rights in his country, and for his Humanist ideals. The award was presented in absentia, as at that time the Soviet authorities refused to give him permission to leave the country.

1990: Alexander Dubcek (Czechoslovakia), in recognition of his attempts in the 1960s to give communism in his country a more human face. Dubcek, who after 1968 had to pay a heavy toll for his dedication to his ideals of democracy and humanity, stressed in his speech that it is morality and humanity that give meaning to life.

1992: Pieter Admiraal (Netherlands), a Dutch anaesthetist, for advocating the right of self-determination in the field of voluntary euthanasia.

1996: Nettie Klein (Netherlands) for services to IHEU as volunteer secretary general, 1982-1996.

1999: Professor Paul Kurtz (USA), in recognition of the immensely important role he has played for both the American and the international Humanist movements.

2002: Amartya Sen (India), Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, and winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize for Economics, for contribution to the recognition of the purpose of development as the enhancement of individual freedom: to increase the choices available to ordinary people.

2005: Jean-Claude Pecker (France), a distinguished scientist, a member of the French Legion of Honour, a former President of the International Astronomical Union, and a stalwart Rationalist and Humanist.

2008: Philip Pullman (United Kingdom), author of the His Dark Materials trilogy, a triumphant work of freethought.

The Congress is held every three years.

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