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  • Anthrodendum's Alex Golub talks about anthropologists of the 20th century who resisted fascism.

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait notes a study suggesting the TRAPPIST-1 system might be substantially older than our own solar system.

  • Centauri Dreams considers tidal locking as a factor relevant to Earth-like planetary environments.

  • The Crux shows efforts to help the piping plover in its home on the dunes of the Great Lakes coast of Pennsylvania.

  • Dead Things considers the evidence for the presence of modern humans in Sumatra 73 thousand years ago.

  • Bruce Dorminey makes the case for placing a lunar base not on the poles, but rather in the material-rich nearside highlands.

  • Far Outliers shares some evocative placenames from Japan, like Togakushi (‘door-hiding’) from ninja training spaces.

  • Language Hat notes the exceptionally stylistically uneven Spanish translation of the Harry Potter series.

  • Language Log thinks, among other things, modern technologies make language learning easier than ever before.

  • The LRB Blog notes how claims to trace modern Greece directly to the Mycenaean era are used to justify ultranationalism.

  • Marginal Revolution considers which countries are surrounded by enemies. (India rates poorly by this metric.)

  • The Numerati's Stephen Baker considers how Confederate statues are products of recycling, like so much in our lives.

  • The NYR Daily considers the unique importance of Thomas Jefferson, a man at once statesman and slaver.

  • The Planetary Society Blog celebrated the 40th anniversary of the launch of Voyager 2 Sunday.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer notes that, for a country fighting a drug war, Mexico spends astonishingly little on its police force.

  • Drew Rowsome takes a look at classic John Wayne Western, The Train Robbers.

  • Starts With A Bang's Ethan Siegel considers the critical role of NASA's Planetary Protection Officer.

  • Strange Company notes the many legends surrounding the early 19th century US' Theodosia Burr.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy hosts Ilya Somin' argument against world government, as something limiting of freedom. Thoughts?

  • Window on Eurasia notes how Ukrainians are turning from Russia, becoming more foreign to their one-time partner.

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  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly writes about the pleasures of the unmediated life, experienced in her recent vacation.

  • This celebration at Centauri Dreams of the forty years of science from the Voyager missions is heart-warming.

  • White racism in power is touched upon at Lawyers, Guns and Money.

  • Noel Maurer notes that the Philippines, where indiscriminate violence is state policy, no longer counts as a true democracy. Duturte as Marcos?

  • The Russian Demographics Blog shares a map depicting the frequency with which young adults live with parents across Europe. Northwestern Europe stands out.

  • Understanding Society looks at an early critique of positivism in sociology.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at Belarus' preparation for the Zapad 2017 military exercises with Russia.

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  • Centauri Dreams considers the challenges and the prospects of laser SETI.

  • Citizen Science Salon reports on a couple who have done their best to keep their bee numbers up.

  • Joe. My. God. notes that Milo's book, contrary to Milo's claims, has performed very badly indeed in the UK, among other places.

  • Language Log features a poetic digression by Victor Mair on Chinese characters for words like "plum" and "wine."

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money suggests that moderate Republicans in Congress might not be all that.

  • The LRB Blog considers Nice at, and after, the time of last year's terrorist attacks.

  • Marginal Revolution features Tyler Cowen's description of his writing processes.

  • Drew Rowsome interviews Toronto gay photographer Dylan Rosser.

  • Unicorn Booty looks back at the history of the queercore movement--gay punk, as a first approximation.

  • Vintage Space links to an article explaining why there was neither an Apollo 2 nor an Apollo 3.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests the Russian state is undermining various once-allied Russian nationalist movements.

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  • The anthropology group blog Savage Minds now has a new name, Anthrodendum.

  • Anthropology.net reports on the first major study of ancient African human DNA. New history is revealed.

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait reports on how gravitational lensing led to the identification of a single star nine billion light-years away. (This is a record.)

  • Centauri Dreams reports the possible detection of a debris disk around pulsar Geminga, augury of future planets perhaps?

  • Dangerous Minds reports on Seoul's Haesindang Park, a park literally full of penises--phallic symbols, at least.

  • The Dragon's Gaze notes one analysis arguing for the plausibility of unmanned probes using imaginable technology reaching the ten nearest stars in a century.

  • Imageo shares photos from space of the southern California wildfires.

  • Language Hat shares some stirring poetry in Scots.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on the scale of child labour in North Carolina's farm sector.

  • Marginal Revolution thinks that American observers of Putin think, far too much, that he actually has a plan. The degree of chaos in Russia's affairs is apparently being underestimated.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw notes the unsettling rural Americana of photographer Gregory Crewdson.

  • Window on Eurasia notes Zhirinovsky's plan for a sweeping Russian annexation of Ukraine, leaving only the northwest independent.

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  • James Bow shares his story of how he met famed Canadian kid's author Gordon Korman.

  • Paul Drye has sales on this month for his two books, space race WI book False Steps and his first, Passing Strangeness.

  • Far Outliers' Joel notes two overlooked episodes of migration in Canada, of Hawaiians in British Columbia and Canadian exiles in Australia.

  • The Great Grey Bridge's Philip Turner shared, again, his personal photo essay about his links to and love of Canada.

  • Language Hat looks at the potentially Australian slang phrase "good on you" (pronounced "good onya", apparently).

  • Language Hat looks at claims that translation and grammar complicate the meaning of the text authorizing the handover of Hong Kong to China.

  • The LRB Blog announces that their #readeverywhere photo contest is up and running for July!

  • Cheri Lucas Rowlands shares a gorgeous photo essay of her trip to Chania, on Crete.

  • Unicorn Booty has an interesting essay looking at the barriers to membership imposed by gay culture on newly-out members of the community.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at the cost of the Russian war in Ukraine and argues that the consequences of a crash now would be worse than in 1998.
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  • Roads and Kingdoms shares Dave Hazzan's reflections on the yougurt-type (but non-yogurt) Icelandic foodstuff skyr.

  • VICE reports on the scene from Glasgow after the launch of the city Tim Horton's in Scotland.

  • Bloomberg features Javiera Quiroga's take on the migration of Chilean vintners south ahead of climate change.

  • VICE notes that climate change will wreck the favourite coastline locations of surfers.

  • Dave Rothery describes at The Conversation how protecting against space probes' environmental contamination challenges exploration.

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  • The Big Picture shares shocking photos of the Portuguese forest fires.

  • blogTO notes that, happily, Seaton Village's Fiesta Farms is apparently not at risk of being turned into a condo development site.

  • Centauri Dreams notes a new starship discussion group in Delft. Shades of the British Interplanetary Society and the Daedalus?

  • D-Brief considers a new theory explaining why different birds' eggs have different shapes.

  • The Frailest Thing's Michael Sacasas commits himself to a new regimen of blogging about technology and its imports. (There is a Patreon.)

  • Language Hat notes the current Turkish government's interest in purging Turkish of Western loanwords.

  • Language Log's Victor Mair sums up the evidence for the diffusion of Indo-European languages, and their speakers, into India.

  • The LRB Blog notes the Theresa May government's inability post-Grenfell to communicate with any sense of emotion.

  • Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen wonders if the alt-right more prominent in the Anglophone world because it is more prone to the appeal of the new.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw wonders if Brexit will result in a stronger European Union and a weaker United Kingdom.

  • Seriously Science reports a study suggesting that shiny new headphones are not better than less flashy brands.

  • Torontoist reports on the anti-Muslim hate groups set to march in Toronto Pride.

  • Understanding Society considers the subject of critical realism in sociological analyses.

  • Window on Eurasia notes how Russia's call to promote Cyrillic across the former Soviet Union has gone badly in Armenia, with its own script.

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  • Apostrophen's 'Nathan Smith talks about "cis", "trans", and the non-obvious meaning of this classification.
  • The Big Picture shares photos of a recent sailing festival in Boston.

  • blogTO reports on the trendy charcoal-black ice cream of a store across from Trinity Bellwoods.
  • Centauri Dreams considers the idea of a "runaway fusion" drive.Crooked Timber wonders how a bad Brexit agreement could possibly be worse than no Brexit agreement for the United Kingdom.
  • D-Brief warns of the possibility of sustained life-threatening heat waves in the tropics with global warming.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog considers how sociology majors are prepared, or not, for the workforce.

  • Language Hat links to a wonderful examination of the textual complexities of James Joyce's Ulysses.

  • The LRB Blog looks at how British big business is indebted to the Conservatives.

  • Marginal Revolution reports on China's emergent pop music machine.

  • Steve Munro reports on the latest on noise from the 514 Cherry streetcar.

  • The NYRB Daily has a fascinating exchange on consciousness and free will and where it all lies.
  • The Planetary Society Blog reports on a successful expedition to Argentina to examine Kuiper Belt object MU69 via occultation.

  • Peter Rukavina celebrates Charlottetown school crossing guard Dana Doyle.

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  • The New York Times' Michael Wilson tells the sad story of how a woman murdered in Harlem was only identified 47 years later.

  • In NOW Toronto, Gelek Badheytsang writes about the complexities surrounding the visit of the 17th Karmapa to Tibetan-heavy Parkdale.

  • Novak Jankovic writes in MacLean's that there are real declines in the Toronto real estate market, but not enough to set a trend.

  • The Toronto Star's Jackie Hong reports that protecting Bluffer's Park from the waves of Lake Ontario could also wreck an east-end surfing haunt.

  • The National Post reports on how the Ontario NDP claims, probably correctly, that the Wynne Liberals are stealing their ideas. Good for them, I say.

  • Universe Today's Matt Williams notes a study reporting that life on Mars' surface is a much greater risk factor for cancer than previously thought.

  • Seth Miller argues that efficient electric cars will push Big Oil through the trauma of Big Coal in the 2020s.

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  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at the surprisingly exciting British elections. What will come of them?

  • The LRB Blog considers the question of the underlying motivations of pollsters.

  • Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen reshares an old column noting the destabilizing effects of Trump on American alliances.

  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at India's new heavy-lift rocket, the GSLV-MK3.

  • Torontoist looks at the City of Toronto's response to the overdose crisis.

  • Towleroad notes that the Japanese city of Sapporo has recognized same-sex relationships.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy argues that the constitutionality of Trump's edicts should not be defined by their being issued by Trump.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that Russian policy towards Ukraine since 1991 has been marked by consistent disinterest in Ukraine going its own way.

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  • blogTO suggests the Port Lands might become an artists' hu8b.

  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly talks about the complexities involved with managing feelings.

  • Centauri Dreams talks about different methods of near-term interstellar travel.

  • Joe. My. God. notes that Nordic prime ministers have just trolled Trump's bizarre orb-based photo op.

  • Language Hat shares some interesting claims about standard Finnish as a neutral dialect.
  • The Planetary Society Blog talks about the latest stages of the Dawn mission to Ceres.

  • Peter Rukavina looks at the end of Charlottetown's Founders' Hall.

  • Torontoist examines Ontario's impending $15 an hour minimum wage.

  • Window on Eurasia reports on the latest disputes between Russia and Ukraine on their shared history.

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  • Anthropology.net reports on new evidence that Homo naledi may have used tools, buried their dead, and lived alongside Homo sapiens.
  • Centauri Dreams remembers an abortive solar sail mission to Halley's Comet.

  • Dangerous Minds shares photos of the "Apache" dancers of France.

  • Cody Delistraty writes about Swedish futurist Anders Sandberg and his efforts to plan for humanity's future.

  • At the Everyday Sociology Blog, Karen Sternheimer talks about her day as a sociologist.

  • Joe. My. God. notes the good news that normal young HIV patients can now expect near-normal life expectancies.

  • Language Hat looks at a recent surge of interest in Italian dialects.

  • Language Log looks at the phenomenon of East Asians taking English-language names.

  • The LRB Blog considers the dynamics of the United Kingdom's own UDI.

  • Marginal Revolution looks at the existential issues of a growing Kinshasa still disconnected from the wider world.

  • Steve Munro notes that Metrolinx will now buy vehicles from France's Alstom.

  • The New APPS Blog uses Foucault to look at the "thanatopolitics" of the Republicans.

  • The NYRB Daily looks at Trump's constitutional crisis.

  • Out There considers the issues surrounding the detection of an alien civilization less advanced than ours.

  • The Planetary Society Blog looks at the United States' planetary science exploration budget.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer looks at Argentina's underrated reputation as a destination for foreign investment.

  • Progressive Download shares some thinking about sexual orientation in the context of evolution.

  • Peter Rukavina looks at the success of wind energy generation on the Island.

  • Understanding Society takes a look at the dynamics of Rome.

  • Window on Eurasia shares a lunatic Russian scheme for a partition of eastern Europe between Russia and Germany.

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  • Anthropology.net reports on the recent discovery in China of two skulls a hundred thousand years old, possible remnants of a hitherto-unknown hominid species.

  • blogTO reports on the boom in the Toronto tech community.

  • Language Log breaks down the linguistics, specifically word lengths, of audiobooks.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on the difficult position of indigenous peoples in Nicaragua.

  • Marginal Revolution reports on the potential health benefits of substances in the blood of the Komodo dragon.

  • The NYRB Daily reports on the modernist photography of Berenice Abbott.

  • The Planetary Society Blog reports on the adventures of the Mars rovers.

  • Supernova Condensate takes a quick look at Jupiter's moon, Io.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at a new Russian film that transposes the superhero genre with the Soviet era, and argues that Russia is acting these days not as a constructive power but as a spoiler.

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  • James Bow calls for an end to the US-Canada Safe Third Country agreement prohibiting people coming from American soil from claiming refugee status in Canada.

  • D-Brief reports on the vast array of man-made minerals appearing in what is now being called the Anthropocene Era of Earth.

  • Dangerous Minds notes the efforts of the Disco Preservation Society to preserve DJ mixes from 1980s San Francisco.

  • Language Log takes issue with Neil DeGrasse Tyson's argument that cryptographers, not linguists, would be needed in Arrival.

  • The LRB Blog notes impunity for murderers of civil society activists in Honduras.

  • Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen talks about Joyce Gladwell's autobiography Brown Face, Big Master.

  • The NYRB Daily celebrates the work of Hercules Segers.

  • The Planetary Society Blog is skeptical of the Space X plan to send tourists past the Moon by 2018.

  • Supernova Condensate lists 8 things we know about Proxima Centauri b.

  • Towleroad reports on new walking tours being offered of gay London.

  • Arnold Zwicky engages with a California exhibition comparing paintings with movies.

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  • blogTO notes a threat to some of Liberty Village's historic buildings through development.

  • Centauri Dreams looks at planetary formation around close binary SDSS 1557, which includes a white dwarf.

  • False Steps' Paul Drye announces a new book project, They Played the Game, which looks at how different baseball players overlooked in our history might have become stars had things gone differently.

  • Language Hat looks at the linguistic differences between the two Koreas.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the exploitation of Syrian refugees by Turkish garment manufacturers.

  • The LRB Blog examines the phenomenon of myth-making regarding Sweden.
  • The Map Room Blog links to a website sharing the stories of cartographers.

  • The NYRB Daily notes the chaos that Trump will be bringing to American immigration law.

  • Peter Rukavina talks about his experience as a library hacker.

  • Supernova Condensate is optimistic about the potential of Space X to actually inaugurate an era of space tourism.

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News of the remarkable density of planets, including potentially Earth-like planets, in the system of nearby ultra-cool dwarf TRAPPIST-1 spread across the blogosphere. This NASA JPL illustration comparing the TRAPPIST-1 worlds with the four rocky worlds of our own solar system, underlining the potential similarity of some worlds to the worlds we know like Venus and Mars and even Earth, went viral.



Supernova Condensate provided a good outline of this system in the post "A tiny red sun with a sky full of planets!".

One interesting thing is that TRAPPIST-1 is tiny. Really tiny! It’s a class M8V ultracool red dwarf, which really is about as small as a star can get while still being a star. Much smaller and it wouldn’t be able to even fuse hydrogen. I’ve put it side by side with a few other familiar celestial objects in this image. As you can see, it’s a little bigger than Jupiter. It’s actually roughly the same size as HD189733b, a much studied hot jupiter, and noticeably smaller than Proxima, our friendly neighbourhood red dwarf. Lalande 21185 is on the larger end of the scale of red dwarfs, and is also one of the few you can actually see in the night sky (though you’ll need a dark sky to find it).

Ultracool red dwarfs really are tiny, but they’re also extremely long lived. Quietly burning stellar embers which exemplify the old saying that slow and steady wins the race. Because these little stars don’t burn their fuel too quickly, and because they’re low enough in mass to be fully convective, they can burn for trillions of years. Long after the Sun exhausts the fuel in its core, flares into a red giant and then cools silently in the darkness, TRAPPIST-1 will still be burning, providing warmth for it’s little planetary entourage.

Not much warmth, mind you. TRAPPIST-1’s handful of planets are huddling around their parent star as if it were campfire on a cold night. The entire star system would fit inside Mercury’s orbit and still have cavernous amounts of room to spare. So close are those planets, that they have years which pass by in mere Earth days. The shortest has a year which is just 1.5 Earth days long. The longest year length in the system is still less than a month.

aureliaOf course, I say Earth days, because these planets don’t have days as such. They’re so close to their parent star that they’re certain to be tidally locked. The gravitational forces are sufficiently different that they cannot rotate at all. One side constantly faces the tiny red sun in the sky, and the other side constantly faces outwards towards the cold night. It’s quite likely that the night sides of these planets may be frozen in a permanent winter night, never gaining enough warmth to thaw. Half a planet of permanent Antarctica.


Supernova Condensate was kind enough to produce an illuminating graphic, hosted at "Model Planets", comparing the TRAPPIST-1 system to (among others) the Earth-Moon system and to Jupiter and its moons. The TRAPPIST-1 system is tiny.



The Planetary Society Blog's Franck Marchis wrote a nice essay outlining what is and is not known, perhaps most importantly pointing out that while several of the TRAPPIST-1 worlds are in roughly the right position in their solar system to support life, we do not actually know if they do support life. Further research is called for, clearly.

Centauri Dreams' "Seven Planets Around TRAPPIST-1" has great discussion in the comments, concentrating on the potential for life on these worlds and on the possibility of actually travelling to the TRAPPIST-1 solar system. The later post "Further Thoughts on TRAPPIST-1" notes that these worlds, which presumably migrated inwards from the outer fringes of their solar system, might well have arrived with substantial stocks of volatiles like water. If this survived the radiation of their young and active sun, they could be watery worlds.

The cultural implication of these discoveries, meanwhile, has also come up. Jonathan Edelstein has written in "We Just Got Our ’30s Sci-Fi Plots Back" about how TRAPPIST-1, by providing so many potentially habitable planets so close to each other, would be an ideal setting for an early spacefaring civilization, and for imaginings of said. If a sister world is scarcely further than the moon, why not head there? Savage Minds, meanwhile, in "The Resonance of Earth, Other Worlds, and Exoplanets", hosts a discussion between Michael P. Oman-Reagan and Lisa Messeri talking about the cultural significance of these and other discoveries, particularly exploring how they create points of perceived similarity used as markers of cultural import.
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  • blogTO notes an Instagram user from Toronto, @brxson, who takes stunning photos of the city from on high.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper examining the limits of exoplanet J1407b's massive ring system.

  • The Dragon's Tales notes evidence that the primordial Martian atmosphere apparently did not have carbon dioxide.

  • Imageo notes that the California rivers swollen by flooding can be seen from space.

  • Joe. My. God. notes that American intelligence agencies are withholding sensitive information from a White House seen as compromised by Russian intelligence.

  • Language Hat talks about the best ways to learn Latin.

  • Marginal Revolution links to a paper observing a decline in inter-state migration in the United States.

  • The NYRB Daily looks at the interesting failure of a public sculpture program in the United Kingdom in the 1970s.

  • Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw notes the remarkable heat that has hit Australia in recent days.

  • The Planetary Society Blog reports on the intersection between space technology and high-tech fashion.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer looks at how Argentina gave the Falkland Islands tariff-free access to Mercosur.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog looks at the countries likely to be vulnerable to rapid aging.

  • Transit Toronto notes the Bombardier lawsuit against Metrolinx.

  • Window on Eurasia argues that poor Russian statistical data is leading directly to bad policy.

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  • blogTO tries to pit the west side of Toronto against the east side.

  • Centauri Dreams describes an inventive plan to launch a probe to rendezvous with Proxima Centauri.

  • Crooked Timber looks at the idea of civil society in the age of Trump.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper that aims to explore why Neptune-class exoplanets are so common.

  • Marginal Revolution notes an interesting history of Singapore.

  • The New APPS Blog links to a report suggesting that big data may have created President Trump.

  • The Planetary Society Blog reports on the latest plans for exploring Ceres.

  • Towleroad notes a rumoured plan to legalize anti-LGBT discrimination under Trump.

  • The Volokh Conspiracy has one take on Supreme Court obstructionism.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russians may accept pension reforms which will place the minimum age for qualifying for a pension for men above the average male life expectancy, and reports from St. Petersburg about a dispute over the ownership of a church.

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This news comes from the end of 2016, but it's still quite good. May China continue to progress in space travel, for the benefit of us all.

China vowed Tuesday to speed up the development of its space industry as it set out its plans to become the first country to soft land a probe on the far side of the moon, around 2018, and launch its first Mars probe by 2020.

"To explore the vast cosmos, develop the space industry and build China into a space power is a dream we pursue unremittingly," read a white paper setting out the country's space strategy for the next five years. It says China aims to use space for peaceful purposes and to guarantee national security, and to carry out cutting edge scientific research.

The white paper released by the information office of China's Cabinet points to the growing ambitions of China's already rapidly advancing space program. Although the white paper doesn't mention it, China's eventual goal is the symbolic feat of landing an astronaut on the moon.

While Russia and the United States have more experience in manned space travel, China's military-backed program has made steady progress in a comparatively short time.

Since China conducted its first crewed space mission in 2003, it has staged a spacewalk and landed a rover on the moon in 2013 -- the first time humans had soft landed anything on the moon since the 1970s.

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