|Pharaoh Thutmose III|
What Thutmose III saw in the desert
According to one source, in 1,482 B.C. pharaoh Thutmose III was out in the desert with his troops when he saw a circle of fire in the sky; a few days later he saw more of them – they were just over a hundred feet long and hundred feet wide – before they flew up into the sky, out of sight.
Tulli's find in the Cairo bazaar
A former director of the Egyptian section of the Vatican Museum, Professor Alberto Tulli, found a manuscript in 1934 that is now known as the Tulli papyrus or manuscript after him, in a bazaar in Cairo, and it was then given to an Italian-Russian Egyptologist named Prince Boris de Rachewiltz for translation.
The Prince and the Poet
The prince had married the daughter of the American poet, Ezra Pound, whom Hemingway had tried to teach to box (Hemingway later wrote that he was never able to teach Pound how to throw a left hook). Pound was caught and spent 25 days in an open cage at a US Army base north of Pisa; he was later accused of treason during WWII because he had sided with Mussolini against the US, but was found incompetent to face trial and spent 12 years in a mental institution. When Pound returned to Italy in 1958 he stayed at the Prince's Castle Brunnenburg. He died in his home in Venice.
A bit of breaking news ...
This year we learned that "Earth is not a fluke", courtesy of a leak from a NASA mission.
Are there other planets, orbiting other stars, with characteristics similar to earth? The Kepler Mission is designed to find Earth-size planets in orbit around
stars like our Sun outside of the solar system. Launched on March 6, 2009, the scientific goal of the Kepler Mission is to explore the structure and diversity of planetary systems, with a special emphasis on the detection of Earth-size planets. It will survey the extended solar neighborhood to detect and characterize hundreds of terrestrial and larger planets in or near the "habitable zone," defined by scientists as the distance from a star where liquid water can exist on a planet's surface.
In July this year some surprising results leaked out about the Kepler mission's findings:
NASA didn't plan it this way, but earlier this month a co-investigator on the Kepler satellite mission in the hunt for other Earth-like planets announced to a conference in Oxford, England, that "planets like our own Earth are out there. Our Milky Way galaxy is rich in this kind of planet." The announcement ... was especially striking because it was largely based on Kepler data that team members had been allowed to keep to themselves for further analysis until next February. So, traditionally, such data would be released formally with all involved scientists onboard...
At 8:15 into his 18-minute talk, Sasselov showed a bar graph of planet size. Of the approximate 265 Kepler planets represented on the graph, about 140 were labeled "like Earth," that is, having a radius smaller than twice Earth's radius. "You can see here small planets dominate the picture," said Sasselov. Until now, astronomers' exoplanet finds had been more like gas giant Jupiter than rocky little Earth...
Sasselov did emphasize that these are candidates, not confirmed exoplanets. With further observation, half of them could well turn out to be false alarms. Many could also be Earth-like in size but orbiting so close to their stars that nothing but their size would be Earth-like. Sasselov said that astronomers will be able to identify at least 60 Earth-like planets. So the unauthorized presentation of preliminary results would seem to confirm that Kepler has succeeded in showing that Earth is no fluke.