Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pluto's Planet Status

I think it was rather unfair in the part of International Astronomical union to demote pluto (it even got a new official asteriod identification) Only 4% of about 9000 astronomers were present in the voting.

New planets that are discovered outside our system are already too big, (some are llike 5 times the size of jupiter, means something like 60 times the size of earth!)

When we get to these planets, are we going to propose new definitions and demote all the planets in the solar system?

Well, if you get more planets, add them to the list. There will be no shortage of planet discoveries, even in our solar system, or the rest of the galaxy (not to mention, rest of the universe)

The new definitions of planet were as if specifically aimed to demote pluto's status.

We could have some simpler guidelines as:

A planet should satisfy all the traditional requirements, orbit the sun, be in approximately round shape.

Put some size cap on the lower limit and upper limit of planet.

As size should be between x (lower limit) diameters and y(upper limit) diameters.

The newly discovered super giant planets(outside our solar system) could be called planets or above a certain size may even classify as brown dwarfs (failed to ignite stars)

If it is below size of pluto call them as dwarf planets! Put Pluto for marking between planets and dwarf planets. Why demote it?

If we discover new objects larger than pluto that go around the sun add them to the list! It doesn't matter if we got 9 or 10 or 10 million planets in the solar system. We do not need names for all of them, catalog names would do.

Let the classical planets remain as classical planets.

Vote for pluto

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Definition of a Planet

Pluto is a planet?

That's the question currently argued at the International Astronomical Union (IAU) gathering at Prague, CZ. Infact for years astronomers have debated on the status of tiny Pluto.

The question gained significance by the recent discovery of a new object beyond Pluto, which is bigger than Pluto (object: 2003 UB 313)

This created a lot of fuss among astronomers as to whether this new object needs to be included in the classical list of planets, if its not then Pluto needs to be removed from the list!

Now astronomers have developed a new description for what a planet means:

The description summary is:

"A planet is a celestial body that (a) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (b) is in orbit around a star, and is neither a star nor a satellite of a planet."

This could mean even some of the larger asteroids could find a place in the planet category.

Some points from the description draft prepared by the IAU:
  • Pluto - Charon is a "double planet"
  • If asteroids like Pallas, Vesta are found to be in hydrostatic equilibrium (round shape), they are also planets, referred by a new class - "dwarf planets"
  • Pluto may be part of a new class of planets called "Plutons"

On Aug 24th astronomers will vote on the proposal, if they pass it, then Pluto will retain its position, also we will have more additions to planets in the solar system, including the moon of Pluto - Charon.

One thing is certain, whatever happens, all the current textbooks and books on science and planets would be outdated soon.

IAU Official press release
Discovery 0f object 2003 UB313

Monday, August 07, 2006

Happy Birthday WWW!

It was 15 years ago on August 6th, 1991 that Tim Berners Lee released his World Wide Web project into the internet.

Tim BL made a posting on a newsgroup - alt.hypertext, and it is still available here as part of Google groups:

When you read his description, it all sounds so familiar, yet Tim Berners Lee had thought about all this stuff by himself! He even made the first server, documents, and a prototype browser.

The Web was originally developed to share information between scientsits working in different locations.

It revolutionized the way the world organizes and shares information!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Wild Wild Web

Its a Wild Wild Web out there, packed with zillions of spyware, worms, viruses and all things nasty.

My computer just recovered from a massive spyware attack.

It began late last saturday night...

The Invasion

I was browsing using internet explorer (my mistake) trying to download some wallpaper from "Pirates of the Caribean 2", a movie that I just watched that evening.

I clicked on a wallpaper and there goes the popup!

The norton antivirus detected a trojan, but failed to clean it.

It took me a couple of seconds to realize whats happening and pull out the LAN cable out, effectively disconnecting myself from the net.

But that short interval of time was enough, thanks to the high speed internet connection, plenty of spyware got installed into my hard disk, within that time.

The Spread

The downloader trojan, once activated, downloads plenty of other spyware along with it, and executes them.

Understandably all the extra load was slowing down things

I did a search in windows drive to check all the files created and modified at the time of infection and was really surprised at the number of files created! Some with random names!

Within the first few seconds, they were all over the place - the windows registry, drives, they made new folders, installed browser objects, modified startup, generated new windows services...

I watched in horror as the malware invasion took place, the net was disconnected, but the damage was done.

I reconnected to the net and saw popups coming, nothing, not even a firewall could stop them.

Soon, the spyware took over my computer.

The War

Ok enough is enough...I decided, now its time to fight back!

I declared war on all malware!

I reconnected to the net, booted Windows in Safe Mode, armed with many antispyware and antivirus tools, I launched an all out offensive at the malware.

The Termination

Recovery was not easy, as I deleted more files, it created new ones with random names.

First I cleared the startup choices, stopped the services,

Then, I cleaned the disk with all the popular spyware softwares, (one software is not enough for all)

Manually searched and deleted all remaining files created at that time of infection.

Cleaned up the windows registry.

After nearly 12 hours of cleanup exercise, I terminated them all!

No more popups, No more slowing down, No more browser hijacks, No more spyware

Recovery & Control

This time the battle is won.

Now I run a couple of Antispyware software in the background, they provide realtime protection and let me know of any spyware-like activity.

Are they enough to prevent further attacks by malware? Well, not really, you are not safe until you switch off the computer and the other digital gadgets - which is ofcourse not an option.

The spread of malware, including spyware and virus, will continue to come even in greater numbers.

Complete prevention or complete cure may not be always possible, but they can be controlled.

We will continue the fight and will eventually win.