Science and Tech This Week – Lunar Landing, Steve Jobs and more…

The world of science and technology is forever growing, enhancing, optimising and to our delight as readers; messing up. In light of this fact, it can be very difficult to find a concise and useful collection of the current science and tech news, hence begins the science and technology editorial for The Evans Review – bringing you what I consider to be the headline articles over the past week or so.

In the last few days, the well known company Yahoo announced that that their CEO, Carol Bartz, had been removed in what they called a “leadership resignation”, although in actuality she was just outright fired by Yahoo’s Chairman of the board. I personally found this removal of Ms Bartz quite noteworthy for three reasons. Firstly, it was an upheaval in a major internet corporation. Secondly, I found it quite shocking that she was fired, not only over the phone, but in spite of a reported 77% of employees approving of the way she lead the company. Thirdly, I have to admit that I found it down right funny that after her “resignation” the company’s stocks didn’t fall, but grew by 6%.

Next up is something a lot less close to home, literally; a team of researchers believe they have found a planet composed of diamond around 4000 light years away from Earth! The research was led by Professor Matthew Bailes from the Swinburne University of Technology in Australia. Now, the claim sounds all well and good, but it brings one to question their credibility; how do they work this stuff out? Well, quite logically actually. Using a combination of the CSIRO Parkes radio telescope (Australia), Lovell radio telescope (UK) and one of the Keck telescopes (Hawaii), scientists found a Radio emitting Pulsar (basically a heavy little star that spews out radiation) around 4000 light years from Earth, still within our own Galaxy, the Milky Way. It was then found that a planet is in orbit around the Pulsar.

From what we know about Pulsars, the habits of this one in particular implied that there had previously been an orbiting star and accretion disc around the Pulsar (put simply, a region in which the Pulsar dragged matter out of the star and into itself). The remnants of the star are now the planet which has been found to be composed of carbon and, due to its high density, it is likely the carbon is crystalline in structure; i.e. a diamond more than 80 times larger than Earth (in terms of volume).

Sticking with the outer space theme, we come to Earth’s Moon. It has been a popular conspiracy theory for a rather long time that the lunar landings of American astronauts never actually happened and were filmed in a film studio to guarantee a win for the “space race” against the Russians. Since then, these allegations are largely believed to be false, but if anyone still had doubts, some recent photos from NASA should help; the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), now orbiting the Moon at a height of 25km, has sent back some of the clearest photos of the Moon’s surface ever seen, even to the extent of being able to view left over footprints and tracks of Apollo 17’s LRV (moon buggy). Since the Moon has such a thin atmosphere, it is expected that tracks and footprints would remain relatively intact for decades after their creation.

Bringing things back down to Earth (pun intended I’m afraid), some Google news; Google have had their South Korean offices raided by the countries antitrust officials. They claimed that Google’s prominence as the leader in internet searching had led to suspicions that Google may be biased in their presentation of information. Allegations were put forward that android is systematically designed to work solely with Google, making other default search engines almost impossible on an android device. Google responded by stating it is not compulsory for manufactures to include Google search in android devices, a claim backed up by the fact that android devices booted up from scratch do not contain google search built into their software. The antitrust officials raided the office on tuesday, and plan to again.

Technically this final point occurred around two weeks ago (24th of August), but as it was the change in CEO of the world’s biggest company, I thought it was worth a mention; Steve Jobs retired from Leadership of the company Apple, stating that he believes he is no longer to perform to the best of his ability. This did not come as a huge shock, since he had been on a medically related leave of absence since January of this year. Tim Cook has become his successor (after being suggested to be such by Jobs Himself), and the company suffered a modest 5% loss in shares (although I expect the soon to be released iphone 5 to make up for this drop in shares and have apple more prolific than ever). All I can add is that I hope to see the same level of brilliance and innovation from apple, and that it won’t all leave along with Steve Jobs.