Research: "Not Quite 'Planet of the Apes'":The New York Times has this piece on bonobo research by writer James Gordon and filmmaker David Frank.

"Not Quite 'Planet of the Apes'": The New York Times has this piece on bonobo research by writer James Gordon and filmmaker David Frank.

Since we all know the story, let's not speak of it.

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[photo @andreaWBZ]  

By now we've all heard the story of the hitchhiking robot that made it all around the world safely and the was ripped apart by colonial ghosts in Elfreth's Alley, a 17th century neighborhood in Philadelphia. In fact, since we all know the story, let's not speak of it. Let's all agree there are terrible people who see innocent young friendly robots in a dark alley at three in the morning and something about the way the light hits them, or a tone in the speakerbox, maybe the round glowing shape of its dispenser-like head, and some drunk idiot gets the idea it's full of candy and rips it open like a piñata. Let's not talk about it. I wasn't there, I don't know what happened. My wife will testify I was home in bed between 2:58 and 3:02 am on the night in question. My understanding is that this is precisely when it happened, at least a 45-minute drive from our house. I cannot imagine who would do such a thing. It obviously was not full of candy; looking at it in the cold light of day (which is the only way I have ever seen it) there is no way this could be a Hershey bar receptacle.  There is no refrigeration in its little plastic kitty litter bucket body.

I have no idea what that stain is on my shirt. I was cleaning the attic earlier.

After years of protests from scientists, the entire species is recognized as endangered, not just the wild ones.

What that headline means is that the United States has been considering wild chimpanzees an endangered species but considering chimps in cages for experiments as perfectly non-endangered, since they've been nice and safe in the cages. Except for the experiments being performed on them for developing AIDS vaccines and other such non-endangering fun time-passers.

After years of protests from scientists, the entire species is recognized as endangered.

Jane Goodall responded with "It shows an awakening, it shows a new consciousness. We should all raise our glasses tonight.”

Raising a glass arounds chimpanzees might present other problems, but the general idea of celebration is agreeable. Except for the underlying problem that the chimps are endangered.

New research posits that Jupiter was a bit of a drunk bull in a bowling alley set in the middle of a china shop before it settled into its current orbit.

JupiterCredit: NASA/Cassini

New research posits that Jupiter was a bit of a drunk bull in a bowling alley set in the middle of a china shop before it settled into its current orbit. During that youthful period it indiscreetly powdered a smaller group of nascent planets, clearing the way for the current configuration: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars.

Many observed solar systems have gigantic inner planets, perhaps earth-like but with much greater gravity and less variety. Jupiter's wreckless careening, theoretically, sent some of the ones in our sysem crashing into the sun and the dusty remnants coalesced into our smaller, tidier planets.

What this means in practical terms is that when we encounter intelligent alien life someday they are likely to be bigger yet crushed down by the heavier gravity of their homeworlds, creating, by our earthian standards, a somewhat "squashed" or flattened appearance.

We here attempted an artist's rendering of these creatures, who would easily outnumber us, based on current estimates of the number of gigantic planets out there in the average solar systems:

Artist's rendering: Alien lifeforms from heavy exoplanets might compensate for the greater gravity by having a flattened appearance by Earth standards.
Artist's rendering: Alien lifeforms from heavy exoplanets might compensate for the greater gravity by having a flattened appearance by Earth standards.

Bear in mind, however, that part of the reason these solar systems with larger planets are estimated to far outnumber our system is because the current level of our telescopes and space exploration only allows us to see  the big ones right now; if there are other systems with a planetary system similar to ours, we would have difficulty detecting it from here, unless it were right around the corner.