Newley's Notes

Newley’s Notes 84: Neemrana Trip, Trappist-1 Discovery, Brian Eno on Music

2017 03 05NN84

Edition 84 of my email newsletter, Newley’s Notes, went out to subscribers the week before last. (I’ve been delayed in posting it here.) It’s below.

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Hi friends, thanks for reading Newley’s Notes.


Trip Report: Three-Day Getaway to Neemrana Fort Palace — I finally got around to posting some images from this late December sojourn. Included here: pics of the 15th-century-fort-turned-hotel in which we stayed, and a badass step well. Wait, what’s a step well? Click through to find out.


1) Why the Trappist-1 discovery could aid our search for extraterrestrial life. You may have seen the news that seven earth-sized planets were discovered orbiting a star 40 light years away. Why is this important? As a colleague wrote in The WSJ:

Called Trappist-1, the dwarf star, located about 40 light years away from Earth in the constellation Aquarius, is so small that it is barely bigger than Jupiter, the largest planet in our own solar system. Yet it is home to the largest collection of Earth-sized planets found in the galaxy so far, the scientists said.

There’s more from Akshat Rathi in Quartz:

Trappist-1 is an ultra-cool dwarf that’s barely bigger than Jupiter—a type of star much more common in our galaxy than sun-like stars. Now that we’ve found so many Earth-like planets circling among the first few ultra-cool dwarfs observed closely, including Trappist-1, it means we should probably start focusing efforts on these types of star systems. And since there’s so many of them out there, the Trappist-1 discovery raises the possibility that finding more such solar systems may prove to be nothing out of the ordinary.

In other words, the discovery provides a road map for our future searching.

Also, I would be remiss if I failed to note this delightfully geeky detail: the scientists involved set up a domain name for the star:

2) Brian Eno talks ambient music in this interesting Pitchfork interview. Eno’s 1978 album “Music for Airports” is perhaps the album I have listened to more than any other, as I find it the perfect soundtrack for working. I like this quote:

I really think that for us, who all grew up listening primarily to recorded music, we tend to forget that until about 120 years ago ephemeral experience was the only one people had. I remember reading about a huge fan of Beethoven who lived to the age of 86 in the era before recordings, and the great triumph of his life was that he’d managed to hear the Fifth Symphony six times. That’s pretty amazing. They would have been spread over many years, so there would have been no way of reliably comparing those performances.

3) “What’re the best-designed things you’ve ever used?” That’s the title of this wide-ranging discussion on Hacker News, touching on products from Casio wrist watches to simple microwave ovens to pencils to alarm clock apps.

4) The bigger they are the harder they fall, goalkeeping edition: “Sutton United goalkeeper Wayne Shaw resigns ‘in tears’ after pie stunt amid gambling commission investigation.”

The feel-good story about the rotund, 40-something backup goalkeeper for Sutton United, which made a surprising run in the FA Cup, has reached a ridiculous conclusion.

5) Video of the week: the U.S. Navy launches trucks off an aircraft carrier.

What’d I miss? Send me links, rants, raves, juicy news scoops and anything else! My email:

Thanks for reading.


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