Friday, July 15, 2005

Tatooine II?

Luke Skywalker's home planet, or where he was taken to be raised, was a desert planet with two suns. His home was underground. At least it was in the imagination of its creator Mr. Lucas.

Now comes an even more extraordinary, real-life sight: a newly discovered giant planet with three suns wheeling overhead. It doesn't have a name yet...other than maybe the number of the main star/sun HD 188753...or the discovering astronomer's from Caltech, Maciej Konacki.
He discovered it by observing tiny wobbles in the gravity of its companion stars. The Jupiter-sized world is 149 light-years (about 879 trillion miles) from Earth in a triple-star system in the northern constellation of Cygnus the Swan. Unlike Tatooine, life, as we know it, would be impossible on this new planet, since its temperature is estimated to be a scorching 1,340 degrees Fahrenheit.

The discovery of the planet challenges current theories about the formation of giant planets around other stars. Most astronomers think such planets form in huge disks of gas and dust around young stars. But a gang of three stars would distroy most of the disk before the planet could form. HD 188753 is "a conundrum". And its planet should not exist. But it does.

It is fascinating to think about these discoveries, especially when we are trying to put up with temperatures in the hundreds down here on Earth ourselves. Brett reported that it was 117 near Phoenix recently. How does anyone exist in such extreme temperatures. I see these outdoor workers around here and wonder how they do it everyday. It was 107 here recently. I try to stay indoors in our A/C. We drink lots of water and limit activity.

Heat stroke occurs when the body is unable to control its temperature. The body's temperature rises rapidly to 106 F or higher, the sweating mechanism fails and the body can't cool down. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not administered. Those most prone to heat exhaustion are the elderly and young. Warning sign of heat stroke vary, but may include: high body temp. taken orally(above 103F), unconsciousness, dizziness-nausea and confusion, no sweating, rapid pulse, throbbing headache. Warning signs of heat exhaustion vary, but many include: heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness, headache, nausea or vomiting, paleness, tiredness or dizziness.

What to do? Call for immediate medical assistance and begin cooling the victim: get person to a shady area, cool them rapidly by immersing in a tub of cool water or a cool shower, spray them with a garden hose, sponge with cool water, or wrap them in a cool, wet sheet and fanning them vigorously.

We have 4 ceiling fans since we moved to Banning. The nights do cool down a bit but not always and not right away. Rarely do we leave the A/C on after 9PM. Our heat is usually dry and is more bareable. We try to stay "out of the kitchen" light snacks in the evening especially. We have water to sip at the bedside...bedclothes optional. What do you do? Bob


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