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Saturday, April 17, 2004 06:49 PM >>>

Friday,  04/16/04  07:32 AM

The dog that didn't bark?  Universe Today reports Hubble Looks at Sedna, but suprisingly the object/planet does not appear to have a moon.  "When Sedna's existence was announced on March 15, its discoverer, Mike Brown of Caltech, was so convinced it had a satellite that an artist's concept of Sedna released to the media included a hypothetical moon."  I find it amazing that we can even tell whether Sedna has a moon, let alone that we know enought about it to be surprised it doesn't have one.  After all, it is 7 billion miles away.

NewScientist suggests Big Bang glow hints at funnel-shaped Universe.  "Could the Universe be shaped like a medieval horn?  It may sound like a surrealist's dream, but according to Frank Steiner at the University of Ulm in Germany, recent observations hint that the cosmos is stretched out into a long funnel, with a narrow tube at one end flaring out into a bell.  It would also mean that space is finite."  Sub-regions of the shape have the inverted saddle characteristic of heated thin layers (like potato chips).  This is called a Picard topology, no relation to Captain Picard :)

A Japanese inventor claims to have a new super-efficient electrical engine, based on magnets.  Pardon me for being skeptical, I don't think the laws of physics have been repealed.  But you never know...

Here's an inside look at the patent examination process, from a former patent examiner.  "The successful prosecution of a patent application at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) requires not only a novel invention and adequate prosecution skills, but a bit of luck."  As someone who just spent several weeks filing four patents, this is tough to take.  Engineers and scientists spend a lot more effort creating the patent applications than the patent office can spend reviewing them.  The result is bad; unworthy patents are allowed, and prior art is ignored.  To someone on the outside it feels a bit like a lottery.

Andrew Lee diagrams the Universal Invention Space [ via razib ]