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Is There a Giant Planet Lurking Beyond Pluto?

A race is on to discover Planet Nine using classical astronomy and new computational techniques

13 min read
Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/The Washington Post/Getty Images
Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Update on 3 October 2018: The International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center announced an observation by Scott Sheppard, Chad Trujillo, and the University of Hawaii’s David Tholen that adds new supporting evidence for the existence of Planet Nine. The team identified a distant object labeled 2015 TG387, nicknamed “The Goblin,” with an elongated orbit that is consistent with Planet Nine’s expected size and trajectory, first proposed by Caltech’s Konstantin Batygin and Michael Brown in 2016.

Michael E. Brown is often called “the guy who killed Pluto.” But he takes the moniker in stride. Sitting in his sunny Pasadena office at the California Institute of Technology, Brown jokes that Pluto, which was reclassified as a dwarf planet in 2006, had it coming. The year before, Brown had discovered Eris, a frosty dwarf in the outer solar system more massive than Pluto and named, fittingly, for the Greek goddess of strife.

Brown now has good reason to hope that history will remember him not for the Eris-instigated demotion of Pluto but as codiscoverer of an as yet unseen, true ninth planet—a Neptune-size world so massive that it may have tipped the entire solar system a few degrees sideways.

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Paying Tribute to Computer Science Pioneer Frederick Brooks, Jr.

He helped develop the IBM System/360 and its operating system

3 min read
portrait of an elderly man in a a red tie and blazer with a bookcase in the background
University of North Carolina

Frederick P. Brooks Jr., a prolific computer scientist and longtime professor of computer science, died on 17 November at the age of 91.

While working as a project manager at IBM in the 1960s, the IEEE Life Fellow led the development of the System/360 computer family. It was the first vertically compatible family of mainframe computers. Brooks also developed IBM’s OS/360, the world’s largest software project at the time. He is credited with coining the term computer architecture, which is used to describe how hardware and software are organized to make up a computer system and the operations which guide its function. He wrote The Mythical Man-Month, a book of essays published in 1975 that detailed lessons he learned from challenges he faced while developing the OS/360.

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FAST Labs’ Cutting-Edge R&D Gets Ideas to the Field Faster

BAE Systems’ FAST Labs engineers turn breakthrough innovations into real-life impact

1 min read
Woman uses her hands to operate control system next to man who observes other equipment.

FAST Labs is an R&D organization where research teams can invent and see their work come to life.

BAE Systems

This is a sponsored article brought to you by BAE Systems.

No one sets out to put together half a puzzle. Similarly, researchers and engineers in the defense industry want to see the whole picture – seeing their innovations make it into the hands of warfighters and commercial customers.

That desire is fueling growth at BAE Systems’ FAST Labs research and development (R&D) organization.

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