Saturday salon 23/1

1. Planet Nine

Scientists have discovered through gravitational effects on other bodies that a ninth planet almost certainly exists in our solar system. It is thought to be 10 times the mass of earth and takes 10,000 – 20,000 years to orbit the Sun.

Computer simulations suggest the ninth planet is located 20 times farther away from the Sun than Neptune. To put it another way, when Planet Nine is closest to the sun it is 200 to 300 times as far away as we are, and as much as four times that at its furthest.

This image gives some idea of the relative sizes and distances:


All we have to do now is find it!

2. ‘Captain’s call’ is Macquarie Dictionary’s Word of the Year

Gillard did it too, but Abbott made it famous. His ‘captains call’, giving a knighthood to Prince Philip flabbergasted just about everyone, so the team got to thinking it might need a new captain. The official meaning and explanation is:

    noun a decision made by a political or business leader without consultation with colleagues.

    Captain’s call perfectly encapsulates what happened in Australia over the past year. There has been an interesting change in usage; an infrequent item of the jargon of cricket makes the leap into politics and is now being used generally with an ironic tinge to it that is very Australian.

I’d never heard of the runners up “lumbersexual” and “deso”.

Apparently word’s like “listicle”, “ecocriticism”, “bae”, “merman hair”, “manspread” and “fitspiration” are still contenders for Macquarie’s people’s choice award. “Manspread” is the only one I’ve heard of there, so maybe I don’t move in the right circles.

3. Iran comes in from the cold

Apparently sanctions worked and the Irani economy was in a mess.

Now people are talking $50 billion a year in foreign investment, and business executives have been hot-footing it to Tehran for months to get a head-start. German auto manufacturer Daimler is already there and Airbus is about to supply 114 planes to state carrier Iran Air.

    Elected by a landslide in 2013, President Hassan Rouhani vowed to reconnect Iran to the international community and bring employment and prosperity.

    Two-and-a-half years on, he has accomplished what many thought was impossible by leading the Islamic Republic to a historic nuclear agreement and subsequent sanctions relief.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said some of the sanctions relief funds will go to terrorists, but I guess politically they can talk to each other now.

4. The tennis racket

    “Tennis hasn’t got a problem because they don’t want to have a problem.”
    …the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) — an anti-corruption group founded in 2008 by the sport’s governing bodies — has been actively looking the other way.

The BBC suggests tennis match-fixing is ‘a secret on the tour everybody knows’.

BuzzFeed reports on The Tennis Racket.

Summing up at Think Progress:

    The report alleges that 16 players who have been ranked in the top 50 over the past decade have been involved in match-fixing, including eight players in this year’s Australian Open, and “winners of singles and doubles titles at Grand Slams.”

Players have been coerced to participate with threats.

Tennis is an individual games with plenty of minor ‘events’ that can be the subject of bets. Steve Georgakis explains why tennis is so vulnerable.

Touring is expensive, and the top players take most of the prize money.

So, is the sport clean? Is the sport subject to fixing on a systematic basis by a minority, as claimed? Or are whole tournaments fixed, as claimed by one source interviewed by the BBC?

Introduction to Saturday salon

Because of the way the blog currently presents posts on the home page I think it’s better to remove the introductory material to a different place. For new readers, here’s the rationale for this space.


An open thread where, at your leisure, you can discuss anything you like, well, within reason and the Comments Policy. Include here news and views, plus any notable personal experiences from the week and the weekend.

For climate topics please use the most recent Climate clippings.

The gentleman in the image is Voltaire, who for a time graced the court of Frederick II of Prussia, known as Frederick the Great. King Fred loved to talk about the universe and everything at the end of a day’s work. He also used the salons of Berlin to get feedback in the development of public policy.

Fred would only talk in French; he regarded German as barbaric. Here we’ll use English.

The thread will be a stoush-free zone. The Comments Policy says:

    The aim [of this site] is to provide a venue for people to contribute and to engage in a civil and respectful manner.

4 thoughts on “Saturday salon 23/1”

  1. GB this video gives an idea of how big.
    It’s a simulation of traveling through the solar system at the speed of light, probably one of the most boring videos ever made, and well worth watching.

  2. Thanks a lot Zoot, shall have to delay watching this until I go into town next. Anything slightly videoish doesn’t work well on our third-world 6KB/week internet here in The Other Australia.

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