June 24, 2016

Written by

Chris Gonzales


Anton Repponen

Welcome to this week’s edition of our Friday Quality Linkage column. Please enjoy this week’s collection of interesting and entertaining links. Brew a fresh cup of coffee, find a comfortable place, and relax.

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First Photo Captured of an Exoplanet, 1200 Light Years Away »

The European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) awesomely-named Very Large Telescope (VST) in Chile recently captured what looks to be a rather large exoplanet named CVSO 30c, pictured above in the red circle. The blue blob in the middle is its star, CVSO 30.

CVSO 30c’s orbit is absolutely nothing like our own, or anything else in our solar system really. From their press release (bold emphasis mine):

While the previously-detected planet, CVSO 30b, orbits very close to the star, whirling around CVSO 30 in just under 11 hours at an orbital distance of 0.008 [astronomical units], CVSO 30c orbits significantly further out, at a distance of 660 au, taking a staggering 27 000 years to complete a single orbit. (For reference, the planet Mercury orbits the Sun at an average distance of 0.39 au, while Neptune sits at just over 30 au.)


As a side note: Considering that our own Pluto — which, for reference, reaches a maximum of 49.305 au away from the sun and takes “only” 248 years to complete a full orbit — was only a blob to us until a mere year ago, the fact that we’re already imaging exoplanets in our lifetime is an extraordinary leap for science.

European Space Agency Proposes a “Space Base” Between Earth and the Moon Within a Decade »

Sarah Knapton, writing for The Telegraph:

At a press conference in Germany to celebrate the successful return of Major Peake, the ESA outlined ambitious plans to establish a ‘deep space habitat’ from which astronauts could venture out to explore the Solar System.

The ‘human outpost’ would sit between Earth and the Moon allowing its inhabitants to easily shuttle back and forth between the satellite and their home planet, picking up supplies and mining for water at the lunar poles.

With the International Space Station set to be decommissioned in 2024, this new “space base” could be perfectly timed.

Photo: Amelia Krales, Recode

Photo: Amelia Krales, Recode

Recode Media Podcast Interview with Wirecutter Founder Brian Lam »

Eric Johnson, Recode:

The Wirecutter founder Brian Lam talks with Recode’s Peter Kafka about creating a modern update to Consumer Reports that makes best-in-class buying recommendations across a range of products. He also discusses his previous life as editor in chief of Gawker’s technology blog Gizmodo, which famously obtained and wrote about the iPhone 4 before it was released. That led to a testy phone call from Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who “really didn’t like losing that mini chess game,” Lam says.

Not a bad way to spend 37 minutes.

Photo: Dr. Bjørn Lovén of the University of Copenhagen

Photo: Dr. Bjørn Lovén of the University of Copenhagen

Monumental Ancient Naval Bases Discovered in Athens’ Piraeus Harbor »

Philippe Bohstrom for Haaretz:

Massive fortifications and sunken ship-sheds thousands of years old have been found in Piraeus, the harbor city of Athens. The discoveries are part of the partially sunken port that played a pivotal role in the famous Battle of Salamis, against the Persian Empire, the naval conflict that saved Greece and the young democracy of Athens in 480 BCE.


The discoveries place the naval bases of Piraeus at the historical and archaeological level of importance as the Acropolis and Parthenon, or the Athenian Agora, Lovén adds.

Yet the monumental finds were the result of serendipity.

Very cool. Here’s an artist’s rendition of what such a naval base would have looked like at the time:

And here’s a video called The Wooden Wall – An Echo Through Time — produced by Dr. Bjørn Lovén of that University of Copenhagen, who discovered the remains of this naval base — that tells the story of the Battle of Salamis:

Crafting the “First Mile” of Product »

Behance founder Scott Belsky on the importance of designing a great onboarding process for your app or service:

Think about your usage of Instagram. Are you more likely to use the product when your friends post great content, or immediately after you post great content? If you’re like most people, you feel the greatest impulse to jump back into a social product (whether it is for work, or for personal use) after you’ve just posted something for others to see. Why? Because your ego is on the line.

Watch as the World’s Cities Appear One-by-One Over 6,000 Years »

Cool visualization of the history of urbanization by Max Galka at Metrocosm:

By 2030, 75 percent of the world’s population is expected to be living in cities. Today, about 54 percent of us do. In 1960, only 34 percent of the world lived in cities.

Urbanization didn’t begin in the 1960’s. But until recently, tracking its history much further back than that was a challenging task. The most comprehensive collection of urban population data available, U.N. World urbanization prospects, goes back only to 1950. But thanks to a report released last week by a Yale-led team of researchers, it’s now possible to analyze the history of cities over a much longer time frame.

Watch the video above, or if you like, you can play with the full-screen interactive map here.

[Comedian] Bo Burnham is Grown Up and Making Happy »

I enjoyed this brief interview:

Burnham: I’ve always just been very confused about how comedy is supposed to be about honesty, how everyone would always say to me, “You got to be more honest up there,” but honestly what I’m feeling is: this is strange. That’s the first thing I’m thinking. That me standing up here is super weird. This is all very weird and us pretending this isn’t weird, pretending like I’m your best friend, just a cool guy at a party getting up making jokes, is really strange.

(via Chase Reeves)

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Got any suggestions for articles, videos, stories, photographs, and any other links you think we should be posting in our weekly Quality Linkage? Please do let us know on Twitter.