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NEWS
Carnegie Institution of Washington
09 Sep 2014

Washington, D.C.—A team of scientists led by Carnegie’s Jacqueline Faherty has discovered the first evidence of water ice clouds on an object outside of our own Solar System. Water ice clouds exist on our own gas giant planets–Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune–but have not been seen outside of the planets orbiting our Sun until now. […]

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Washington, D.C.—A team of scientists led by Carnegie’s Jacqueline Faherty has discovered the first evidence of water ice clouds on an object outside of our own Solar System. Water ice clouds exist on our own gas giant planets–Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune–but have not been seen outside of the planets orbiting our Sun until now. Their findings are published by The Astrophysical Journal Letters. At the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, Faherty, along with a team including Carnegie’s Andrew Monson, used the FourStar near infrared camera to detect the coldest brown dwarf ever characterized. Their findings are the result of 151 images taken over three nights and combined. The object, named WISE J085510.83-071442.5, or W0855, was first seen by NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Explorer mission and published earlier this year. But it was not known if it could be detected by Earth-based facilities.

“This was a battle at the telescope to get the detection,” said Faherty.

Chris Tinney, an Astronomer at the Australian Centre for Astrobiology, UNSW Australia and co-author on the result stated: “This is a great result. This object is so faint and it’s exciting to be the first people to detect it with a telescope on the ground.”

Brown dwarfs aren’t quite very small stars, but they aren’t quite giant planets either. They are too small to sustain the hydrogen fusion process that fuels stars. Their temperatures can range from nearly as hot as a star to as cool as a planet, and their masses also range between star-like and giant planet-like. They are of particular interest to scientists because they offer clues to star-formation processes.  They also overlap with the temperatures of planets, but are much easier to study since they are commonly found in isolation.W0855 is the fourth-closest system to our own Sun, practically a next-door neighbor in astronomical distances. A comparison of the team’s near-infrared images of W0855 with models for predicting the atmospheric content of brown dwarfs showed evidence of frozen clouds of sulfide and water. “Ice clouds are predicted to be very important in the atmospheres of planets beyond our Solar System, but they’ve never been observed outside of it before now,” Faherty said. The paper’s other co-author is Andrew Skemer of the University of Arizona.

NEWS
Harvard School of Public Health
10 Oct 2014

Society and modern medicine’s approach to aging and end-of-life care needs to be more focused on extending patients’ quality of life and human connection, according to Atul Gawande, associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Harvard School of Public Health and author of a new book, Being Mortal. Gawande, a surgeon, […]

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Society and modern medicine’s approach to aging and end-of-life care needs to be more focused on extending patients’ quality of life and human connection, according to Atul Gawande, associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Harvard School of Public Health and author of a new book, Being Mortal.

Gawande, a surgeon, executive director of Ariadne Labs, and staff writer for The New Yorker, discussed the book, released October 7, 2014, in multiple media interviews, including the television shows The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Charlie Rose Show. He talked about how dealing with his own father’s cancer inspired him, in part, to write the book. “We don’t ask what priorities people have in their life besides just living longer. What are the tradeoffs you are willing to make or not make, what are your fears and goals, what worries you about the future? If we ask that as doctors, we have some guideposts when life is short,” Gawande told Stewart.

Gawande said the book offers a way “to remake how we in medicine and society manage mortality through the stories of patients, their family members, nursing home attendants, hospice workers, geriatricians, surgeons, oncologists, pioneers, contrarians, and many more of the more than 200 people I interviewed over the last several years.”

Watch Gawande’s appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (the interview appears at approximately 13:00)

Read an excerpt published in The New York Times: The Best Possible Day

Read an interview in The Boston Globe: Atul Gawande finds time between patients and family for writing

Listen to an interview on The Diane Rehm Show: Atul Gawande: “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End”