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Tuesday, January 26, 2021


A bunch of astronomers, after a four years long survey, found an exoplanet, orbiting very close to its star, that has an "extraordinarily low density" (P). It has, indeed, a mass 1.8 times that of Neptune, but a Jupiter like radius (and Jupiter radius is almost 6 times bigger than Neptune's one). 

The fluffy planet, which discovery is described in a paper (P) published on The Astronomical Journal, is in the WASP-107 system, and it's called WASP-107b.

WASP-107b's super low density puzzles the astro-brains, 'cause the planet has a core mass smaller than 4.6 times the mass of Earth, that is "significantly lower than what is traditionally assumed to be necessary to trigger massive gas envelope accretion" (P) - meaning WASP-107b shouldn't exist, 'cause its small "seed" shouldn't have been able to attract enough gas and dust to eventually form, well, WASP-107b -.

The researchers have one possible explanation: the planet formed far from its star, in a region of space where the gas is cold enough so that the small core mass could attract it and grow a planet around itself very fast. Then, the fully formed WASP-107b migrated toward the inner part of the system, possibly influenced by the second more massive planet, with "a wide eccentric orbit" (P), detected by the astronomers in the same system.

But this dumb blog, pals, has a different idea on the reason why the fluffy planet is up there. Check out the following cartoon, and you'll find out what it is.

Space candy cotton WASP-107b exoplanet (by @sciencemug)
"Space candy cotton"-WASP-107b exoplanet (by @sciencemug)
[Exoplanet pic, by
NASA, ESA, and L. Hustak and J. Olmsted (STScI), is a Pubilc Domain pic (source: Wikimedia Commons); the alien's hand pic, is a Pubilc Domain pic (source:; all images are adapted by @sciencemug]

Bibliography (P)

P - Piaulet, C., Benneke, B., Rubenzahl, R.A., Howard, A.W., Lee, E.J., Thorngren, D., Angus, R., Peterson, M., Schlieder, J.E., Werner, M., et al. (2021). WASP-107b’s Density Is Even Lower: A Case Study for the Physics of Planetary Gas Envelope Accretion and Orbital Migration. AJ 161, 70.

Monday, January 18, 2021


Keywords: plastics, plastic, microplastics, placenta, placentas, birth, pregnancy, pollution, spectroscopy, medicine, biology

Part 2 is here

Part 3 is here 

Part 4 is here

(Read other plastic related stories here & here)

Ooooh, hello dear English speaking-reading-hearing reader, welcome back to me, @sciencemug, the blog/podcast/twitter&instagram accounts/entity behind the unsuccessful e-shop stuffngo on which tells you science stories while trying to understand, by reading tons of zoology textbooks, if millipedes don’t wear shoes ‘cause they generally are too broke to be able to afford such a huge expense, or ‘cause they prefer flip-folps but they can’t find a good wholesale dealer to make the order to, ooor ‘cause no millipede wants to be a cobbler given the high risk of dying of a heart-attack due to constant overwork, aaand which talks to you thanks to the voice, kidnapped via a voodoo-wireless trick, from a veeery very very dumb human.

Aaand which does all of this in Eng?ish, a language that is to proper English whatghwaahhghzzt!” is to something that make sense. 

Here I’m gonna tell you a story about human placentas and plastics!

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 Sulla plastica & la placenta umana: ecco a voi la “plasticenta” (Pt1)

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Pieces of plastic have been found, for the first time ever, in human placentas. The placentas in question were indeed those of four healthy women who have had smooth pregnancies and deliveries.

The discovery is the result of a study, published (P) in the science journal Environment International, made by a group of Italian researchers (aka the Italian Brains aka the ITBs) led by Medical Doctor Antonio Ragusa, Head of the Department of Woman, Mother and Newborn of the San Giovanni Calibíta Fatebenefratelli Hospital, in Rome.

Soo dear reader, the story goes like this.

A bunch of researchers, in Italy, decides to investigate if there’s plastic in the placentas of pregnant women.

More precisely, Dr. Ragusa and colleagues look for microplastics, that are commonly defined as all those plastic particles that are smaller than half a centimeter.

Now, dear reader, I know you’re a fast thinker, so in your mind you just wondered why is that half a centimeter is the limit for microplastics, instead of, I dunno, two millimeters or the thickness of a hair of the bear of Masha and the Bear? Well, buddy, here’s a fun fact for you ‘bout this.

The science community