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Off the News

For Monday, October 4, 2010


Discovery of 'Goldilocks' recalls Sagan's 'Cosmos'

It's coincidental but delightful all the same that the so-called "Goldilocks planet" was pinpointed by Hawaii's Keck Observatory almost 30 years to the day after the launch of the late Carl Sagan's breakthrough TV science series, "Cosmos."

The planet, unromantically dubbed Gliese 581g, is the first Earth-like planet found in the "just right" zone (hence the Goldilocks nickname): just close enough to a sun to retain both liquid water and an atmosphere. Life may be possible there.

Sagan, whose books and documentaries about the search for extraterrestrial life fascinated a generation of students, surely would find some vindication here. 

Giving anonymously is true act of altruism

Question: If you had a million dollars, would you give it away?

Someone did -- in the form of a $1 million bequest to the University of Hawaii's John A. Burns School of Medicine. The money will establish an endowment, expected to generate $40,000-$50,000 a year, to aid investigators and train cardiology fellows against heart disease at the Center for Cardiovascular Research.

Question 2: If you gave away a million dollars, would you take public credit for it? Someone didn't: The aforementioned gift came courtesy of a donor who wanted to remain anonymous. No public pats, no wing-naming, no fancy signage. Simply giving from the heart.

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