BEAM’s Been Installed, America’s Digital Middle Is Now A Lake, and Planet Nine Isn’t Going To Kill Us All | Vol. 3 / No. 25

Artist’s conception of BEAM  attached to ISS | Photo: Bigelow Aerospace

BEAM Installed

Very early Saturday morning (at least for us in the Eastern Standard Tribe) a team of Earth-based engineers used the Canadarm 2 to manoeuver the newest addition to the International Space Station into place. The BEAM (Bigelow Expandable Activity Module) was carried up last week in the trunk of the SpaceX Dragon resupply mission, and was berthed to the station shortly before 6am EDT Saturday morning. It’s going to sit there uninflated, however, until around May 26, when there aren’t so many comings-and-goings from the ISS. Once inflated it should look something like the artist’s conception at the top of the page, though it won’t be used for inhabitation (and will be kept behind a sealed airlock) since this is the first time we’ve ever attached an inflatable module to the ISS and we want to be sure that, well, it won’t “pop” (among other things). Tests will be done on the amount of radiation it lets through (it should be less than a metal hab) and the danger of any micrometeorite impacts (that should be less, too) over the next two years. Spaceflight Now has more on the story.

The Middle of America

Cheney Reservoir, the "middle" of America | Photo: Google Maps
Cheney Reservoir, the “middle” of America | Photo: Google Maps

This week, writer Kashmir Hill authored a piece over at about what happened to one family when their land accidentally became the unofficial center of the country. It turns out that for IP-mapping company MaxMind — a company whose job is to tell people where certain IP addresses are located in the real world — all the IP addresses for which they couldn’t say more than “well, it’s in America” got assigned an address roughly in the middle of the US: 38°N 97°W. That happens to be in Kansas, and, unfortunately, on someone’s land. That means all the people upset by something they think was done by any one of roughly 600 million otherwise non-geographically-specific IP addresses labelled “America” thought they’d been slighted by one rural family. But lo and behold the power of the internet: after reading the piece and realizing how much frustration such a simple glitch had caused, MaxMind has relocated their IP addresses to the middle of a nearby lake just outside of Wichita. The new digital center of America is located at 37°45’03.6″N 97°49’19.2″W, in the middle of the Cheney Reservoir. If you have a bone to pick with someone unidentified, you can now send your hate mail there, instead. Check out the original story and the update for more on this really peculiar story.

No Threat From Planet Nine

Barringer Crater, significantly smaller than what would be necessary to end the world | Photo: USGS/D. Roddy, CC0 (Public Domain)
Barringer Crater, significantly smaller than what would be necessary to “wipe out life on Earth.” Also was created by an asteroid, not a comet. Also has nothing to do with Planet Nine. | Photo: USGS/D. Roddy, CC0 (Public Domain)

In one of my favourite pieces of writing this week, Bad Astronomer Phil Plait lamented and then thoroughly debunked the preposterous claim that the newly mathematically predicted “Planet Nine” “Wiped Out Life on Earth Once and Could Do It Again THIS MONTH.” If you only read one takedown of a fearmongering piece of clickbait this week, it really should be this one. He traces the claims of the original article to the scientist they claim to have gotten their information from, and then shows that (a) that’s not what the scientist even said, and (b) ever if it were it’d be nonsense. Seriously, you need to check it out. It’s a thing of beauty.


Another week, another five posts you might not have read. Here they are in point form!

If you missed any of them, go back and take a look!

Best of the Rest

Of course more happened this week than I could possibly write about, so here’s some links to folks who did:


That’s all for this week. Remember, I only get paid in my own (and your) enthusiasm, so please like This Week In Tomorrow on Facebook, follow me on Twitter @TWITomorrow, and tell your friends about the site!

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