Searching for planets...and internet access

by Paul Jay, CBC News online

This past weekend the members of the Canadian Astronomical Society holding their annual meeting at the Royal Military College in Kingston came across a problem unusual in today's wireless world. For security reasons, RMC regulations restrict internet access to and from non-RMC computers.

As UBC astronomer Jaymie Matthews said in an email (after the conference, of course), the lack of access was "a bit of a nuisance."

He wrote:

"The local organisers of CASCA 2007 did set up a room with 12 computers for outside internet communications by the conference participants, from 8 to 5. Most of the participants stayed at downtown hotels so there was ready internet access for them in the evenings.

I stayed in the barracks dormitory, so it was a little more inconvenient for me, but I managed."

Matthews was at the conference to present his findings on the study of the Gliese 581 star and the search for orbiting exoplanets an earlier study had inferred were there. Although the MOST telescope didn't detect either of the two suspected planets, Matthews said it was a long shot, though one worth trying.

As he told us last Friday, "It's like playing the lottery, but we wanted to play the game because the jackpot is huge."