Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

"The Buzz" Continued...

Issue: "2010 The Year Ahead," Jan. 16, 2010

Follow that star

They call its star GJ 1214. Astronomers who say they discovered the planet last month call it the closest planet to Earth ever discovered-outside our solar system. "This probably is not habitable, but it didn't miss the habitable zone by that much," said David Charbonneau of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who led the team that discovered the new planet and reported its findings in the journal Nature.

Approximately three times the size of Earth and 6.6 times as massive, the new planet takes 38 hours to circle a dim red star, GJ 1214, in the constellation Ophiuchus-about 40 light years from Earth.

In the 15 years since the first extrasolar planet was found, more than 400 have been detected. Planet-hunting instruments like NASA's Kepler satellite are making the search more productive, with another batch of planet discoveries expected later this month.

Play it again

Last year's Hope Award for Effective Compassion contest was such a big hit that we plan to do it again, with readers again nominating worthy organizations.

The goal is the same: To learn about and honor remarkable expressions of Christian compassion in the U.S. Among last year's finalists were groups that minister to prisoners, to orphans, to parents of disabled children, to women leaving the sex trade, to the ill who don't have health insurance, and more.

The procedure is the same: Email the name of the organization you wish to nominate (one per person) to WORLD executive assistant June McGraw (jmcgraw@worldmag.com) or write to her at WORLD, P.O. Box 20002, Asheville, NC 28802-9998. Please include the director's name and the organization's phone number, address, and web address. Deadline: Jan. 31.

Organizations nominated should be explicitly Christian, with ample use of volunteers and a track record of creating bonds between helpers and helped. What they're doing in one place should be doable by others elsewhere. Our staff will take your recommendations and investigate further.

Here's a change from last year: We will have one winner and two other finalists in each of four regions-Northeast, Midwest, South, and West. The American Bible Society, co-sponsor of this contest, will give $5,000 to each regional winner and $5,000 more to a national winner, but we also plan to publish feature stories on all finalists. Such coverage spotlights their work and suggests to others the opportunity to go and do likewise.

We plan to run stories about regional winners and finalists in April, May, June, and July. In August we plan to take a look at compassion abroad, and then report our national winner in September. Those who nominate winners will receive a one-year WORLD subscription or extension. - by Marvin Olasky

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