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Scientists suggest in a new study the existence of a planetary object called a “synestia,” a huge, spinning, donut-shaped mass of hot, vaporized rock, formed as planet-sized objects smash into each other.

At one point early in its history, Earth was likely a synestia, said Sarah Stewart, a planetary scientist at the University of California Davis and co-author of the new study in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

Stewart and Simon Lock, a graduate student at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and lead author of the new study, explore how planets can form from a series of giant impacts. Current theories of planet formation hold that rocky planets such as Earth, Mars and Venus formed early in the solar system when smaller objects smashed into each other.

These collisions were so violent that the resulting bodies melted and partially vaporized, eventually cooling and solidifying to the nearly spherical planets we know today.

Lock and Stewart are particularly interested in collisions between spinning objects. A rotating object has angular momentum, which must be conserved in a collision. Think of a skater spinning on ice: if she extends her arms, she slows her rate of spin. To spin faster, she holds her arms close by her side, but her angular momentum stays constant.

Now consider two skaters turning on ice: if they catch hold of each other, the angular momentum of each skater adds together so that their total angular momentum stays the same.

In the new study, Lock and Stewart modeled what happens when the “ice skaters” are Earth-sized rocky planets colliding with other large objects with both high energy and high angular momentum.

“We looked at the statistics of giant impacts, and we found that they can form a completely new structure,” Stewart said.

Lock and Stewart found that over a range of high temperatures and high angular momenta, planet-sized bodies could form a new, much larger structure, an indented disk rather like a red blood cell or a donut with the center filled in. The object is mostly vaporized rock, with no solid or liquid surface.

They have dubbed the new object a “synestia,” from “syn-,” “together” and “Estia,” Greek goddess of architecture and structures.

The key to synestia formation is that some of the structure’s material goes into orbit. In a spinning, solid sphere, every point from the core to the surface is rotating at the same rate. But in a giant impact, the material of the planet can become molten or gaseous and expands in volume. If it gets big enough and is moving fast enough, parts of the object pass the velocity needed to keep a satellite in orbit, and that’s when it forms a huge, disc-shaped synestia, according to the new study.

Previous theories had suggested that giant impacts might cause planets to form a disk of solid or molten material surrounding the planet. But for the same mass of planet, a synestia would be much larger than a solid planet with a disk.

Most planets likely experience collisions that could form a synestia at some point during their formation, Stewart said. For an object like Earth, the synestia would not last very long – perhaps a hundred years – before it lost enough heat to condense back into a solid object. But synestia formed from larger or hotter objects such as gas giant planets or stars could potentially last much longer, she said.

The synestia structure also suggests new ways to think about lunar formation. The moon is remarkably like Earth in composition, and most current theories about how the moon formed involve a giant impact that threw material into orbit. But such an impact could have instead formed a synestia from which the Earth and Moon both condensed, Stewart said.

No one has yet observed a synestia directly, but they might be found in other solar systems once astronomers start looking for them alongside rocky planets and gas giants, she said.

IMAGE….The structure of a planet, a planet with a disk and a synestia, all of the same mass. Credit: Simon Lock and Sarah Stewart.

I’ve been thinking of a way to explain to straight white men how life works for them, without invoking the dreaded word “privilege,” to which they react like vampires being fed a garlic tart at high noon. It’s not that the word “privilege” is incorrect, it’s that it’s not their word. When confronted with “privilege,” they fiddle with the word itself, and haul out the dictionaries and find every possible way to talk about the word but not any of the things the word signifies.

So, the challenge: how to get across the ideas bound up in the word “privilege,” in a way that your average straight white man will get, without freaking out about it?

Being a white guy who likes women, here’s how I would do it:

Dudes. Imagine life here in the US — or indeed, pretty much anywhere in the Western world — is a massive role playing game, like World of Warcraft except appallingly mundane, where most quests involve the acquisition of money, cell phones and donuts, although not always at the same time. Let’s call it The Real World. You have installed The Real World on your computer and are about to start playing, but first you go to the settings tab to bind your keys, fiddle with your defaults, and choose the difficulty setting for the game. Got it?

Okay: In the role playing game known as The Real World, “Straight White Male” is the lowest difficulty setting there is.

This means that the default behaviors for almost all the non-player characters in the game are easier on you than they would be otherwise. The default barriers for completions of quests are lower. Your leveling-up thresholds come more quickly. You automatically gain entry to some parts of the map that others have to work for. The game is easier to play, automatically, and when you need help, by default it’s easier to get.

Now, once you’ve selected the “Straight White Male” difficulty setting, you still have to create a character, and how many points you get to start — and how they are apportioned — will make a difference. Initially the computer will tell you how many points you get and how they are divided up. If you start with 25 points, and your dump stat is wealth, well, then you may be kind of screwed. If you start with 250 points and your dump stat is charisma, well, then you’re probably fine. Be aware the computer makes it difficult to start with more than 30 points; people on higher difficulty settings generally start with even fewer than that.

As the game progresses, your goal is to gain points, apportion them wisely, and level up. If you start with fewer points and fewer of them in critical stat categories, or choose poorly regarding the skills you decide to level up on, then the game will still be difficult for you. But because you’re playing on the “Straight White Male” setting, gaining points and leveling up will still by default be easier, all other things being equal, than for another player using a higher difficulty setting.

Likewise, it’s certainly possible someone playing at a higher difficulty setting is progressing more quickly than you are, because they had more points initially given to them by the computer and/or their highest stats are wealth, intelligence and constitution and/or simply because they play the game better than you do. It doesn’t change the fact you are still playing on the lowest difficulty setting.

You can lose playing on the lowest difficulty setting. The lowest difficulty setting is still the easiest setting to win on. The player who plays on the “Gay Minority Female” setting? Hardcore.

And maybe at this point you say, hey, I like a challenge, I want to change my difficulty setting! Well, here’s the thing: In The Real World, you don’t unlock any rewards or receive any benefit for playing on higher difficulty settings. The game is just harder, and potentially a lot less fun. And you say, okay, but what if I want to replay the game later on a higher difficulty setting, just to see what it’s like? Well, here’s the other thing about The Real World: You only get to play it once. So why make it more difficult than it has to be? Your goal is to win the game, not make it difficult.

Oh, and one other thing. Remember when I said that you could choose your difficulty setting in The Real World? Well, I lied. In fact, the computer chooses the difficulty setting for you. You don’t get a choice; you just get what gets given to you at the start of the game, and then you have to deal with it.

So that’s “Straight White Male” for you in The Real World (and also, in the real world): The lowest difficulty setting there is. All things being equal, and even when they are not, if the computer — or life — assigns you the “Straight White Male” difficulty setting, then brother, you’ve caught a break.

—  By Anonymous, found on FB  (via feministingforchange)
→ Stuck

 "Ow! chruch! C-Church stop Church! I-It Hurts!“ Caboose panted heavily.

It sounded almost as if Caboose wanted to cry from the pain that shot through him.

"Almost there..” Church grunted.

 Caboose let out a small whimper and eventually pushed Church away from him. “It is not coming off..” Caboose frowned from behind the vizor or the pink helmet.
“How in the hell did you even get in there and why the fuck would you want to!?” Church huffed as he crossed his arms over his chest.

“It was Donuts idea. He wanted to see what it was like over at blue base so we switched armor for a day.” Caboose beamed.
“How would that even work! We’d find out! Maybe not the reds because they’re damn idiots but we would know that it was Donut and not you. Especially me” Church nodded. Church knew Caboose inside and out. He’d been stationed here for almost 2 years now so he had time to analyze the other and get to know his personality.

“Well the plan failed anyways.” Donut stated from behind church and Caboose.

Church came borderline to screaming like a girl when he noticed that Donut was standing almost stark naked in front of them. Church looked away and gave a noise of disgust and Caboose covered his eyes, almost like what a child would do if they seen something they didn’t like.

“God damn! Put your clothes on!” Church yelled and pointed in the direction he thought was Donut.

“Oops! Sorry!” Donut laughed softly as he slipped on Caboose’s armor, all except the helmet.

Church peeked to see if it was safe to look at the other solider and when he did he tried to contain his laughter. Since Caboose was fairly taller then Donut his armor was practically hanging off Donut’s tiny frame. He looked back at Caboose and could only imagine what his fellow worker was going through inside of that helmet.

“I am starting to see little spots all over the room. Where are they coming from?” Caboose asked innocently as he tried to reach out and grab on of the spots that wasn’t actually there.

“Uh oh, well that can’t be good..Maybe we should pour liquid butter down the suit. He’ll just pop out right?” Church blinked and motioned Donut over.

“Ooooh no. you are not putting that in my suit. I just cleaned it!” Donut protested and started to undo the leg pieces which oddly enough came off fine.

“I am getting dizzy!” Caboose said in his normal happy voice. Obviously he doesn’t realize that the suit is too tight that it’s actually cutting off blood from getting to his brain. that’s all they needed, Caboose loosing more brain cells.

Donut and church both pulled on the torso part of the armor. Everything was undone, they just needed to get Caboose out of it which was a lot harder then it sounded.

“It’s like trying to rip a fake fingernail off!” Donut grunted as he pulled.

“Yeeeah…I don’t wanna know how you know that..” Church shook his head and he helped pull.

Eventually they got the armor off and Caboose took a deep breath of air. with a relax ‘ahh’ noise.

“Okay all that’s left is the helmet.. I’ve been trying to get the damn thing off all night and I can’t!” Church sighed.

“Just pull harder?” Donut said.

“Really that’s your advice? Pull harder? Look, we can’t pull too hard. It hurts Caboose.”

“Okay well…” Donut trailed off in thought.

“I’m doing the butter thing.” Church said as he walked off.

“Noo!” Donut whined.

“Don’t worry I’ll get Caboose to wash it. It’s his fault we have to resort to this anyways.”

“It was Donuts idea!!” Caboose called from behind the helmet.

“Shut up Caboose!” Church huffed and walked off into the kitchen area.

Church looked high and low but couldn’t find anything. He grumbled to himself as he tapped his foot in annoyance then snapped his fingers as he thought of an idea. He trailed back to the room and called out.

“Scented Oil!”

Donut looked over to Church and tilted his head then nodded sighing in defeat since he knew exactly what church was implying.

“Church! I am stuck in a helmet and you want a massage!? Can it wait?”

“No you dumb ass, we use the oil to slick the helmet and get you out of it!” Church snapped.

Donut went back to red base (without his helmet), grabbed his least favorite scented oil and headed back to blue base. He handed to bottle to Church and looked really confused.

“How are we going to slick it? It’ll just fall down Caboose before it reaches his neck..”

“hm..you got a point..okay, Caboose you lay on the bed with your head hanging over the edge.” Church said as he helped his teammate into the position.

“What are we doing?” Caboose asked. a hint of nervousness in his voice.

“You’ll see. Donut is that stuff safe to go in your eyes? It may leak a little into the helmet..” Church mumbled.

“It’s fine. just don’t swallow it” Donut nodded.

“Caboose close your mouth and eyes okay buddy? We’re gonna get you outta there.” Church said as he moved beside Caboose and popped the lid to the oil.

“Okay!” Caboose beamed and did as he was told closing his mouth and his eyes tightly. He made a whining noise through his nose when he felt the Church start to pour the liquid onto his neck, some of it seeping into his helmet and running along side his cheek.
Once they felt that the helmet had been slicked enough or rather they were annoyed by Caboose’s whining they stood Caboose up, Church standing behind him and Donut standing in front of him.

“Alright ready!? PULL!” Church commanded.

Both Donut and Church pulled. They used all of their strength and were surprised when the helmet flew off and smashed through the window. Everyone froze and stared at the broken glass before hearing–

“Oh jeez the front of my face!!”

“Oops..” Donut bit his lip nervously.

“Well at least it came off!” Church laughed softly, happy that Caboose could get back into his normal armor and that they managed to successfully knock a red out unintentionally. Even though when this story is being told to Tucker later on Church will twist the story and make it seem like he timed the whole thing.

“Thank you admiral butter crust!” Caboose beamed happily and smiled, causing Donut to laugh and grab his armor.

“You’re welcome. Now if you excuse me I’m going to clean my helmet!” Donut walked out of blue base.

Church handed Caboose a towel to wipe the excess oil off his face and sighed.

“You know I helped too..” Church stated in annoyance that he didn’t get a 'thank you’

Caboose wiped his face and looked at Church from behind the towel and blinked. This caused Church to look at him with concern.

“What? What now?” Church huffed.

Caboose moved the towel from his face and very swiftly leaned over and placed a small sweet kiss to Church’s lips and smiled happily.

“Thank you Church~!” He blushed brightly but the smile never left his face.

Church was in shock, his mind was now racing a million miles a second trying to figure out why Caboose would do what he just did. His thoughts were torn away though when he heard Tuckers voice boom through the base.

“I’m back from patrol and you’ll never guess—!” He stopped, sniffing the air. “Uh, why the fuck does it smell like lavender in here!?” Tucker looked at the two in utter confusion.

The only response from Church and Caboose snickering and laughter.