Saturday, April 28, 2007

Huge Anti-Nuke Demo was 30 Years Ago This Week

Huge Anti-Nuke Demo was 30 Years Ago This Week
by David Tirrell-Wysocki

CONCORD, N.H. — Thirty years ago this week, hundreds of anti-nuclear demonstrators trekked down a dusty road and set up camp next to piles of construction material destined to become the Seabrook nuclear power plant.

0428 03Police dragged or carried away 1,414 protesters on May 1, 1977, ending the skirmish, but galvanizing a national anti-nuclear movement that moved from Seabrook’s marshes to national money markets to effectively halt orders for new plants in the United States.

Fast forward to today.

With energy prices skyrocketing, global warming, and calls for cleaner energy abounding, the nuclear industry is optimistic about a resurgence. And the anti-nuclear movement, including organizers of the Seabrook protests, is gearing up to respond.

Paul Gunter, who has made opposing nuclear power his career, is one.

“To ante up for another generation of nuclear power would be a collossal mistake that would really trivialize the Seabrook debacle,” he said. “Because right now we have maybe 10 to 20 years to make some very critical energy policy decisions that affect global climate.”

Seabrook was proposed as a twin-reactor plant in 1972, at an estimated cost of $973 million. When it finally won a commercial license in March 1990, it was a single reactor and cost $6.5 billion.

Protests started early. The first person arrested at the future construction site was Ron Rieck, who spent 36 cold hours atop a weather observation tower in January 1976. Later that year, 18 people were arrested, then 180. Then came April 1977.

Arnie Alpert was an environmental science major at Wesleyan University in Connecticut when he learned of planned protests at Seabrook. After training in nonviolent resistance, he organized two busloads of students to travel to Seabrook.

They became part of the Clamshell Alliance, an umbrella group that organized into small “affinity groups” for training, decision-making and support. On April 30, they approached the plant property from all directions, even through the ocean swamps.

Gov. Meldrim Thomson said the demonstrations were “a front for terrorist activity” and organized a small army of National Guardsmen and police from around New England to respond.

“If I thought about it at all, it was a joke,” Alpert said in a recent interview. “We knew we were not a group of terrorists. We knew we were a group of people passionately committed to nonviolence.”

The group walked onto the site, unopposed, and immediately began setting up camp, digging latrines, having meetings and celebrating.

“I was surprised we got onto the site at all,” Alpert said.

The next day, a Sunday, Thomson ordered the protesters to leave to avoid confrontations with construction workers due back Monday.

Those who didn’t leave - 1,414 strong - were arrested on trespassing charges and held for more than two weeks in National Guard armories around the state. The protest attracted worldwide attention and sent ripples far beyond Seabrook.

“The Seabrook demonstration touched off a grassroots, nonviolent insurgency against nuclear power that led to the creation of similar alliances around the country,” said Alpert. And he said the tactics and training spread to other causes, including peace and gay rights.

Now, some former Clamshell members find themselves focusing anew on nuclear power.

Spurred by skyrocketing energy prices, global warming, and calls for cleaner energy, the industry is making a comeback. New federal laws have streamlined permitting and construction and removed much of the financial risk, and the Washington-based Nuclear Energy Institute says construction could start on multiple plants by around 2010.

At Seabrook, spokesman Alan Griffith recalls being in high school during the first anti-Seabrook demonstrations, then covering protests as a reporter and editor.

He said streamlining licensing would have helped Seabrook, which was ready to run in 1986, but not fully licensed for four more years.

“I get paid to say this stuff, but I truly believe as a person that this country must have more nuclear power plants for reasons that have become crystal clear over time,” Griffith said.

“It is the only major source of electricity that is able to generate electricity cleanly, with no greenhouse gas emissions,” he said. “The anti’s have a different perspective on that, but that is one of the main reasons of the resurgence.”

But Gunter, director of the Reactor Watchdog Project at the anti-nuclear Nuclear Information and Resource Service, said there is no room for nuclear, period.

“Our position is that they should have never built any of these in the first place,” he said. “We went to jail to stop that. People should realize that we were right _ and here we are 30 years after that demonstration and 50 years after the initiation of nuclear power and they still don’t know what to do with the first cupful of nuclear waste.”

With no national repository, nuclear waste is being stored at nuclear plants, as “pre-deployed weapons of mass destruction,” Gunter said.

Griffith responds thdat whether a repository is built or not, nuclear plants “have the ability to safely and securely store their waste.”

And so the debate goes. Each argument has 180-degree opposite answers, including on questions of safety.

Gunter and Alpert, state program director for the American Friends Service Committee, maintain that much more energy could be saved and created if nuclear subsidies went instead to more efficient appliances, increased conservation and renewable sources.

John H. Sununu, former governor, engineer and sometime nuclear industry consultant, couldn’t disagree more. He said the long nuclear hiatus squandered an opportunity to provide clean energy much earlier, and it’s time to acknowledge it was a mistake.

“I hope it lays the foundation for a much better response by the nation as the second round of opportunity of getting away from coal and oil and natural gas occurs,” he said.

How to Hack a Coke Machine

> Categories > Hacks

How to Hack a Coke Machine

Want to dazzle your friends with your technical prowess while checking out the profitability of a vending machine route? Read on. Most Coke machines built since the late 1990s can be "hacked" with a simple access code. Once you enter the code, you can find out all kinds of information about the machine's sales.

1. Find a Coke machine that has an LED screen. The small screen will typically scroll a message such as "Ice Cold Cokes." If the machine's LED display simply displays the price, the steps below may not work.
2. Enter the access code by using the drink selection buttons. The default access code is 4, 2, 3, 1, but the buttons aren't numbered. They will either say nothing or have pictures of "Coke, "Diet Coke," "Sprite," and other Coca-Cola products on them.

* If the buttons are in a column, button 1 is the top one. Button 2 is the second one from the top, and so on.
* If they are in a grid or other format, button 1 is the top left one. Button 2 is the one directly to the right of that, and so on.
3. Scroll through the menu to find out information about the machine. Once you enter the correct access code, the message on the LED screen will change. Typically it will say "EROR," but on some machines it may simply display a number. Use the buttons to navigate the menu.

* Press button 1 at any time to return to the previous menu or to exit the menu to go back to normal mode.
* Press button 2 to scroll up through the selections.
* Press button 3 to scroll down through the selections.
* Press button 4 to select the displayed menu option.

Example Menu Options

1. EROR: This menu option displays error messages for the machine, including problems that occurred with the refrigeration system, the vending mechanism, the bill changer, and the bill validator. To see error messages, press the select button (button 4) when the display shows EROR, and then scroll through to see specific errors. Select an individual error to see more details. Generally if only one type of error has occurred you won't be able to scroll through other error options.
2. CASH: This option allows you to see the machine's total historical cash intake, as well as the resettable cash counted for each drink selection. Press the select button when the the LED display shows CASH. This will show you the historical cash counted by the machine. Note that it will include fractions of a dollar, such that if it displays 1352425, the historical cash count is $13,524.25. Use the scroll buttons (2 or 3) to navigate to the cash counts for each slot (each beverage selection). The number displayed will show first the slot number and then the revenue for that slot number since the last time the counter was reset. In some machines, it will be preceded by the letters CA or SL (for "slot").
3. SALE: This option allows you to see the machine's historical total number of sales, as well as the resettable number of sales for each drink selection. It works like the CASH menu above, except that the numbers displayed reflect the number of beverages sold.
4. RTN: Sometimes labeled EXIT, this option allows you to exit the menu completely and return the machine to normal mode. Press the select button to exit.

Alternate Menu

On machines with two panels of six buttons on each side, the same 4-2-3-1 code will access the Electronic Counter for the machine. After accessing this menu, press 1 to see the total lifetime sales, 2 for the total lifetime items sold, 3 for a breakdown of items sold of each selection, 4 for a breakdown of cash generated for each selection, and 5 for the machine's internal temperature. After a while without input, the machine will return to the normal menu.


* This only works for Coke machines, which may sell products such as Barq's Root Beer, Sprite, Dasani, Evian, Fanta, Fresca, Frutopia, Powerade, Hi-C, Minute Maid, Nestea, Odwalla, Mr. Pibb, Planet Java, Power Ade, Seagram's Ginger Ale, Simply Orange, Sparkletts, or Tab in addition to Coke and Diet Coke.
* In general, these are the only options you can access without having the door unlocked and open. Different machines may list these options in somewhat different formats, so experiment a bit to learn what each new one does.
* If you need to exit the menu quickly (i.e. when you just can't wait another second to buy an ice cold Coke) press the change (coin return) button. This will normally quit the menu.
* On some machines, holding the coin return button will display the machine's inner temperature.
* Vending machine owners or service people have the option to change the access sequence from 4231 to some other combination of buttons, but they rarely do. This is probably because having one code makes it easier for anyone to service all the machines along a route. It may also be because the information you can access through the external menu with the door closed is limited and fairly harmless.
* There are several videos available on the internet that show people using this hack. Many claim to be able to change prices or get a free drink, but the videos don't actually show them doing so.
* In order to get to the same menu in a machine that sells Pepsi products, simply enter 1,3,2,4. All the menu options with be the same. (This does not seem to work on all Pepsi machines)
* This might also work on some Coke vending machines that have a numeric keypad instead of buttons for specific drinks. Enter in the Coke code as usual, and you'll get to the sales menu!


* This may be illegal in some jurisdictions, and it will generally be frowned upon by store staff or machine service people, so exercise caution when trying it out, and be sure to follow any applicable laws in your jurisdiction.
* Don't do this if there's a line behind you, as people get upset waiting for you.
* You might waste your time doing this, as Coca-Cola has distributed new firmware to their vendors that would render these instructions unusable.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Beautiful Russian cake-sculptures

Zhanna, a cake-shop in St. Petersburg, Russia, creates incredible sculptural cakes in the form of government documents, newspapers with herring on them, card-tables, casino games, maps, eye charts, skyscrapers, tennis shoes... Link (Thanks, Anonymous person!)

posted by Cory Doctorow at 09:19:50 AM permalink |

My Nominee For Nobel Peace Prize

Another Vipassana Blog another view

My Nominee For Nobel Peace Prize

Posted on June 30, 2005 in pilgrim-igatpuri.

When we walked into town, not knowing anyone, we knew that this is the place that gave birth to a mini revolution around the world. But we didn't think we would be able to experience it first hand.

Through our host in town, who asked his son, who knew a shopkeeper, who knew a coordinator, we get admission into a ten-day Vipassana meditation camp in Igatpuri. We are told that these tickets go like hot cakes; for 650 slots, almost 3000 folks apply every ten days. Lodging, food and everything else is paid for by some anonymous donor from a previous course; all you have to commit to doing is sit in silence for about thirteen hours of the day, per their schedule that starts at 4AM, and not read, write, or talk for the entire duration.

It's an interesting offer. On one hand, it's counter intuitive to commit ten days to just sitting cross legged and not doing anything! On the other hand, what an experience to sit in silence for dozen hours of the day with hundreds of other people and without a single material worry in the world!

We not only took the offer, but felt fortunate that we got admission on a one-day notice.

The whole story of this place is quite interesting. S.N. Goenka, a leader of a business empire in Burma, India and many parts of South Asia, had it all -- money, power, fame, respect. He sat on the boards of 20 organizations, he knew the who's who in the continent, and he was a leader in the religious and social community. Unfortunately, one fine day, he started experiencing these intense migraine headaches. Leading doctors from Switzerland, Germany, Japan, England, United States, and all across Asia billed it incurable. The only way out of the unbearable pain was routine morphine injection and Goenka knew the inevitable doom of that addiction.

Back in his homeland of Burma, one of his friends suggested visiting a local meditation teacher named Sayagi U Ba Khin. Desperate for anything, Goenka goes. When U Ba Khin asks Goenka about why he wants to sit the meditation camp, he honestly replies, "To get rid of this migraine headache." "Well, then, this is not the place for you," U Ba Khin tells him in strong language, "This is a place for very sincere meditators." Goenka still stays. It ends up being a decision that would change his life and the life of millions others.

Goenka's migraine gets cured, he learns about meditation and he is deeply intrigued by this meditation technique called Vipassana. For next ten years, he stays at the feet of Sayagi U Ba Khin and becomes a meditation teacher. To fulfill his teacher's desire, he comes to India and conducts his first meditation course with a handful of people, both his parents included. Judging from the results, people asked him to conduct one more ten day course, and then a couple more. Today, those courses are continuing in a hundred centers around the world, with millions of people from all walks of life getting a real taste of an ancient Indian technique of meditation called Vipassana.

What I like about Vipassana is that it's not religious or theoretical. You don't have to believe in this or that, you don't have to bow down to him or her; it's rooted firmly in your own experience. After a couple days of watching your breath, you quickly realize that your mind doesn't listen to you; after a couple days of equanimously watching your bodily sensations, you notice that it actually is transient. A few more days and you experience that your body is not really the solid stuff that you think it is, but it's actually a sequence of subtle vibrations that science tells you it is. It all becomes obvious from your own experience.

Yes, there are also things I don't like about it. The top-down teacher hierarchies, lack of attention to the physical body, a narrow focus on just meditation that may not be suitable for all householders. Many old students come out thinking that enjoying life's vitality and color isn't conducive to real growth and then end up acting with guilt. But, to Goenka's defense, you can't please everyone when thousands of people from all backgrounds are sitting courses daily. You pick and choose your battles and I think Goenka has picked the right ones.

With Goenka's setup, there is absolutely no room to worship him. The whole show continues just fine without his physical presence and that's how he wants it. You will not see his picture anywhere on his campus nor anything named after him. Secondly, everything is free; I don't know of any other equivalent pay-it-forward model where anonymous donors are inspired to pay for housing and lodging for so many millions of people around the globe. It's absurd, if you think about it. Yet to give householders an opportunity to partake in such unbridled kindness is in and of itself an incredible offering. And finally, the biggest reason why I like Goenka's infrastructure is because it's hard core; most of the spiritual, new-agey stuff that talks about ending your misery is just superficial hog wash that leaves you feeling good for about two minutes after the retreat. With Goenka, the minimum commitment is 10 days, dozens of hours of meditation. No taste treats here. You and yourself for ten days; you become well aware of your unnecessary baggage and whether it's good or bad, you quickly learn to deal with it.

Although Goenka's revolution is an individual and internal one, its diligent work for decades has yielded many noteworthy, quantifiable results.

The government of Maharastra gives any of its staff paid time off and travel voucher to attend any Vipassana course; they have noticed a drop in corruption and other malpractices amongst those who are meditators. In the award winning documentary, 'Doing Time Doing Vipassana', there's the widely broadcasted case study of 1000 prisoners in the worst jail of India doing ten days of Vipassana; murderers came out that camp repenting for their actions and apologizing to their victims! Big corporations like Mahindra & Mahindra allow entire departments to take paid time off for attending ten days; they have noticed a rise in productivity. One Times of India newspaper office has so many meditators that the company officially invested in setting up a "meditation" room on campus. A business school in Pune has made it a requirement for all students to sit at least one ten-day course before they graduate; they consider it a step towards socially responsible business. And then there's tons of individual cases of transformation, like a billionaire from UK flying into Igatpuri for a course and saying he's a changed man or an alcoholic who's able to kick the habit after decades of internal torture, or the founder of Zee TV who takes a course and is so thankful that he decides to put Goenka's lectures on TV everyday.

Still, what amazes me most is they never 'market' any of these facts; ie. I found out some of this information in chance encounters with very senior teachers. The institution relies primarily on word of mouth for 'dharma' to spread.

It's definitely a silent revolution that no one will be able to truly measure. My sense is that Goenka really doesn't care to measure it either. His book, Art of Living, has been published in 18 languages; in fact, one of his ex-students even started a spiritual organization by that name. Goenka's ten-day discourses are also translated in all major languages of the world. He has personally given talks to anywhere from the UN Peace Summit to the Rotary and Lion Clubs of the world. Goenka could do, say and affect so much in the world. Yet he is steadfast and unrelenting in his message: give ten days of your life to this experiment in meditation and then you be the judge. Even at the ten day, his message is simple and clear: equanimously observe sensation on your body. Senior students, old students, it doesn't matter; they all do the same thing. It's simple. In fact, it's so simple that it takes people decades to actually "get it".

Such a no-frills, no-nonsense, non-material spirituality is what you might expect at a Buddhist monastery on top of a Himalayan mountain. Thanks to Goenka, though, it has reached a big city near you whether you live in Switzerland, New Zealand, or the United States.

Goenka's way is about peace; at the course, all students vow to observe rules of no talking, no stealing, no sex, no intoxicants and no killing. Goenka's outcome is about peace; people come out of the course learning how to be more balanced with the positive and negative experiences of life. Goenka's own life is about peace; for the past 35 years, he has wholeheartedly dedicated his entire life to this quest.

If world peace starts with me, and my peace starts with stillness in the heart, then courtesy of one S. N. Goenka, Planet Earth has experienced millions of hours of silence and made true strides toward peace.

If I had to nominate a person for the Nobel Peace Prize, hands-down, it would be S. N. Goenka.

Come to Boston for Biojustice 2007!

Come to Boston for Biojustice 2007!

BioJustice 2007 is a week long celebration of sustainable food and alternatives to corporate healthcare. It is being developed by a wide coalition of public interest groups, activists, farmers, scientists, and concerned citizens, working together in response to the biotechnology industry's international convention scheduled for the new Boston Convention and Exhibition Center during May 6-9, 2007.

The biotech industry is bringing thousands of executives, lawyers, public relations people and corporate scientists to Boston to promote their agenda of genetically engineered food, unaffordable high-tech medicines and dangerous 'biodefense' research that increases the threat of new biological weapons. Through parades, rallies, educational events and publications, music, a free health care clinic and free daily non-GMO meals, Biojustice 2007 will dramatize popular resistance to this agenda and highlight a wealth of community-based alternatives.

BioJustice 2007 supports a decentralized local food economy that is free of genetically modified organisms, and is committed to working towards an accessible health care system not dominated by pharmaceutical companies and their costly and unreliable synthetic drugs. We oppose the commodification of life and support community resistance to the plans for a biological weapons lab in the heart of the Roxbury neighborhood. Join us!

For more info., email spokes(at) or squash(at)

We need:

1. Local folks to help organize: find spaces for events, secure donations, put up flyers, etc.

2. Herbalists, doctors, nurses, EMTs and street medics to volunteer in the free clinic and in the streets during the week of BioJustice. Donate to the clinic herbs, tinctures or medical supplies by emailing mblue(at) or towhombeautyistruth(at)

3. Food and monetary donations.

4. Sign makers, marchers and puppeteers for the demonstrations.

5. People to help in the kitchen cooking and serving food.

6. Help spread the word! forward this information; also check out

Saddle up and join us for the Seed Sow Road Show! This 4 day, 100 mile bike tour will start in Providence, RI on May 1st, ride 50 miles to Worcester, MA, then 50 miles to Boston for BioJustice, 2007, stopping at gardens, farms and schools along the way! We will be volunteering to help folks in their gardens and farms, playing music and performing puppet shows for kiddies and farmers. Bring performances and presentations, come with your material rehearsed and ready to go. Or come along for the ride and the farming! Be prepared with a working bicycle, tour equipment, a helmet, camping gear, and expect to pitch in! Info. and RSVP via spokes(at)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Planet Hunters Edge Closer to Their Holy Grail

Here is more information on yesterday's blog

Larger photo

Planet Hunters Edge Closer to Their Holy Grail

By Ker Than
Staff Writer
posted: 24 April 2007

05:52 pm ET

The announcement that a small Earth-like planet has been found within the habitable zone of a distant star is the result of more than a decade-long search for worlds like our own.

The first planets outside our solar system were spotted in 1990 and were in some sense a disappointment. They were dead worlds, in orbit around a spinning stellar corpse that bathed them with deadly radiation. The first planet circling a normal star outside our solar system was not discovered until 1995. This enormous gas giant called Peg 51 b hugged its star tighter than Mercury does our Sun, so it hardly resembled Earth or afforded conditions friendly to life.

Fast forward 12 years and the number of extrasolar planets, or “exoplanets,” has swelled to nearly 230. The latest discovery shows planet-hunting scientists are closing in on the Holy Grail of their field: finding another world like our own.

The new world, called Gliese 581 C, is only about five times the mass of Earth. It lies within the habitable zone of its tiny red parent star and can thus sustain liquid water on its surface, and with it, possibly life.

A dizzying variety

Gliese 581 C is only the latest (and smallest) in a dizzying variety of alien worlds known so far. There are now known exoplanets that orbit normal stars, giant stars, dwarf stars, dead stars, double stars, and even triple stars. Some orbit no stars at all, floating freely through space.

There are water worlds, blistering gas giants, and even potentially rocky planets like our own. One has even been photographed.

There are young planets possibly less than one million years old and ancient worlds nearly 13 billion years old. There are close worlds only 10.5 light years away and remote ones an incredibly far 28,000 light-years distant.

Planet hunting techniques

The scores of newly identified exoplanets are the result of the numerous techniques now available to planet-hunting scientists. Peg 51 b was discovered using the radial velocity technique whereby astronomers look for slight wiggles in a star’s motion caused by the gravitational tug of orbiting planets. This so-called wobble technique was also used to spot Gliese 581 C.

The transit method, another tool used by planet hunters, requires that a planet pass directly in front of its star as seen from Earth. The planet blocks some of the star’s light that would reach Earth, and this slight dip in starlight can be used to calculate the planet’s size.

Scientists can also spot alien worlds by observing the way a planet-harboring foreground star bends and brightens light from a background star. This technique is called gravitational microlensing. The presence of an extrasolar planet can also be inferred from the dusty debris disks that shroud some stars.

Raising the stakes

Stakes in the search for extrasolar planets have risen even higher with the recent launch of the European Space Agency’s planet-hunting spacecraft, COROT, which will use the transit technique to monitor thousands of stars simultaneously. Over the course of its two-and-a-half year mission, it is expected to find up to 40 new rocky worlds, along with tens of new gas giants.

The NASA Kepler mission, scheduled to launch next year, is even more ambitious. The spacecraft would be the first capable of detecting Earth-sized planets in our galaxy. NASA’s Terrestrial Planet Finder mission is currently on the backburner indefinitely, but it would have the same capability as Kepler. If launched, the satellites will mark an important step in the quest to answer one of humanity’s oldest questions: Are we alone in the universe?

That’s if Earth-bound astronomers don’t make the discovery first. The discovery of Gliese 581 C showed the radial velocity technique could spot planets much smaller than scientists had predicted only a few years ago.

“I don’t think there is a hard limit,” said David Charbonneau, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “Several years ago, everyone said there was a limit of a few meters per second. Now clearly their measurement precision is many times better than that. So I’m optimistic we can keep pushing.”

Stephane Udry, an astronomer at the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland and the leader of the Gliese 581 discovery team said: “I am completely convinced we will find more [small exoplanets] soon, and around Sun-like stars.”

* Video: A World Like Our Own
* Major Discovery: New Planet Could Harbor Water and Life
* 10 Years of Planet Hunting: Amazing Variety Out There
* The Growing Habitable Zone: Locations for Life Abound
* Habitable Planets: Disaster Zones and Safe Havens

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

New Planet Could Be Earthlike

April 25, 2007
New Planet Could Be Earthlike, Scientists Say

The most enticing property yet found outside our solar system is about 20 light-years away in the constellation Libra, a team of European astronomers said yesterday.

The astronomers have discovered a planet five times as massive as the Earth orbiting a dim red star known as Gliese 581.

It is the smallest of the 200 or so planets that are known to exist outside of our solar system, the extrasolar or exo-planets. It orbits its home star within the so-called habitable zone where surface water, the staff of life, could exist if other conditions are right, said Stephane Udry of the Geneva Observatory.

“We are at the right place for that,” said Dr. Udry, the lead author of a paper describing the discovery that has been submitted to the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

But he and other astronomers cautioned that it was far too soon to conclude that liquid water was there without more observations. Sara Seager, a planet expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said, “For example, if the planet had an atmosphere more massive than Venus’s, then the surface would likely be too hot for liquid water.”

Nevertheless, the discovery in the Gliese 581 system, where a Neptune-size planet was discovered two years ago and another planet of eight Earth masses is now suspected, catapults that system to the top of the list for future generations of space missions.

“On the treasure map of the universe, one would be tempted to mark this planet with an X,” said Xavier Delfosse, a member of the team from Grenoble University in France, according to a news release from the European Southern Observatory, a multinational collaboration based in Garching, Germany.

Dimitar Sasselov of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who studies the structure and formation of planets, said: “It’s 20 light-years. We can go there.”

The new planet was discovered by the wobble it causes in its home star’s motion as it orbits, using the method by which most of the known exo-planets have been discovered. Dr. Udry’s team used an advanced spectrograph on a 141-inch-diameter telescope at the European observatory in La Silla, Chile.

The planet, Gliese 581c, circles the star every 13 days at a distance of about seven million miles. According to models of planet formation developed by Dr. Sasselov and his colleagues, such a planet should be about half again as large as the Earth and composed of rock and water, what the astronomers now call a “super Earth.”

The most exciting part of the find, Dr. Sasselov said, is that it “basically tells you these kinds of planets are very common.” Because they could stay geologically active for billions of years, he said he suspected that such planets could be even more congenial for life than Earth. Although the new planet is much closer to its star than Earth is to the Sun, the red dwarf Gliese 581 is only about a hundredth as luminous as the Sun. So seven million miles is a comfortable huddling distance.

How hot the planet gets, Dr. Udry said, depends on how much light the planet reflects, its albedo. Using the Earth and Venus as two extreme examples, he estimated that temperatures on the surface of the planet should be in the range of 0 degrees to 40 degrees centigrade.

“It’s just right in the good range,” Dr. Udry said. “Of course, we don’t know anything about its albedo.”

One problem is that the wobble technique only gives masses of planets. To measure their actual size and thus find their densities, astronomers have to catch the planets in the act of passing in front of or behind their stars. Such transits can also reveal if the planets have atmospheres and what they are made of.

Dr. Udry said he and Dr. Sasselov would be observing the Gliese system with a Canadian space telescope named MOST to see if there are any dips in starlight caused by the new planet. Failing that, they said, the best chance for more information about the system lies with the Terrestrial Planet Finder, a NASA mission, and the Darwin missions of the European Space Agency, which are designed to study Earthlike planets, but have been delayed by political, technical and financial difficulties.

“We are starting to count the first targets,” Dr. Udry said.