Snapshot of Stories
An asteroid that measures nearly 2.7km (1.7 miles) across has flown past the Earth. The space rock, which is called 1998 QE2, is so large that it is orbited by its own moon. It made its closest approach to our planet at 20:59 GMT (21:59 BST), but scientists had said there would be no chance it would hit. Instead it kept a safe distance – at closest, about 5,800,000 km (3,600,000 miles). That is about 200 times more distant than the asteroid “near-miss” that occurred in February – but Friday’s passing space rock is more than 50,000 times larger. Prof Alan Fitzsimmons, an astronomer at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “It’s a big one. And there are very few of these objects known – there are probably only about 600 or so of this size or larger in near-Earth space. “And importantly, if something this size did hit us one day in the future, it is extremely likely it would cause global environmental devastation, so it is important to try and understand these objects.” This fly-by gave astronomers the chance to study the rocky mass in detail. Using radar telescopes, they were due to record a series of high-resolution images. They want to find out what it is made of, and exactly where in the Solar System it came from. Prof Fitzsimmons said: “We already know from the radar measurements, coupled with its brightness, that it appears to be a relatively dark asteroid – that it’s come from the outer part of the asteroid belt.” Early analysis has already revealed that the asteroid has its own moon: it is being orbited by another smaller piece of rock that is about 600m (2000ft) across. About 15% of asteroids that are large are “binary” systems like this. This celestial event was not visible to the naked eye, but space enthusiasts with even a modest telescope might be able to witness the pass. After this, asteroid 1998 QE2 will hurtle back out into deep space; Friday’s visit will be its closest approach for at least two centuries. Researchers are becoming increasingly interested in potential hazards in space. So far they have counted more than 9,000 near-Earth asteroids, and they spot another 800 new space rocks on average each year.
Doctor Who star Matt Smith is to leave his role as the Doctor at the end of this year, the BBC has announced. After four years as the Time Lord on the BBC One show, viewers will see Smith’s Doctor regenerate in the 2013 Christmas special. The 30-year-old actor said working on the show had been “the most brilliant experience”. Doctor Who marks its 50th anniversary in November with a special episode, which Smith has already filmed. The BBC said Smith’s “spectacular exit” was yet to be revealed and would be “kept tightly under wraps”. Smith first stepped into the Tardis as the 11th Doctor in 2010. Taking over from David Tennant, he was the youngest actor to play the role. “Doctor Who has been the most brilliant experience for me as an actor and a bloke, and that largely is down to the cast, crew and fans of the show. “I’m incredibly grateful to all the cast and crew who work tirelessly every day to realise all the elements of the show and deliver Doctor Who to the audience. Many of them have become good friends and I’m incredibly proud of what we have achieved over the last four years. “Having Steven Moffat as show runner write such varied, funny, mind bending and brilliant scripts has been one of the greatest and most rewarding challenges of my career. It’s been a privilege and a treat to work with Steven – he’s a good friend and will continue to shape a brilliant world for the Doctor. The fans of Doctor Who around the world are unlike any other; they dress up, shout louder, know more about the history of the show (and speculate more about the future of the show) in a way that I’ve never seen before. “Your dedication is truly remarkable. Thank you so very much for supporting my incarnation of the Time Lord, number 11, who I might add is not done yet – I’m back for the 50th anniversary and the Christmas special. “It’s been an honour to play this part, to follow the legacy of brilliant actors, and helm the Tardis for a spell with ‘the ginger, the nose and the impossible one’. But when ya gotta go, ya gotta go and Trenzalore calls. Thank you guys. Matt.” Speaking after the announcement, he said he was “incredibly proud” of what the show had achieved over the last four years under Steven Moffat, the show’s lead writer and executive producer. Smith also thanked fans around the world for their “truly remarkable” dedication to the show. During his tenure, Smith’s floppy-haired, bow tie-wearing Time Lord has fought enemies such as the Daleks, Cybermen, Weeping Angels and the Silence. His Doctor has shared his adventures with Amy Pond (Karen Gillan), Rory Williams (Arthur Darvill) and most recently, Clara Oswald (Jenna-Louise Coleman). Referring to his time-travelling companions, Smith said: “It’s been an honour to play this part, to follow the legacy of brilliant actors, and helm the Tardis for a spell with ‘the ginger, the nose and the impossible one’. But when ya gotta go, ya gotta go…” The announcement of Smith’s exit is likely to spark months of fevered speculation about his replacement.
A Tribe Called Quest – Can I Kick It
Lulu James – Closer
Villagers – The Pact – I’ll Be Your Fever
Jamiroquai – Canned Heat
Mumford & Sons – The Cave
Noah & The Whale – There Will Come A Time
Pink – Raise Your Glass
Bruno Mars – Locked Out Of Heaven
ATB – 9pm (Till I Come)
OMD – Dresden
Alanis Morissette – Ironic
Beatles – We Can Work It Out
Crash Test Dummies – Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm
Bon Jovi – Because We Can
Frank Turner – Recovery
Robbie Williams & Kylie Minogue – Kids
Arctic Monkeys – When The Son Goes Down
Vampire Weekend – A Punk
Thrills – Don’t Steal Our Sun
Simple Minds – Glittering Prize
Status Quo – Ain’t Complainin’
Clash – I Fought The Law
Kiss- Crazy Crazy Nights
Bluebells – Young At Heart
Cher – If I Could Turn Back Time
Depeche Mode – Personal Jesus
Hall & Oates – Out of Touch
Cars – Drive
Pet Shop Boys -I Want To Wake
Snippets from the week’s news, sliced, diced and processed for your convenience.
1. The French had no official word for French kissing… until now. It’s “galocher”.
2. XXXXXL size is being introduced for men at department store Debenhams, a three-X leap from its former largest size XXL.
3. There’s a secret rotating button underneath pedestrian push button boxes so blind people know when to cross.
4. At least one in 13 of us have feet that are specially adapted for climbing trees.
5. A new atomic clock, which is the most accurate ever, uses ytterbium atoms and lasers to precisely define a second.
6. Time doesn’t fly when you’re having fun (we just remember a lot more detail than normal after enjoying something so think it went quickly).
7. Shrimp, tuna and salmon account for more than half of the fish consumed in the United States.
8. 6X8 is the multiplication children get wrong most while 9×12 takes longest.
9. Nottingham is Britain’s poorest city.
10. More than a third of legislators in Brazil switched political parties between 1991 and 1994.