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Harry Potter and the moons of Jupiter

By Synergie

Blistering-hot volcanoes that belch snow. Moons bigger than planets. Icy worlds with vast underground oceans. All of these things can be found in the latest Harry Potter novel. And according to NASA space probes, they're all real.

It was late one night at Hogwarts when Harry, Ron and Hermione were doing their homework: "a long and difficult essay about Jupiter's moons," but Harry and Ron didn't have their facts straight. "Harry, you must have misheard Professor Sinistra," says Hermione on page 300 of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. "Europa's covered in ice, not mice!"

Correct. Jupiter's moon Europa is way too cold for mice: 260° F below zero. Spacecraft have taken pictures of Europa's icy surface, and it looks totally lifeless. Underground, however, might be a different matter. Some scientists think the ice on Europa hides the biggest ocean in the solar system--bigger than the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans combined. Here on Earth water and life seem to go together. Could there be life in the waters of Europa? Microbes? Alien fish? Swimming mice? No one knows--not even Hermione.

"And it's Io that's got the volcanoes," she says on page 295, correcting Ron's essay.

Right again. Io is even weirder than Europa. Some people say Io, dotted with volcanoes, looks like a pepperoni pizza, and that's about right. Io has more pepperoni-colored volcanoes than Ron Weasley has freckles. At any given moment, dozens of them might be active, spewing the hottest lava in the solar system. The plumes rise 300 miles into space where it's so cold that volcanic ash freezes before it falls back to the ground--sulfurous snow. NASA's Galileo spacecraft has actually flown through some of these plumes and survived.

"Jupiter's biggest moon is Ganymede, not Callisto," Hermione adds, pointing over Ron's shoulder at another mistake.

Indeed, Ganymede is the largest moon in the whole solar system. It's slightly wider than the planet Mercury and more than three-quarters the size of the planet Mars. If it orbited the sun instead of Jupiter, Ganymede would surely be considered a planet. Heavily cratered Callisto is only a little smaller than Ganymede and, like Europa, might be hiding a subterranean ocean.

These four wonderful moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto are real. They were discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610 when he looked at Jupiter through one of the first primitive telescopes. Galileo was amazed by the four little stars he saw near the giant planet, and even more amazed when they moved from night to night, orbiting Jupiter. Astronomers now call them the Galilean satellites.
The reason for all this extravagance was… this week you can see the Galilean satellites for yourself! Step outside around 9 p.m. and look west toward the setting sun. The first bright star emerging from the twilight is Jupiter. Point a telescope in that direction; a small one will do. (Remember, even the cheapest toy-shop telescope is better than Galileo's 400 year-old spyglass.) The four moons will appear in the eyepiece as a line of dim stars straddling the giant planet. If you don't have a telescope but don't want to miss out on any possible magic spell either, head towards the Science museum at Agargao with some potato chips and a coke. They have a wonderful planetarium and also a telescope, which is open for visitors after 7 pm (if the weather and dark spirits permit).

If you only see two or three moons, that's because one or two of them are probably behind Jupiter. Look again later or perhaps tomorrow. The missing moons will come out of hiding as they circle Jupiter.

Jupiter itself will look like a fat disk crossed by rust-colored cloud belts. First-time observers often note that the planet seems squashed--wider along the equator than between the poles. Is there something wrong with the telescope? No. Jupiter really is flattened. Although Jupiter is 11 times bigger around the middle than Earth, it spins more than twice as fast; a day on Jupiter lasts only 9 hours and 55 minutes. This rapid spin is what gives Jupiter its equatorial bulge.

Young wizards are advised not to wait too long to see these things because Jupiter and its moons will soon disapparate! Or as a muggle astronomer would say, they're about to disappear for a few months behind the sun. In fact, this week is your last chance to see the moons of Jupiter before school starts again in the fall.
So don't miss them. You do want to pass your O.W.L.s ... don't you?


Matt Le Blanc

As an educated carpenter, model, and actor, Matt LeBlanc has a smarter head on his shoulders than his "Friends" counterpart, Joey, is reputed for.

Entertainment Weekly once lauded Matt LeBlanc as "a rarity - a hunk with a gift for deadpan comedy," for his role as one of America's favorite "Friends." However, LeBlanc might never have detoured to acting if his mother, fearing for his safety, had not encouraged him to pursue something other than professional motorcycle racing.

After receiving his first motorcycle at age 8, LeBlanc participated in various amateur races and later, even trained for a career in carpentry before ultimately deciding to become an actor.

After graduating from high school, LeBlanc set his sights on living in New York City. By 1987, he had obtained parts in national television commercials for such high-profile products as Levi's 501 jeans, Coca-Cola and Doritos. He also appeared in a Heinz ketchup spot that won the prestigious Gold Lion Award at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival.

In 1988, LeBlanc began formal acting training. Within a year, he landed a starring role on the television series "TV 101" and relocated to Los Angeles. Since then, his television credits include starring roles on "Top of the Heap" and "Vinnie & Bobby" which were spin-offs of "Married With...Children". He also starred in the TV movie "Anything to Survive", opposite Robert Conrad. But he struck gold when he was cast in the mega hit TV series "Friends".

and in the movie "Anything to Survive"). He also guest-starred on "Class of '96.

LeBlanc most recently appeared on the big screen in the 2000 blockbuster "Charlie's Angels," an update of the 1970s television series opposite Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu. His other feature-film credits include starring roles in "Lost in Space" and "Ed." LeBlanc can be seen alongside Eddie Izzard in the upcoming war comedy "All the Queen's Men."

LeBlanc was recently honored for his contribution to the world of entertainment by the National Italian-American Foundation in Washington, D.C.

In addition to acting, LeBlanc enjoys working on his own cars and motorcycles -- which include a Pantera race car -- and playing with his dogs and landscape photography. He currently lives in Los Angeles earning one million per episode of "Friends". His date of birth is May 25, 1968 .

Joey Tribbiani in a spinoff series after "Friends" signs off

LOS ANGELES, July 21 - "Friends" will enter its 10th and presumed final season on NBC this fall. Let's hope not. So is this the one where Joey gets his really big break? Maybe so. There are talks among NBC, Warner Bros. TV and Matt LeBlanc to cut a deal for a "Friends" spinoff sitcom revolving around LeBlanc's Joey Tribbiani character.

Insiders stressed that no deals are in place for the spinoff, but it's understood that the principals have stepped up the negotiations in an effort to secure a commitment with LeBlanc in the near future.
Those players also have settled on veteran "Friends" writers and executive producers Scott Silveri and Shana Goldberg-Meehan to pen the pilot script should a deal be hammered out.

LeBlanc's character of the oddball soap opera actor has, of course, been at the center of "Friends" during the past two seasons as the love triangle played out among Joey, David Schwimmer's Ross and Jennifer Aniston's Rachel characters. Yes, that's a little inside scoop for those of us lowly Bangladeshis who are still going through ancient reruns of the ancient seasons.

LeBlanc earns about a million per episode so you can guess his bargaining power certainly wasn't hurt by the fact that the actor last week earned his second consecutive Emmy nomination for his work on America's most-watched comedy series.



Pirates of the Caribbean

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks. Developer: Akella. Genre: Role-Playing. Gamespot Score: 7.6. Requirements: 128 MB RAM, 8X CD-ROM, 32 MB VRAM, 1500 MB disk space, DirectX v8.1.

It's kind of like 17th-century Grand Theft Auto with galleons replacing the cars. In Pirates of the Caribbean, it's the 17th century, and you're Nathaniel Hawk, a sharp-witted captain of his own modest ship. He's trying to make ends meet in the Caribbean, a collection of small islands ruled over by European nations including the English, the French, the Spanish, the Dutch, and more. The Caribbean archipelago is home to some good weather and plenty of lucrative natural resources, which have made it an obvious draw for the world's powers--as well as the perfect place for pirates and privateers to set up shop. The game's story begins when the French make a play for an English colony, and Hawk barely escapes with his life. He ends up helping put the French back in their place and then becomes embroiled in a greater plot, which even has some supernatural overtones. The presence of some undead pirates is apparently what ties this game in with its namesakes, but other than the occasional encounters with the living dead, you'll find that Pirates of the Caribbean pretty much plays it straight.
Pirates consists of a number of different gameplay elements. You navigate between islands by controlling a tiny little ship as it crawls across a map of the Caribbean. You'll see numerous other vessels materialize as you sail across the waters, some of which may attack you, and any of which you may choose to attack yourself. Sometimes you'll see ships already engaged in battle and may crash the party if it pleases you. You might also run headlong into a storm. Whenever these types of events occur, the game switches to a third-person perspective of your ship, which you can then manually control by raising and furling the sails, trying to catch a good tailwind, arming and firing your cannons, and even boarding nearby enemy vessels. An optional first-person view lets you manually aim your weapons, though the third-person view is usually preferable. You can also moor at the numerous island ports or other dry-land locations of interest.

Once you've docked or boarded an enemy vessel (or been boarded yourself), Pirates of the Caribbean becomes a third-person action adventure game of sorts, as you'll be controlling Hawk directly and can engage in some basic combat using your saber and slow-loading pistol. Boarding is roughly the same every time--in larger ships you'll go through several stages of combat, but Hawk can always take a cheap shot against his foes when the action first begins. When in town, Hawk can mill about and speak with the locals, and visit key locations including the tavern, the shop, the shipyard, and the town hall. A first-person perspective is optionally available here as well, and though the on-foot regions are relatively small, they're carefully detailed and make a good contrast to the boundless stretches of ocean that you'll see while sailing.

The main storyline has Hawk scurrying from island to island for various reasons, which is a great opportunity to engage in the game's trade system. You have access to a trade book that shows you which goods are imported from and which goods are exported to each island, and you can proceed to buy low and sell high. The bigger the ship you have (or the more ships you have in your fleet), the more stuff you can lug and the more profit you can earn.

Fortunately, commerce is just one of several ways to earn money in the game. You're rewarded well for solving the main story quests as well as for taking on occasional random missions, which usually take the form of offers from wealthy merchants for you to escort them to certain remote islands.

Hawk gains a reputation, one way or another, over the course of the game. Do good deeds and you'll be well liked by most of the European nations, though maybe not by the pirates. Or, you can become a wicked pirate yourself and strike fear into the hearts of wealthy merchants everywhere, though you'd better be ready to face some powerful enemy European fleets. As he gains levels, Hawk also becomes eligible to commandeer larger and larger ships, so soon enough your crew of less than a hundred may grow to many times that size if you can afford (or relieve an enemy of) a better set of sails. In the bigger ships, especially if you have fleets of them, you can even take on island fortresses in some of the game's most challenging naval battles. The larger ships can be less maneuverable than the smaller ones and can cost a fortune to repair, but they are still hands-down superior to smaller vessels for the most part. As such, it's quite satisfying to upgrade to a larger ship class.

Naval combat is slow-paced and relatively simple--just point your broadsides at the opponent and commence firing, then maybe try to maneuver to an odd angle as you reload, to prevent the enemy from returning fire as effectively. You have a number of different ammo types at your disposal, including good old cannonballs, grape shot that's perfect for killing enemy crew, knippel for destroying sails and rigging, and bombs, which are more expensive but more destructive than the other types. You may also upgrade to different types of cannons, some of which have a longer range at the expense of less power, or vice versa. There isn't so much you can do to customize your ship besides that. You want to keep your crew maxed out at all times and keep its morale high, which is easily achieved just by paying everyone extra if their morale gets low for some reason. Also, just as you can upgrade your ship's weapons, so can you buy better swords and pistols for Hawk.

Pirates of the Caribbean is an enjoyable game that's recommendable to those intrigued by the subject matter. The big, dramatic-looking naval battles pack in a lot of variety, and the open-ended structure of the campaign rewards your curiosity. Too bad the shortcomings put Pirates somewhat shy of greatness in the grand scheme of things, but you won't be thinking about that as you're waylaying or defending merchant ships filled with silk and ale and all sorts of other good stuff.


Most stupid Guinness Records

Since the advent of circuses and fairs, people have been fascinated by the outlandish. Freak shows have taken advantage of this curiosity and soon people were flocking to observe deformed people and other human phenomena.

Over time, tastes grew sharper and some have begun to attempt eccentric feats to satisfy public demand, while quenching their own exhibitionist desires. Records are now established and broken every day, in every walk of life. Here are the top ten weirdest records in the world according to Guinness, and based on the AskMen.com oddness meter.

Number 10: Most Expensive Washroom
Guys are famous for being able to do the deed just about anywhere. We do it in the great outdoors, by the side of the road, and in city alleys, behind dumpsters. But no man alive would turn down an opportunity to use a golden throne. In 2001, Hong Kong jeweler Lam Sai-wing took it upon himself to craft a solid gold toilet, inspired by the words of Lenin who stated that toilets of gold should be made to remind us of the waste of capital warfare. The piece is worth $3.5 million.

Number 9: Largest Feet
Matthew McGrory is one tall 29-year-old dude. The Pennsylvania native stands 7'4" tall and weighs nearly 617 pounds. If I stopped here, you would think I was talking about the next NBA draft prospect. But it's his feet that set him apart. If he were to walk into a Payless shoe store, he would have to ask for some size 28.5 sneakers. And he would need a serious credit margin as he needs to pay up to $22,745 for one pair of shoes. His big toes alone measure five inches in length. I wonder what he's been eating!

Number 8: Longest Driven Journey
I know people who have difficulty spending more than two hours in a car. Fortunately, this is not a problem for Emil and Liliana Schmid, a Swiss couple. In 1984, they began a journey that took them around the world. For 18 years, they used their 1982 Toyota Land Cruiser and drove through 131 countries and over 316,900 miles. Initially, they left their home for only a year but the kick of traveling kept them going.

Number 7: Largest Chicken Dance
I've never been to Ohio, but it seems to me that perhaps they should think about finding themselves some new attractions. On September 1, 1996, 72,000 poultry-obsessed citizens of the Canfield County Fair stopped what they were doing and began performing the chicken dance. Apparently, it's a tradition in the area to do this dance at weddings so it only seemed natural to gather everyone around and go for the record.
Number 6: Heaviest Weight Balanced On Head
Believe it or not, there are people whose idea of a good time is to see how much weight they can balance on their head without getting crushed to death. John Evans is one of them and he managed to balance 101 bricks on his head (416.7 pounds) for 10 seconds back in December 1997. The Londoner also holds such balancing act records for books, beer kegs, people, and a car. With a 22-inch neck, his record won't soon be broken.

Number 5: Fastest Tomato Ketchup Drinker
First things first: how in the world do you come up with such a stunt? Do you wake up one morning and say, "I'll have a sandwich, a donut, and a bottle of ketchup for lunch"? Dustin Phillips of California obviously went through a similar experience, since he holds the record for the fastest ketchup drinker in the world. In 33 seconds, he drank over 90% of a 14-ounce bottle of ketchup through a straw. I just hope he chugged some burgers afterward.

Number 4: Smallest Nightclub
Those zany Brits will never cease to amaze me with their madcap innovations. August 1998 saw the introduction of the smallest nightclub in the world, measuring 8 feet long, 4 feet wide and 8 feet high. It has everything other clubs have: DJ, smoke machine, extensive sound system, and even a doorman. The Minuscule of Sound blares music from the '70s, '80s and '90s, and is on every globetrotting clubber's list. The club, which only has enough room for 14 people, began life as an anti-corporate statement, but has since evolved into a full-fledged club-going experience.

Number 3: Loudest Burp
Had my mother let me practice at the dinner table as a child, I could be the one holding this record. Instead, it's British subject Paul Hunn who can perform a burp reaching 118.1 decibels; an intensity some compared to a pneumatic drill or an airplane taking off.
Unfortunately for him, he doesn't indulge himself whenever it strikes his fancy. According to this record holder, the greatest belches occur after eating spicy foods and sucking in a lot of air. I certainly will be practicing this at the next family feast.

Number 2: Longest Kiss
How much time would you be willing to spend kissing your girl? One, maybe two hours? More? I guess love and lust factor in somewhere. In Israel, there is a Tel Aviv couple that smooched continuously for 30 hours and 45 minutes in April 1999. They didn't even take one single break. It's not their lips I was concerned with; it was their bladders. For the accomplishment, Karmit Tzubera and Dror Orpaz were most notably compensated with a trip around the world.

Number 1: Largest Navel Fluff Collection
Some people will collect just about anything. Most collections can be regarded as reasonable, endearing even. But Australia native Graham Barker opened up a whole new can of worms. In 1984, he looked down at his navel and marveled at the lint protruding from it. He pulled it out and saved it.

Before long, harvesting his bellybutton for fluff became a habit. In 15 years, he amassed 0.54 ounces of lint. He's aware that people think he's yards off his rocker but continues doing it as he enjoys being able to collect something no one else has.

For more bizarre records, you can purchase the Guinness World Records 2003 and enjoy hours of reading pleasure.

Waltzing the Web

By Synergie

The best thing about summer, except form the fact of ice cream, is that there are actually a lot of things to do. Like- sleep, eat, watch TV, eat, watch a newly released movie, sleep and etc. Well, it's been quite a long time since we've feature some multimedia software sites. Since the tonnes of movie CD's sitting on your table need some attention, I guess its time to give it some mind. Terminator 3, Charlie's Angles: Full Throttle, The Matrix Reloaded… aren't these somewhere on your summer time priority list? OK, so here go a couple of movie players and editors that are on a bargain price in the web market- use your downloader and get one free!

DivX Video Bundle
DivX is one of the most hip and happening video formats of the moment, and there are few programs as good as this one for working with the format. With enhanced video quality and effective compression capabilities, this software lets you create and watch DivX videos in style. Since a single CD is enough to write a whole movie, now you can finally get down to finishing your dream collection of classics.

FreeDVD 3.0
With VHS now dying a slow death, DVD is the smarter way to enjoy video these days. The FreeDVD player is arguably the best for handling the medium as it allows you to play discs either in a small window or in full screen mode on your PC.

Movie XOne
As of yet, this is the only totally free movie editor I've seen. It lets you edit your movie clips, add video effects and generally get into the world of movie editing without shelling any dosh. The concept of movie editing tends to freak some people out. But with this bit it's surprisingly a snap.

Quick Time 5
QuickTime is a comprehensive multimedia system allowing you to access a world of images, movies, interactive VR and moveable objects. It doesn't support Windows Media Player or RealMedia. But it doesn't bombard you with ads either. Once you get the hang of this cool multipack, your summer will be definitely more enjoyable.

So, that'll be all for today folks. Until next week- enjoy the sun.



























































































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