09.03.10 — Far Out

In the debris-strewn disk of matter surrounding the star CoKu Tau 4, astronomers noticed something funny -- a cleared circular lane, hinting at the presence of an exoplanet sweeping up material.

Such disks are likely full of gas, dust, water and other materials. Over time such tiny particles clump together, slowly forming massive rocky bodies called planetesimals, and in some cases full-fledged planets.

This artist's image depicts the possible object within CoKu tau 4 and, if astronomers' calculations are correct, it should be about the weight of Jupiter.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Puzzle by John Farmer, edited by Will Shortz

EXOPLANETS (44A. Far-off discoveries in astronomy) and SINKERBALL (27A. It drops on the way home) are the two long entries in this far-out Friday crossword, followed by eight of eight letters — BEGETTER (19A. Sire), ENSNARES (63A. Ropes in), I DID WHAT (1A. Question the morning after), MANOLETE (61A. Legendry Spanish bullfighter), ON A LEASH (17A. Under control), OPTIONED (54A. Secured the rights to), RIESLING (59A. Fragrant white wine), SAME HERE (15A. “That makes two of us”).

Interrelated are SEAN, LENNON, ONO and, one would imagine, IMAGINE that!”

Wrong song? — HERE.

Seven-letter — ARSENIO (7D. Hall with a posse), DANELAW (2D. Part of England in the time of Alfred the Great), ENTENTE (42D. Understanding), GANG WAR (12D. More than a turf battle), ID CARDS (33A. They may have your number), ISOBARS (1D. High and low indicators), OLD GOLD (13D Cigarette brand that once used the slogan “Not a cough in a carload”), OXIDIZE (37D. Get rusty), RAINIER (41D. Volcano in a national park), SEMINAL (36D. Formative), SODA CAN (38D. Pop-top spot), SO SUE ME (36A. “See if I care!”), SWEAR TO (31A. Avow), STODGES (43D. Fuddy-duddies), TASSELS (14D. Part of some strippers’ attire), UMPIRES 40A. Fault finders?), UTOPIAN (40D. Idealist).

The rest of it — ALI, AMT, AZARIA, BATIK, BLINDS, DELE, EDAMS, ENO, ENORME, GEO, HEAT, HORN, IDAHOS, ILIA (11D. Mother of Romulus and Remus), ISON, ITO, KANT and RANT, MID, NAS, NICOLE, OLIO and OLLA, OOLALA, POLK, RCMP, REEL, SKAGGS, SKI, SOBS, SPIGOT (9A. What can be a turnoff?), STOMA, TAGUP, TEHRAN, TENS, WHET, WOE (24A. What any of the Four Horsemen symbolizes).

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse 1887 by Victor Vasnetsov

They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth. Rev 6:7


Click on image to enlarge.

Puzzle available on the internet at

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Remaining clues — ACROSS: 16. “So chic!”; 18. Aids to privacy; 20. Ricky ___, front man for bluegrass’s Kentucky Thunder; 21. Fassbinder film “___: Fear Eats the Soul!”; 22. “Hip Hop Is Dead” rapper; 25. Jeremiad; 34. Auto marque of the 1980s-’90s; 35. Total: Abbr.; 46. “Perpetual Peace” thinker; 47. Prefix with air or field; 48. Co-producer of “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)”; 49. “… but no more like my father / Than ___ Hercules”: Hamlet; Russets, often; 60. Voice of Moe and Apu on “The Simpsons”. — DOWN: 4. Cut; 5. Pique; 6. Fervor; 8. Capital that was the scene of 2009 mass demonstrations; 9. Breaks down; 10. Annual journalism award, informally; 23. Kind of boot; 26. Touch base; 27. Tiny opening in a leaf; 28. Some cheeses; 29. Its uniform includes a red serge tunic and a Stetson: Abbr.; 30. Dyeing art; 32. Spinner; 39. 1970s Bowie collaborator; 45. It’s big I Bordeaux; 51. Crescent moon feature; 52. Scramble; 53. With 62-Across, subject of “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)”, 55. Till compartment; 56 “The race ___!”; 57. Bit of potter.

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