Couple put abortion to an online vote
A suburban Minneapolis-St. Paul couple touched off an Internet frenzy Thursday with their "birth or not" website — an online poll on asking whether the woman, who is 17 weeks pregnant, should have an abortion. "We wanted to give people a chance to voice their opinions in a real situation where it makes a difference," said Alisha Arnold, 30. She and her husband, Peter Arnold, began the online vote because she was still healing emotionally from the most recent of three miscarriages, she said. They weren't sure whether she was ready for a baby. The solution: a poll. "We are using it to help determine our decision, but we will still make the final decision," she said. News of the couple's poll, at www.birthornot.com, spread to news websites and blogs. Bloggers debated whether it was a hoax, an effort to influence the nation's debate on abortion or simply a bizarre use of the Internet to publicize a normally deeply private matter. The vote, as of 11:30 a.m. Friday, was running 4-to-1 in favor of birth: 75,734 to 17,882. The public can weigh in until Dec. 7, the site says.
Found: planet from another galaxy
Scientists have discovered the first planet from another galaxy, sort of. While some 500 planets have been identified in other parts of our galaxy — the Milky Way — none has been reported in other galaxies. Now one has been discovered orbiting a star called HIP 13044b, located about 2,000 light years away. While the star is now in the Milky Way, researchers at the Max-Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany reported in Thursday's online edition of the journal Science that it originated in a separate galaxy that was later cannibalized by ours. That makes the new planet, which is about 20 percent larger than Jupiter, the first found to have originated in another galaxy. The new planet is orbiting a star from what is known as the Helmi stream — a group of stars that originally belonged to a dwarf galaxy that was devoured by the Milky Way about six to nine billion years ago. Researchers say the new planet is also one of the few planets known to have survived the period when its host star expanded massively after exhausting the hydrogen fuel supply in its core. The star has now contracted again, they report.