Share Independent/Richard LewinOn December 11, it was East Hampton Town Chief Harbormaster Ed Michels’s turn to speak to the members of East Hampton Village Mayor Paul Rickenbach’s Tuesday Club. The Chief shared his enthusiasm for his responsibilities in boating safety, enforcement of town shell and fin fish laws, environmental protection, and navigation laws. He expressed his deep appreciation to East Hampton for allowing him the opportunity to serve.
Name and address supplied I write in response to previous articles regarding best value tendering, in particular Graeme Hydari’s letter (see  Gazette, 16 July, 9). If you decide to publish this letter, I would appreciate it if you could hold back my name and firm details, as this is a personal view and not one necessarily shared by my firm. As a procurement professional working for a national law firm, I wholeheartedly support the idea of BVT and believe that it drives economically sound solutions to supply issues. While many lawyers may view the law as a discrete service, in reality they are simply supplying a customer with a service and therefore BVT is an appropriate tool to use. However, crucial to the success of BVT is the need for good procurement practice. Botched privatisations have undoubtedly been the fault of poor implementation of BVT, rather than of the principle itself. A good buyer would understand the market, understand the issues facing the sellers in that market and build a detailed and complete specification of the service required (which takes into account unknown factors/variables). In addition, the buyer will also take a long-term view and not be blinded by short-term cash incentives. Best value means just that – best value – not necessarily cheapest! Understandably, however, there has been some scepticism as no one has been in a position to assess the strength of the Legal Services Commission’s procurement team. Perhaps the best thing the LSC can do to reassure firms in this market is to confirm that they have employed appropriately qualified and experienced procurement professionals, who will take into account all of the issues and take the time to do this properly. The sooner the legal profession as a whole embraces best value tendering instead of fighting against it, the easier it will be for all concerned.
Stay on target Hubble Space Telescope Captures Star’s Eerie Gaseous GlowMoon Glows Brighter Than Sun in NASA Fermi’s Vibrant Images So, you’ve probably seen tons and tons of new stories about Earth-like planets around nearby stars. That’s mostly because over the past few years we’ve launched powerful new telescopes like Kepler that are just sharp enough to find the tiny (in galactic terms, anyway) planets. We’ll have to wait for the launch of James Webb next year to know for sure, but as scientists refine their models and hone their studies of these exo-Earths, we’re a bit more confident that they might be able to sustain life.Proxima B, an Earth-sized planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, our closest stellar neighbor, has been thought to be uninhabitable without a lot of extra help. Early models suggested that it just wouldn’t have a stable atmosphere. Pb, as I’ve just now decided to call it, circles its star much closer than we do with the Sun. Scientists suspect that that means the planet is tidally locked with its parent star. That could be disastrous for any atmosphere it may have once had. Gasses could freeze out on the night side, for example, causing the planet’s air to slowly fall as super-cold snow until it was all gone. Alternatively, proximity to the star could cause solar winds to blow the atmosphere off into space.Eager for answers, teams of researchers have applied some more robust weather and atmospheric models based our knowledge of Earth’s atmosphere to the planet, and initial results are… pretty positive. Obviously, they won’t be accurate, and we’re missing loads of additional data we’d need to get optimal predictions, but the paper, published in Astronomy and Astrophysics suggests that we’d expect it to still have a stable atmosphere in several possible scenarios.Scientists ran simulations with both a tidally locked and slowly orbiting planet, and both featured climates that could sustain liquid water — one of the most important ingredients, we suspect, for life. This is good news for anyone eager to bail on Earth and set up shop somewhere a bit less… chaotic.The study isn’t without qualifications. There’s far from enough data to be sure that Proxima B definitely has an atmosphere in the first place. All we can say right now is that if it did, that atmosphere could very well be stable and the climate might foster liquid surface water.The good news, though, is that we probably won’t have to wait long to find out for sure. Assuming everything’s golden during the James Webb Space Telescope launch next year, we’ll soon be equipped with a new uber-powerful machine that could, with ease, tell us whether planets like Proxima B have atmospheres and what they’re made of. It will also be our first chance to look directly at exo-planets. For now, we still spot these stellar bodies by monitoring the light output of their host star. If we spot dips as planets cross between us and the star, we can get a rough idea of how big the planets are, what their mass is, and how close they’re orbiting. That tells us a lot, but not nearly enough to start loading people onto interstellar ships for a camping trip.