Lovely in late season? Massive planet 120 light years away studied by Nasa might have an ocean

Planet Business: Dynamic pricing hits the pint, Wall Street IPOs return and USA Today seeks ‘Taylor Swift reporter’

Image of the week: Exoplanet update

Sshhh, no one tell Jeff Bezos in case he magically finds a way to get there and colonise the joint, but Nasa’s James Webb Space Telescope may have discovered tentative signs of life on a planet 120 light years from Earth. Just maybe, like.

The researchers, led by Prof Nikku Madhusudhan of the University of Cambridge, say the detection is “not robust” and more data is needed, but they may have found a molecule called dimethyl sulphide (DMS) on planet K2-18 b – and on Earth, as Prof Madhusudhan noted, DMS is “only produced by life”.

They also detected methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of the planet, which lies beyond the solar system in the habitable zone of the cool dwarf star K2-18. The presence of these gases, coupled with the absence of ammonia, points to a hydrogen-rich atmosphere and possibly even a water ocean. Lovely, if a touch long haul for a “fly and flop”.

K2-18 b, which is 8.6 times bigger than Earth, is not to be confused with “Planet Nine”, or the hypothetical planet recently in the news that some astronomers believe lies beyond Neptune, which could, theoretically, take the place left vacant by downgraded Pluto as the ninth planet in our neck of the universe. Definitely no one mention any of this to Elon Musk, okay?


In numbers: Dynamic drinking


Pence that will be added to the price of a pint by Stonegate Group, the UK’s largest pub owner, during peak hours in a move that will have no impact on introverts who only like to slip into pubs when there’s no one else there.


Pence added to the price of a pint by the group – which owns the Slug & Lettuce and Yates chains – when England was playing during the last two World Cups. Blow it up, ref, we’re parched.


Number of the pubs in the 4,000-pub group that will now introduce “dynamic pricing” surcharges during evenings and weekends. So it’s midweek morning drinking then? Got it.

Getting to know: Taylor Swift reporter

In possibly the biggest boon to the mass appeal of journalistic careers since Rosalind Russell’s turn in His Girl Friday, US newspaper giant Gannett has advertised for a “Taylor Swift reporter”, which is exactly as it sounds. Amazing.

Gannett’s national title USA Today and Nashville title The Tennessean are seeking “an experienced, video-forward journalist to capture the music and cultural impact of Taylor Swift” on the basis that as the artist’s fanbase has grown to unprecedented heights, “so has the significance of her music and growing legacy”, so it needs an in-house expert, pronto.

“We are looking for an energetic writer, photographer and social media pro who can quench an undeniable thirst for all things Taylor Swift with a steady stream of content across multiple platforms,” the job ad reads. The successful candidate will see “both the facts and the fury” of the Swift phenomenon as they “capture the excitement around Swift’s ongoing tour and upcoming album release, while also providing thoughtful analysis of her music and career”.

A video cover letter is required. Singing your way through your application is not.

The list: IPO comeback

After a spell in the doldrums, the US market for initial public offerings (IPOs) has sprung into life again. So which companies are making their Wall Street debut or at least flirting with the idea?

1. Arm: Cambridge-based chip designer Arm was listed on the FTSE 100 before being taken private by SoftBank in 2016. For its blockbuster return to the market this week, it snubbed London for the Nasdaq.

2. Instacart: One of the biggest online grocery companies in the US is nearing its IPO and will use the ticker symbol “CART”.

3. Reddit: The self-styled “front page of the internet” has been looking to go public since 2021, with chief executive Steve Huffman almost as keen on the idea as its volunteer moderators are on revolts.

4. Stripe: There’s been no confirmation either way yet, but the Collison brothers’ payments company told employees in January that it would decide on an IPO within a year.

5. Birkenstock: The German sandal purveyors filed for an IPO this week, hot off a prominent name-check in mega-hit Barbie.