Bacteria Made Of Star Stuff

One of the best at explaining science was Carl Sagan. One recurring theme in Sagan’s works can be seen in the quote below:

And we who embody the local eyes and ears and thoughts and feelings of the cosmos we’ve begun, at last, to wonder about our origins. Star stuff, contemplating the stars organized collections of 10 billion-billion-billion atoms contemplating the evolution of matter tracing that long path by which it arrived at consciousness here on the planet Earth and perhaps, throughout the cosmos.

Or consider the video below: Continue reading

The Big Bang and Beyond

Starts with a Bang has an very interesting post on the Big Bang called How Sure are we that the Big Bang is Correct? and after reading that, you should check out Echoes Of The Birth Of The Universe: New Limits On Big Bang’s Gravitational Waves at Science Daily.

Monkeys in Space!

I don’t know how I missed this, but yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the launching of Baker (a squirrel monkey) and Abel (a rhesus monkey) into space. They were the first primates to survive a trip into space (although Abel died a few days after the trip due to an infected electrode. National Geographic has some pictures to commemorate the event.

In other primate related news, I have managed to injure my right hand and wrist (more about that later) so blogging may be light for the next couple of days.

Update 1: Turns out I have a sprain of the right wrist, makes typing a bit difficult…

Arecibo To Close?

The world’s largest radio telescope is in danger of being closed due to lack of money according to this MSNBC article:

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Dust With Life Like Qualities?

Science Daily has an interesting article up concerning the lifelike qualities of some inorganics caught in a plasma field:

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Snakes on a (Galactic) Plane

Via the JPL comes this great picture of snakes on a galactic plane

Earth’s Early Atmosphere and the Search for Life on Other Planets: One From the Archives

Another from the archives…
Model Gives Clearer Idea Of How Oxygen Came To Dominate Earth’s Atmosphere
Researchers interested in how earth’s atmosphere came to be dominated by oxygen have come up with an interesting model to explain why there was a lag between the origin of photosynthesis and the domination of earth’s atmosphere by oxygen.
There were several processes at work. First, gasses emitted from volcanoes combined with the oxygen and acted as an oxygen sink. Second, oxidation of iron from space bombardment acted as a second sink. Researcers found that varying the estimates of iron content in the earth’s crust could change the time frame by up to a billion years in one direction or the other.

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Hubble Telescope: Happy Sweet Sixteen!

The Hubble Telescope turned 16 today. To celebrate, this cool picture of Messier 82 – a galaxy some 12 million light-years away – was released ba NASA.

The Future of Space Science: Depressing

According to New Scientist the fate of NASA’s science budget is pretty gloomy:

NASA’s proposed cuts to its science budget will have a devastating impact on astronomy and Earth-science research for years to come, an expert panel told a US congressional committee on Thursday.
Panellists urged NASA to restore funding for research and analysis grants, and low-cost missions – even if that comes at the expense of more ambitious missions, such as the James Webb Space Telescope.

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Billion Pixel Picture of the Orion Nebula

According to National Geographic:

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has captured one of the most detailed astronomical images in history. Released yesterday, the original of this Orion Nebula image is a mosaic of a billion pixels—nearly 5,000 times sharper than the 212,521-pixel version on this page.
Despite their stunning depiction of stars still forming in wombs of gas and dust (as well as thousands of heretofore unseen stars), these details aren’t simply in the service of beauty.
“Our goal is to calculate the masses and ages for these young stars, so that we can map their history and get a general scenario of the star formation in that region,” researcher Massimo Robberto of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, said in a media statement. “We can then sort the stars by mass and age and look for trends.”

A zoomable version can be found here