Earth 2 Found!

It is the weekend and the world is waiting smiling at the outcome of the stand off in France…..

But I will go off in a different direction……back in the 90’s there was an obscure sci fi show called Earth 2……humans go off the colonize a new Earth-like planet….it was pretty mundane most of the time but there were a few cool twists here and there……I bring this up because of the space news that came out recently…….

If you’re sick of Earth and have a spacecraft capable of traveling hundreds of light-years, astronomers have spotted the most promising destination yet. Kepler-438b is a newly-confirmed potential “Earth twin” detected by the Kepler Space Telescope, the BBC reports, one of eight confirmed new exoplanets. The planet, about 470 light-years away in the Lyra constellation, is the most Earth-like ever spotted outside our solar system. It’s only slightly larger than our planet, sits in the “Goldilocks zone” where the temperature is right for liquid water to flow, and probably has a rocky surface, researchers say. Its dwarf star gives it around 40% more heat than our planet receives from the sun, and its years are just 35 days long.

The latest find brings the number of confirmed worlds spotted by Kepler—including Kepler-186f, the previous most Earth-like find—to just over 1,000, with more than 3,000 still to be vetted, reports Scientific American. To search for clues that life may exist on Kepler-438b and other planets, researchers plan to examine Kepler data for signs of moons, which help stabilize orbits and temperatures, and for gas giants in the same solar system, which reduce the odds of catastrophic asteroid hits, the Guardian reports. (Last month, Kepler data revealed a possible water world, or “mini-Neptune,” 180 light-years away.)

Could it be life imitating art?

More Space Sciencey Stuff

It is the weekend after Xmas…..and it is time for me to do what I always do….give you stuff that is not your everyday posting on the internet…..I am a space geek since the days of Buster Crabbe as Buck Rogers in the Saturday Serials……

First, the space telescope Kepler…….and its newest findings…….

The Kepler spacecraft has had its shares of ups and downs since its 2009 launch. The downs have included a 2013 mechanical failure that left Kepler supposedly “beyond repair”. The ups have included a “resourceful strategy” that made use of pressure from sunlight to allow Kepler to be repurposed for a “K2 mission” announced a little more than a year ago. And that K2 mission has arrived at its first success: the confirmed discovery of an Earth-like planet, the New York Times reports. Kepler’s directive is to seek out new planets by basically staring at stars all day and watching for “transits,” those blips on the screen when a planet passes in front of its parent star. The newly discovered planet, called HIP 116454b, is said to be 2.5 times the size of our planet, 12 times the mass, and about 180 light-years from Earth, Universe Today reports.

“Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Kepler has been reborn and is continuing to make discoveries,” says Andrew Vanderburg, who led the team behind the find. Kepler sighted HIP 116454b during a February test run (the K2 mission officially began in May), and its existence was verified with ground telescopes and Canada’s MOST satellite. Astronomers are calling it a possible “water world or a ‘mini-Neptune,’ with a small core and a billowing gaseous atmosphere,” as per the Times. Because of its close, 9.1-day orbit around its star, the planet would be too hot to be habitable, scientists say. Still, Kepler’s mission continues. “K2 is uniquely positioned to … further define the boundary between rocky worlds like Earth and ice giants like Neptune,” a Kepler/K2 project scientist says in a NASA press release. (Astronomers think they found their first “exomoon” hovering around an exoplanet last year.)

Next is the Martian Rover…..it keeps finding groundbreaking stuff……its newest finding…..Mars is farting!

The Mars rover has delivered what a NASA scientist calls an “oh my gosh moment”—it detected methane on the red planet, reports the New York Times. The discovery is making headlines because the gas had to originate somewhere, and one possibility is that the source is some form of microbial life, reports the Guardian. “That we detect methane in the atmosphere on Mars is not an argument that we have found evidence of life on Mars, but it’s one of the few hypotheses that we can propose that we must consider,” says scientist John Grotzinger of the Curiosity team. The rover picked up spikes in the levels of methane that disappeared in a matter of weeks.

The source, however, could be geological rather than biological, explains National Geographic: “Interactions between water and rock could produce methane, as could sunlight cooking off meteorite debris on the Martian surface.” It’s also possible that even if microbes did create the methane, the bugs are long gone, reports the BBC. The gas could have been trapped underground eons ago, and it surfaces periodically because of thermal disturbances. The best hope for real answers is if Curiosity happens to detect a large amount of the gas that can be properly analyzed. Today’s news is all the more surprising because NASA announced just last year that the rover could find no methane at all.

Every year we expand our knowledge of the universe……and soon we will have confirmation of life beyond our little third rock from the sun…..

Foods NOT For Dogs

I am an animal person…..but I have been blessed with dogs in my life since the beginning…….and of course there are times when eating and your friend is close by waiting for a taste…..but there some foods that can do damage to your friend…..even death……

You may have heard that you shouldn’t give chocolate to your dog—but how about grapes? Or sugar-free gum? Alternet lists eight foods that humans may consume, but pets definitely shouldn’t:

  1. Sugar-free treats like gum, which contain xylitol. The sugar alcohol is extracted from fruits and vegetables to be put in gum, toothpaste, sugarless baked goods, and more. If a 20-pound dog eats a couple of sticks of the gum, it can suffer hypoglycemia and even death.
  2. Chocolate, coffee, and sodas, which contain methylxanthine compounds. They can cause seizures and heart problems in pets, and a single chocolate bar can lead to death.
  1. Avocados, which carry a toxin known as persin. It’s not just dangerous to cats and dogs: Birds, hamsters, and guinea pigs can experience serious health problems from the stuff, too.
  2. Cookies, which could contain macadamia nuts or other dangerous ingredients. Macadamia nuts, or macadamia powder or oil, can make dogs very sick for reasons that are unclear.
  3. Grapes and raisins, which “can lead to acute kidney failure in pets,” says a vet, noting that “we didn’t know about this until a few years ago.”
  4. Onions, garlic, and similar foods, which can make it harder for your pet’s blood to carry oxygen. Watch out for garlic and onion powder in soups, sauces, and elsewhere.

Click for Alternet’s full list.

Please read this and do your friend a favor and fight the urge to give them a taste……

Remember Climate Change?

With all the shootings, deaths, hackings and just mind numbing gossip I had thought that the issue of climate change was off the radar at least until the 2016 campaigns……but it appears that I may have been mistaken…….

Think back for a moment…..recall when the big news was the cow farts was the leading cause of climate change?

Well there seems that ‘science’ and I use the term loosely has found a new culprit to blame for the changes…….anyway it is a culprit you would never suspect……

We were just trying to help. Turns out the efforts of humankind to save beavers from extinction over the past century have had an eco-unfriendly side effect: The animals, whose population has rebounded, are contributing to climate change, researchers say at EurekAlert. Beaver dams create shallow ponds, which can host growing levels of carbon as biological material accumulates on the floor. The result is methane, a greenhouse gas that doesn’t dissolve in the ponds; instead, it travels into the atmosphere. These days, beaver ponds release 200 times more methane than they did in 1900, when centuries of hunting threatened the animals with extinction.

Today, the animals are definitely doing better; in fact, there are about 10 million of them, researchers in Canada figured in a new study. One result of that is some 16,000 square miles of dammed ponds, which has led to the release of some 882,000 tons of methane, or 15% of what deer, antelope, and other cud-chewing wild creatures produce. And that figure could grow, says a researcher. Beavers aren’t the only rodents to blame for climate change, the Independent reports: Arctic squirrels are doing their share, too, say US scientists. They dig burrows, which warms the ground and helps melt permafrost, where carbon has been building up “for tens of thousands of years,” an expert explains. (Meanwhile, swamp rats are shrinking Louisiana.)

Will the ‘deniers’ now support a jihad aimed at beavers?  They were quick to jump on cows farting.  And what about those damn ground squirrels?

There you have the big news in climate science….BTW the other story mentioned in that piece is also as interesting as this one……get it a try.

Space: The Final Frontier

Thank you…it is the weekend and I can step away from the Trolls and the mental midgets and five my readers something a little different……Space Stuff!

My granddaughter’s name got put on the Orien Mission and sent into space…… I gave it to her because she is such a space geek…..she was speechless…..made my day because she is NEVER speechless.

Anyway on to the space stuff….

Since our Rovers on Mars have started working them have sent back volumes of info……and the trend continues…..

(Newser) – There’s still no proof there was ever life on Mars, but evidence is starting to pile up that conditions were once ripe for life to begin, NASA scientists say. The Curiosity rover’s exploration of the Gale Crater has found signs that liquid water flowed on the planet’s surface for tens of millions of years, CNET reports, giving life (of the microbial kind at least) much longer to get going than researchers had previously believed. The rover had already determined that the planet once had the right chemical ingredients for life, reports the Guardian, and sediment deposits have now revealed that lakes and rivers were once common on its surface, with large amounts of water remaining underground even after those dried up.

Curiosity team members say the new findings suggest that early Mars was much like early Earth. “What I get excited about is imagining a Mars 3.5 to 4 billion years ago, a planet with a thick atmosphere, maybe a blue sky with puffy clouds and mountains and lakes and rivers,” John M. Grunsfeld, a NASA science administrator, tells the New York Times. Grunsfeld, who’s also a former astronaut, says the Curiosity mission has given vital clues to how and where to search for evidence of Martian life. “We don’t know if life ever started on Mars, but if it did, we now have a better chance of discovering it,” he says.

On another note…….we launched a probe known as New Horizon……it was sent to explore deep space as it nears Pluto the device has awakened to continue its mission……

Newser) – New Horizons just got what’s probably the earliest wakeup call ever. Even though it’s not supposed to fly by Pluto—the destination of its nine-year, 3-billion-mile journey—until July, the NASA craft roused itself from its “hibernation” slumber and is fully awake for the last leg of its mission, Space.com reports. Russell Watson’s “Where My Heart Will Take Me” blasted NH out of its somnambulant state with a personal message from Watson himself before crooning the appropriate lyrics, “It’s been a long road/Getting from there to here.” About 20 scientists waiting back home in Maryland at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory got the confirmation signals on Saturday evening that New Horizons was up and at ‘em, just over 162 million miles from Pluto.

The piano-sized craft, which was launched in 2006, had been “asleep” since August to conserve energy and reduce wear and tear on its systems. It’s been asleep before (18 other times, to be exact) during its long trip, but this was the last sleep before it makes it to the Kuiper Belt, the icy “disc-shaped region” that harbors Pluto and other dwarf worlds, NASA notes. “This is the place that this spacecraft was built to operate, and these are the operations that this team has waited a decade to actually go and execute,” New Horizons’ principle investigator says. “So it’s game time.” (New Horizons got some great pics of Jupiter during its flyby nearly eight years ago.)

We keep piling up data and eventually we will go to space and the future will arrive.

Some Say That Life Here Began Out There

Iconic opening dialog from Battle Star Galatica…..

Since the beginning of time there has been a debate as to where life began on the planet Earth……some say divine intervention…..others think it is just biology…..and others think that some alien had something to do with this…..

Recently the European Space Agency landed a probe on a comet but it was misplaced in iys landing and now the batteries are dead……part of its mission was to collect samples and to check for the building blocks of life…..

 

LBCI | Comet team detects organic molecules, basis of life on Earth.

Mommy, Where Did My ‘Winkie” Come From?

It is Sunday and I most admit it has been a long week…..but I did take the time to check out some scientific research papers.

I found one that was just interesting to the point that I had to share it with my readers…….

Kids are always looking for answers to their world around them….and their fascination with different things is just amazing……so when I read this study I knew I had to post it…..

Most guys probably don’t sit around the locker room pondering the finer points of how the male penis evolved, so leave this one to Harvard researchers: The mystery is solved thanks to … lizard limbs. Yup, Harvard scientists investigating the origin of external genitalia have found a link relating to the development of limbs in a variety of animals. Scientists initially hoped to discover why snakes didn’t grow limbs, the Boston Globe reports. But they instead found that embryonic cells—which produce hind limbs in lizards, limb buds in snakes, and “tail-bud” tissue in mammals—form genitalia with a signal from something called a cloaca. As Discovery reports, cloaca is “tissue that eventually develops into the urinary and gut tracts.” When they transplanted a cloaca onto hind limb cells in a chicken embryo, eureka—genital-like buds formed.

“It demonstrates that there is a flexibility with what kind of cells can get recruited during development to form genitalia,” the lead author tells the BBC of his research in Nature. He says the link may help explain why “babies that are born with malformations in their limbs often also have malformations in their genitalia.” While snakes and lizards have two penises, “it appears that the way all amniotes, including reptiles, birds, and mammals, build their genitalia is very similar,” a researcher says. The Globe adds that external genitalia developed when animals moved from sea to land, rendering water-borne fertilization obsolete. (Another study finds sex is 385 million years old.)

Comments are welcome…..whatcha think?