Those Nagging Questions In Life #2

Sunday and I would like to wax philosophical…..there are big questions in life….like why are we here? Is Humanity doomed? Is there life out there?

But those questions are academic….the big question that I lose sleep over at night……why does coffee make me poop?

And now I have my answer……

A good chunk of regular coffee drinkers know that coffee isn’t just great at getting them awake in the morning—it also makes them get up and go poop. But while coffee’s laxative powers are well-known, it’s not clear why exactly this happens. To get to the bottom of this mystery, some scientists decided to do exactly what you’d expect scientists to: They gave lab rats some coffee.

Their preliminary results, presented this weekend at a research conference aptly named Digestive Disease Week, seem to reaffirm a suspicion that coffee’s poop-making prowess has nothing to do with caffeine. Coffee might also kill off bacteria found in our guts.

Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston fed their rats a tiny cup of joe for three days straight, with different groups getting both caffeinated and decaf coffee. Then, the researchers checked the downstairs plumbing of the rats with a physical examination and probe, focusing on the muscles that contract and help guide food (and eventually waste) through the gut. Lastly, they also studied how muscle tissues from the gut directly reacted to coffee in the lab. Their results were clear: muscles in the small and large intestine were more able to contract post-coffee, meaning things could move faster along the gut.

https://gizmodo.com/why-does-coffee-make-us-poop-scientists-gave-coffee-to-1834852779

There is yet one other thought that has plagued me s well…..what does dog pee do to the sidewalk?  (Not really but I needed a lead in to the article)

And now there is an answer to this probing question……

Nobody knows just how many dogs there are in the United States, but there are plenty—and many of them live (and pee) in human cities. Turns out, canine bathroom breaks may have more of an impact on the environment than you might think.

In a new study, a team of Columbia University undergraduate and graduate researchers led by ecologist Krista McGuire looked at the impact of pee on the urban soil microbiome. They found evidence that the nitrogen content and low pH of the urine can make city soil both harder and less absorbent of rainwater, while making the soil microbiome less diverse.

https://www.popsci.com/dog-pee-soil-microbiome

Wheew!  Now I can rest nicely knowing the answers to those probing questions of life……

How about you?

MoMo has decided it is time for her to go pee something….

Peace Out my friends…..enjoy your day.

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Random Space Stuff For A Sunday

Before I begin my daily ramblings…..

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY

I admit it I am a space nut….and I have been since my early childhood when I got a telescope and shows like Buck Rogers with Buster Crabbe and Flash Gordon were a Saturday morning ritual….and the great black and white movies…..

I try to find interesting space stuff to let my readers know where the space science is going….if any place.

As we extend our reach into space we will be needing lots of resources like food and water……and now science has found a “bioreactor”…..

Astronauts on the International Space Station will begin testing an innovative algae-powered bioreactor to assess its feasibility for future long-duration space missions. 

The algae-powered bioreactor, called the Photobioreactor, represents a major step toward creating a closed-loop life-support system, which could one day sustain astronauts without cargo resupply missions from Earth. This will be particularly important for future long-duration missions to the moon or Mars, which require more supplies than a spacecraft can carry, according to a statement from the German Aerospace Center (DLR). 

The Photobioreactor arrived at the space station Monday (May 6) on a SpaceX Dragon cargo ship. The experiment is designed to use algae to convert the carbon dioxide exhaled by astronauts on the space station into oxygen and edible biomass through photosynthesis.

https://www.space.com/space-station-algae-experiment-fresh-air.html

Will it have terrestrial applications?

Electric power will be a problem unless we find a way to generate it without condemning the planet…..

Without the Sun, the Earth would slowly cool down. This fact is particularly evident on clear nights, when the heat of our planet, unblocked by clouds, spreads into the darkness of space. Now researchers from Stanford University have developed a device that can take advantage of this heat flow and create electricity.

The experimental device is a bit like an anti-solar panel, given that it has a similar optoelectronic system. However, instead of using incoming radiation from the Sun, it uses outgoing radiation from the Earth. As reported in Applied Physics Letters, the system uses the negative illumination effect. The infrared semiconductor generates electricity as the heat flows away from the surface of the device.

https://www.iflscience.com/technology/researchers-have-built-a-device-that-gets-electricity-from-the-coldness-of-space/

Then there is experiments in space travel……

UC Santa Barbara students sent up, via balloon, a prototype miniature spacecraft that might eventually become the “wafercraft” that researchers posit could be propelled by lasers to achieve at relativistic speeds to reach nearby star systems and exoplanets.

So begins a journey, funded by NASA and several private foundations, that may one day lead to .

https://m.phys.org/news/2019-05-experimental-cosmologist-group-iterations-space-traveling.html

Enter the “Replicants”….remember them from Blade Runner?

Some of these replicants even work in space. In the original “Blade Runner” (1982), a replicant named Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) briefly talks about his experiences working off of planet Earth. The 1968 Philip K. Dick novel on which the movie was based, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”, also mentions androids being used for space labor.

While replicants are still far in the future, NASA and other space agencies already use humanoid robots to help do work in space. (Japanese officials hoped to put a humanoid on the moon in 2015, but that hasn’t happened yet.) There are many other versions of space robots exploring our solar system — including rovers, satellites and space probes — but here are some examples of the humanoid robots that are doing work in space.

https://www.space.com/38460-humanoid-robots-for-space-exploration.html

None of this is particularly useful to most….but is just damn interesting (at least to me and after all it is my blog)……

That is my start for a rainy Sunday….hope all have a good Mothers Day.

Updates From Space

A Spring day….cool temps and sun…..the garden loves it and MoMo is busy……

Yes I know….but I have been fascinated with all things space since my early years…..I watch because few others do……

The new planet hunter scores big……

The signals collected by TESS were followed up by the Planet Finder Spectrograph (PFS) on the Magellan II telescope at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. PFS has the ability to provide astronomers with estimates for the mass of exoplanets. As revealed in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, the sub-Neptune HD 21749b weighs around 23 Earths and has 20 times the volume of our planet.

This warm giant planet orbits its star every 36 days. While this is a small number compared to the planets in the Solar System (Mercury, for example, orbits the Sun in 88 days), HD 21749b’s is the longest orbital period among the planets detected by TESS. Most of the planets found by this mission are expected to have orbital periods of fewer than 10 days, so the analysis of this object was actually more complex than expected.

https://www.iflscience.com/space/nasas-new-planet-hunter-has-found-its-first-earthsized-world/

Star Wars fans have had their dream come true (well maybe a small one)

“Tatooine” found!

The only known multiplanet “Tatooine” system just got even more interesting.

A third world lurks in the two-star Kepler-47 system, and it’s bigger than its two previously discovered siblings, a new study reports.

“We certainly didn’t expect it to be the largest planet in the system,” study co-author William Welsh, an astronomer at San Diego State University (SDSU), said in a statement. “This was almost shocking.”

https://www.space.com/third-alien-planet-in-tatooine-system-kepler-47.html

BTW,,,Tatooine is a place in Tunisia……FYI

Saturn’s moon Titan is a popular place in astronomy…….

It’s been well over a year since NASA’s incredibly trusty Cassini probe performed its final act, plunging into Saturn’s atmosphere where it was obliterated by the intense friction. It was a bittersweet day for the astronomy community, but the wealth of information Cassini gathered during its over 13 years orbiting Saturn is still yielding new discoveries.

\In a new paper published in Nature Astronomy, researchers on the Cassini project reveal that the spacecraft’s bounty of radar data now shows that Saturn’s moon Titan are even more special than scientists already realized. The moon’s lakes, which were observed by Cassini during its final pass in 2017, are far deeper than anyone thought.

https://www.space.com/saturn-moon-titan-phantom-lakes-caves.html

Space is not the final frontier but it is getting a lot more crowded.  I watch because so many do not.

My day is full of yard work and to MoMo’s whims…..have a great Saturday.

Science For A Sunday

Happy Easter!

Another nice and cool Spring weekend…..makes the garden a wonderful place of smells and color…..

I listen to some of these religious nuts on the Tube….people that say Trump is sent by God or other such drivel…..I have often thought that these “spokespeople” were a bit brain dead…..and now there is some science that can confirm my insertions…..

A study published in the journal Neuropsychologia has shown that religious fundamentalism is, in part, the result of a functional impairment in a brain region known as the prefrontal cortex. The findings suggest that damage to particular areas of the prefrontal cortex indirectly promotes religious fundamentalism by diminishing cognitive flexibility and openness—a psychology term that describes a personality trait which involves dimensions like curiosity, creativity, and open-mindedness.

Religious beliefs can be thought of as socially transmitted mental representations that consist of supernatural events and entities assumed to be real. Religious beliefs differ from empirical beliefs, which are based on how the world appears to be and are updated as new evidence accumulates or when new theories with better predictive power emerge. On the other hand, religious beliefs are not usually updated in response to new evidence or scientific explanations, and are therefore strongly associated with conservatism. They are fixed and rigid, which helps promote predictability and coherence to the rules of society among individuals within the group.

https://www.rawstory.com/2019/04/scientists-established-link-religious-fundamentalism-brain-damage/

This could explain so much on so many levels…..

More sciencey stuff…….

Have you ever suffered from “Cabin Fever”?

What the Hell is “cabin fever?

Feeling bored and restless after being inside for a long time.

Okay now think about those souls that sign on to colonize Mars…..

The first humans have yet to set foot on Mars, but astrosociologist Jim Pass is already hard at work on solutions to stop them from getting lonely.

Pass is the CEO of the Astrosociology Research Institute, dedicated to developing the nascent area of study. After all, SpaceX founder Elon Musk has already sketched out a vision for how his Starship could some day transport 100 people at once to help build a city on Mars as early as 2050. There is even a pricing plan: Return tickets will start at $500,000, and then gradually fall till they are below the median cost of a house in the United States so people could give up their lives to start anew in space.

https://www.inverse.com/article/54813-mars-colony

Then there is the fear, some say irrational fear, of the AI and the rise of the machines……something I read is troubling….would you believe a “living” machine…….

Scientists from Cornell University have successfully constructed DNA-based machines with incredibly life-like capabilities. These human-engineered organic machines are capable of locomotion, consuming resources for energy, growing and decaying, and evolving. Eventually they die.

That sure sounds a lot like life, but Dan Luo, professor of biological and environmental engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell, who worked on the research, says otherwise. He told The Stanford Chronicle:

https://thenextweb.com/robots/2019/04/19/cornell-scientists-create-living-machines-that-eat-grow-and-evolve/

That is my science round-up on an Easter Sunday……peace out, my friends.

Space Law

I have been amiss in my writing on foreign policy and international situations…..politics has taken over as a major concern for me…..then there is the damn silly proposal for a Space Force.

What about “Space Law”?

A new SciFi Channel series?

NO!

I have been one of the few bloggers that have been watching the new proposal by Trump to expand our military branches by one….a Space Force or Corps or whatever the name they choose…..who know maybe “Starship Troopers” will become popular.

I am opposed because of the massive amount of funds it will take from concept to reality……then there is the thing called “Space Law”…..yep there is a set of legal positions when it comes to space…..who knew? Well I did.

Then I read an article about the idea of space mining…..again another subject that I have posted several posts about….

https://lobotero.com/2012/04/29/the-new-world-of-mining/

https://lobotero.com/2013/02/02/mining-a-new-frontier/

https://lobotero.com/2016/05/22/miners-not-minors/

It seems that Russia is interested in asteroid mining……

Space mining has been the realm of science fiction, but a handful of firms and governments are pursuing the idea of making it a reality. The small Duchy of Luxembourg became the first country to adopt legal regulations relating to mining in space, including from asteroids.

“In January we offered Luxembourg a framework agreement on cooperation in the use of (mining) exploration in space. We expect an answer from Luxembourg,” said Golikova, part of a Russian delegation headed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-luxembourg-russia-space/russia-wants-to-join-luxembourg-in-space-mining-idUKKCN1QN1OQ

 

All this got me to thinking……is there legal aspects to all this outer space stuff? 

What happened to that UN Space Law from the 1960s?

The onset of domestic space programs during the Cold War propelled the official creation of international space policy (i.e. the International Geophysical Year) initiated by the International Council of Scientific Unions. The Soviet Union‘s 1957 launch of the world’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, directly spurred the United States Congress to pass the Space Act, thus creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).[3][6] Because space exploration required crossing transnational boundaries, it was during this era where space law became a field independent from traditional aerospace law. Since the Cold War, the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (the “Outer Space Treaty”) and the International Telecommunications Union have served as the foundational legal framework and set of principles and procedures constituting space law.  Further, the United Nations Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, along with its The Office for Outer Space Affairs subcommittee, aid in governing international space law and policy.  Challenges that space law will continue to face in the future are fourfold—spanning across dimensions of domestic compliance, international cooperation, ethics, and the advent of scientific innovations. Furthermore, specific guidelines on the definition of airspace have yet to be universally determined.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_law

Is it possible that a Space Force would be in violation of treaties already in place?

  • the exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries and shall be the province of all mankind;
  • outer space shall be free for exploration and use by all States;
  • outer space is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means;
  • States shall not place nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in orbit or on celestial bodies or station them in outer space in any other manner;
  • the Moon and other celestial bodies shall be used exclusively for peaceful purposes;
  • astronauts shall be regarded as the envoys of mankind;
  • States shall be responsible for national space activities whether carried out by governmental or non-governmental entities;
  • States shall be liable for damage caused by their space objects; and
  • States shall avoid harmful contamination of space and celestial bodies.

The proposal of a US Space Force could break a couple of these long standing laws……time for the UN to step in and talk with all the countries involved in the rush to space….again.

Some of my friends say that I have too much time on my retired hands…..to that I say….”Brain worms gotta feed”!

Now aren’t you sorry you asked?

Peace Out My Friends!

Martian Chronicles

Not the mini-series or the book by Bradbury….my “Chronicles” are about the findings on the “Angry Red Planet” (a B movie from the 50s)…..

There have many that believe that Mars had an atmosphere way before the Earth…

Asteroid impacts may have helped make Mars a more life-friendly place — and not just by delivering water and the carbon-based building blocks of life as we know it to the Red Planet.

Incoming space rocks may also have helped seed Mars with biologically usable forms of nitrogen long ago, if the planet’s atmosphere were rich in hydrogen (H2) back then, a new study reports.

In 2015, NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity discovered nitrate (NO3) in the rocks of Gale Crater, the 96-mile-wide (154 kilometers) hole in the ground the six-wheeled robot has been exploring since 2012. Nitrate is a “fixed” form of nitrogen; life-forms, at least as we know them on Earth, can nab NO3’s nitrogen and incorporate it into biomolecules like amino acids. That’s in contrast with “unfixed” gaseous nitrogen (N2), which features two tightly bonded, inert and relatively inaccessible nitrogen atoms. (This inaccessibility helps explain why farmers fertilize their fields, even though Earth’s air is nearly 80 percent N2.)

https://www.space.com/asteroid-strikes-life-on-mars.html

Even to the point of having huge flowing rivers……

Huge rivers seem to have been flowing across Mars relatively recently, scientists said.

The flowing water came in rivers much bigger and more powerful than those seen on Earth, they said. And they seem to have stuck around far longer than we had realised.

The raging water courses carved deep channels into the Martian surface at “hundreds of locations”, said scientists.

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/mars-water-rivers-alien-proof-life-red-planet-a8842771.html

Actually that water may still be there just a lot deeper than we thought…..

Researchers at the University of Southern California dropped a bold claim Thursday: based on a new analysis, Mars likely harbors a “deep groundwater” system that probably extends far beyond the planet’s poles and bubbles to the surface through cracks in craters.

“We have seen the same mechanisms in the North African Sahara and in the Arabian Peninsula, and it helped us explore the same mechanism on Mars,” researcher Abotalib Abotalib said in a press release.

https://futurism.com/the-byte/deep-martian-groundwater

Did Mars and Venus have a atmosphere that could be said to be “livable”…..

If you could travel back in time to the early stages of the Solar System, some 4.5 billion years ago, you wouldn’t find one life-friendly world, but three. Venus, Earth, and Mars all looked very similar from a planetary perspective, as they all had substantial surface gravity and atmospheres similar to Earth’s in thickness. There were volcanoes, watery oceans, and complex interactions that enabled these worlds to retain the heat they absorbed from the Sun.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2019/03/27/what-was-it-like-when-venus-and-mars-became-uninhabitable-planets/amp/

The Rovers carry out scientific experiments and readings…..and one of the readings was seismic activity……

Since NASA’s InSight lander touched down on Mars at the end of last year, the plucky little surface probe has spent months getting carefully situated so that its special seismometer could carefully listen for “marsquakes” — a neologism for earthquakes that occur on Mars, rather than Earth, as you probably guessed. Observations of marsquakes will help determine just what’s going on inside Mars, and to what extent it is still a geologically active world. We know Mars was very geologically active in the past; notably, it has the tallest mountain of any planet in the solar system.

While InSight hasn’t heard earth-shaking marsquakes yet, a Science Magazine interview with Philippe Lognonné, a planetary seismologist at Paris Diderot University who manages the team that runs the seismometer, revealed that the lander’s instrument has detected a different kind of rumbling known as microseisms. They are the first of their kind to be detected on another planet.

https://www.salon.com/2019/03/24/tremors-on-mars-detected-for-first-time-but-theyre-not-caused-by-geologic-activity/

Life is where you find it……does that include Mars?

The NASA Mars Rover Curiosity has been going around the Red Planet in search of new areas for drilling after encountering some technical problems early this month. During one of its excursions, it was able to take a snapshot of some really nice pebbles with some odd yet interesting details.

In a photo released on the NASA website, one can see what looks like normal pebbles from a stream bed. But upon closer inspection and with some enhancement from Kevin M. Gill, a NASA software engineer who does processing of space images, a picture of perfectly round gray pebbles can also be seen.

 

According to CNET, the pebbles, which are now being studied by the space agency’s rover team, look very similar to rocks found in another area of the planet. These rocks were discovered by the now-deceased NASA rover Opportunity and were labeled as “blueberries.”

https://www.ibtimes.com/nasa-mars-rover-curiosity-detects-odd-pebbles-red-planet-hints-alien-life-2779542

Mushrooms in the Martian story?

From NASA’s rovers and landers to David Bowie, one question about the Red Planet remains sadly unanswered. Is there life on Mars? Now a controversial review paper has claimed that the answer is a resounding yes. And it’s definitely going to start a big debate.

The paper includes images taken by Curiosity and Opportunity of what the researchers are calling fungi, lichens, and algae growing on Mars. So, are there really mushrooms growing on Mars, like some are reporting?

The paper, titled Evidence of Life on Mars? is published in the first edition of a brand new journal, the Journal of Astrobiology and Space Science Reviews, and looks at almost 200 peer-reviewed studies debating curious structures, seasonal changes in methane, and the possibility that life has traveled between planets. The journal itself calls the evidence controversial and had six independent scientists and eight senior editors peer review it, three of which rejected it. 

https://www.iflscience.com/space/mushrooms-on-mars-controversial-paper-claims-evidence-fungi-and-microbes-live-on-mars-today/

In The 50s a bad SciFi movie, The Angry Red Planet” had this big spider-like creature tormenting the astronauts…..but in real life the Martian spider is “Blue”…..

David Bowie sang about his sci-fi persona Ziggy Stardust performing with the Spiders from Mars, and now it turns out there’s a “spider” on Mars after all.

An image captured by a European Space Agency (ESA) orbiter recently showed what appears to be a very hairy, blue spider extending its “legs” across the Martian landscape.

But in reality, the so-called spider is a sprawling pattern left behind on a ridge by a frenzy of dust devils, when hundreds or even thousands of whirling tornadoes formed in the area, ESA representatives said yesterday (March 14) in a statement

The “Chronicles” continue and the news is made and man waits for his chance to step onto the “Angry Red Planet”…….

Shades Of S.D.I. (Star Wars)

I read something the other day that made me think of the old Reagan Star Wars plan (the S.D.I.)…….but what was it?

In case you are too young to remember the plan……


Now that I have explained what I was thinking….how about the article that promoted all this contemplation….

India on Wednesday destroyed a low-orbiting satellite in a missile test that puts the country in the space “super league”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.

He said India would be the fourth country to have used such an anti-satellite missile after the United States, Russia and China.

“A while ago, our scientists shot down a live satellite at a low-earth orbit. I congratulate all scientists who have made this possible and made India a much stronger nation,” Modi said in a rare televised address to the nation weeks before the national elections scheduled to be held in April and May.

“This is a big moment for India. Something that all of us should be proud of. We are not just capable to defend on land, water and air, but now also in space,” he was quoted as saying by NDTV website.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/03/india-shoots-satellite-joining-space-super-league-modi-190327071419578.html

There is history behind these attempts….

The United States performed the first anti-satellite tests in 1959, when satellites themselves were rare and new.

Bold Orion, designed as a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile re-purposed to attack satellites, was launched from a bomber and passed close enough to the Explorer 6 satellite for it to have been destroyed if the missile had been armed.

The Soviet Union performed similar tests around the same time. In the 1960s and early 1970s, it tested a weapon that could be launched in orbit, approach enemy satellites and destroy them with an explosive charge, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, a non-profit research and advocacy organization.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-satellite-tests-factbox-idUSKCN1R80UW

And all those people that protested against the Reagan program, the SDI, only thought we had won a decisive victory when the program was abandoned (or so we thought)…..

It is time for a renewed push to make some things in space illegal…..maybe not this but then there is a plan for a Space Force for the US……there should be guidelines and laws governing and practice.