Tag: earth

Bacteria On Space Station Likely From Germy Humans, Not Aliens

Living bacteria have been found on the outside of the International Space Station, a Russian cosmonaut told the state news agency TASS this week.

Anton Shkaplerov, who will lead Russia’s ISS crew in December, said that previous cosmonauts swabbed the station’s Russian segment during spacewalks and sent the samples back to Earth.

The samples came from places on the station that had accumulated fuel waste, as well as other obscure nooks and crannies.

Their tests showed that the swabs held types of bacteria that were not on the module when it originally launched into orbit, Shkaplerov says.

In his interview with TASS, Shkaplerov says the bacteria “have come from outer space and settled along the external surface“, a claim that sparked some media outlets to issue frenzied reports about aliens colonizing the space station.

For now, though, details about the swabbing experiment are thin on the ground.




Shkaplerov did not note whether the study has been vetted by a peer-reviewed journal, which means it’s unclear exactly when and how the full experiment was conducted, or how the team avoided any contamination from much more mundane bacteria on the cosmonauts or in the Earth-bound lab.

Interview requests with the Russian space agency were unanswered when this article went to press. Up in the vacuum of space, microbes have to deal with turbulent temperatures, cosmic radiation, and ultraviolet light.

But Earth is home to plenty of hardy organisms that can survive in extreme environments, like virtually indestructible tardigrades.

Sometimes, researchers intentionally send terrestrial contaminants, such as E. coli and rocks covered in bacteria, into space to see how it will react.

And TASS reports that on a previous ISS mission, bacteria accidentally hitched a ride to the station on tablet PCs and other materials.

Scientists sent these objects up to see how they would fare in space, and the freeriding organisms managed to infiltrate the outside of the station.

They remained there for three years, braving temperatures fluctuating between -150 and 150 degrees Celsius.

 

These types of discoveries present concerns for scientists trying to limit the spread of human germs on other worlds.

NASA in particular has set strict limits on its interplanetary contamination.

Apollo astronauts were quarantined when they returned from their missions, for example, to prevent extraterrestrial germs from making their way out into the world.

And almost all equipment from Earth is sterilized before it heads skyward, either with extreme heat or an alcohol bath, depending on its intended destination.

These treatments are especially important for missions sent to Mars, which may have once hosted its own life-forms, leaving fossil traces in the rusty rocks.

But all bets may be off when and if we manage to send humans to explore Mars, writes The Planetary Society’s Emily Lakdawalla: “Once we’ve put humans on the surface, alive or dead, it becomes much, much harder to identify native Martian life.”

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The Big Bang Wasn’t The Beginning

What if the Big Bang wasn’t the beginning of the universe, but only one stage in an endlessly repeated cycle of universal expansion and contraction?

So suggests mathematical physicist and string theorist Neil Turok.

He thinks there may be many universes, at once interpolated but separate, like a mixture of gases.

These universes are attracted to each other; every few trillions of trillions of years, they collide, explode, expand and contract, then repeat the sequence all over again.

According to Turok, winner of the first TED Prize of 2008, “The Big Bang theory rests very strongly on Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which combines with nuclear and particle physics and all the other physical laws to describe the contents of the universe.




The theory is that 13.7 billion years ago, there was a singularity, a point of infinite density, and the universe emerged, emerging and very hot, from that singularity.

But the singularity is not describable with Einstein’s theory. The theory fails: everything goes to infinity. The density of the universe goes to infinity.

The curvature of spacetime goes to infinity. All the properties we normally use to describe the universe and its contents just fail.

Experts just say, “Let’s assume the universe sprang into existence, start our decription a tiny fraction of a second after that, run the clock forward and never ask where it came from.”

Turok’s theory:

“Imagine two sheets on a washing line, and they’re very close together, very nearly parallel. Those are two-dimensional sheets; ours are three-dimensional.”

“Think of it as two intimately intertwined objects which are nevertheless able to exert force on each other, a pull. The Big Bang is the touching of those two sheets. When they touch, they release that energy.”

Interestingly, Turok’s theory hasn’t always been well-received by Christians, for whom the Big Bang dovetails neatly with their creation myths.

Conversely, New Age types have embraced this scientific picture of a cyclical universe without beginning or end. Turok, for his part, doesn’t want any such attention.

I see religion and science as being two completely different things,” he said.

Science studies how the world operates, not why it?’s here. I think the world is an incredible miracle, and we have to do whatever we can to appreciate it.”

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Leftovers From The Moon’s Formation May Have Tunnelled To The Earth’s Core

The origin of our moon has long been debated.

Now, a scientist has claimed that Earth effectively ‘gave birth‘ to the moon four-and-a-half billion years ago.

A controversial new theory has been proposed that a giant explosion equivalent to 40 billion atomic bombs originating from the Earth’s core somehow led to the formation of the moon.

Planetary scientist Wim van Westrenen believes this violent event took place approximately four-and-a-half billion years ago and could answer the hotly contested question of where our moon comes from.

The scientist, from VU University in Amsterdam said that previous explanations about how the moon came to be simply do not add up.

Charles Darwin’s son, astronomer George Darwin, proposed that the early Earth spun so fast that it fell apart, hurling a part of itself into space that became the moon.





His theory was popular but was then eclipsed by the giant impact hypothesis, or ‘big splat‘, which said that a Mars-sized object crashed into an infant Earth and shattered on impact, the magazine reported.

In this theory, the debris formed the moon. However, it was largely thrown-out when astronauts brought back rocks from the Apollo moon landings.

Chemical analysis of the rocks last year by the University of Chicago found that they shared identical oxygen, silicon and potassium isotopes with Earth, hinting that the Moon shares its origin with the Earth.

Van Westeren said that taken at face value, the findings suggest that the moon was once part of the Earth that was blasted into space by an enormous explosion from the Earth’s fiery core.

To do this, he believes that there must have been a ‘massive energy kick‘ delivered quickly and he calculates that the explosion was the strength of 40 billion atomic bombs the size of those dropped on Hiroshima.

The idea that the Earth’s core harbours a huge nuclear reactor has been around for over 60 years.

There is also evidence of much smaller natural fossil reactors up to 10 metres across in West Africa that were active around 10 billion years ago.

This theory of  an internal nuclear reactor could explain why Earth gives out more energy than it receives from the sun.

However, experts have said that even if evidence of “global georeactors” was found, many scientists would need convincing that they were capable of creating the moon.

There are many conflicting ideas of exactly how the moon came to be and scientists are starting to re-question older theories.

Matija Cuk, a planetary scientist at Harvard University said: “I don’t think you can separate the moon’s formation from a giant impact.”

But he draws upon Darwin’s idea and the big splat and believes that a peculiar alignment of the sun, earth and moon is the reason why the moon orbits the Earth.

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Europa: Facts About Jupiter’s Icy Moon And Its Ocean

Europa is one of the Galilean moons of Jupiter, along with Io, Ganymede and Callisto. Astronomer Galileo Galilei gets the credit for discovering these moons, among the largest in the solar system.

Europa is the smallest of the four but it is one of the more intriguing satellites.

The surface of Europa is frozen, covered with a layer of ice, but scientists think there is an ocean beneath the surface. The icy surface also makes the moon one of the most reflective in the solar system.

Water plumes were spotted jetting from the moon in 2013, although those observations have not been repeated.

Several spacecraft have done flybys of Europa (including Pioneers 10 and 11 and Voyagers 1 and 2 in the 1970s).

The Galileo spacecraft did a long-term mission at Jupiter and its moons between 1995 and 2003.

Both NASA and the European Space Agency plan missions to Europa and other moons in the 2030s.




Galileo Galilei discovered Europa on Jan. 8, 1610. It is possible that German astronomer Simon Marius (1573-1624) also discovered the moon at the same time.

However, he did not publish his observations, so it is Galileo who is most often credited with the discovery. For this reason, Europa and Jupiter’s other three largest moons are often called the Galilean moons.

Galileo, however, called the moons the Medicean planets in honor of the Medici family.

It is possible Galileo actually observed Europa a day earlier, on Jan. 7, 1610. However, because he was using a low-powered telescope, he couldn’t differentiate Europa from Io, another of Jupiter’s moons.

It wasn’t until later that Galileo realized they were two separate bodies.

The discovery not only had astronomical, but also religious implications. At the time, the Catholic Church supported the idea that everything orbited the Earth, an idea supported in ancient times by Aristotle and Ptolemy.

Galileo’s observations of Jupiter’s moons as well as noticing that Venus went through “phases” similar to our own moon gave compelling evidence that not everything revolved around the Earth.

As telescopic observations improved, however, a new view of the universe emerged.

The moons and the planets were not unchanging and perfect; for example, mountains seen on the moon showed that geological processes happened elsewhere. Also, all planets revolved around the sun.

Over time, moons around other planets were discovered and additional moons found around Jupiter.

Marius, the other “discoverer,” first proposed that the four moons be given their current names, from Greek mythology.

But it wasn’t until the 19th century that the moons were officially given the so-called Galilean names we know them by today.

All of Jupiter’s moons are named for the god’s lovers (or victims, depending on your point of view).

In Greek mythology, Europa was abducted by Zeus, who had taken the form of a spotless white bull to seduce her.

She decorated the “bull” with flowers and rode on its back to Crete. Once in Crete, Zeus then transformed back to his original form and seduced her.

Europa was the queen of Crete and bore Zeus many children.

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According To A Russian Cosmonaut, Bacteria Found On International Space Station May Be Alien In Origin

Bacteria found on the outside of the International Space station could be alien life, according to a cosmonaut who has visited the satellite.

Spacewalkers regularly take samples and materials from the outside of the station when they head outside for what are officially called “extravehicular activity“.

Those samples are then taken down to scientists on Earth, who study them to understand the workings of the International Space Station and possibly life in space.

Now Anton Shkaplerov, a Russian cosmonaut who has served on board the space lab, told the Russian state news agency that one of those experiments had found something interesting.

Bacteria that had not been there during the launch of the ISS module were found on the swabs,” Mr Shkaplerov said. “So they have flown from somewhere in space and settled on the outside hull.




He made clear that “it seems, there is no danger “, and that scientists are doing more work to find out what they are.

He said also that similar missions had found bacteria that could survive temperatures between -150 degrees celsius and 150.

That bacteria appears to have made its way from Earth – but suggests that it can survive in the harsh environments of space.

It isn’t entirely clear where the rumoured organisms are currently being stored, and what scientists know about them.

Finding bacteria that came from somewhere other than Earth would be one of the biggest breakthroughs in the history of science – but much more must be done before such a claim is made.

Earlier this year, Russian scientists announced that the “Test” experiments had found a range of different organisms that had been brought up from Earth and seemed to be surviving by clinging onto the ISS’s hull.

They included plankton and bacteria that had been pulled up by a phenomenon that lifts micro-organisms up into the heights of the atmosphere.

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According To This Man, A Rocket Launch Will Prove Earth Is Flat

This Saturday you’ll be able to watch live streaming footage of a flat-earther as he tries to prove the Earth is flat.

Mike Hughes and his homemade steam-powered rocket are working till the end, tweaking the rocket that will send him on a 500 mph mile-long flight across the Mojave Desert.

The ultimate goal? To prove astronauts, government agencies, and Elon Musk wrong; that the Earth is indeed a flat disk.

To do this Hughes will climb aboard the rocket he built from scrap metal and launch himself 1,800 feet into the air in order to take photos proving the Earth is flat.




“I don’t believe in science. I know about aerodynamics and fluid dynamics and how things move through the air, about the certain size of rocket nozzles, and thrust. But that’s not science, that’s just a formula. There’s no difference between science and science fiction.” Hughes told The Associated Press.

While this isn’t the first time Hughes has launched himself on a homemade rocket, this will be the highest and farthest by far.

The rocket will launch from a modified mobile home in the middle of the Mojave Desert. Meanwhile, he’s noted that this is just his first phase in his flat-earth space program.

Mike Hughes, a limo-driver in California, has been in the spotlight before for his daredevil stunts. .

From a 2002 Guinness World Record limousine jump to various rocket launches, Hughes has made a name for himself with homemade stunts.

Eventually, Hughes plans to launch himself miles above the Earth and take photos of the flat Earth below.

Hughes has often cited fake NASA and SpaceX launches, noting that NASA is controlled by a group of Freemasons and somehow that means they’re all lying to us.

Thankfully, we have Hughes to debunk the round Earth claims and prove we all live on a disc. His first rocket launch was in 2014 when he rode his homemade rocket on a quarter-mile trek at Winkelman, Arizona.

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50 Years Ago, The Theory Of Plate Tectonics Was Radical Counterculture

The Geological Society of London, a learned society and not-for-profit membership organisation serving the Earth sciences community in the UK and overseas, has been privileged to receive the archive of one of Britain’s greatest living scientists, geophysicist Dan McKenzie.

Professor Dan McKenzie was central to formulating the ideas that led to the theory of plate tectonics which, in 1967, represented a paradigm shift in what is now referred to as Earth science.

He and other key protagonists offered a unifying context for almost all disciplines of geology and physical science.

Through storytelling, and illustrated by the papers and photographs McKenzie kept throughout his career as well as recorded interviews.

Dan Peter McKenzie was born on 21 February 1942 in Cheltenham, England.




He first attended a school in Aylesbury, then three public schools in London, most notably Westminster School where he would later state that he was not a particularly academic pupil until the age of 14 or 15 when he began to properly learn mathematics, physics and chemistry.

The publication of his seminal paper on plate tectonics in 1967 had made McKenzie famous in US geoscience circles, but he was virtually unknown in Britain.

Yet despite being offered permanent (and well-paid) full academic posts in America, McKenzie returned to Cambridge University in August 1969 as he felt very English and wanted to work and establish his scientific reputation in his own country.

McKenzie has remained in the Department of Geodesy and Geophysics, Cambridge for the rest of his academic career, first as Senior Assistant in Research (1969-1973), then as Assistant Director of Research (1973-1979).

Later as Reader in Tectonics (1979-1985), a post specially created for him, and as Professor of Earth Sciences (1985-1996).

Between 1996-2006 he was the Royal Society Research Professor (1996-2006), finally retiring from academic teaching in 2012.

Although other papers on plate tectonics followed, McKenzie had all but given up on the subject by 1972, instead broadening out his studies to trying to understand the principal processes by which continents deform.

His theoretical investigations into lithospheric stretching resulted in McKenzie’s most widely cited paper of them all, “Some remarks on the development of sedimentary basins” (1978).

The ‘McKenzie model’ now forms the basis of most sedimentary basin models that are used by the oil industry.

Other major areas of research include his work on mantle convection and the behaviour of vigorously convecting fluids, and melt generation within the Earth and subsequently the planet Venus.

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Earth Will Be Rocked By A Year Of Devastating Earthquakes

earthquake roation

DEVASTATING earthquakes could be on the rise next year as the rotation of Earth slows down, scientists have warned.

The speed of Earth’s rotation fluctuates extremely mildly – extending or decreasing the length of a day by a millisecond – but this tiny deceleration could have devastating consequences.

Scientists have warned if the rotation slows it could lead to more major earthquakes.

Research from Roger Bilham of the University of Colorado in Boulder and Rebecca Bendick of the University of Montana in Missoula looked at earthquakes with a magnitude higher than seven since 1900.




The duo found five years since the turn of the 20th century where there were significantly more 7.0 earthquakes – all of which were years that earth’s rotation speed had slowed down slightly.

Prof Bilham told the observer: “In these periods, there were between 25 to 30 intense earthquakes a year.“The rest of the time the average figure was around 15 major earthquakes a year.”

And in 2018, the Earth’s rotation speed is set to slow down leading to a jump on the six magnitude seven or higher quakes we have had this year.

Prof Bilham said: “The correlation between Earth’s rotation and earthquake activity is strong and suggests there is going to be an increase in numbers of intense earthquakes next year.”

earthquake

The inference is clear. Next year we should see a significant increase in numbers of severe earthquakes.”

We have had it easy this year. So far we have only had about six severe earthquakes. We could easily have 20 a year starting in 2018.

Exactly why a decrease in rotation speed can lead to more major earthquakes is unclear, but experts believe it could be down to changes in the Earth’s core which ultimately has an effect on the surface.

The team also could not say exactly where the earthquakes will occur, but Bilham suggests that a slower rotation speed will lead to more tremors on and around the equator – such as South America, New Zealand and other places that sit on top of the Ring of Fire.

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Scientists Send Secret Message To Aliens In New Search For Intelligent Life

If the “truth is out there,” scientists are determined to find it – so much so that they’ve spent a message into space trying to contact aliens.

But a response could take 25 years – if it comes at all.

Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) International sent an encoded message into space using radio waves known as “Sonar Calling GJ273b,” which the organization’s president and founder Doug Vakoch, believes could be received by intelligent life.

[The message is] distinctive because it’s designed with extraterrestrial SETI scientists in mind. We sent the sort of signal we’d want to receive here on Earth,” he said in an interview with CNET.




METI’s purpose, along with the well-known Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), has a number of missions, including understanding and communicating “the societal implications and relevance of searching for life beyond Earth, even before detection of extraterrestrial life.

It also conducts programs to “foster increased awareness of the challenges facing our civilization’s longevity” among other directives.

The San Francisco-based METI sent its message toward the red dwarf star GJ 273 (also known as Luyten’s Star), 12 light-years away from Earth.

The message was sent in October from the Eiscat transmitter in Tromsø, Norway and included details such as basic math and science, as well as information on mankind’s understanding of time.

In a statement obtained by CNET, METI said it wanted to know if intelligent life understood the message and then go from there.

While some luminaries, such as Stephen Hawking, have warned against trying to contact extraterrestrials, Vakoch said contact is already being endorsed by many people.

Vakoch added that once news of the initial contact has appeared, it would become almost impossible to stop anyone from trying to contact them on their own.

Once the news gets out that we’ve detected extraterrestrials, anyone with a transmitter can say whatever they want.

Any response probably would be forthcoming in at least 25 years due to the distance the message has to travel between Earth and GJ273b.

The exoplanet was chosen because of its visibility from Earth’s northern hemisphere, even if it is not the closest potentially inhabited exoplanet to Earth. That distinction belongs to Proxima b, which is just 4 light-years away.

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What Is Solar Wind?

The solar wind streams plasma and particles from the sun out into space. Though the wind is constant, its properties aren’t. What causes this stream, and how does it affect the Earth?

Windy star

The corona, the sun’s outer layer, reaches temperatures of up to 2 million degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 million Celsius). At this level, the sun’s gravity can’t hold on to the rapidly moving particles, and it streams away from the star.

The sun’s activity shifts over the course of its 11-year cycle, with sun spot numbers, radiation levels, and ejected material changing over time.

These alterations affect the properties of the solar wind, including its magnetic field properties, velocity, temperature and density.

The wind also differs based on where on the sun it comes from and how quickly that portion is rotating. The velocity of the solar wind is higher over coronal holes, reaching speeds of up to 500 miles (800 kilometers) per second.




The temperature and density over coronal holes are low, and the magnetic field is weak, so the field lines are open to space.  These holes occur at the poles and low latitudes, and reach their largest when activity on the sun is at its minimum.

Temperatures in the fast wind can reach up to 1 million degrees F (800,000 C). At the coronal streamer belt around the equator, the solar wind travels more slowly, at around 200 miles (300 km) per second.

Temperatures in the slow wind reach up to 2.9 million F (1.6 million C).

Affecting Earth

As the wind travels off the sun, it carries charged particles and magnetic clouds. Emitted in all directions, some of the solar wind is constantly buffeting our planet, with interesting effects.

If the material carried by the solar wind reached a planet’s surface, its radiation would do severe damage to any life that might exist. Earth’s magnetic field serves as a shield, redirecting the material around the planet so that it streams beyond it.

The force of the wind stretches out the magnetic field so that it is smooshed inward on the sun-side and stretched out on the night side.

Sometimes the sun spits out large bursts of plasma known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), or solar storms. More common during the active period of the cycle known as the solar maximum, CMEs have a stronger effect than the standard solar wind.

When the solar wind carries CMEs and other powerful bursts of radiation into a planet’s magnetic field, it can cause the magnetic field on the back side to press together, a process known as magnetic reconnection.

Charged particles then stream back toward the planet’s magnetic poles, causing beautiful displays known as the aurora borealis in the upper atmosphere.

Though some bodies are shielded by a magnetic field, others lack their protection. Earth’s moon has nothing to protect it, so takes the full brunt.

Mercury, the closest planet, has a magnetic field that shields it from the regular standard wind, but it takes the full force of more powerful outbursts such as CMEs.

When the high- and low-speed streams interact with one another, they create dense regions known as co-rotating interaction regions (CIRs) that trigger geomagnetic storms when they interact with Earth’s atmosphere.

Studying the solar wind

NASA’s Ulysses mission launched on Oct. 6, 1990, and studied the sun at various latitudes. It measured the various properties of the solar wind over the course of more than a dozen years.

The Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) satellite orbits at one of the special points between Earth and the sun known as the Lagrange point.

In this area, gravity from the sun and the planet pull equally, keeping the satellite in a stable orbit. Launched in 1997, ACE measures the solar wind and provides real-time measurements of the constant flow of particles.

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