Archive for the ‘Astronomy’ Category

Predator Might Be Hiding on Rosetta’s Comet – Based on the weird sound we’re hearing

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

The jury’s out on what’s causing the sound (which is far, far below the level of human hearing) and a whole lot of theories are being tossed around about it. Everything from magnetic fields to ionization of particles shearing themselves from the traveling comet is suspect at this point.

“This is exciting because it is completely new to us. We did not expect this and we are still working to understand the physics of what is happening.” – RPC principal investigator Karl-Heinz Glaßmeier

Until there’s an answer, which probably won’t be soon because space is just weird, we’re going to assume that the comet is either harboring a Predator who’s looking for payback, the mobile rehearsal space for a marimba-playing Cantina Band member or that we’ve discovered the dial-up connection for an alien race.

[KDSK.com]

Huge Meteor Burns Out Over Russia – Plays Out Like a JJ Abrams Movie!

Friday, February 15th, 2013

Like found footage from an unannounced JJ Abrams flick, video is slamming YouTube from all over Russia about a large meteor that hit the atmosphere.

Details are still coming in about the event and we’ll have a fuller piece about it later.

For now? Grab some popcorn and enjoy a teaser for what the end of the world could look like.

The most amazing video that hit the internet almost immediately is from a driver’s dash-cam as the event takes place (for all of you who have NOT seen videos showing why Russian drivers need dash-cams? You’re depriving yourself)!

Next up? The sound of the sonic boom reaching the street. There have been reports of multiple injuries from exploding glass and falling objects…it’s like an ‘air-quake’!

And as people begin turning their cameras to the sky, the whole JJ Abrams-esque thing begins to manifest as everyone stands around staring at this terrifyingly strange and probably overwhelming event.

We’ll post more later as Russia calms the hell down.

Object Lands In Active Volcano In Mexico!

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

December 21st of this year is the big party date for the supposed end of our world.

Sure everyone’s already ordering kegs, ordering faux “Danger: Apocalypse In Progress – Do Not Cross” banner tape by the case and prepping for their end-of-the-world get-togethers.

But then again…everyone hasn’t been watching the news coming out of Mexico that clearly shows an active volcano and something entering it from the sky like an old Thunderbirds vehicle.

Falling star? Busted satellite? No one’s sure at this point but seriously…the odds of something as agile (sarcasm, kids…sarcasm) as a giant mountain full of raging lava catching an object from space? Slim.

We’ll let you put all those party supplies back, start handing you some nails and plywood and make sure your shotgun’s loaded.

[CidMexico YouTube Channel]

BOOM! Possible Supernova Recorded in 774AD

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Centuries ago, in AD 774, some guy in Britain is keeping a written record of life’s goings-on.

In that year he mentions witnessing something strange…a weird “red crucifix” hanging in the sky.

Fling yourself forward in time. Researchers are unable to explain a strange spike in carbon 14 levels that manifested in unique growth rings in Japanese Cedar trees that year.

UC Santa Cruz biochemistry major Jonathon Allen was listening to a Nature podcast when he heard about the trees and something clicked.

According to Allen’s theory, the spike in carbon 14 that caused the change in the ring patterns of the trees and the ancient text reporting the glowing crucifix in the sky, which seemed to occur around the same period in time, may have both been the same incident…a possible supernova or massive solar flare.

Most scholars that Allen has presented his theory to seem to agree that some kind of massive stellar event took place back in the eighth century and that both nature and the author of an ancient text witnessed it.

[Nature]

NASA Finds Earth Sized Planets, How Big are They Compared to Earth, Venus?

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011
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The Kepler telescope has spotted two Earth-sized planets circling another star. Although they are too close to the star to be habitable, they are the smallest planets we’ve ever observed circling as close to their star, not unlike our sun.

This handy reference guide gives you a good look at how Kepler-20e and Kepler-20f stack up against Earth and Venus.

Also, we’d like to hereby suggest Tango and Cash as permanent names for the new kids on the block.

[Silicon Republic]

Suicidal Comet Will Attempt To Survive A Pass By The Sun

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011
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A newly identified comet is coming home for the holidays. And by holidays I mean mid-December and by home I mean the Sun. So really that first sentence doesn’t mean anything. But a comet is going to graze the surface of the Sun, most likely disintegrating it.

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The comet is categorized by astronomers as a “sungrazer” and it is destined to do just that; literally graze the surface of the sun (called the photosphere) and pass through the sun’s intensely hot corona, where temperatures have been measured at upwards of 3.6-million degrees Fahrenheit (2-million degrees Celsius).

We should get some pretty wicked images from the daredevil space racer’s death defying stunt. In the slim event that the comet survives, we might even be able to see it in broad daylight.

[Live Science]

Man Climbs Chimney To See Passing Asteroid, Falls Into Chimney

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

skitched-20111109-220747.jpgA modern day tale of Icarus! The burning need to see an asteroid pass between the Earth and the moon led one man to do his best impression of Father Christmas one and a half months early.

Translated from French paper Est Republicain:

A madman who wanted to see the passage of the asteroid “grazing” the earth from the top of a disused factory chimney Crevéchamps in Meurthe et Moselle got stuck in “altititude” last night in Lorraine.
The young man, named Yoan, guided by an indescribable curiosity, climbed the chimney in the dark, with a backpack and his computer.

Unfortunately for him, in his rise to dominate the stars and make the transition from the “asteroid”, he did give rungs of the ladder under his weight. The man found himself a prisoner of his observation site. Impossible indeed down: 5 meters separated him from other levels…

It could be worse. Just ask Pheobe Cates in Gremlins.

[Improbable Research]

The Mystery Behind China’s Two Suns

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

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It’s pretty apparent the sky is going effing bananas. Moon’s are going super and now the sun is frigging multiplying. Or, at least is seemed like it was. This shot from Chinese television appears to show a pair of suns shining down like this was a contemplative shot from the sands of Tatooine.

As it turns out, it was just an optical illusion. Although, no one is quite sure what that illusion is exactly:

What’s going on? Life’s Little Mysteries, a sister site to Space.com, asked Jim Kaler, the University of Illinois astronomer who squelched the excitement over the aforementioned exploding Betelgeuse and who has written books on the day and night sky.

The double sun image is an effect of optical refraction, Kaler said, but it’s a “pretty darn rare” one, and one not fully explained by science.

“I doubt it’s been computer modeled,” he said. “There must have been some blob of atmosphere somewhere that caused this truly spectacular phenomenon, which in a sense is a mirage.”

In short, we cannot be sure that the sun has not, in fact, multiplied and is preparing to bleach all of our bones with their combined heat beam.

[MSNBC]

Neutron Star Displays “Weird Physics”

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

The Weird Things staff loves all kinds of science, but we hold a special place in our heart for “weird science”, which is exactly what astronomers from the University of Alberta are saying is going on inside the neutron star Cassiopeia A. Astronomer Craig Heinke’s team has found that this neutron star contains a core of superfluid, a friction-less liquid that could seemingly defy the laws of gravity. The astronomers started researching the star after a sudden temperature drop and they determined that the temperature drop was due to the fact that its core transformed into a superfluid and is venting heat in the process.

“If you could put some of this superfluid in a jar it would flow up the walls of the container and over the edge,” said Heinke.

[Physorg]

Sun Rises Two Days Early In Greenland

Sunday, January 16th, 2011
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No one knows exactly why the sun rose roughly 48 hours ahead of schedule in the remote Greenland town of Ilulissat which like many arctic circle towns spends prolonged periods in total darkness.

Some say global warming has melted the ice caps that surround the town so far that the sun snuck over quicker.

However some have suggested a mischievous astronomical shift is to blame.

We are going to pin the blame on someone incorrectly programming the town’s only clock.

[Daily Mail]

We’ll make great pets: Why we shouldn’t fear our new alien overlords

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

So a new research paper has come out and told us what Hollywood has been telling us for years; if we meet aliens they’re most likely going to act like 16th century conquistadors and take our resources and annihilate us in the process. Similar to Stephen Hawking’s dire warning it says contact would spell doom for us all. Space.com

The rational is that since that’s what we did in the past to other other civilizations, that’s what an advanced civilization will do to us.

There are some very serious flaws with this argument. Let’s take a look at a few of them:

1. Our galaxy is a really, really big place
The argument claims that aliens would come to earth and take our minerals and such. Why? Current estimates put the total number of planets in our galaxy in the hundreds of billions – maybe even the trillions if you count planetoids. Even if we assume an absurdly highly number of them have intelligent life, that leaves millions of planets to exploit for minerals and other resources.

The galaxy is not a bigger version of the earth. In the 15th century humans lived on every habitable continent. There was no place you could go for resources except Antarctica that didn’t have people living on it. Trying to exploit any place for resources meant that you were likely to come up against indigenous populations.

In a really big galaxy, there’s no reason to upset the locals unless that’s what you want to do.

2. Energy
Space is big. The distance between solar systems is huge. If you have some kind of technology that can easily bridge this gap or lesson the amount of energy you need to travel between stars, earth’s resources are going to look pathetic in comparison. Seriously, are we worried they’re coming here to steal our coal to fuel their space ships?

3. Comparative Advantage
Any sufficiently advanced species should have a grasp of economics. Like us, they may not always heed what they’ve learned, but if they’re flying about space they probably have a better grasp on prosperity than we do. If they’re profit motivated it would be the best possible news for us.

One of the most important principles of economics is comparative advantage. It basically means this; If you have two parties unevenly matched in skill and productivity, it’s always advantageous for both for the more skilled and productive party to let the lessor skilled party focus on production of whatever the first party is least efficient at – even if it’s more efficient than the second party.

An example would be Apple. By focusing all of its energies on designing iPhones and allowing a less-skilled party to make the iPhone, Apple increases its productivity and profit. The less-skilled party benefits by making the product. Both gain. If Apple focused all its resources on designing and making the iPhone they’d make less overall because it’s unable to maximize what it’s most efficient at.

In our alien contact scenario we’re the unskilled, inefficient party. Despite this, we still have value we can bring to a superior civilization. That value may be in providing services, cheap labor or producing reality television. Whatever it may be, the most valuable thing we can offer isn’t our resources, but 7 billion individuals with varying degrees of creativity and ingenuity. Comparative Advantage

However…
If they’re a bunch of religious zealots who abandoned everything they learned that gave them prosperity or secular zealots with no regard for the concept of individuality, we’re screwed.

Terrifying Close Calls With Asteroids? Not Such A Big Deal

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

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Astronomers are chuckling to themselves after laypeople paying attention freaked out last week when two astroids swooped through Earth’s orbit, nearly missing our planet. While a double complete asteroid swipe is rare, the still scary idea of a single asteroid nearly destroying our lives happens, like, all the time.

In fact, with a rough estimate of 50 million unknown asteroids, a 33-foot-wide (10-meter) near-Earth object could pass harmlessly between Earth and the orbit of the moon every day, Johnson added. Such an asteroid might hit Earth’s atmosphere once every 10 years, but because of its small size, it would pose no substantial threat to the people or property below.

“They would certainly break up in Earth’s atmosphere, or we might get some meteorites on the ground,” Johnson said.

So, don’t worry so much. Or worry every day. Either way.

[Space]

Good Morning Mr. Sun! New Solar Storms Could Destroy Our Economy

Monday, June 7th, 2010
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The sun has awoken from his slumber and you will feel his wrath upon your global positioning satellites and financial services.

Richard Fisher, head of NASA’s Heliophysics Division, explains what it’s all about:

“The sun is waking up from a deep slumber, and in the next few years we expect to see much higher levels of solar activity. At the same time, our technological society has developed an unprecedented sensitivity to solar storms. The intersection of these two issues is what we’re getting together to discuss.”

The National Academy of Sciences framed the problem two years ago in a landmark report entitled “Severe Space Weather Events—Societal and Economic Impacts.” It noted how people of the 21st-century rely on high-tech systems for the basics of daily life. Smart power grids, GPS navigation, air travel, financial services and emergency radio communications can all be knocked out by intense solar activity. A century-class solar storm, the Academy warned, could cause twenty times more economic damage than Hurricane Katrina.

A lot of this could be avoided with preparation by those who run the satellites. So we have that going for us.

[NASA]

Is A Massive Star About To Collapse, Fry Us All?

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

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Phil Plait dissects a recent rumor about the Betelgeuse star. The short version of the rumor? The star is going to go all supernova in weeks or months (not years or hundreds of years) and the brightness could affect crops and cause streaming panic in the streets.

Phil’s rebuttal? Not so much.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start stockpiling canned goods and telling your friends the sky is falling just so in two months when you pal’s newly orphaned children are huddled in your bunker to get away from the blood-thirsty mobs left by a post-apocalyptic society you can say… “I told your pa this was coming, (wistful glance to a bare wall) wish he would’ve listened.”

[Bad Astronomy]

Have Scientists Found First Ever Proof Of Ejected Black Hole?

Friday, May 7th, 2010

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Probably not, but maybe!

A mystery object in a galaxy far, far away could be a supermassive black hole that got booted from its home galaxy’s center, according to a new study.

Then again, the strange body could be a rare type of supernova or an oddball “midsize” black hole—more massive than black holes born when single stars explode but “lighter” than the supermassive ones at the centers of galaxies.

“All three of those [options] are exotic and have something peculiar to them,” said study co-author Peter Jonker, an astronomer with the Netherlands Institute for Space Research in Utrecht.

Guess which option we’re rooting for? I’ll give you a hint, the site isn’t “Moderately Surprising Things.com”. I believe in the ejected!

New Discovery Helps Prove That Earth Sucked Until Asteroid Brought Water

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

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A thin film of water ice and organic material has been identified on an asteroid by a NASA telescope. This bolsters the theory that an asteroid brought both crucial elements for life to Earth.

“It now appears that when the asteroids and planets were first forming in the very early Solar System, ice extended far into the Main Belt region,” said Josh Emery, a planetary scientist at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. “Extending this refined view to planetary systems around other stars, the building blocks of life — water and organics — may be more common near each star’s habitable zone.”

The discovery also confuses the definition of comets and asteroids, in case you were wondering.

[Pop Sci]