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Archive for the ‘Astronomy’ Category

There is Only the Now. Time is an Illusion

February 4th, 2014 No comments

“everything is happening now. All that ever has been or will be is now, outside of time, which is a [an egoic] mental construct.” – Tolle in New Earth

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There are a few

interesting videos,

including full-length documentaries,

on youtube on the topic of being an , in our heads, mental construct, not a constant truth

(click here for youtube search results)

NASA Redefines Life

December 6th, 2010 No comments


Now, NASA has scientific evidence that is about to change the fundamental knowledge about what comprises all known life on Earth. The topic of what is “living” and what is not is one that has intrigued me for years.

Mainstream science seemed to define life narrowly based on common Earth-bound life forms. Today their definition was expanded.

NASA: 12.02.10 – NASA-Funded Research Discovers Life Built With Toxic Chemical

Researchers conducting tests in the harsh environment of Mono Lake in California have discovered the first known microorganism on Earth able to thrive and reproduce using the toxic chemical arsenic. The microorganism substitutes arsenic for phosphorus in its cell components.

503457main_arsenic_full

GFAJ-1 grown on arsenic Image of GFAJ-1 grown on arsenic.

“The definition of life has just expanded,” said Ed Weiler, NASA’s associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington. “As we pursue our efforts to seek signs of life in the solar system, we have to think more broadly, more diversely and consider life as we do not know it.”

This finding of an alternative biochemistry makeup will alter biology textbooks and expand the scope of the search for life beyond Earth. The research is published in this week’s edition of Science Express.

Carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur are the six basic building blocks of all known forms of life on Earth. Phosphorus is part of the chemical backbone of DNA and RNA, the structures that carry genetic instructions for life, and is considered an essential element for all living cells.

Phosphorus is a central component of the energy-carrying molecule in all cells (adenosine triphosphate) and also the phospholipids that form all cell membranes. Arsenic, which is chemically similar to phosphorus, is poisonous for most life on Earth. Arsenic disrupts metabolic pathways because chemically it behaves similarly to phosphate.

“We know that some microbes can breathe arsenic, but what we’ve found is a microbe doing something new — building parts of itself out of arsenic,” said Felisa Wolfe-Simon, a NASA Astrobiology Research Fellow in residence at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif., and the research team’s lead scientist. “If something here on Earth can do something so unexpected, what else can life do that we haven’t seen yet?”

Image of Mono Lake Research area Image of Mono Lake Research area

Image of Mono Lake Research area

The newly discovered microbe, strain GFAJ-1, is a member of a common group of bacteria, the Gammaproteobacteria. In the laboratory, the researchers successfully grew microbes from the lake on a diet that was very lean on phosphorus, but included generous helpings of arsenic. When researchers removed the phosphorus and replaced it with arsenic the microbes continued to grow. Subsequent analyses indicated that the arsenic was being used to produce the building blocks of new GFAJ-1 cells.

The key issue the researchers investigated was when the microbe was grown on arsenic did the arsenic actually became incorporated into the organisms’ vital biochemical machinery, such as DNA, proteins and the cell membranes. A variety of sophisticated laboratory techniques was used to determine where the arsenic was incorporated.

Source: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/universe/features/astrobiology_toxic_chemical.html

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What Physics and Math Really Are

November 4th, 2010 2 comments

“The missing link in physics is consciousness”

Scientists consider math as the universal language. Should we meet aliens from other galaxies math is expected to be the language we could use. Notice how math is a “language”

mathWe also consider physics to hold “laws” of nature. Yet a universal unifying theory of physics still eludes the greatest minds.

Humans do not use physics to walk, to open a door knob, to run, to use tools.

Cats do not use physics or equations when they sprint or jump on to the counter-top.

Birds do not use physics or equations to fly.

The biological brain or what we call the “mind” in these beings does NOT use equations or math.

I was taught that everything and everyone uses physics, this statement is very misleading. Physics, as in all of Science, simply “explains” or interprets into “laws, observations, words and numbers what nature does.

Physics and math are simply written “languages” that we use to explain “nature” or what we consider “reality”. All living beings seem to function just fine, naturally, organically, without knowing math or physics.

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The reason a unifying theory of physics is missing, the reason physics explains many things but not everything, is that physics (and math) are missing something.

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Physics and math are missing something that cannot be written, or explained, or translated into a human language, this missing link is “consciousness”.

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I remember the first day I was exposed to physics. I was very excited to interpret and understand how things work. However, I soon started to notice a persistent thought, it almost always nagged on me, starting on the first day and onto every physics class I took in high school. Even in college this thought never cased to exist. I found myself often thinking (more accurately feeling), “but this is not right”, “something is wrong about this”, “I know physics is not done this way”. My main feeling was that “it was wrong”. But I could not explain where this feeling came from. I simply assumed that I just needed to learn more advanced physics to get this feeling to go away.

I’ve always had a persistent and intuitive sense that there was a different way to interpret the universe and “nature”

. Read more…

Billions Of Earth-Like Planets In Our Galaxy

June 3rd, 2010 No comments

Extrasolar-PlanetsIt is worth remembering that our galaxy alone has billions of Earth-like planets, and these earths are “[not only] probably habitable but they probably are also going to be inhabited”

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Galaxy has ‘billions of Earths’

There could be one hundred billion Earth-like planets in our galaxy, a US conference has heard.

Dr Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution of Science said many of these worlds could be inhabited by simple lifeforms.

He was speaking at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago.

So far, telescopes have been able to detect just over 300 planets outside our Solar System.

But, based on the limited numbers of planets found so far, Dr Boss has estimated that each Sun-like star has on average one “Earth-like” planet.

This simple calculation means there would be huge numbers capable of supporting life.

Not only are they probably habitable but they probably are also going to be inhabited,” Dr Boss told BBC News. “But I think that most likely the nearby ‘Earths’ are going to be inhabited with things which are perhaps more common to what Earth was like three or four billion years ago.” That means bacterial lifeforms.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7891132.stm

The caption below was written in November 2004.

Other Earths

So, after having compiled a bestiary of exotic planets, many the size of Jupiter and locked in a deadly embrace with their star, what are the chances of the planet-hunters identifying rather smaller, sedate rocks upon which life might actually get the chance to evolve? It’s not as if these planets are likely to exist in minute numbers: current estimates [Using the Drake Equation] border on there being 30 billion terrestrial planets in our Galaxy alone [this is an article from 2002]. The odds of finding such planets lengthen a lot when one considers that these planets would have longer years and cause much smaller wobbles in their star’s position.

The odds shorten again the longer we look for these planets. Hot Jupiters tend to get found simply because the radial velocity method is most sensitive to their kind. It’s only now that smaller planets are being found, although none of them are likely to harbour life. Adopt a different method of detection, and we might start to see terrestrial planets, instead of inferring their presence.

This is precisely what the Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF) telescope is designed to do. This instrument comprises four space-based telescopes flying in formation. Their light is combined in such a way as to vastly increase resolution. One of the indicators that TPF will be looking for is the presence of elemental oxygen in a planet’s atmosphere. All oxygen in our atmosphere is there because of photosynthetic organisms: plants and cyanobacteria. Oxygen is therefore a key signature of life6.

TPF is not due to fly until 2015 at the earliest. In the meantime, Earth-based telescopes will get bigger and better, and astronomers will be able to observe for longer wobbles than they currently can. Even if we can’t see the little green men yet, we’ll have a much better idea of where they might live.

Source: H2G2 extrasolar planet hunting

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NASA’s New Eye on the Sun Delivers Stunning First Images

April 27th, 2010 No comments

446589main_fulldiskmulticolor-orig_fullFrom time to time I come across technology or space-related information that I feel would fit nicely with the larger mission of this website. This one is really pretty and awe inspiring, but what isn’t awe inspiring in nature?

Recently, the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) took its first photographs of the sun. Click on the fascinating image to the right to see it in a larger size.

Bellow is a caption of the NASA article.

Title: NASA’s New Eye on the Sun Delivers Stunning First Images – 04.21.10

NASA’s recently launched Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, is returning early images that confirm an unprecedented new capability for scientists to better understand our sun’s dynamic processes. These solar activities affect everything on Earth.

Some of the images from the spacecraft show never-before-seen detail of material streaming outward and away from sunspots. Others show extreme close-ups of activity on the sun’s surface. The spacecraft also has made the first high-resolution measurements of solar flares in a broad range of extreme ultraviolet wavelengths.

“These initial images show a dynamic sun that I had never seen in more than 40 years of solar research,” said Richard Fisher, director of the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “SDO will change our understanding of the sun and its processes, which affect our lives and society. This mission will have a huge impact on science, similar to the impact of the Hubble Space Telescope on modern astrophysics.”

A full-disk multiwavelength extreme ultraviolet image of the sun taken by SDO on March 30, 2010. False colors trace different gas temperatures. Reds are relatively cool (about 60,000 Kelvin, or 107,540 F); blues and greens are hotter (greater than 1 million Kelvin, or 1,799,540 F). Credit: NASA/Goddard/SDO AIA Team

Launched on Feb. 11, 2010, SDO is the most advanced spacecraft ever designed to study the sun. During its five-year mission, it will examine the sun’s magnetic field and also provide a better understanding of the role the sun plays in Earth’s atmospheric chemistry and climate. Since launch, engineers have been conducting testing and verification of the spacecraft’s components. Now fully operational, SDO will provide images with clarity 10 times better than high-definition television and will return more comprehensive science data faster than any other solar observing spacecraft.

Source: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sdo/news/first-light.html

For more on the SDO mission, visit http://www.nasa.gov/sdo

New Sun Spots 2010-02-07

February 7th, 2010 No comments

New sunspots just appeared, known as sunspot group 1045. This is an active region that has produced moderate (M-class) solar flares. Here’s a photo of the sun
2010-02-07-sunspots
You can find a LIVE photo of the sun if you scroll down and look in the right side of this website

Signs of Life Found on The Moon

December 14th, 2009 No comments

Bangalore: Scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) are on the brink of a path-breaking discovery. They may have found signs of life in some form or the other on the Moon.

They believe so because scientific instruments on India’s first unmanned lunar mission, Chandrayaan-1, picked up signatures of organic matter on parts of the Moon’s surface, Surendra Pal, associate director, Isro Satellite Centre (Isac), said at the international radar symposium here on Friday.

Organic matter consists of organic compounds, which consists of carbon — the building block of life.

It indicates the formation of life or decay of a once-living matter.

Pal said the signatures were relayed back to the Bylalu deep space network station near Bangalore by the mass spectrometer on board the Indian payload, the moon impact probe (MIP), on November 14, 2008.

The relay of data happened moments before it crashed near the Moon’s south pole. The MIP was the first experiment of the Chandrayaan-1 mission, which was launched on October 22, 2008.

Pal, however, did not elaborate, but concluded saying “the findings are being analysed and scrutinised for validation by Isro scientists and peer reviewers”.

“It is too early to say anything,” said the director of Isro’s space physics laboratory R Sridharan, who is heading the team of MIP data analysis and study. He, however, did not deny the finding.

DNA later inquired with other senior Chandrayaan-1 mission scientists, who not only confirmed the finding, but gave further details.

“Certain atomic numbers were observed that indicated the presence of carbon components. This indicates the possibility of the presence of organic matter (on the Moon),” a senior scientist told DNA.

Interestingly, similar observations were made by the US’s first manned Moon landing mission, the Apollo-11, in July 1969, which brought lunar soil samples back to Earth. But due to a lack of sophisticated equipment then, the scientists could not confirm the finding.

However, traces of amino acids, which are basic to life, were found in the soil retrieved by the Apollo-11 astronauts.

The Chandrayaan-1 scientists, at present, are analysing the source of origin of the Moon’s organic matter. “It could be comets or meteorites which have deposited the matter on the Moon’s surface; or the instrument that landed on the Moon could have left traces,” a senior space scientist said.

“But the presence of large sheets of ice in the polar regions of the Moon, and the discovery of water molecules there, lend credence to the possibility of organic matter there,” he said.

http://www.dnaindia.com/scitech/report_indian-scientists-detect-signs-of-life-on-moon_1322785

Categories: Astronomy, Science / Technology Tags:

New Sun Spots 2009-09-22

September 22nd, 2009 No comments

I keep my eye on our nearest star out of curiosity. You also can follow the sun, find the live picture of the sun in the lower right bar, do it, scroll down now.

Today, I saw new sun spots, 3 of them:

New-Sun-Spots09-22-2009(click image to enlarge)