Some recent science stuff that I liked

Some recent science stuff that I liked December 11, 2018


A Hubble Mars photo
Frosty white water ice clouds and swirling orange dust storms above a vivid rusty landscape reveal Mars as a dynamic planet in this sharpest view ever obtained by an Earth-based telescope. The Earth-orbiting Hubble telescope snapped this picture at a time when Mars was approximately 43 million miles (68 million km) from Earth – its closest approach to our planet since 1988. Hubble can see details as small as 10 miles (16 km) across. Especially striking is the large amount of seasonal dust storm activity seen in this image. One large storm system is churning high above the northern polar cap [top of image], and a smaller dust storm cloud can be seen nearby. Another large duststorm is spilling out of the giant Hellas impact basin in the Southern Hemisphere [lower right]. Acknowledgements: J. Bell (Cornell U.), P. James (U. Toledo), M. Wolff (Space Science Institute), A. Lubenow (STScI), J. Neubert (MIT/Cornell)

“InSight takes its first selfie on Mars”


“Hear the ‘sound’ of wind on Mars”




From roughly the same area where I was two or three weeks ago, this is potentially good news for those who are concerned about the seemingly shaky future of the world’s coral reefs:


“Nearly 200 Great Barrier Reef coral species also live in the deep sea: The unexpected coral bounty means deep reefs have a richer biodiversity than thought”


This is really quite amazing, and, although it’s not actually related to the item above, I include it here because — rather like me — it connects the ideas of life and being deep:


“Scientists Estimate the Amount of Deep Life on Earth”




Some satellite news:


“A NASA Probe Launched in 1977 Just Entered Interstellar Space”


“NASA’s OSIRIS-REx finds signs of water on the asteroid Bennu: The craft will spend 2019 scoping out the best spot to grab a handful of space rock dust”


“A satellite screw-up reaffirms Einstein’s theory of gravity: Incorrect orbits let scientists test how clocks change speed in a gravitational field”




Some news from the fascinating world of vulcanology:


“Volcanic eruptions that depleted ocean oxygen may have set off the Great Dying: Asphyxiation killed off a lot of marine species 252 million years ago”


“Here’s what was surprising about Kilauea’s 3-month-long eruption: Scientists have learned new things about how craters collapse and life rebounds under the sea”




In other interesting science news:


“Psychology Is Still Fixated on WEIRD People”


I’ve never knowingly spoken with a genuine flat-earther.  I wonder how common they actually are.


“How to Talk to a Flat-Earther”


“I’m willing to bet there’s a decent chance,” says Ohio State University astrophysicist Paul Sutter, “that at least one person you know doesn’t believe that the Earth is curved.”


Really?  I mean, I suppose that it’s not impossible.  But I would be surprised.


However, I’ve spoken with people who reason (on other subjects) very much in the manner of Sutter’s “flat-earthers.”



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