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Nov 05 2011

RCimT: The Search for Spock

Okay, not Spock specifically, but the search for potential life in outer space dominates the first few links in this edition of Random Crap in my Tabs.

Apparently a mineral found on Mars needs water to form, and it will provide clues as to how much water existed, and how long ago. We know water still exists on Mars to this day — not only in ice form, but in actual honest-to-goodness running water.

Knowing how much water existed, and how long ago, could give us clues to finding life underground on Mars. The fact that surface water was probably not around for very long, suggests that life would have had a hard time gaining a foothold there.

And with regard to discovering life elsewhere in the universe, our own lifestyle patterns suggest a course of action — look for planets with light on the dark side. Of course, this would only find diurnal sentient life who find value in expanding the window of useable time into the night. And the question of how to spot the increase in light in exoplanets is a difficult one since most exoplanet discovery techniques involve stellar occlusion.

Scientists in Hong Kong believe they’ve discovered organic molecules outside our solar system. These compounds evidently have similar structures to coal and oil. If you’re paying attention, proof that organic molecules exist outside of places where life began (e.g. Earth) shows that these organic molecules can self-arrange in a wide variety of climates. That assists the theory of abiogenesis and the various specific hypotheses made to explain what happened here on Earth. The full paper is here.

Reports of the death of the NASA Planetary Science division were greatly exaggerated.

A scientist has developed the fastest laser ever, able to be fired in bursts of 10 picoseconds. That’s 10 trillionths of a second. The implications for other fields are amazing, and the laser’s inventor, Margaret Murnane of the University of Colorado, Boulder, is only the second woman to win the Boyle Medal of Scientific Excellence, which carries with it a 20,000 euro prize.

The three-eyed fish from the Simpsons, long iconic as the potential result of nuclear runoff from a nuclear power plant, turns out to be completely real. And completely the result of nuclear runoff from a nuclear power plant. Proving that John Titor works for The Simpsons’ writing team.

Astronomers have developed a method for statistically showing how often galactic collisions occur.

A fascinating and skeptical take on the seven billionth human suggests that we haven’t yet reached a tipping point toward a population collapse, while still acknowledging that the more humans, the more impact we have on our environment.

Interesting how every time someone hacks something, the Chinese are blamed with scant evidence. In this case, the pwn3d but not otherwise altered US weather satellites. Why’d the Chinese take the blame this time? Because, and I quote, “the techniques appear consistent with authoritative Chinese military writings”. Because those writings advocate controlling an opposing country’s space resources. Where’s the actual proof?

In discussions about climate science, one name stands above the rest in terms of wildly changing their opinion repeatedly: Judith Curry. A Few Things Ill Considered chronicles the latest rapid rotations.

And finally, we can now inhale caffeine, giving us a zero-calorie method of ingesting our favorite recreational pharmaceutical.

5 comments

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  1. 1
    Aliasalpha

    Hang on, the inhalable caffiene is lime flavoured? Eww! I’ll stick to my pint mugs of strong coffee thanks

  2. 2
    George W.

    Since black coffee has >3 calories, I’m not convinced that zero-calorie caffeine is even necessary.
    Also, coffee is the Nectar of The Gods- you know, if there were Gods that ingested nectar.
    Oh, and damn you for luring me into a post with promises of ST talk.

  3. 3
    'Tis Himself

    The three-eyed fish from the Simpsons

    Three eyes is nothing. All through high school I kept getting informed I had four eyes.

  4. 4
    Jason Thibeault

    Sorry, George, didn’t mean to make your pointy ears burn.

    Agreed on the coffee, aliasalpha, though most of my calories come from the sugar and milk I put in it. And if it were, maybe, say, coffee flavored, the inhaler might be a decent option.

  5. 5
    viagra

    Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. (Albert Einstein)

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