Great video from The Atlantic and NASA scientist Dr. Michelle Thaller. Ashes to ashes; cosmic dust to cosmic dust.
Tag Archives | Stars
A whole new way to see the world via ABC News:
The unidentified man, 42, developed star-shaped cataracts after being shocked by 14,000 volts of electricity on his shoulder.
According to a case report in the New England Journal of Medicine, four weeks after being shocked the man sought medical help when his eyesight started to deteriorate. He was able to regain his sight after doctors performed cataract surgery.
While the cataracts were fixable, further deterioration in his vision left him legally blind although he was able to read by using visual aids. In an earlier study on another man who spontaneously developed star-shaped cataracts, doctors theorized that “shock-waves” caused the unusual pattern.
Via the Huffington Post, evolutionary anthropologist Cadell Last argues that we are failing to recognize what we see:
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Philosopher (and systems theorist) Clément Vidal has pointed out that there are certain binary star systems that astrophysicists have had difficulty explaining with conventional astrophysical models. These binaries are semi-detatched stars that exhibit an energy flow that is irregular, but not out of control. Vidal argues that instead of an astrophysical model, we need an astrobiological model to describe these strange systems.
In essence Vidal is claiming that these systems are not typical binary stars, but rather civilizations that have advanced well passed a Type 1 civilization on the Kardashev scale and are now actively feeding on their parent star. He calls these hypothetical civilizations starivores. And if he is right… then there are approximately 2,000 known starivores in our galaxy alone.
Perhaps, the necessary test is related to understanding the nature of the binary systems “metabolism.” Metabolism is one of the fundamental and necessary conditions for complex living systems because it allows them to draw and sustain order from the surrounding non-living chaos.
TIME on the possibility that we are oblivious to extraterrestrial messages shining right down onto us:
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Lucianne Walkowicz wants to conduct a search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), not by doing anything so conventional as listening for radio transmissions or watching for flashes of laser light. Instead, she wants to see if ET’s are somehow manipulating the light coming from their stars so that they wink at us.
“Our premise,” she says, “is that up until now, we’ve had a preconceived idea of what a SETI signal would look like.” It would basically be the sort of signal we know how to create, since searching for a signal from some entirely unknown technology would be difficult.
If aliens were so advanced that they could cause their star to appear to flicker, however, it wouldn’t matter how they did it, and it would be easy enough to see with existing technology. In fact, says Walkowicz, “our premise was, ‘what if we’ve already detected a signal but missed it because of our preconceptions.’”
So she and her co-investigators proposed to look through a potential trove of signals: the archives from the Kepler mission, which has been scanning space since 2009 for stars that are winking because of orbiting planets passing in front of them.
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In 1960, mathematician, physicist, and all-around genius Freeman Dyson predicted that every civilization in the Universe eventually runs out of energy on its home planet, provided it survives long enough to do so. Dyson argued that this event constitutes a major hurdle in a civilization’s evolution, and that all those who leap over it do so in precisely the same way: they build a massive collector of starlight, a shell of solar panels to surround their home star. Astronomers have taken to calling these theoretical megastructures Dyson Spheres. Dyson’s insight may seem like nothing more than a thought experiment, but if his hypothesis is sound, it has a striking implication: if you want to find advanced alien civilizations, you should look for signs of Dyson Spheres.
Last month a trio of astronomers led by Penn State’s Jason Wright began a two-year search for Dyson Spheres, a search that will span the Milky Way, along with millions of other galaxies.
Soon we may have a glimpse of the world’s first star garden — imagine sitting within its confines on a summer night. BLDG BLOG writes:
An artificially excavated limestone pit in the south of France will soon host star-making technology. Construction involves inserting a supergrid of rebar into the quarried pit, securing the limestone walls with concrete foundation work, then pouring seismically-stabilized plinths that will support the so-called International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, a kind of concrete garden that produces stars.
Nestled in its semi-subterranean, mine-like site and buzzing inside with radiation-resistant robot elevators, the ITER will recreate, again and again, “the process that powers the sun and most other stars. At extremely high temperatures, hydrogen nuclei will fuse to form helium, spitting out more energy than the process consumes, something that has never yet been achieved by a human-made device.”
When we look up at the night sky we see millions of twinkling stars. But how many planets are we not seeing? Astronomers’ new study has found that ‘Jupiter-like gas giants’ are more common than previously thought. The National Geographic reports:
The study uncovered a whole new class of worlds: Jupiter-like gas giants that have escaped the gravitational bonds of their parent stars and are freely roaming space.
What’s more, “our results indicate that such planets are quite common,” said study team member David Bennett, an astronomer at Notre Dame University in Indiana.
“There’s a good chance that the closest free-floating planet is closer to Earth than the closest star.”
Ohio State University astronomer Scott Gaudi added, “It’s not surprising that free-floating planets are out there”—they’ve been predicted by planet-formation theories for years—”it’s just how many of them that they’re finding.”
[Continues at National Geographic News]