A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘panspermia

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • Bad Astronomy notes the mystery of distant active galaxy SDSS J163909+282447.1, with a supermassive black hole but few stars.
  • Centauri Dreams shares a proposal from Robert Buckalew for craft to engage in planned panspermia, seeding life across the galaxy.
  • The Crux looks at the theremin and the life of its creator, Leon Theremin.
  • D-Brief notes that termites cannibalize their dead, for the good of the community.
  • Dangerous Minds looks at William Burroughs’ Blade Runner, an adaptation of a 1979 science fiction novel by Alan Nourse.
  • Bruce Dorminey notes a new study explaining how the Milky Way Galaxy, and the rest of the Local Group, was heavily influenced by its birth environment.
  • JSTOR Daily looks at why the Chernobyl control room is now open for tourists.
  • Dale Campos at Lawyers. Guns and Money looks at the effects of inequality on support for right-wing politics.
  • James Butler at the LRB Blog looks at the decay and transformation of British politics, with Keith Vaz and Brexit.
  • Marginal Revolution shares a paper explaining why queens are more warlike than kings.
  • Omar G. Encarnación at the NYR Daily looks at how Spain has made reparations to LGBTQ people for past homophobia. Why should the United States not do the same?
  • Corey S. Powell at Out There shares his interview with physicist Sean Carroll on the reality of the Many Worlds Theory. There may be endless copies of each of us out there. (Where?)
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel explains why 5G is almost certainly safe for humans.
  • Strange Company shares a newspaper clipping reporting on a haunting in Wales’ Plas Mawr castle.
  • Frank Jacobs at Strange Maps looks at all the different names for Africa throughout the years.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy considers, in the case of the disposal of eastern Oklahoma, whether federal Indian law should be textualist. (They argue against.)
  • Window on Eurasia notes the interest of the government of Ukraine in supporting Ukrainians and other minorities in Russia.
  • Arnold Zwicky looks at syntax on signs for Sloppy Joe’s.

[NEWS] Five Universe Today (@universetoday) links: colours, panspermia, Venus, superhabitable worlds

  • Brian Koberlein at Universe Today considers the question of what was the first colour in the universe. (Is it orange?)
  • Matt Williams at Universe Today considers how comets and other bodies could be exporting life from Earth to the wider galaxy.
  • Matt Williams at Universe Today explores one study suggesting Venus could have remained broadly Earth-like for billions of years.
  • Matt Williams at Universe Today also notes another story suggesting, based on the nature of the lava of the volcanic highlands of Venus, that world was never warm and wet.
  • Fraser Cain at Universe Today took a look at the idea of superhabitable worlds, of worlds better suited to supporting life than Earth.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 24, 2019 at 10:00 pm

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait notes how TESS detected a star being torn apart by a distant black hole.
  • Centauri Dreams’ Paul Gilster looks at the past and future of the blog.
  • Crooked Timber takes on the sensitive issue of private schools in the United Kingdom.
  • The Crux considers the question of why women suffer from Alzheimer’s at a higher frequency than men.
  • D-Brief notes a study suggesting that saving the oceans of the Earth could reduce the effects of global warming by 20%.
  • Bruce Dorminey considers a paper suggesting that, if not for its volcanic resurfacing, Venus could have remained an Earth-like world to this day.
  • The Dragon’s Tale notes that NASA will deploy a cubesat in the proposed orbit of the Lunar Gateway station to make sure it is a workable orbit.
  • Andrew LePage at Drew Ex Machina looks at Soyuz T-10a, the first crewed mission to abort on the launch pad.
  • Gizmodo reports on a paper arguing that we should intentionally contaminate Mars (and other bodies?) with our world’s microbes.
  • io9 looks at how Warner Brothers is trying to control, belatedly, the discourse around the new Joker movie.
  • JSTOR Daily looks at how, in industrializing London, women kidnapped children off the streets.
  • Language Hat links to a page examining the Arabic and Islamic elements in Dune.
  • Scott Lemieux at Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at a new documentary examining the life of Trump mentor Roy Cohn.
  • The LRB Blog looks at how BBC protocols are preventing full discussion of public racism.
  • The Map Room Blog looks at different efforts to reimagining the subway map of New York City.
  • Marginal Revolution shares a paper claiming that increased pressure on immigrants to assimilate in Italy had positive results.
  • The NYR Daily looks at the background to George Washington’s statements about the rightful place of Jews in the United States.
  • Casey Dreier at the Planetary Society Blog looks at the political explanation of the massive increase in the planetary defense budget of NASA.
  • Drew Rowsome takes a look at the Rocky Horror Show, with its celebration of sexuality (among other things).
  • Starts With A Bang’s Ethan Siegel considers why there are so many unexpected black holes in the universe.
  • Frank Jacobs at Strange Maps examines why Google Street View is not present in Germany (and Austria).
  • The Volokh Conspiracy reports on a ruling in a UK court that lying about a vasectomy negates a partner’s consent to sex.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the controversy about some Buryat intellectuals about giving the different dialects of their language too much importance.

[URBAN NOTE] Five science links: coffee, CERN, Titan, HCN–0.009–0.044, panspermia

  • Motherboard notes that climate change endangers a majority of the coffee species growing in the wild.
  • Universe Today notes that CERN is planning to build a successor to the LHC, one a hundred kilometres in diameter.
  • A review of data from Cassini, Universe Today reports, suggests the probe saw rain fall in the north polar region of Titan.
  • A new analysis suggests that mysterious object in the heart of the galaxy, HCN–0.009–0.044, is actually a black hole massing 32 thousand suns. Universe Today has it.
  • Universe Today shares an ambitious proposal for future humanity to use interstellar probes to seed life on potentially hospitable but lifeless worlds, a planned panspermia.

[NEWS] Five sci-tech links: Superstorms, solar power, superhumans, space colonies, panspermia

  • Vice’s Motherboard reports on how we do not understand the storms of the Anthropocene era, fueled by climate change.
  • Vice suggests that the very sharp and continuing fall in the price of solar power might well allow the Earth to escape ecological ruin, by providing energy alternatives.
  • The Guardian reports on the prediction of Stephen Hawking that technological advances will lead to the emergence of a race of superhumans that might well destroy–at least, outcompete–traditional humanity.
  • Over at Tor, James Nicoll recently contributed an essay arguing that technological challenges and the lack of incentive mean that the human colonization of space is not going to happen for a good while yet.
  • Universe Today highlights a new paper suggesting that panspermia unaided by intelligence can work on a galactic scale, even across potentially intergalactic distances.

[NEWS] Four science links: neutrinos and Antarctica, ‘Oumuamua, Ceres and Pluto, panspermia

  • This feature explaining how neutrino telescopes in Antarctica are being used to study the Earth’s core is fascinating. The Globe and Mail has it.
  • Universe Today shares “Project Lyra”, a proposal for an unmanned probe to interstellar asteroid ‘Oumuamua.
  • Dwarf planets Ceres and Pluto, Nora Redd suggests at Discover, may have much more in common than we might think. Is Ceres a KBO transported into the warm asteroid belt?
  • Universe Today reports on one paper that takes a look at some mechanisms behind galactic panspermia.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 24, 2017 at 4:45 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Centauri Dreams looks at two brown dwarf pairs, nearby Luhman 16 and eclipsing binary WD1202-024.
  • D-Brief notes a study suggesting panspermia would be easy in the compact TRAPPIST-1 system.
  • Far Outliers notes the shouted and remarkably long-range vocal telegraph of early 20th century Albania.
  • Language Hat links to a fascinating blog post noting the survival of African Latin in late medieval Tunisia.
  • The LRB Blog notes the observations of an Englishman in Northern Ireland that, after the DUP’s rise, locals are glad other Britons are paying attention.
  • Marginal Revolution notes a study suggesting that refugees in the US end up paying more in taxes than they receive in benefits.
  • Spacing reviews a fascinating-sounding new book on the politics and architecture of new libraries.
  • Understanding Society examines the mechanisms through which organizations can learn.
  • Window on Eurasia talks about the progressive detachment of the east of the North Caucasus, at least, from wider Russia.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • blogTO notes that John Tory wants private industry to fund a Toronto bid for the Olympics.
  • Centauri Dreams notes a paper suggesting that the effects of panspermia might be detectable, via the worlds seeded with life.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper suggesting that the Earth’s geological composition is likely to be unique.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes the technological advancement of Neanderthals in Spain.
  • Far Outliers notes the extent to which some opposition to the Anglo-American invasion of Europe in the Second World War was motivated by pan-European sentiment.
  • Geocurrents dislikes very bad maps of human development in Argentina.
  • Language Hat notes that Jabotinsky wanted Hebrew to be written in Latin script.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reports on the Sad Puppies.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes a book talking about a specifically Orthodox Christian take on demography.
  • Spacing Toronto looks at the first ride at the CNE.
  • Torontoist notes a Toronto libraries “passport”.
  • Understanding Society notes M.I. Finley’s excellent book on the dynamics of the Roman Empire.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes a bizarre article published in a journal arguing that professors are equivalents to terrorists.
  • Why I Love Toronto recommends Dream in High Park.

[LINK] “Life-Bearing Rocks in Slow Motion”

Centauri Dreams’ Paul Gilster reports on the latest computer simulation suggesting that panspermia–the dispersal of life through space from one world to another–is a viable hypothesis.

I’ve been fascinated with Edward Belbruno’s work on ‘chaotic orbits’ ever since meeting him at an astrodynamics conference in Princeton some years back. The idea is to develop low-energy routes for spacecraft by analyzing so-called ‘weak stability boundaries,’ regions where motion is highly sensitive and small changes can create gradual orbital change. A low-energy route was what Belbruno used in 1991 to help the Japanese spacecraft Hiten reach the Moon using almost no fuel, a proof of concept about which the physicist said “It saved the spacecraft, and it saved my career.”

That comment came from a lecture to the Mathematical Association of America in 2009 that you can listen to here. It’s fascinating in its own right, but doubly so since Belbruno is back in the news with new findings on the idea of panspermia, and specifically that version of panspermia called lithopanspermia. In this hypothesis, elemental life forms are distributed between stars in planetary fragments created by asteroid impacts, volcanic eruptions and other disruptive events. Drifting through space, the fragments are eventually caught in another solar system’s gravity, some of them conceivably falling on worlds in the habitable zone of their star.

Could something like this have caused life to begin on Earth? Belbruno’s work, with Amaya Moro-Martín (Centro de Astrobiología and Princeton University) and Renu Malhotra (University of Arizona) simulates conditions when the Sun was young and still a part of the cluster that gave it birth. Using simulations performed by Princeton graduate student Dmitry Savransky, the researchers applied the theory behind chaotic orbits and in particular the idea of ‘weak transfer,’ which they believe offers rocky fragments moving at low velocities a high probability of moving between close stars. In fact, they believe our system could have exchanged materials with its nearest planetary system neighbor 100 trillion times before the Sun left its native cluster.

[. . .]

Moro-Martin adds that the work does not prove lithopanspermia actually happened, but indicates it is an open possibility, with further study needed into the question of rocky materials landing on a terrestrial planet. Could life have arisen on Earth before the dispersal of the cluster? The authors believe that it could, assuming life arose shortly after there is evidence of liquid water on its crust. From the paper on this work:

Within this timeframe, there was a mechanism that allowed large quantities of rocks to be ejected from the Earth: the ejection of material resulting from the impacts at Earth during the heavy bombardment of the inner solar system. This bombardment period lasted from the end of the planet accretion phase until the end of the LHB 3.8 Ga, i.e. it finished when the solar system was approximately 770 Myr old (Tera et al. 1974; Mojzsis et al. 2001; Strom et al. 2005). It represents evidence that planetesimals were being cleared from the solar system several hundred million years after planet formation (Strom et al. 2005; Tsiganis et al. 2005; Chapman et al. 2007). This period of massive bombardment and planetesimal clearing encompassed completely the “window of opportunity” for the transfer of life-bearing rocks discussed above and therefore provides a viable ejection mechanism that may have led to weak transfer.

Links to the original papers are available at the original post.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 28, 2012 at 2:03 pm