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Theories of the Moon: Looney Tunes?

The TV science channels tell it like a matter of fact: our Moon originated from the coalescing debris of a glancing impact with Earth from a Mars-sized object, sometime long ago.  They even have computer animations to show how it all happened.  How reliable is this theory, though?  This month’s Planetary Report from The Planetary […]

Tangled String: Cosmology on the Brink

The February cover of Astronomy Magazine poses an intriguing question: “What if string theory is wrong?”  Maybe you are unfamiliar with string theory.  Writer Sten Odenwald is not talking about violins or balls of string, but about the current leading theory of fundamental physics.  “Superstring theory,” Odenwald explains, “is based on three ideas that remain […]

Evolution Sunday Honors Darwin Over God

An essay by Edna Devore of the SETI Institute on Space.com encourages churches to join in Mike Zimmerman’s “Evolution Sunday” celebrations.  Zimmerman, with his Clergy Letter Project (see also New Scientist), has gotten over 10,000 pastors to sign a statement affirming evolution as an essential part of science and religion (02/11/2006).  Devore thinks this is […]

Enceladus Spray-Paints Its Neighbors’ Yards

Saturn’s moon Enceladus is not only Yellowstone unto itself.  Its shares the National Park experience with its neighbors.  The geyser spray coats nearby moons white like snow.  Space.com and National Geographic are calling this a case of “cosmic graffiti.”  How did scientists catch the tagger?     The original paper in Science describes how on […]

Dating a Star is Glamorous Only in Theory

Hollywood stars may be fickle, but so are great balls of fire in outer space when it comes to understanding them.  Some recent examples: Taking the pulse:  The Chandra X-ray Observatory wrote a glowing report about a “textbook supernova,” which is a nice pairing of observation and theory.  It added this caveat, though, about dating […]

The Space Race: Just Staying Alive

“Ad astra!” the sci-fi slogan announces with eternal optimism: “To the stars!”  Medical doctors and astrobiologists are not sure you would want to stay there long, though.  Some recent findings give a dismal picture of the prospects for life – human or bacterial – at least in our solar system, if that can be assumed […]

Moon Origins Not Set in Stone

The leading theory for the origin of the moon has been for some time now that a massive object hit the Earth, and the debris formed the moon.  New Scientist reported one astronomer who doesn’t buy it.  “The collision has to be implausibly gentle,” said Peter Noerdlinger to the American Astronomical Society.  “You practically need […]

SETI Head Discusses Criteria for Failure

When does the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project decide enough is enough, and close up shop?  Seth Shostak, director of the SETI Institute, took up that question on Space.com.  He thinks people should realize that this is a much bolder expedition than the classic voyages of discovery by James Cook and Ferdinand Magellan.  He […]

What’s On ETV Tonight?

SETI researchers are building radio telescopes that might be able to catch leaking airwaves from the aliens, reports National Geographic and Space.com.  Some 1,000 stars within 30 light-years may be within the reach of an array of new radio telescopes in Australia.  SETI researchers can piggyback on this astrophysics facility to listen in on frequencies […]

No Evolutionary Tree for Galaxies

Edwin Hubble was famous for many important discoveries, including the confirmation of external galaxies and the expansion of the universe (no, he did not build the Hubble Space Telescope; he died in 1953).  One of his theories, though, a kind of evolutionary story of galaxies, has not fared so well.  Sidney van den Bergh discussed […]

Dreams of Planetary Oceans Dry Up

Astrobiologists like oceans.  The vision of life evolving on Earth in a primordial soup drives the quest to find liquid on other worlds.  It doesn’t have to be liquid water: just liquid that stimulates the imagination with visions of exotic life.  Two solar system bodies once considered prime candidates for ocean front property, though, have […]

Mars Life With Bleached Hair

Mars has hydrogen peroxide.  Bombardier beetles use peroxide.  So maybe the Viking landers in 1976 didn’t find life, because they didn’t look for peroxide-based life.  That’s the essence of the reasoning in an Associated Press story circulating on the net (see Breitbart.com).     Reporter Seth Borenstein earns Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week for […]

SETI: A Systematic Theology

Thick books on systematic theology usually include sections about creation, anthropology, and eschatology.  Those sections are also present in condensed form in an article by Adrian Brown of the SETI Institute at Space.com.  As for origins, Darwinian materialism was implicit passim and needed no elaboration.  As for anthropology, he said man is like a god, […]

Crisis in Comet Formation Theories

Results from the Stardust mission last week (12/15/2006) are causing quite a stir.  Detailed analysis of comet dust particles from Comet Wild 2, published in Science Dec 15, reveal the wrong stuff.  Scientists found olivine, pyroxene and osbornite – minerals said to form at high temperatures – instead of the cold volatiles expected for an […]

Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week:  Comets as Life’s Lego Jumper Cables

Results of the Stardust mission made the cover of Science this week.1  The Jet Propulsion Laboratory put out a press release that condensed the abstruse papers into a simplistic story built around the L word life.  Publicist David Agle wrote for the Lego generation: Just as kits of little plastic bricks can be used to […]
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