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Science Out of Touch

When science became a profession instead of an avocation, there were some unintended consequences.  Scientists began to lose touch with the public.  When a scientist goes to work doing science for a living, he or she sometimes takes public support for granted, thinking the work is justified for its own sake.  Recent articles, however, warn […]

Saturn’s Titan Is Changing

The giant smog-shrouded moon of Saturn, Titan, is changing – both in situ and in the minds of planetary scientists.  Several news stories show not only dynamic processes in play, but revolutions in what scientists think about the moon and its history.  Readers will need to determine which ideas are solidly based on observational evidence. […]

SETI in Reverse

The SETI Institute has had to close down its search with the Allen Telescope Array (08/12/2010) due to lack of funds.  But while incoming messages might be missed, outgoing messages are still en route.  The Voyager record is approaching interstellar space.     PhysOrg, Live Science and the BBC News all told about the budget […]

Upsets in Space

Three different astronomy teams have announced findings that upset long-held beliefs.  What does this portend about the confidence we can have in other theories? Galaxy growth: direct challenge:  “Galaxies are thought to develop by the gravitational attraction between and merger of smaller ‘sub-galaxies’, a process that standard cosmological ideas suggest should be ongoing,” announced the […]

More Youth on Titan

Hopes that Saturn’s giant moon Titan might have volcanoes just dropped.  A new paper in Icarus1 concludes Titan gets its geology from the outside, not the inside.  If confirmed, it implies all the surface features were created by wind, impacts and weather – not by active geology.  The hopeful cryovolcano announced last year (Sotra Facula, […]

Poison Comets Brought Life to Earth

You don’t drink formaldehyde; you stick dead things in it.  Why on earth would some evolutionists claim that “Poison could have set the stage for the origins of life?”  That’s exactly a headline on Science Daily and PhysOrg, with Live Science chiming in that the poisonous chemical has been “linked” to the origin of life […]

Assuming Reality: Can Crater Dating Be Tested?

Two astronomers in Paris have come up with a new crater chronology for the moon and offered it as a way to date other objects in the inner solar system.  Their paper in Icarus,1 however, assumes so many unobservable things, the reader may wonder if it talks about the true history of the moon or […]

Imagining Worlds: Is It Science?

An entry on Space.com is almost pure speculation with no observation.  Does it belong on a science news site?     Reporter Clara Moskowitz gave Viorel Badescu [Polytechnic University of Bucharest, Romania] free rein to imagine life on free-floating planets (FFPs) – bodies wandering free in space after being abandoned, like wayward children, from their […]

It’s Raining Methane on Titan’s Dunes

Imagine a world where it rains liquid natural gas.  That world is Titan, the Mercury-sized moon of Saturn.  In Science this week,1 Cassini scientists reported large equatorial clouds over Titan’s vast dune fields, and a darkening of the surface after an apparent cloudburst.  Since only hydrocarbons can be liquid at the temperatures there, and methane […]

Enceladus Geyser Heat Much Higher Than Thought Possible

The Enceladus problem – accounting for the heat source of a tiny moon of Saturn – just jumped by more than an order of magnitude.  “Cassini Finds Enceladus Is a Powerhouse,” reported Jet Propulsion Laboratory today.  “Heat output from the south polar region of Saturn’s moon Enceladus is much greater than was previously thought possible,” […]

Alien Life in Meteorites Claimed

After scrutinizing rare meteorites for over a decade, a NASA astrobiologist decided to go with his announcement: he may have found alien life.  Fox News began his story, “We are not alone in the universe – and alien life forms may have a lot more in common with life on Earth than we had previously […]

Habitable Zones Constrained by Tides

The idea of a circumstellar habitable zone – a radial range around a star where an earth-like planet could support life – may be too simplistic.  Science Daily reported that “Tides can render the so-called ‘habitable zone’ around low-mass stars uninhabitable.”  Astronomers at the Astrophysical Institute Potsdam studied the effects of tides on planets around […]

Busted!  Planet-Making Theories Don’t Fit Extrasolar Planets

Famed planet-hunter Geoff Marcy is giving theorists headaches.  The leading theories of planet formation won’t stand up to observations of hundreds of planets we know.  In National Geographic News reporter Richard Lovett lamented, “The more new planets we find, the less we seem to know about how planetary systems are born, according to a leading […]

Titan’s Methane Lakes Shallow, Dynamic

Strange things are happening on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon: lakes are appearing and disappearing.  This can only mean that the lakes are shallow and the liquid hydrocarbons in them are moving around.     Lakes were discovered a few years ago in the northern regions of the Mercury-size moon.  They consist predominantly of methane (CH4) […]

Martian Chronicles

Recent news stories about Mars can be categorized into past, present, and future. Mars past:  How Mars formed is a convoluted story.  That is evident from a report on PhysOrg that might suggest Mars modelers are drinking too much to relieve stress: “‘Marstinis’ could help explain why the red planet is so small.”  Mars seems […]
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