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kavips reminds me

May 11, 2008

As I said, I have been reading voraciously. As it turns out, the past month has had some huge scientific goings-on that I will summarize:

  • Astronomers have discovered a new type of variable white dwarf star. This new type is one that has shed it’s hydrogen and helium shells to expose the carbon shell underneath earning them the name “hot carbon white dwarf”. Only the addition of “carbon” to the name kept that from being a porn title. This is the first new type of variable white dwarf to have been discovered in 25 years. h/t goes to the MacDonald Observatory for the find, and to Tom’s Astronomy Blog for the story.
  • You may not know this, but less than 5% (4.6% to be exact) of the universe is normal matter. What is normal matter? The screen you’re looking at, the chair your sitting in, the brain interpreting this post, the stars, galaxies, etc. are normal matter. The other type, dark matter, has only recently been detecetd. Of that 4.6% of normal matter, we have only been able to find half of it up until now, when scientists found evidence of the rest in filaments of super hot, diffuse gas in between galaxy clusters. From this, scientists are able to guess the amount of the rest of the matter out there in this state, but as Phil Plait says, the current data set is exactly one, so stay tuned.
  • Now, we all know that the platypus evolved somehow, but this ridiculous-looking animal has been used in the past by creationists as evidence again evolution because of it’s freakish mix of apparently unrelated parts and systems. Well, I guess the creationists that were still foolish enough to use this as evidence against have to abandon it, like their brethren with a better ability to learn did years ago. Study of the monotreme’s gene structure (I always read that as metronome) is starting to paint the picture of how this bizarre venomous, duck-billed, lizard/marsupial, nipple-less lactator came to be the horrid little monster that it is. No offense, platypi. h/t to Pharyngula for reigniting the nightmare
  • If the platypus doesn’t disgust you, this will. They finally dissected that giant squid. The pictures are vomitous. Enjoy them before your eyes leap out of your head in self-defense! This also brought to you via Pharyngula, winner of the Gross Science Twofer, a new award from MB-A the trophy for which is a bust of my middle finger.
  • Speaking of eyes, the good folks at Expelled Exposed have released a video of how the eye evolved (it’s the bottom video). I think you’ll find it fun and educational! Also, it flies in the face of ID proponents who classify the eye in their list of “irreducibly complex” systems.

I was going to do a politics summary of the same type as this, but I can easily summarize it as “a crop of assholes have acted like children”.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. forrest noble permalink
    May 12, 2008 10:01 am

    Joe M,

    This is all BB interpretation of the data. 5% of the matter is atomic matter, OK. Real dark matter can never been “seen”. It’s omnipresent. To see dark matter it loses its definition. Still 95% of the real dark matter remains. Evidence for it, other than motions of galaxies, can be seen in the lab in a form which we currently call quark jets. In reality they are the primary particles within quark jets.

    your friend forrest

  2. May 13, 2008 6:12 am

    Forrest,

    I guess “viewed” was a bad choice of words, and I will change that. However, Hubble has detected a ring of dark matter around a star cluster which is pretty close to imaging it but not close enough to use “viewed”, and more recently, a team of Italian scientists may have directly detected dark matter particles by watching for a modulation in the quantity of times that the earth has collided with dark matter. The modulation was thought and confirmed by the data to be caused by the earth hitting more dark matter particles when the earth and the solar system velocities were pointed in the same direction. I can’t wait to see this one duplicated!

    Thanks for pointing out the error!

  3. May 13, 2008 12:32 pm

    Thanks for bringing us up to speed…..Most of this I wanted to know but lacked the time. It was an amazing read.

    As questions get answered, more questions pop up.

    Could rock planets have been formed out of fractured white dwarfs instead of being coalesced out of a hot atomic mix spinning around a star?

    Does that mean friction now prevents traveling faster than “warp speed…” forcing us to resort to “jumping” to extend our horizons?

    Does “space” actually exist between the strands of the cosmic web, or is space-time confined only to the strands themselves?

    Does the reflection of reptilian genes within the mammal platypus, have any correlation to such transfer of genetic material from dinosaurs to mammalian society as we know it now?

    Would that make the Platypus a direct link instead of a byproduct of odd evolution……

    Wish I had more time. Thanks for doing this. It is a much valued service…….

  4. May 14, 2008 6:26 pm

    Hey, I’m just glad you’re back…

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