billroper: (Default)
Remnants from a conversation that I had at Confusion:

There are days that I think that the number of intelligent species in the galaxy may be one or less. (On average. There are a lot of galaxies out there.)

I think there may be more life than that. But I frequently suspect that there is very little in the way of advanced life. Microscopic things, sure. Larger organisms, maybe not so much.

Without mitochondria, it would be very difficult to have advanced life forms as we know them on Earth. Maybe there's something else that could somehow take the place of mitochondria in other systems, I suppose. Maybe not.

But it looks like mitochondria are the result of a developed symbiosis between a tiny bacterium that another bacteria engulfed, but ended up not digesting. And analysis of mitochondrial DNA suggests that capture happened once in the history of life on Earth.

It could be that mitochondrial capture is "easy", but you'd expect there to be distinctive lines of mitochondria then and that doesn't appear to be the case. It could also be that mitochondrial capture gives you such a big advantage that you outcompete all of the other organisms on the planet before they can manage their own mitochondrial capture.

Or it could just be that mitochondrial capture is really unlikely.

It's a theory, anyway.

Hubble!

May. 27th, 2016 05:03 pm
billroper: (Default)
We went on an expedition to STScI this morning for a tour and panel discussion between the scientists there and the SF authors at thw con. And I got to sing "Nobody Calls" before the panel, which was very cool. :)
billroper: (Default)
Ping!

NASA just announced that we've found a planet that's only 60% bigger than Earth orbiting in the habitable zone around a G-class star. At 1400 light years out, the commute from here would be a bit long, of course, but -- in galactic terms -- it's the first piece of prime real estate to turn up.

Mind you, they have no idea what the planet actually looks like in terms of composition yet. But I'm sure they'll be looking at it pretty closely over the next few years.

46 Years

Jul. 20th, 2015 10:37 pm
billroper: (Default)
It's been 46 years since we first landed on the moon. It's been nearly that long since we last landed on the moon.

I find this depressing.

Rare Earth

Jul. 16th, 2015 11:23 am
billroper: (Default)
I tend to pay way too much attention to theories on the formation of planetary systems than is strictly good for me. :)

But the whole thing is tied up with things like the Great Filter and "where are all the aliens" and other questions that bother me. So I keeping poking around and finding things like the Grand Tack, which is a simply fascinating theory about the origin of the Solar System where a resonance between Jupiter and Saturn kept Jupiter from spiraling in and becoming one of those "hot Jupiters" that we see so frequently in other planetary systems. And once a Jupiter-sized object has crashed its way into a close orbit, the chances of putting together an Earth-like planet fall abruptly, I suspect.

All of this leaves open the question of why the terrestrial planets of the system are, well, terrestrial. There should be plenty of hydrogen-rich material to accrete to make one of those "super-Earths" that we see in other planetary systems. Where did all of the hydrogen and all of the extra mass go?

And it turns out that there's a theory for that.

According to this article, the Grand Tack would have bombarded any super-Earths that had formed in the system with planetesimals, destroyed them, and driven most of the mass into the Sun. The terrestrial planets formed out of the hydrogen-depleted leftovers.

Well, that would explain a lot.

We are apparently a very rare Earth.

The Grand Tack: is there anything it can't do? :)

Buzzed!

Feb. 19th, 2015 03:48 pm
billroper: (Default)
Apparently, a very dim red dwarf and its companion buzzed the outer regions of the solar system about 70,000 years ago, passing less than a light year from the Sun and through the Oort Cloud. This is a very cool bit of information.

It turns out that it probably didn't have much impact on anything in our neighborhood. But it's still cool.

Many details here.
billroper: (Default)
The meteor shower last night was pretty much a bust from my point of view. I think I saw two meteors in an hour, which was less a shower than a drizzle. (Not my line, but a good one.)

Staying up late meant I was a bit short on sleep and late getting moving this morning, but we managed to complete most of the preparations for Julie's belated birthday party on time anyway. :) Eighteen little boys and girls ran around our back yard for two hours, mostly eschewing the planned activities in favor of blowing up and bouncing around balloons. Hot dogs, cake, and ice cream did occur in a timely fashion, because, well, cake!

And a good time was had by all. :)
billroper: (Default)
So here I am, sitting in my back yard, facing north, and waiting for a meteor shower that may or may not shower. There's way too much sky light, but I would have killed for a sky this clear when we went out to see the big Leonid shower.

I guess I'll see what we get.
billroper: (Default)
Via Instapundit, here's the SpaceX Grasshopper rocket going up, hovering, and coming down to land gently on its tail.

Cool!
billroper: (Default)
Fifty years today, President Kennedy committed the U.S. to going to the Moon.

On the anniversary, Rand Simberg argues that we need a new space policy.
billroper: (Default)
Fifty years today, President Kennedy committed the U.S. to going to the Moon.

On the anniversary, Rand Simberg argues that we need a new space policy.
billroper: (Default)
By way of Instapundit, there's news that the Japanese solar sail craft, IKAROS, has unfolded the sail in orbit. Next up: to see if it'll actually work for propulsion.
billroper: (Default)
By way of Instapundit, there's news that the Japanese solar sail craft, IKAROS, has unfolded the sail in orbit. Next up: to see if it'll actually work for propulsion.
billroper: (Default)
Last week's successful Falcon 9 launch put a satellite in orbit.

And that's good to see. Now, they just need to get it man-rated. :)
billroper: (Default)
Last week's successful Falcon 9 launch put a satellite in orbit.

And that's good to see. Now, they just need to get it man-rated. :)
billroper: (Default)
Two here that will be of interest to many of you, including [livejournal.com profile] min0taur, both from Instapundit.

First, there's an article on designing greenhouses for Mars, because we're going to want to be growing things there someday.

Second, there's an article on the Japanese solar sail mission, because it never hurts to have a way to get there to use those greenhouses. :)
billroper: (Default)
Two here that will be of interest to many of you, including [livejournal.com profile] min0taur, both from Instapundit.

First, there's an article on designing greenhouses for Mars, because we're going to want to be growing things there someday.

Second, there's an article on the Japanese solar sail mission, because it never hurts to have a way to get there to use those greenhouses. :)
billroper: (Default)
By way of Instapundit -- and special attention to [livejournal.com profile] min0taur! -- I bring you this report on an upcoming space mission for lightsails.
billroper: (Default)
By way of Instapundit -- and special attention to [livejournal.com profile] min0taur! -- I bring you this report on an upcoming space mission for lightsails.
billroper: (Default)
Forty years ago, man walked on the Moon for the first time. It may be a long time before we get back there again, but I hope not.

Charles Krauthammer doesn't really understand how we can choose not to go back there either.

Profile

billroper: (Default)
billroper

July 2017

S M T W T F S
       1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23242526272829
3031     

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jul. 24th, 2017 12:49 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios