Mauna Kea Protests

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jul/18/hawaii-mauna-key-protest-arrests-observatory

You know, there are already enough dark sky spots in the world as it is, and people don’t want an observatory being constructed on a sacred mount, Mauna Kea, why not just move it someplace else? It’s comparable to someone desecrating Mecca or the Dome of the Rock, learn to respect other people’s cultures, people, for fuck’s sakes.

We already have enough observatories as it is, and there’s plenty of prime real estate in places like, I don’t know, the MOON for dark sky observations, getting out into space is something that’s a big deal for many people, this should be one of the major impetuses to move to space. Why wait? It’s a win-win.

Gravity

Gravity, what is it? No one knows exactly *what* gravity is. We can predict its behaviors but not much else, because even relativity’s only an incomplete view. We don’t know exactly what the essence of gravity is, nor the answer to other conundrums like why gravity is so weak compared to the other three forces, and to be frank, speculation aside, we may never know the answer to this haunting riddle, the riddle that has haunted scientists since the days of Galileo and Newton, what is gravity?

This video by the excellent as always John Michael Godier elaborates more on this subject: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MA7jLKnQ4c

I highly recommend it.

Remembering Carl Sagan

If only Sagan were around today to learn of the fascinating insights we have discovered since his untimely death. Since his death we have discovered more than 4,000 exoplanets, we have discovered numerous candidates for harboring extraterrestrial life in our solar system alone (*cough* Europa *cough*), coinciding with that we have discovered that numerous minor planetary bodies have oceans of liquid water inside them, with some (*cough* Europa *cough*) even possessing the right chemical mix for complex life to occur on them, not merely simple life, but complex life, I`d be willing to bet that there are fully fledged animals inside Europa’s oceans.

Sagan would be amazed by what we have discovered since his death. He would be 83 years old today. The work he had done in popularizing science to the masses remains uncontested, he inspired millions of future scientists with his works, he was truly a gift from the gods. Rest in peace, Carl, you have earned it.

Population III stars and solar systems

On Usenet recently someone brought up the possibility of solar systems forming around Pop III stars even though, being huge, they would’ve lived only a few million years. Giant stars have short lifespans of only a few million years, a few tens of millions of years at most, and I am incredulous that any substantial planetary system could develop around stars with such short lifespans.

Pop III stars were the first stars in the universe, none are around today, and thus they’ve never been directly observed because they are so old. (They’ve been indirectly observed tho, including by means such as detecting supermassive black holes.) One is better off looking for solar systems around main sequence and dwarf stars, especially if one is looking for ones with life in them.

Said poster also brought up that only gas giants could’ve presumably been found orbiting Pop III stars, but I would like to point out that the cores of gas giants are still metallic, and so would’ve required heavy elements for the gas to accrete to, which would’ve existed long after the Pop III stars went supernova, since they would’ve lacked the heavier elements in their makeup necessary for even gas giants to form.

Addressing Morons About Black Holes

I`m a little late to the party but I’ve seen some hogwash going around about how the new black hole photo taken recently is a “hoax,” citing the fact that the photo is blurry to claim it’s “photoshopped.” Of course the damn photo’s gonna be blurry, it’s a picture of an object over fifty three MILLION light years away, be amazed we even managed to take the photo in the first place. Idiots, I swear. Why would they hoax something as amazing as this? Wouldn’t it be a far greater accomplishment to, you know, *take the damn photo in the first place*?

This reeks of the bullshit about the supposed Apollo Moon landings “hoax” and the same principle applies here as it does there, it would be an infinitely greater achievement to actually land on the Moon as oppose to faking it, sometimes the path of least resistance isn’t always the way to go. People are too pessimistic and paranoid, well there’s my two cents. Make of it what you will.

The Strange History and Stranger Planet of Barnard’s Star

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqHpOKJ8u0s

The above video, made by a certain “ParallaxNick”, describes the history of Barnard’s Star beginning with its discoverer, the eponymous E.E. Barnard, himself a noted astronomer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While some aspects of the Barnard’s Star itself are interesting, such as the fact that Barnard’s Star is potentially a halo star, and is as old as our galaxy is, at twelve billion years of age, what I found most interesting were the aspects concerning the potential planet orbiting Barnard’s Star.

This planet, according to its discoverers, has a 99% chance of existing, so we can be reasonably certain that this planet does indeed exist. Furthermore, while this planet is nowhere near the habitable zone of Barnard’s Star, specifically being beyond the Snow Line, even though its distance from its homestar is comparable to the distance of Mercury from our own Sun, but it isn’t a gas giant. Gas giants can’t exist around Barnard’s Star, according to the video anyways, because Barnard’s Star is too low in metals to permit such a planet from forming.

This planet is a super earth, at around two to three times the size and mass of Earth, and yet this planet may still be capable of allowing life to flourish on it. To compare this planet to any of the inner planets within our own solar system would be wrong, this planet is more comparable to Titan, the famous moon of Saturn known for possessing lakes and rivers of methane and ethane.

While it is unlikely that methanogenic based life exists, as far as we know anyways, it is not impossible as far as the laws of physics allow it, and so Barnard’s Star b, as the potential planet has been dubbed, may be home to a thriving biosphere like Earth is, although any methane-based biosphere would be incapable of allowing complex, multicellular life to form in reasons outlined in another ParallaxNick’s videos, the one on Titan linked to in the video above.