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ICY SCIENCE SPRING 2014 E-MAGAZINE

ICY SCIENCE SPRING 2014 E-MAGAZINE

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Published by David Bood
Icy Science e-magazine is a free Astronomy, Science & Space digital magazine. In this edition we look at Saturn and two of its moons, Enceladus an icy world with a possible large body of liquid water under its susrface and Titan where a liquid flows on its surace. We look at evolution and gravitational waves.
Icy Science e-magazine is a free Astronomy, Science & Space digital magazine. In this edition we look at Saturn and two of its moons, Enceladus an icy world with a possible large body of liquid water under its susrface and Titan where a liquid flows on its surace. We look at evolution and gravitational waves.

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Published by: David Bood on May 24, 2014
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ICY SCIENCE PUBLICATION: WWW.ICYSCIENCE.

COM: WINTER 2013/14
SPRING 2014
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Writers This
Month
Alastair leith
Julian Onions
David Bood
Zantppy Skiphop
Henna Khan
Joolz Wright
Dan Lucs
J L Kennedy
Image Lef: Mike
Greenham
WELCOME
Spring is here again and it is tme for another editon of Icy Science
digital magazine. The magazine is a free community based EZine.
Artcles are writen by people with a keen interest in science and
the natural world. This month our main feature is Saturn, looking
at the planet itself and two of its main moons. Titan and Enceladus.
We also have a feature on Evoluton, the evidence for Darwins evo-
luton is now overwhelming. More evidence for the Big Bang with
a look at gravitatonal waves. For those who enjoy a spot of pho-
tography Joolz Wright looks at cloudbows, and included are stun-
ning images.
Finally this editon is more interatve, with links and yes playing video.
Take a look aroung the Tring Astronomy Centre, just run your mouse
over the image and click. However you must view in Adobe Arobat
Reader to get the full interatve experience.There is also a story for
younger readers So enjoy.....
Editor: Dave Bood
Contact:
E: dbood@icyscience.com
TWITTER: @DavesAstronomy
W: www.icyscience.com
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In This Edition
6 Planetarium
9 Equations for Telescopes
16 In Saturns Rings
18 Saturn The Ring Bearer
29 A Sea on Enceladus, and a
Robotic Mole
45 Titan
50 Interview with Valerie Klavans
60 Evolution
71 Chasing Cloudbows
78 The Importance of Gravitational
Waves and the Formation of the
Cosmic Microwave Background
82 Fuzzballs Kids Corner
P 29
P 50
P 78
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If there was an ideal way to get kids to see the stars no mater what the weather, a mobile planetarium is a must
in my honest opinion.
Over the years they have been used increasingly by outreach events as a means of inspiring children and indeed
the more mature into science. I have
delivered a fair few of these shows
now to schools and public events,
though without doubt it is hard
work organisatng batches of up to
30 adults and children to come and
sit into what I suppose amounts to
and indeed looks like an infatable
igloo to sit on the foor staring at
the wall.
Twitter: @alstronomy
Alstronomy facebook page
www.northampton-planetarium.co.uk powered by Immersive Theatres
Alastair Leith
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I must admit that from the moment they see the dome from the outside (many believing it’s a bouncy
castle!) to when you give them the talk on how to enter the dome (makes it look like you are swimming)
down to instructons on how and where to sit. You have them in a trance.
Sitng in a dark room with either a space picture of project of stars over their heads ignites curiousity and
the feeling of expecton straight of (you don’t know what Is going to happen). As a general rule I try to use
a nice NASA space picture, sometmes of the Earth as a means of at least providing some light for when
people enter the dome. IF pitch black they cannot easily see where they are going.
You try to advise them too that there is expensive equipment as they enter. To be honest you could buy a
singing and dancing brand new family car for the cost of the setup.
That said though the Moment the
Planetarium sofware fres up and
those stars are on the dome and
start moving the wow factor starts
to kicking in.
Startng with the rotaton of the
sky to show how the sky would
look that night and whats up in
the night sky.
Begin then a tour of some of the
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objects and the planets that are passing through. They simply love the wow factor
of the Zoom it, to see up close the Planets. You tell them it can take several years
to get there by space ship but we can zoom there in a few seconds and stll have
them home in tme for tea.
You then play a movie for them where they get to see a story being told.
I have never met a child yet who has not emerged from the show dazed, gob-
smacked, and hypnotsed by what they have seen. Many, including adults want to
learn more, see more. For me as a presenter the job satsfacton, and it is taxing
delivering one show afer another for 8 straight hours. But its worth it to see the
look on peoples faces. You have had a part in inspiring the young and old alike
and what you have done for them will remain with them tl the end. That has to
be worth the stretch!
By Alastair Leith FRAS
Alastair Leith is a professional corporate trainer, adult educaton tutor, and free-
lance planetarium presenter working with Immersive Theatres He has had a life-
long interested in astronomy. He is also known for running the Online Astronomy
Society and the Academy.
Image Lef: Stellarium
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Equations for telescopes
So what is the frst thing a relatve or friend will ask you when you
get a new telescope? Oooh lovely, how many tmes does it magnify?
10x, 100x, 1000x? It’s a tricky queston to answer, as you probably
know, because it’s, well, its not important really. Well, I mean it is,
the purpose of a telescope is to make small things bigger afer all.
However, it’s prety easy to get it to magnify up to almost any power
you like by putng the right lens in.
So the magnifcaton is a straightorward equaton. It’s the focal
length of the objectve (that’s the big lens or mirror) divided by the
focal length of the eyepiece.
Now the eyepiece usually has it writen on it. I ofen use a 26mm eyepiece, and my telescope has a 127mm
main mirror. So I know f_ebut not f_o- but that’s ok we can work it out. The f-rato of the telescope is the
focal length of the objectve, divided by the diameter of the objectve. So we can work that out.
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My telescope has an f-rato of f/15 - its writen on
the tube, so 127 x 15 means the focal length of the
objectve is 1905 mm.
Now, where were we. Oh yes magnifcaton. So
with a 26mm eyepiece, I have 1905/26 = 73. So
I have 73x magnifcaton. If I put a 9mm lens in, I
get 211x. My smallest lens is a 6.4mm one, which
would therefore give 298x magnifcaton. All well
and good, but I rarely use this eyepiece, and I’m
sure if you have similar you know why too. You get
terrible results. The focusing is dreadful, balanced
on a knife edge. The image is typically blurry, and
when all is said and done, a star looks like a dot,
no mater how much you magnify it. Interestngly I
know people with 200mm objectves, much bigger
telescopes. They have a focal length of 1000mm, so
a 26mm lens on that would be 38x. So bigger mirror,
more impressive size, less magnifcaton! Weird!
I could get a 1 mm lens, and have it magnify 1900x
- but it wouldn’t be worth bothering with. You can
get any magnifcaton you like, just like you can blow
up a digital image to any size you like - but beyond
Above: Airy disk - simulated, credit wikipedia
Below: Airy disk from a laser passing through a pin hole
- Wikipedi
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a certain size, you start to see just pixels, so there is no gain. Yes you can magnify it a billion tmes, but the
results will look horrible, and the same is true of telescopes.
So - there must be another limit we’re hitng up against, and anyway why do people want bigger tele-
scopes? They’re always going on about the size of their mirrors, but as we’ve seen it doesn’t really help
magnify things that much. So why the ‘aperture fever’?
The problem is that even with the best optcs in the world, and perfect “seeing”, light does not focus down
to a single point, even from a point source like a star. What you actually get is a series of concentric circles.
The middle is the bright and slightly fuzzy circular point, but then there are rings expanding outwards and
So this is the limiting factor. If we’re trying to
look at fne detail, we’ll eventually fnd the two
disks overlap, and what is two things blurs into
one. It’s caused by collision of light waves inter-
fering with each other as they enter the tele-
scope and are brought to a focus.
So - can we do anything about it? Well, yes
we can - you probably knew that was coming,
and you probably can guess at the answer. The
formula for how big this circle is, is given by
Airy’s formula
Airy’s formula
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@julianonions
Image
Credit: Mock
up of the
E-ELT Mirror -
credit ESO
Article Words:
Julian Oniions

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Woah, what’s all that gibberish?? Well lets break it down a litle and see, it’s
not so hard.
sinθ- well this is the sin of the angle θ(which is the greek leter theta)
of the frst ring. The angle is how big that fuzzy disk is going to be. Why θ- I’m
not sure, but angles in maths and physics nearly always use the greek leter
θfor some no doubt historic reason. Do you remember sines, cosines and tan-
gents? No - oh well never mind. One neat trick is that the sin of a very small
angle is almost the same as the angle itself. It all goes wrong as the angle gets
bigger, but it means that for small angles sinθ≈θand the angles we’re looking
at are typically very small.
≈this just means approximately equal to - so maybe not to several
decimal places, but generally good enough.
1.22 is just a number, I’m sure you’ve met those before
λis the greek leter lambda, and is used in physics for wavelengths (in
this case of light).
and d is the diameter of the objectve lens/mirror.
We can simplify this somewhat. Lets stck with green light, which is about in
the middle of the visible band. This has a wavelength of around 550 nanome-
ters, or 550x10-9 meters. So we can now simplify the equaton somewhat.
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OK - so now we have an equaton with a bunch of numbers in that tell us how big the blurry spot will be.
There are a bunch of things on the top line, but they are all constant. So there is nothing we can do about
those (well we could go to shorter wavelengths, but we said we’ll stck with visible green light).
So the only thing we can play with is the value of d. If we make d smaller, the angle gets bigger. In case you
can’t see this, lets replace the numbers on the top with 10. Now if we have d of 5, then the angle is 2, a d of
2 makes an angle of 5, a d of 1 makes it 10. So you can see as d gets smaller the angle, and hence how blurry
the image is, gets bigger. If we make the mirror bigger though, the angle gets smaller, and each star forms
a smaller spot. So we can see more detail, split stars and so on. This is crucially why big mirrors are beter
than small mirrors. When you magnify up the image, you can go further before it all becomes a mess. It’s
like having more megapixels on your camera! So that is why astronomers want ever bigger mirrors.
However, if we go back to the equaton, and
look at changing the wavelength, we can see
something else. If we switch to radio waves,
which are huge compared to light waves, we
can see what happens. It explains why tele-
scopes like the Jodrell Bank radio telescope are
so big. If we write out the formula putng in
the radio waves that a radio telescope generally
looks at, for instance 10cm, what does that do?
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How does this compare with my 127mm refector? Working out the relatve values, my telescope has about
300 tmes the resolving power of the 76 meter monster at Jodrell Bank, just because I’m using shorter wave-
lengths! Take that!
Lef: Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope - credit
wikipedia
Of course there are other constraints.
How stable the air is, the “seeing”. How
much dust is in the air, how clean and per-
fectly machined your mirror is, how good
your eyepiece is, how much atmosphere
you are looking through etc etc. Some of
these you can change, but some you’re
stuck with. So - we don’t talk about mag-
nifcaton much with telescopes, but more
about resolving power. So next tme your
Aunt asks you how many tmes it makes
things bigger, you can either a) launch
into a diatribe about the relatve merits
of resolving power versus magnifcaton,
or b) smile sweetly and say “oh - about
100x” and silently grind your teeth!
Words: Julian Onions
Twiter @julianonions
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In Saturn’s Rings is a large format movie about Saturn made exclusively from real photographs taken
by spacecraf. Director Stephen van Vuuren used more than a million photographs and numerous
flm techniques to create the efect of fying through space around Saturn and among its rings. CGI
and 3-D modeling were not used in any capacity to create the realistc feel van Vuuren wanted for
the viewer’s experience. Most of the photos were taken by the Cassini-Huygens spacecraf, which
was launched in 1997 and arrived at Saturn in 2004.
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SATURN THE RING BEARER
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Saturn- The Ring Bearer by D Bood
Distnctve and impressive, Saturn is truly a wonder to be observed through a telescope. One of four gas giants and the
second largest planet in our solar system, Saturn orbits out in a cold region of our neighbourhood.
Saturn is the sixth planet out from the sun and has a very distnctve ring system. All the gas giants have faint rings; however
the ices that make up Saturn’s rings make them highly refectve.
There are four gas giants in our system, Jupiter the largest planet, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. However Uranus and Neptune
are also known as the Ice giants. The ice giants have a less volatle compositon and contain less hydrogen than Jupiter and
Saturn. The ice giants are composed mainly of ices and are thought not to have metallic hydrogen at their cores.
Images: Above Saturn -NASA Opposite: Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune
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Saturn is a strange world, it has no solid surface, and its atmosphere bleeds into a liquid body. The planet
is primarily made of Hydrogen and Helium. Making up the rest is water, ammonia and methane ices.
Saturn’s clouds are composed of Hydrogen and Helium Gases with Methane, Ammonia and Water ice
crystals. When you dive deeper into the planet the clouds become denser and pressure mounts. Eventually
you will fnd yourself in a molecular hydrogen liquid. It is possible this liquid surrounds a rocky hot core.
Conductve layers around the core are thought to produce Saturn’s magnetc feld.
Images: Above Wikipedia, Botom: NASA Opposite: D Bood

Saturn Facts
Saturn radiates 79% more
energy than it receives from
the sun.
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A Day on Saturn
It is complicated to determine a Saturn day; afer all, the entre
planet is a ball of gas with no land features to mark a point and tme
how long that point makes a full revoluton. The diferent layers
observed, rotate at diferent speeds.
Astronomers have devised a system to look at the diferent areas
rotaton. It is called System 1, 2 and 3.
However, a day on Saturn is roughly just over 10 hours.
What is interestng is that both Saturn and Jupiter are stll evolv-
ing, they are stll setling in gravitatonal terms. This means they are
contractng which in turn created internal heat. Saturn radiates 3
tmes more heat than it receives from the sun.
The Rings
Saturn’s rings can be seen with a small telescope; however larger
telescopes give you more detail. The rings are amazing to see. With
a smaller telescope the rings appear more as one ring, larger scopes
you can make out in more detail individual rings.
The rings have been identfed and labelled in order of discovery
and using a simple identfcaton system, (A,B,C to G).
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The rings are mainly composed of water ice; they range
from small partcles to larger lumps. Some of the material
in the ring is rocky however this is mainly trace elements.
Other planets have ring systems however Saturn’s are
the most stunning
We have found the rings vary in density and there are
gaps in the system, we have also discovered moons
embedded into the system.
How were they formed?
There are two main theories on how the rings were
formed. One theory is that a moon moved inwards during
its orbit, the tdal forces of Saturn ripped the moon apart
and created the ring system.
Theory two is that the ring system are the remains
or lef over’s from nebular material from which
Saturn was formed. Other theories include a
moon collision.
The densest parts of the ring system are the A
and B rings. There is a gap in between the rings
called the Cassini division. This was discovered by
Giovann Doenico Cassini in 1675. The C ring which
makes up the main three rings was discovered
in 1850. The main rings contain larger partcles.
The other rings D,E,F,G can be described as dusty rings and are not as dense as the main three.
D ring inner most very faint
C ring wide and faint
B ring largest and brightest of the rings
A ring outer most of the large bright rings, its inner boundary is the Cassini division.
F outer most ring, and the most actve. Its features change hourly.
Janus/Epimetheus ring faint dusty ring, the moons Janus and Epimetheus orbit in this ring. Material in this
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ring is ejected material from the moons; this would have been caused by impacts.
G ring very thin ring and faint, positoned half way in between the F and the beginning of the E ring, its inner
edges is in the orbit of the moon Mimas
Methone Ring Arc faint ring discovered in September 2006, the moon Methone orbits within this ring
Anthe ring faint ring discovered in 2007
Pallene ring a faint dust ring
E ring, second most outer ring and is very wide. It starts at the orbit of Mimas and ends a Rhea. It consist of
ices, silicates, carbon dioxide and ammonia. The partcles are mainly microscopic.
Phoebe Ring in Oct 2009 the rings discovery was announced, it is just in the orbital plane of the moon phoebe.
Saturn’s Moons
Both Jupiter and Saturn are like mini solar systems, both
have a wide ranging array of moons. From oddly shaped
rocky moons to moons frozen and covered in ice and a
strange moon with its own atmosphere.
Some of Saturn’s moons or moonlets are no more than a
1 Km across, however Saturn does have the solar systems
second largest moon, Titan.
Saturn hosts two moons of partcular interest, Titan as
mentoned before and the icy world of Enceladus. What
is interestng about Enceladus is that a Liquid spews from
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its southern pole which compositon could be Water mixed with dust and gases. The plumes could also con-
tribute to Saturn ring system.
Recently the Cassini spacecraf few over Enceladus and detected a gravitatonal signal consistent with a
large body of water. The data suggests a large liquid volume lies about 40 Km below the moons icy crust.
A Sea on Enceladus, and a Robotic Mole
In a place that is otherwise barren, there is a place
of warm ventng sea water, chimneys of encrustng
minerals, methane made by the rocks and water, and
consumed by microbes, and tny creatures who cling
to their tny island of life. It’s the Lost City hydrother-
mal vent feld in Earth’s Atlantc ocean, and it is being
studied as a strong analog for the environment within
one of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus.
This is Enceladus, a moon in Saturn’s E-ring. Before
ever knowing of the icy jets of salty spray, a scien-
tst could look at this picture and be able to tell that
there was something interestng going on with that
ice coatng the surface. Look at that sof, quiet, white
and blue layer of ice that covers everything. Do you
see those meteorite craters? They don’t tend to be in
the southern part of the moon. It’s because those blue
veins in the south are warm fractures involved with the
processes that create the jets of ice. The liquid water
The icy jets of Enceladus. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science
Institute (below) Above Enceladus (Wikipedia,NASA)
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and ice of the southern lattudes make up a physically
actve zone that is always renewing itself. Credit: NASA/
JPL/Space Science Insttute
The surface on Enceladus seems calm, and for a tny
moon that seems at frst glance to be uterly frozen,
that’s what you’d expect. Except that Enceladus is a
moon of the gas giant planet, Saturn, and Saturn’s
gravity pulls at Enceladus and warps its rocky and icy
layers. Think of it like the way our moon pulls on our
planet - we can see our oceans being pulled along with
the moon in high and low tdes. Our moon’s gravity
afects our rocky crust, too, we just don’t really notce
it. But in the case of Enceladus, the gravity pull from
Saturn is so strong that it causes solid layers like ice,
maybe even the rocky core, to stretch and push into
each other. This heats things up and may be the main
cause of the jets.
Of course, Enceladus has its own gravity feld which can
afect smaller objects like the Cassini spacecraf and
alter its path. Physicists saw that the gravity measure-
ments Cassini took over the moon’s south polar area
were of from what would be expected if the moon
were a solid ball of rock and ice. The denser some-
thing is, the greater its gravity, and over the south pole,
it looked like there was something denser than ice
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about 20 miles beneath the surface. It could be a
layer of rock, but the scientsts who are studying
this say they are prety comfortable in thinking that
it is probably liquid water - a sea that is 6 or 7 miles
deep and covers at least the far southern part of the
moon under the ice - maybe much more.
Lef is Enceladus with a wedge taken out, so that we
can see what Cassini scientsts think is the internal
structure. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
If that denser-than-ice layer is in fact a sea, this
picture shows how that sea could possibly be the
source of the icy jets. Enceladus is covered by a layer
of ice that is about 20 miles thick. Beneath this is
the probable sea. And beneath that sea is a rocky
core, thought to be based on the mineral silica, like
bedrock on Earth. And if that is what is actually hap-
pening on Enceladus, it is an absolute wonderland
for astrobiologists. That sea and silicate rock would
make chemistry that life could live in.
On Earth, rock and liquid water react with each other
in ways that marine biologists and geologists under-
stand very well, because it’s what gives the oceans
so much of its chemistry. That’s why our seas are so
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salty - there are lots of ions from minerals dissolved in them. So much of the geology on Earth is from
rock being changed by the way water afects it, but usually this happens slowly, too slowly for anyone to
sit there and watch it happen. But there are a few more dramatc reactons that literally can be watched,
at the hydrothermal (hot water) vent sites. Some of these vents, called black or white smokers, are in
volcanic areas where water seeps down through cracks in the crust, gets super-heated, and boils up in
jets. Black and white smoker vent areas are flled with life, very alien-seeming life. Most of the known
deep-sea vents are so hot and acidic, with temperatures in the vent water up to around 300 degrees C,
that the creatures making a living there are very specialized to deal with those conditons. In some parts
of the vent system, oxygen is extremely low, too low for oxygen-using creatures to live. And most of the
life in these communites depend on the basic energy not of sunlight, but of the chemicals in rocks, cap-
tured by microbes.
Normally, when thinking about life that may be elsewhere in the solar system, astrobiologists wouldn’t
use such alien-seeming Earth creatures . The prudent thing is to speculate on living systems that are
well-known. Almost all of the life that we know of on Earth are part of a global food web that is based
on the energy of sunshine, captured by plants, and an energy cycle that uses free oxygen released from
the plants, and so photosynthesis is the energy process that most biologists know best. But Earth is the
only place in the entre solar system where we have found liquid water on the surface, where plants
can reach sunlight. There really doesn’t seem to be any other place in our solar system where we could
expect a food web to be based on plants, or their exhaled oxygen. But what about those worlds with
hidden water? We have to consider life forms that can get their energy from rocks and don’t need free
oxygen to live, and hydrothermal vents are full of them.
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Jupiter’s ice-covered moon, Europa. Credit: NASA/JPL and Ted Stryk
The idea of the black and white smokers as being possible analogs for extraterrestrial life has been debated
very fercely. The arguments really took of afer Jupiter’s moon Europa was found to be covered with water ice,
cracked like an eggshell where fssures seemed to leak up fuid from below. Yes these extreme-heat vents have
amazing criters who don’t need the rest of us or any of our relatons to live, who can just cling to rock in hot
water and be perfectly happy. It’s so easy to imagine a vibrant ecosystem of hydrothermal vents in an under-ice
sea on Europa, fourishing and oblivious to life on Earth. The main problem with this idea is that the black and
white smoker hydrothermal vents are very volatle, volcanic-based systems that may be around for only hun-
dreds of years before the volcanic actvity ends there and moves to another spot. And when it begins in another
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spot, it doesn’t start out gently, but with very acidic water temperatures of 200-300 degrees C. The life at
these vents are specialized to live there. If that kind of system is thought to be the main focal point of life on
a small moon, it doesn’t seem a very stable place for life to develop. But in terms of how life makes a living
there? The rock-chemical basis for life is known to be on Earth and is ancient. Life started so quickly on Earth,
based on the kind of energy channels already happening spontaneously and inorganically with hydrogen,
carbon, and oxygen, that those microbes can be seen as living extensions of the water and rock that made
their home. And so the thinking has been, perhaps these kind of microbes could be on other wet and rocky
worlds, if their environment is stable enough, and not so extreme as the volcanic vents.
Lost City Hydrothermal System
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A vent tower at Lost City, with the robots Hercules and Argus
looking on. Credit: Deborah Kelley University of Washington, IFE
URI-IAO, Lost City Science Party, NOAA
In 2000, a new kind of vent community was found on the sea
foor of the Atlantc Ocean. It’s called the Lost City vent feld and it
isn’t based on volcanism, but on rock-water reactons that release
energy as heat, raising the water temperature to just around
90-100 degrees C. This system has been in the same area for pos-
sibly over 20,000 years, building vent towers of calcium carbonate
rock - the same mineral that builds coral reefs and makes up the
shells of many sea animals. One of the towers, named Poseidon,
is taller than an 18-story building. These vents pour out water
rich in hydrogen and methane and carbon dioxide. These chem-
icals are part of a classic energy chain used by some archaea.
Microbes that live in the vents “eat” the methane, making more
complex carbon molecules that then feed other microbes. It is
both a non-living and living cycle, interwoven and based on the
chemistry of the rocks and water, with no sunlight needed.
The carbonate towers build structures that are flled with life. The walls
inside and out are covered in microbes, and some tiny, translucent-shelled
animals like crabs live in the crevices. Credit: IFE URI-IAO, Lost City Science
Party, NOAA
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This is a close-up of carbonate rock at
Lost City, with a robot arm investgatng.
All those nooks are flled with life. Credit:
University of Washington, IFE, URI-IAO,
NOAA
Meanwhile, back on Enceladus, the jets have
been sending icy spray out into Saturn’s E-ring.
Cassini has fown three tmes through the jets
and has analyzed what kind of partcles make up
the E-ring, and it looks like the jets of Enceladus
are actually responsible for the material in the
ring. That’s prety cool, but what is grabbing the
atenton of astrobiologists is that in the jet ice are
chemicals life could use to live. Ammonia, methane,
carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, complex carbon
molecules - what you’d expect from the chemistry of
water and silicate rock interactng. This means that all
four of the basic ingredients thought to be needed for
life are within Enceladus: water, nitrogen (ammonia),
organic carbon (simple and complex carbon molecules
- organic means that it is in a form that life can use),
and a source of energy (heat, and probably hydrogen).
There is some kind of strong heat happening, although
researchers stll don’t know if the resultng jets are
from the rock reactons heatng the seawater, or if the
jets come from parts of the deep ice layer above it.
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It can be easy for people who are familiar with life making things like methane and ammonia to leap to the
conclusion that all those chemicals found in the jets mean that life created them. Cassini isn’t a life-search-
ing robot so can’t analyze things in that way. And we aren’t going to know for awhile yet. In its Science Plan
NASA isn’t planning a mission to Enceladus because it doesn’t have the funding. In terms of planetary research,
NASA’s highest priority is all about Mars, with the intent on sending humans to Mars in the 2030s. Yet they
don’t have the money even for this, their highest priority. Politcs calls the shots and is using the economic
crash as an excuse to not fund projects, some of which NASA had already started work on with internatonal
partners. But fortunately, the European Space Agency, along with a few other space agencies, is working on the
technology that will be needed for missions to Europa (Europa Explorer) and Enceladus (Enceladus Explorer).
These two explorer missions are working in tandem since so much of the basic technology would be used on
either moon. These missions will be in multple stages - frst, an orbiter whose focus will be its given moon,
Enceladus or Europa, then a lander which will land on the icy surface and release the robotc rover, named the
Ice Mole. The Ice Mole is being designed to melt and dig its way through the miles of ice, to hopefully reach a
body of water like Enceladus’ sea or a kind of internal ice-pack pond on Europa, then work on detectng signs
of life, and pack up a sample return to send back to Earth. This part of the project design is extremely chal-
lenging because of how deep the seas on both Europa and Enceladus are thought to be. The robot needs to
be atached to a cable so that it can communicate with the surface and the orbiter, which will relay the data
back to Earth. But the sea on Enceladus is thought to be around 6 miles deep, which is shallow compared to
Europa’s sea of maybe 60 miles, but in either case the sea foor is incredibly far away. And remember - before
even reaching the sea, any cable used has to frst go down the depth of the ice layer, which on Enceladus is
about 20 miles thick. So communicaton with the Ice Mole is a huge challenge that is being worked on.
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An Earth mole. Credit: Michael David hill 2005
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Ice Mole melting a path for itself
through a glacier in Switzerland.
Credit: FH Aachen
Once the technology allows a robot like
Ice Mole to melt through miles of ice,
swim miles to the sea foor, and send data
through the sea up to the orbiter, it could
look something like this. This is the robot
explorer, Hercules, looking down at some
carbonate spires of the Lost City hydro-
thermal feld. Credit: IFE, URI-IAO, UW,
Lost City Science Party, and NOAA
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And this is Hercules photographing the IMAX tower at Lost City. Credit: IFE, URI-IAO, UW, Lost City science party,
and NOAA
Ice Mole’s primary mission is to look for chemical and physical signs of present or past life. The technology is def-
nitely very challenging but will be solved. The main problem is funding, and it is really devastatng to outer planet
research when politcians responsible for funding simply don’t see how important these missions are. This work
is burstng with the best minds creatng the new technology needed to explore Enceladus, Europa, and other
outer-planet moons, but it is really driven by the heart. This kind of research is so profoundly human. With solid
scientfc data showing that Enceladus could very well be habitable for microbes, and especially with the dis-
covery of what is almost certainly a liquid, salty sea, astrobiologists are rallying around this moon, pushing for a
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mission to happen - which means convincing people that it deserves the funding. The money is there and frankly,
is being spent on some prety inane things like government golf courses. We all need to make sure that the people
in our governments understand just how important these missions are to us. At least the wait will give astrobiolo-
gists extra tme to ground their understanding of the types of environments that could be in these moons’ seas. In
a way, though, for the feld of astrobiology it doesn’t mater that we can’t know yet if there is life in these moons.
We have found on another world the same chemistries that happen on Earth in places like Lost City, and whether
or not life is using these chemicals, or made them, or neither, we’ve stll extended the known potental habitats
where life can potentally exist.
Words: Zantippy Skiphop
@ZantippySkiphop
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Run you mouse over the image to watch a tour of Tring Astronomy Centre
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Address: Unit 15 Old Silk Mill Trading Estate,
Brook Street, Tring, Hertfordshire HP23 5EF
Phone:01442 822997
Web: http://www.tringastro.co.uk/
@Tring_Astro
Tring Astronomy Centre
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Titan’s Haze
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
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TITAN
Saturn’s largest moon and the solar systems second largest moon is a unique satellite.
Firstly, and strangely, Titan has a thick and dense atmosphere. Strange? Well a body of
Titan’s mass, usually down to its gravity and the solar winds losses its atmosphere, as
did Mars. Mars is a similar size to Titan. However it is all about Location, Location. Saturn
orbits in a cold part of the solar system, so due to less infuence from the sun Titan is
able to hold onto its gases.
A planet or moons ability to retain an atmosphere is determined by its mass and temper-
ature. Titan is cold so therefore its atmosphere gas molecules move slowly and not fast
enough to escape Titan’s gravity. It may lose Hydrogen molecules because they are far
lighter. Titan also never became hot when it formed, this enabled methane, ammonia and
water ice to form on its surface. Water remained on its surface locked in ice . A mixture
of ammonia and methane then formed the moons early atmosphere.
Today the atmosphere is nitrogen rich.
By a method called photochemistry, solar radiation broke down the ammonia (NH3) into
Nitrogen (N2). .The conversion of NH3 to N2 occurs between 250 and 150K and lasted
for a period of about 100 million years.
The Surface
Titan’s surface temperature is a chilly -178 degrees C (-280 F), water on Titan becomes
rock like. However a liquid fows on the surface, this liquid is methane.
Titan’s Haze
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
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Other surface features include, dunes of hydrocarbons around the equator and low altitudes,
these are moved about by winds. Titan also has volcanoes, which are known as cryovolca-
noes. Unlike Earth,Titan does not have magma rising up through the ground and spewing
out lava. On Titan the eruptions are volatiles such as water, ammonia or methane.
Tidal forces produce the energy required for such eruptions.
Weather On Titan
In many ways Titan is similar to Earth. It has a liquid on its surface in the form of lakes and
rivers; it also has seasons and weather systems. However this is all done at much lower tem-
peratures than here on Earth.
liquid on Titan is that of methane and ethane. On Titan there is a methane based weather
system; it assumes the similar role as water does here on earth.
The circulation system can be compared to Earths. Titan has also been described as tropical.
Strange? This is down to Titans slow rotation (16 Earth Days) and the behaviour of methane.
The seasons on Titan are long, lasting about 7 years, it receives about 100 times less sunlight
than Earth; however clouds form in the methane-nitrogen rich atmosphere. The atmosphere
responds much slower than here on Earth.
The University of Granada and the University of Valencia have looked at data from Cassini
and have found Titan has natural electrical activity.
One of the elements for life is a spark (lightening) under the right conditions it may be pos-
sible that life may evolve on Titan.
Scientists at NASA working on the Cassini project monitored Titans atmosphere for 3.5 years,
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Other surface features include, dunes of hydrocarbons around the equator and low altitudes,
these are moved about by winds. Titan also has volcanoes, which are known as cryovolca-
noes. Unlike Earth,Titan does not have magma rising up through the ground and spewing
out lava. On Titan the eruptions are volatiles such as water, ammonia or methane.
Tidal forces produce the energy required for such eruptions.
Weather On Titan
In many ways Titan is similar to Earth. It has a liquid on its surface in the form of lakes and
rivers; it also has seasons and weather systems. However this is all done at much lower tem-
peratures than here on Earth.
liquid on Titan is that of methane and ethane. On Titan there is a methane based weather
system; it assumes the similar role as water does here on earth.
The circulation system can be compared to Earths. Titan has also been described as tropical.
Strange? This is down to Titans slow rotation (16 Earth Days) and the behaviour of methane.
The seasons on Titan are long, lasting about 7 years, it receives about 100 times less sunlight
than Earth; however clouds form in the methane-nitrogen rich atmosphere. The atmosphere
responds much slower than here on Earth.
The University of Granada and the University of Valencia have looked at data from Cassini
and have found Titan has natural electrical activity.
One of the elements for life is a spark (lightening) under the right conditions it may be pos-
sible that life may evolve on Titan.
Scientists at NASA working on the Cassini project monitored Titans atmosphere for 3.5 years,
they observed over 200 clouds and found these clouds matched models on how they are distrib-
uted around Titan.
Titans northern hemisphere is entering its spring/summer season, this is interesting because on Titan
most of the liquid is in the northern hemisphere. So far no waves have been detected on Titan’s lakes
and very little wind. Current models indicate that the warming season could bring winds. A wind of
1 to 2 mph could produce waves or ripples in the methane lakes.
Like Earth, Titan has rainfall. The rain is that of methane and due to Titans gravity it falls slowly. Much of
the surface is kept wet by a light drizzle. The upper cloud layer is saturated with methane, this allows
ice crystals to grow and form. They eventually precipitate out and begin to fall, the falling methane
crystals start to melt as the go through the atmosphere. This forms light drizzle.
Titan also has storms which can be quite powerful. There is also evaporation from the lakes and seas
this contributes to the rainfall has it does on earth. Other mechanisms for weather is volcanic activity.
Images NASA
Words: Dave Bood
@DavesAstronomy
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THE INTERVIEW
Valerie Klavans
Admin and Owner of “Titan Saturn’s Moon”
Image Processor and Social Media Leader for
In Saturn’s Rings
IC: Can you tell us about your interest in image processing? What are your favourite images to
process?
VK: In 2009 I made a Facebook page for Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, and began posting images of the moon as
well as the latest news from the Cassini mission. As I dug deeper into the Cassini images I saw that the space-
craft sends “raw” images (uncalibrated, untouched, monochrome images) back to Earth on a frequent basis. I
learned that these raw, monochrome images can be combined into composites to show the true colour of the
Saturn system. One day in 2012, I began to process these images and I found myself feeling like I was travelling
along with Cassini. Whenever the latest images come back from the spacecraft I dabble in a new colour com-
posite of one of the worlds in the Saturn system. My favourite images to process are of Titan – specifcally the
infrared frames that reveal Titan’s surface. In particular I love to process views of Titan’s north pole containing
its largest seas and many lakes. I enjoy comparing them to previous views to see the diference in lake levels
due to weather. (See my portfolio here.)
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Figure a: Above and Below Titan’s Atmosphere (LINK)
IC: 2) Where does your interest in Titan come from?
VK: I’ve always loved astronomy, but it wasn’t untl my undergraduate years that I realized what in par-
tcular piqued my interest. One event in August 2008 made me love planetary science: The Great Planet
Debate. There, I heard truly mind-blowing talks by important planetary scientsts. It made me realize we
are in the golden age of planetary science. We are now just beginning to understand planetary objects,
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and we are in dire need of a good classifcaton system for them. That same year, I began interning with the
Cassini mission’s Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) team at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. I had
an amazing tme, worked with amazing scientsts, and fell in love with Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, mainly
because it stands out as a truly unique world in our solar system.
IC: How important is it to study Titan, and what can
we learn about our own planets early begins from
Titan?
VK: I personally think studying Titan is extremely
important. It is a very complex world with a whole
host of processes going on. Below Titan’s surface is
an underground ocean of liquid water. Titan has an
extremely thick atmosphere that has more constt-
uents than other atmosphere we know of. But its
uniqueness doesn’t stop there. Titan is the closest
analog to Earth in the solar system. Since one cannot
build a tme machine to an early Earth, Titan is next
best thing. Titan’s atmosphere resembles the atmo-
sphere of early Earth. Titan also has weather. On Titan
methane rain falls from clouds which flls lakes and
seas on its surface. Vast sand dunes (their composi-
ton is stll unknown) stretch across Titan’s surface
similar to sand dunes on Earth.
In Saturn’s Rings is a ground-breaking
non-proft flm in producton where science
meets art on the giant screen. The flm uses all
real images from space and no CGI whatsoever.
In partcular, the flm employs images from
the Cassini spacecraf. The flm focuses on
images of the Saturn system from the Cassini
spacecraf but will show many images from
all across our visible universe. The flmmaker,
Stephen van Vuuren, uses an innova-
tve technique where he animates stll images
to make it feel like you are really fying through
space. In 2011, the frst minute of
footage of the flm went viral and that’s how I
found out about the flm.
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IC Can you tell us about the work you do
VK: I am a co-producer for In Saturn’s Rings. I am also an image processor for the flm and the leader of
the flm’s social media team. In order to spread the word on the latest developments concerning the
flm, I post and tweet to the flm’s Twiter and Facebook on almost a daily basis.
I am also a volunteer planetary science communicator. Under my nom de plume of “Titan Saturn’s
Moon” I post about Saturn’s largest moon as well as the latest from the Cassini mission. Titan has his own
Facebook, Twiter and WordPress blog. On Facebook, I focus on the latest images from
Cassini, specifcally Titan. On Twiter, I post what the spacecraf is doing on a daily basis. On WordPress,
I post details on Cassini’s latest fybys. I compose a majority of updates writng in the frst-person per-
spectve, thereby giving the impression the moon itself is behind the account.
IC: You have done features on some the USA networks, can you tell us about that experience.
VK: On July 19, 2013, people from all around the world waved at the Cassini spacecraf orbitng Saturn. It took pictures
of us, from Saturn orbit. As soon as the raw images came in, I immediately made color composites of those views.
As a result, I kinda went viral! My images were featured on NBC News, FOX News, Daily Mail, io9,
Business Insider, Yahoo! News, and many others.
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On October 10, 2013, Cassini took some incredible up-close images of Saturn from above. I produced color com-
posites of 2 of these views. My images were featured on NBC News, Discover Magazine, Gizmodo,
Daily Mail, and many others.
TOP LEFT: Earth from Saturn
BOTTOM LEFT: Saturn and Earth
TOP RIGHT: Earth and Moon from Saturn
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On October 10, 2013, Cassini took some incredible up-close images of Saturn from above. I produced color com-
posites of 2 of these views. My images were featured on NBC News, Discover Magazine, Gizmodo,
Daily Mail, and many others.
TOP LEFT: Earth from Saturn
BOTTOM LEFT: Saturn and Earth
TOP RIGHT: Earth and Moon from Saturn
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Staring towards Saturn’s north pole
Saturn and Earth
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IC: Are there any other plans to land probes on Titan?
VK: Sadly, nothing is in the works for the next few decades. There was a recent proposal for a Titan lake lander called the Titan
Mare Explorer (TiME) that would have accomplished the frst nautcal exploraton of an extraterrestrial sea. Unfortunately,
NASA chose to fund a Mars mission instead.
IC: Do you get tme to observe through a telescope?
VK: Occasionally I get tme to observe. I don’t have the best telescope but I enjoy going to local star partes. My favourite
objects to observe are planets and nebulae. I was never really into stargazing untl one trip I took in college to Arizona. I visited
Lowell Observatory in Flagstaf, Arizona I saw an amazing view of Saturn. I also went on top of the Grand Canyon at night. The
sky was the darkest I had ever experienced. Born and raised in Washington, DC, I thought a nightme sky looked dark blue.
I fnally realized how black it truly can be standing on top of the Grand Canyon without the urban light polluton. It was the
most amazing view I had ever seen – the band of the Milky Way was visible, meteors every few seconds, and so many stars!
IC: Do you think there may be a possibility of microbe life on Titan?
VK: There is a possibility of microbial life on Titan. It is supported by the fact that Titan is the only known satellite in the solar
system with a thick atmosphere containing complex organic compounds – which include the chemical precursors of life. Some
models in scientfc literature have suggested that non-water based life may exist in Titan’s lakes and seas. For example, some
scientsts have suggested that conditons for the existence of methanogenic bacteria present on Earth also exist on Titan.
Titan’s sub-surface ocean consistng of water and ammonia may also be an environment for some forms of microbial life.
IC: Where else in the solar system do you think there could be life, from simple cell structures to more complex life forms?
VK:The best places to look for life in the solar system other than Titan are Enceladus and Europa since they have warm water
oceans beneath their surface. If life exists there, it may be similar to microbial life found in Earth’s deep oceans.
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IC: Can you tell us about your future projects?
VK: My career goal is to inspire as many people as I can about planetary science. I am pursuing a career in
planetary science communicaton. I want to bridge the gap between scientsts and the public.
I would love to work on making museum displays, TV shows, and movies focusing on planetary science. I am
currently unemployed but am looking for new opportunites in planetary science outreach all the tme. I am
currently working
Connect with Val on:
about.me
Facebook
Twiter
LinkedIn
Flickr
Google+
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EVOLUTION
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelli-
gent that survives. It is one that is most adaptable to change.” – Charles
Darwin
All life on Earth can be traced back to the “Last Universal Common Ancestor”, which is estmated to have
lived about 3.5 to 3.8 billion years back on Earth. These earliest organisms have evolved into the diversity
of life on Earth we see today. Yes, we are distant cousins of the Sunfower, the beetle and the blue Whale.
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Organisms adapt to be beter suited to their external environment. When the adaptatons are carried by an organ-
ism long enough, they may form an entrely new species.
We see examples of evoluton all around us, either natural or artfcial.
We know about bacteria becoming resistant to antbiotcs. Humans have been able to breed wolves into diferent
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species of dogs in just thousands of years. Polar bears have naturally evolved from grizzly bears to adapt to
their harsh environment. We have artfcially modifed various food products – wild mustard, corn, and various
fruits and fowers.
Source: htps://sites.google.com/site/selectvebreedingofplants/
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So how does Evoluton work?
Evoluton is responsible for the remarkable similarity we see between all organisms (development of eyes,
limbs, respiraton) and for the amazing diversity between animals too.
So how do the cells in our body know how to adapt to the surroundings beter? The basic idea behind evo-
luton is genetc mutatons upon which natural selecton works.
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Genetc Mutaton:
In order to understand how mutatons occur in organisms, we need to frst take a look at our DNA. All life on
Earth uses only 4 DNA bases – Adenine, Guanine, Thymine, Cytosine.
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The sequence of these bases in a
DNA strand represent instructons
about an organism, for example a
partcular sequence of three bases
may be an instructon for making a
specifc kind of amino acid.
DNA replication happens with
remarkable accuracy. One human
cell takes only a few hours to copy
the entre 3 billion base sequence
in a human DNA. However, some-
tmes errors do occur; less than 1
error per billion bases. The wrong
base pair can get atached, or an
extra base pair may be added or
deleted.
It is these errors which form the
basis of evoluton.
Source: http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evo_14
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Consider a group of beetles which is predominantly bright green in colour. However due to mutaton in their
genes, some beetles end up being brown in colour. Brown colour gives a natural advantage to the beetles as
they are camoufaged beter. They pass this trait to their ofspring. Over tme, the rato of brown to green
beetles changes as brown beetles are beter suited to survive than green beetles.
This is how natural selecton works and ensures that species which are more adapted to their surroundings
survive, while others become extnct.
Human Evoluton:
Each human is unique and a result of 3.5 billion years of evoluton on Earth. We are primates. Our ancestors
lived in the trees and many of our traits are adaptatons to tree life – excellent hand-eye coordinaton, eyes in
front to measure depth, limber arms and dexterous hands.
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Source: http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/evo_03
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Contrary to common belief, humans have not evolved
from Chimpanzees (even though our DNA matches 98%).
The species separated about some 6 to 7 million years
back.
Humans have co-existed with at least two other human
species - the Neanderthals and the Hobbits of Indonesia.
IMAGES: TOP RIGHT- Neanderthals
MIDDLE- Hobbits
BOTTOM- Homo Sapiens
When we look at the advantages of intelligence from an
evolutonary point of view, we realise it is but a natural
outcome. Several other species have also demonstrated
intelligence – Crows, Whales, Octopus.
So are we stll evolving? Our genome is difcult to distn-
guish from the genome of a human from 40,000 years
ago. But we have and shall contnue to change dramat-
cally in terms of culture and technology.
Is Evolution a Fact or a Theory?
In 1971, scientsts introduced 5 adult pairs of the Italian
Wall Lizards to a tny island of the coast of Croata. In just
a few decades they had evolved features more suitable
to them for their new habitat – larger heads, harder bite
and a new gut structure.
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(Read the story here: htp://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/04/080421-lizard-evolution.html)
Source: projectorefront.blogspot.com
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To summarize the observed facts of Evoluton:
• Matching of fossils of extnct animals to that of modern animals.
• Examples of natural selecton of species adaptng to their surroundings. Survival of the ftest is a
biological mechanism. Birds will occasionally kill their young if they are weak so the surviving ones have
more food. When a Cheetah makes a kill, it’s the prey which runs the slowest which gets killed. This also
explains why 99% of all life which has lived on Earth is now extnct.
• Examples of artfcial selecton (Wolves to Dogs)
• No two individuals are exactly alike.
Resources:
1. Life in the Universe By J. Bennet, S. Shostak
2. htp://evoluton.berkeley.edu/
WORDS: Henna Khan
@henna_khan
Astronomy/ Science Communicator, Skeptic, Travel Freak, Proponent of Disrupt Education
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Chasing Cloudbows
I have always been obsessed with anything in the sky, whether it is astronomical
or meteorological. I probably wouldn’t go as far as saying I was a plane spoter, but
I also have a keen interest in military aircraf so I would describe myself as a sky-
watcher. So when everyone else was moaning about the thick fog outside…I was
busy packing my camera equipment and tripod. The kids were rather intrigued as
to why I was bringing this along on the school run on such an “awful day”. They
are generally used to me having a quick glance out of the window, abandoning my
current actvity (usually their dinner, much to their disgust) and running outside
with my camera…but there was no sunrise, sunset, clear sky, Moon or sound of a
jet…just a blanket of grey.
I was hoping the reason for my excitement would be revealed when we reached
the school bus stop. As we drove up the steep lane from the house the fog was
stll like pea soup and I squealed with delight! When we reached the pull in at the
top of the lane to wait for the bus the fog was just startng to clear, it was becom-
ing daylight and the reason for my excitement was evident. A clear sky!
I should probably explain my reasons on why this morning was partcularly dif-
ferent. It is all to do with locaton. We live at about 700f on the side of a west
facing hill. When I look out of my window and see fog it can be a good thing or a
bad thing. It is normally determined when driving up to the top of our access lane
(some may call it a drive but that to me means smooth, coifured home entrance).
This is a potholed, weather beaten track which leads to the top of the hill…and
civilisaton! Usually at the top (around 900f) the ‘fog’ can usually be identfed as
Stratus- the bad thing…or radiaton/ valley fog- the good thing! Stratus is when the
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‘fog’ basically goes on and on into the sky
with no end: a claustrophobic low cloud
that is dismal at its very best. Radiaton/
valley fog (a low lying Stratus) for us on
the side of the hill is quite spectacular, as
you can see from this photo. Perhaps not
so good for the people living in the village
enveloped within it…but for a cloud spot-
tng photo opportunist this was heaven!
Valley fog forms where cold dense air
setles into a valley condensing and forming
fog. It is ofen the result of a temperature
inversion, with warmer air passing above
the valley. We quite ofen see it. This par-
tcular day was even more excitng. Usually
when the valley fog is present we are just
about on the fog line at the house, or
it is well below us in the valley, as in the
photo above. (The photo was taken from
halfway up our track). With the sun about
to rise and plenty of fog below I had the
perfect conditons to try and capture two
of my sought afer optcal phenomena – A
fogbow and a glory.
Armed with my camera and tripod I drove
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back into the fog and waited for the sun to rise above the
hill behind me. As the sun appeared behind the trees
on the top of the hill I had some great opportunites to
capture some corona. This was a spectacular sight!
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A corona is produced when light is difracted by small partcles. These can be water droplets, dust partcles,
even pollen. In this case it was the small water droplets caused by the fog. You ofen see this efect when
the Sun or Moon passes behind a thin cloud. The fog was drifing up and down the hill at this point so it was
perfect for playing with diferent efects!
It wasn’t long before the Sun had scaled the trees behind and the fog started to retreat down the hillside…this
was my chance. Fogbows, or cloudbows, are prety much formed like rainbows and are created when light
passes through water droplets when you are facing opposite the sun. The diference is that water droplets in
rainbows are much larger so light is refracted when entering a droplet of water, then refected inside on the
back of the droplet and refracted again when leaving it. In a fogbow the water droplets are much smaller so
when light hits them they are too small to refract light so light is difracted by the tny droplets themselves
to form a much broader and paler bow. Light merges into white instead of being separated into the colours.
To observe a fogbow you need to have the light source (the sun) behind you. The fogbow is then seen at
around an angle of 35 to 40 degrees from your shadow -this is called the antsolar point. The fog has to be
below you with the sun strong enough to break through the fog behind. This was why I was so excited to
have the fog so high up the hill. I could stll have the sun behind and the fog just below, instead of it being
right down in the valley!
I drove halfway down the track and waited for the sun to break through the fog. I wasn’t disappointed. The
fogbow was every bit as beautful as I imagined it to be. It was an eerie feeling with the fog drowning any
sounds. Complete silence, cold damp air and what looked like the ghost of a rainbow in front of me.
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Next came the real challenge- trying to capture a glory. The fog was rolling up and down the hill so it seemed
an age with much scrambling up and down walls, machinery, tree branches and mounds of earth to try and
get the best positon...it wasn’t easy!
Glories are one of the most amazing optcal phenomena, in my opinion, and look like rainbow halos around
the observer’s head. Although glories look similar to rainbows, the way light is scatered to produce them
is slightly diferent; Rainbows are formed by refracton and refecton, whereas glories are thought to be
formed by backward difracton. To see them, you have to be directly between the sun and the water
refractng droplets (in this case fog) with your shadow facing into the antsolar point. A glory is sometmes
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seen from an aeroplane when the sun is directly behind. The glory can be seen surrounding the aeroplane’s
shadow which is cast on the clouds below. The formaton of glory is not completely understood, but it is
known that the light is somehow scatered backwards by water droplets in the fog around a shadow, cast at
the antsolar point. That shadow is ofen elongated and ghost like. This is called a Brocken Spectre, named
afer Brocken, the highest peak of the German Harz Mountains, where climbers saw it at the summit, cast
into the clouds below.
I didn’t have a mountain to stand on…but a
dry stone wall was equally challenging for
me, especially as I had to balance with my
camera whilst I was up there! But I fnally
managed to capture it and it was a fabulous
moment! A glory is unique to its observer.
That is if a group of people were standing
on that drystone wall with me they would
only be able to see their own glory around
their own shadow and not each others’. So
this was my glory and my special moment
and I was so glad I chased it.
So if ever you fnd yourself halfway up a hill in thick fog make sure you aim for the top, reach for the sun and fnd your
own glory! I promise you won’t be disappointed.
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Article Joolz Wright:
@farmerswifee
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The Importance of Gravitational Waves and the Formation of the
Cosmic Microwave Background
In March 2014 one of the most ground breaking discoveries in modern Astrophysics was made. That was
the discovery of gravitatonal waves within the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). Confrmaton of this
discovery will all but prove infaton took place in the wake of the Big Bang, creatng the Universe as we
know it. But in order to understand gravitatonal waves, frst we must look at the CMB and how this relates
to infaton.
The CMB is ofen described as the ‘echo’ of the Big Bang. A form of electromagnetc radiaton, it flls the
entre Universe with equal intensity in all directons. This phenomenon was discovered in 1968 completely
by accident by two Scientsts – Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson – whilst studying the intensity of radio
waves emited from our galaxy. In order to show that the radiaton they were detectng was being emited
by the Milky Way, they frst had to test for background radiaton which they believed would be negligible.
Unfortunately for them, this wasn’t the case. No mater where they pointed their antenna, they found a
faint background noise outside our galaxy. Afer looking at some calculatons and talking with colleagues
they realised they had discovered a blackbody spectrum of around 3.5K being emited in all directons in the
Universe. They had discovered the CMB.
So we know a litle about the when, the where, and the who with regard to the CMB – but what actually is
it? How was it formed, and what does it have to do with gravitatonal waves and our early Universe?
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History of the Universe - gravitational waves are
hypothesized to arise from cosmic infation, a faster-
than-light expansion just after the Big Bang (17 March
2014).source wikipedia
IMAGE BELOW: SCISTAND.COM
The early Universe is ofen talked about in terms
of the frst three minutes. Now this may not sound
like a long tme, but it is basically the tme when
Scientsts believe everything happened.
First up came the Plank, or Superstring Epoch, which
describes the frst 10-43seconds. Dominated by
radiaton, the Universe was too hot for anything to
form. The quantum efect of gravity was also much
stronger throughout this stage leading Scientsts to
believe it was intertwined with the other fundamen-
tal forces (electromagnetc, strong nuclear, and weak
nuclear) creatng a single unifed force dominat-
ing the Universe. Next came the Grand Unifcaton
Epoch. This period of tme relies upon the accuracy of
the Grand Unifcaton Theory (GUT) which suggests
that if partcles collide at energies above 1014GeV,
the strong nuclear force will be combined with the
weak nuclear and electromagnetc forces – and at
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even higher energies even gravity would be indistnguishable. At energies this high, the Universe would
have been so hot and dense no one force could have been separate. This stage ended afer 10-35seconds
when the Universe underwent a bout of infaton allowing temperature and energy levels to drop enough
for the forces to begin to separate.
Afer this period of rapid expansion came the Hadron Epoch. As the name suggests, during this period of
tme the Universe was flled with hadrons such as protons and neutrons. During this phase the Universe
cooled to an extent where the frst elements could begin forming out of the lighter hadrons. The Universe
would have been a violent place at this tme as along with partcle formaton, antpartcles were also created
causing collision and annihilaton between partcle and antpartcle pairs. The last of the four unifed forces
also separated, creatng a very diferent Universe to how it had been previously.
The next period in the development of the Universe – the Lepton Epoch – lasted untl 102seconds afer the
Big Bang. A Lepton is a partcle of light, so it was during this phase that the frst electron and positron pairs
were created. As in the Hadron Epoch, a period of annihilaton followed untl an equilibrium was reached
and the number of protons, neutrons, and electrons became stable. It was now that nucleosynthesis could
begin, allowing the frst heavy elements to form.
The Nuclear Epoch followed and lasted for the next 1,000 years. With temperatures cooling from 109K to
around 3,000K during this tme, it became cold enough for nuclear fusion between protons and neutrons
to occur. Collisions at these temperatures allowed for the creaton of a heavy form of Hydrogen – known
as Deuteron – plus an energy release which was used to fuse another proton to the Deuteron nucleus pro-
ducing Helium-3. Temperatures and radiaton levels at this tme were stll too high to allow the formaton of
anything heavier, but soon became too low to form new elements. This fxed the make-up of the Universe
at 75% Hydrogen, 25% Helium, and trace amounts of Deuteron, Lithium, Beryllium, and Boron.
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Afer the Nuclear Epoch came Recombinaton. This is where a
proton captures an electron, allowing the frst neutral atoms
to form. Although no light was yet being emited, recombi-
naton would have lifed the veil on the early Universe allow-
ing it to become clear and visible for the frst tme. Radiaton
was also now being forced to decouple from the mater it
had always been paired with which allowed gravity to take
over as the dominatng force in the Universe. Gravity then
began forcing partcles of elements together, which was the
beginning of all gas, star, and planet formaton which we see
today. It is the lefover radiaton from this process that we
see today as the CMB.
So if the discovery of the CMB was the trigger of proof needed
to suggest that the idea of infaton shortly afer the Big Bang
was correct, gravitatonal waves could be the smoking gun.
The amplifcaton of gravitatonal waves through infaton
causing polarizaton of the radiaton emited from the CMB
could be the proof we needed to usher in a new era in par-
tcle physics.
WORDS: DAN LUCAS
Photo: Stefen Richter/Harvard University
@dan__lucas
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k
i
d
s
C
o
r
n
e
r
FUZZBALLS AND THE BANANA MOON
by J L Kennedy
Twinkle was in the Control Room looking for his magic wand. He had searched every other
room in the Space Base…
Last night, all the Fuzzballs watched the flm, ‘Harry Poter and The Philosopher’s
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Stone’, and now Twinkle wanted to play at being a wizard, just like Harry. But how could he
be a wizard without his wand?
URGENT—THE MOON IS DISAPPEARING. LAST WEEK IT
LOOKED LIKE A FOOTBALL -
TONIGHT IT LOOKS LIKE A BANANA! PLEASE CAN YOU
SAVE IT?
FROM JACK & MILLIE JONES, CARDIFF, WALES.
(TWINS, AGED 6)
THANKS FOR MESSAGE.
WILL LOOK AT PROBLEM IMMEDIATELY.
TWINKLE.
(YOUNGEST FUZZBALL IN SPACE BASE)
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Twinkle stared out of the window. Jack and Millie were right—the Moon did look like a
banana! And he was sure it had looked like a football not long ago. Something must be seri-
ously wrong. Twinkle spun round in panic. Maybe if he could just fnd his wand he could
sort the problem out with a magic spell... He searched under the chairs and beneath a pile
of books, but had no luck.
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“Drew will know how to get the Moon back,” mutered Twinkle to himself.
He lef a note on his father’s desk, ‘Gone to Moon with Drew, love Twinkle,’ then fed
down the Fuzz Flume to fnd Drew, the Chief Space Engineer.
Drew was servicing one of the Comet Rockets.
“Emergency!” gasped Twinkle. “We need to fy to the Moon!”
“Why? What’s happened?” asked Drew.
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Twinkle sat behind Drew in the cockpit,
and seconds later they were weaving
between the stars.
“So, Twinkle, why are we fying at
full speed towards the Moon?” asked
Drew.
“Well, we’ve had an urgent request
for help from two children in Wales. We
must save the Moon.”
“Twinkle, you aren’t making any
sense,” said Drew. “Look - we’re nearly
there. The Moon’s in front of us now - I
don’t think it needs saving from anything
—”
“Drew, last week it looked like a
football - now it’s a banana! Something’s
eatng it or blowing it up or —”
Drew laughed and laughed until tears were
running down his furry litle face.
“Twinkle, you can tell the twins that the
Moon isn’t shrinking or changing. It’s just that
they can’t always see all of it. Let me explain.
The Sun only lights up the side of the moon
facing it. Sometmes we can see all of the bright
side – that’s a Full Moon -like a football. But
most of the tme we can only see part of it. At
the moment the sun is only shining on a small
porton of the Moon - we call that a Crescent
Moon. As you say, it looks like a banana.”
“Sure?”
“Positve!” replied Drew. “And to prove
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it, we’ll fy around the Moon so you can see that it’s all there.”
“Thank you for letng me know. I’ll have hot chocolate and cupcakes ready for you.”
“Yummy!”
“Oh, Twinkle, before you go… I found your magic wand in my mixing bowl… what was
it doing in there?”
“That’s where I lef it! I remember now - I was trying to make fairy cakes appear by
magic.”
“So, what happened?”
“Nothing. The magic didn’t work. I couldn’t get any cakes to appear let alone ones with
fairies on the top.”
His mother tried not to laugh. “Don’t worry, Twinkle, I’ll explain how to make fairy cakes
when you get back.”
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Twinkle sighed. “Thanks, Mum, but I think I’ve had enough explanatons for one day,
my head’s spinning, I’ll just eat your cakes and go to bed. See you later. I must send a
message to Jack and Millie now… tell them the Moon’s not turning into a banana! Bye!”
FUZZBALLS AND THE BANANA MOON Copyright © 2014 J L
Kennedy.
All rights reserved.
More short stories on our website: www.fuzzballs.co.uk
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