Month: June 2014

A white dwarf made entirely of solid diamond.


Amazing article:

We find exoplanets in one way right now, and that’s by measuring dips of star light as the “planet” transits in front of it and alters the star’s magnitude. This technique changing as we speak, with large telescopes being constructed. We just blew a top off of a mountain for the ELT (Extremely Large Telescope.. I know, creative, right?) and the James Webb Telescope, which will replace Hubble, just passed a major construction milestone. These will block the targeted star’s light out with cool shields to view exoplanets in visible light. They actually can do this now, but only to a small degree.

There is a particular “exoplanet” they found around a pulsar. It is roughly the size of Earth and exhibited odd properties, so it has been a regular target for various astronomers. They have come to find out this thing is not an exoplanet, but a white dwarf. These types of binary systems are very, very common. However, there is a reason I am posting about it.

This white dwarf, compared to others we observe, is very unique. These dwarfs are stars similar to our Sun, but much further in their evolution. They have expanded to red giants and blown off all outer layers long ago and left a super/condensed core of a star. As I said, this star is now the size of Earth, yet started out roughly the same size of our home star. What makes it amazing is that it is most cooled down white dwarf we’ve ever measured. It has cooled to the point where the carbon it is largely comprised of has actually solidified.

This, by definition, is a star, not a planet. However, it has a solid surface of diamond.

Yep, diamond.

Are all animals related to all plant life? (Spoiler: Yep!)

Are all animals related to all plant life? (Spoiler: Yep!)

This is a great article. Being that all life on Earth sprang from a single genesis, this makes all life’s relation easy to guess. However, many people don’t know that if you go back in time far enough, humans (all animals, actually) and trees all share, well, the same family tree.

This planet has had several mass extinctions. The K-9 event is the most famous of such events being that it was responsible for making all the dinosaurs drop dead. The Great Dying, another famous yet lesser known extinction, killed a much higher percentage of life than the K-9 event. However, none of these completely eradicated ALL life. This means that, despite what most would have you believe, the fact that something lived through each extinction event is responsible for us existing today. Life never completely died and therefore, is all part of the initial genesis that began with single celled organisms about 3.5 billion years ago (roughly 1 billion years after Earth formed). Once cells began to form, Earth was covered in a slime which, ironically enough, hindered the expansion of life for a billion years. Keep in mind that the Earth was nothing as it is today. The atmosphere was much different. Bacteria formed and created an abundance of other things (methane, oxygen, carson dioxide) that made the atmosphere more hospitable for life as we know it.

That initial rise is the beginning of our collective stories. From this slime rose multi-celled organisms. From there, things like bacteria, algae rose and made way for primitive life/animals.

At the core of this fact lies the most amazing thing that we rarely realize – plants, trees, dinosaurs, fish, mollusks, bacteria, viruses and any fauna imaginable are all distant cousins, having arisen from the same origin.

So the next time someone tells you a cool fact such as how mushrooms are more closely related to animals than they are to plants, you can whip this one out.. humans and the grass you’re standing on, as well as the tree shading you from the Sun, are actually all very related.

I suppose you could also make the case that life, originally arisen from interactions from various rocks, gases and liquids, makes us related to the rocks beneath your feet.