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Posts Tagged ‘astrobiology

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known”*…

 

astrobiology

Astrobiology – the study of life on other planets – has grown from a fringe sub-discipline of biology, chemistry and astronomy to a leading interdisciplinary field, attracting researchers from top institutions across the globe, and large sums of money from both NASA and private funders. But what exactly is it that astrobiologists are looking for? How will we know when it’s time to pop the Champagne?…

Find out at “Proof of life: how would we recognize an alien if we saw one?

[Image above from NASA’s Astrobiology Institute]

* Carl Sagan

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As we look for life, we might send inventive birthday greetings to William “Willy” A. Higinbotham; he was born on this date in 1910.  A physicist who was a member of the team that developed the first atomic bomb, he later became a leader in the nuclear non-proliferation movement.

But Higinbotham may be better remembered as the creator of Tennis for Two, the first interactive analog computer game and one of the first electronic games to use a graphical display, which he built for the 1958 visitor day at Brookhaven National Laboratory.  It used a small analogue computer with ten direct-connected operational amplifiers and output a side view of the curved flight of the tennis ball on an oscilloscope only five inches in diameter. Each player had a control knob and a button.

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The 1958 Tennis for Two exhibit

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Higinbotham source

 

 

Written by LW

October 25, 2018 at 1:01 am

“The blazing meteor, when it descends to earth, is only a stone”*…

 

Meteors

 

The odds of being hit by a meteorite are extremely low. You’re far more likely to die in a car crash or a fire than you are to die from a meteorite strike. It’s also more likely that you’ll be killed by lightning or a tornado – both of which are extremely rare. However, there’s bad news too – you have a higher chance of being hit by a meteorite than you do of winning the lottery…

Oh, and avoid the United States (and India)!  See why at: “What Are Your Chances of Being Hit by a Meteorite?

* Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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As we duck and cover, we might recall that it was on this date in 1969 that a large meteorite fell near Murchison in Victoria, Australia.  Both because it was an observed fall (its bright fireball was seen by many) and because it proved to be rich in organic compounds (an abundance of amino acids), it has been one of the most-studied meteorites.

220px-Murchison_crop source

 

Written by LW

September 28, 2018 at 1:01 am

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