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Friday, Nov 21st

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Mega-Earth Is the Weirdest Exoplanet Yet

Mega earthLooking at the Solar System, there seem to be two basic types of planets.

The smaller planets, including Earth, are dense, lower mass, and composed of rock. The larger worlds—Jupiter and the other giants—are massive, made of compressed gas, and possess no surface to speak of. As we learn about exoplanets orbiting distant stars, those two basic categories seem to hold. However, as astronomers map the landscape of planets, they are discovering worlds that don’t fit what we once thought, and which suggest a richer galaxy of possibilities.

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Stunning fossil eggs provide insight on ancient flying reptiles

pterosaursA spectacular fossil find in China - a prehistoric egg extravaganza from 120 million years ago - is providing unique insight into the lifestyle and gender differences of pterosaurs, the flying reptiles that lived alongside the dinosaurs.

Until now, only four pterosaur eggs had ever been found, and all were flattened during the process of fossilization.

But Chinese scientists said on Thursday they had unearthed five pterosaur eggs preserved beautifully in three dimensions at a site in northwestern China that also includes no fewer than 40 adult individuals of a newly identified species that lived in a bustling colony near a large freshwater lake.

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Millennials Are America's Most Godless Grown-Ups

evolutionWhile a plurality of Americans overall still believe in creationism, a majority of young adults believe in evolution.

Gallup regularly polls Americans on their beliefs about how human beings came to be. Overall opinions have stayed remarkably stable over time, with a plurality believing that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years.

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'Godzilla of Earths' identified

Godzilla of earths identifiedThere is a new class of planet out there that astronomers are calling the "mega-Earth". It is an object with a hard surface like our own world but much, much bigger.

The necessity for the new designation follows the discovery of a planet which has a mass some 17 times that of Earth.

Known as Kepler-10c, it orbits a star about 560 light-years away. Scientists described its properties at an American Astronomical Society meeting in Boston.

They confess it is something of a head-scratcher.

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Matter will be created from light within a year, claim scientists

Light into matterResearchers have worked out how to make matter from pure light and are drawing up plans to demonstrate the feat within the next 12 months.

The theory underpinning the idea was first described 80 years ago by two physicists who later worked on the first atomic bomb. At the time they considered the conversion of light into matter impossible in a laboratory.

But in a report published on Sunday, physicists at Imperial College London claim to have cracked the problem using high-powered lasers and other equipment now available to scientists.

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Wyoming rejects science standards, won't teach man-made climate change

Wyoming rejects science standardsWyoming, the U.S.'s leading coal-producer, has become the first state to reject new K-12 science standards put forward by national education groups after officials objected to the teaching of man-made global warming as a fact.

The Wyoming Board of Education decided recently that the Next Generation Science Standards needed more review after questions were raised over the treatment of global warming.

Board President Ron Micheli said the review will look into whether "we can't get some standards that are Wyoming standards and standards we all can be proud of."

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Universe evolution recreated in lab

universe evolution in a labAn international team of researchers has created the most complete visual simulation of how the Universe evolved.

The computer model shows how the first galaxies formed around clumps of a mysterious, invisible substance called dark matter.  It is the first time that the Universe has been modelled so extensively and to such great resolution.

The research has been published in the journal Nature.

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