William Harwood – CBS News
Traces of a rare molecule known as phosphine have been found in the hellish, heavily acidic atmosphere of Venus, astronomers announced Monday — providing a tantalizing clue about the possibility of life. Phosphine molecules found on Earth are primarily a result of human industry or the actions of microbes that thrive in oxygen-free environments.
The researchers are not claiming life has been detected on the
second planet from the sun. But the observations suggest at least the
possibility of microbial activity in the upper layers of Venus’ atmosphere,
well away from the planet’s inhospitable surface.
“We have detected a rare gas called phosphine in
the atmosphere of our neighbor planet Venus,” said Jane Greaves, a
professor at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom and lead author of a
report published in Nature Astronomy. “And the reason for our
excitement is that phosphine gas on Earth is made by microorganisms that live
in oxygen-free environments. And so there is a chance that we have detected
some kind of living organism in the clouds of Venus.”
Even so, the team said, much more study is needed to support any
such claim, extraordinary as it would be.
“In order to make this quite extraordinary claim that there
might be life there, we really have to rule everything out, and that’s why
we’re very cautious saying we’re not claiming there’s life, but claiming
there’s something that is really unknown and it might be life,” said team
member William Bains, a researcher at MIT.
Sara Seager, a fellow MIT scientist who studies exoplanet
atmospheres, agreed, saying “we are not claiming we have found life on
“We are claiming the confident detection of phosphine gas whose
existence is a mystery,” she said. “Phosphine can be produced by some
(non-biological) processes on Venus, but only in such incredibly tiny amounts
it’s not enough to explain our observation. So we’re left with this other
exciting, enticing possibility: that perhaps there is some kind of life in
Mars has long been considered the best candidate in
the solar system beyond Earth to have hosted microbial life in the distant past
or even in the present, as suggested by background levels of methane. NASA, the
European Space Agency, China, India, Russia and United Arab Emirates are all
pursuing exploration of the red planet in one form or another.
NASA also is planning a flagship mission to study the
moons of Jupiter. Scientists believe one of the
planet’s largest and best-known moons, Europa, heated by tidal stresses and
gravitational interactions with other moons, harbors a salty, possibly
habitable ocean beneath its icy crust. Other frozen moons in the outer solar
system, possible “water worlds,” are also candidates for study.
But Venus is the victim of a runaway greenhouse effect in which
thick clouds in a mostly carbon dioxide atmosphere trap sunlight, producing
temperatures at the surface that soar to nearly 900 degrees, hot enough to melt
In the planet’s upper atmosphere, however, temperatures are much
more hospitable. Despite the acidic nature of the clouds, scientists have
speculated it may be possible for alien microbes to exist.
“The surface conditions there today are really hostile, the
temperature is enough to melt our landers,” Greaves said. “But it’s
thought that much earlier in Venus’ history the surface was much cooler and
wetter and life possibly could have originated.
“There is a long-standing theory that some of the smallest
forms of life might have been able to evolve upwards into the high clouds.
Conditions there are certainly not nice, they’re extremely acidic and it’s very
windy, but on the other hand, if you’re talking about 50 to 60 kilometers up,
then the pressure is much like it is on the surface of the Earth and the
temperature’s quite nice, maybe up to about 85 degrees Fahrenheit. So it’s been
hypothesized that this is a living habitat today.”
Greaves’ team studied spectra of Venus’ atmosphere using the James
Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii and 45 radio telescope antennas in the
Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile and were surprised to see
unmistakable signs of phosphine. “It was a shock,” Greaves said.
The detection was rewarded with additional observing time on the
ALMA array and “in the end, we found that both observatories had seen the
same thing, faint absorption at the right wavelength to be phosphine gas, where
the molecules are backlit by the warmer clouds below,” Greaves said in a
Only trace amounts were observed, about 20 molecules per billion.
But additional research showed natural sources of phosphine — volcanoes,
lightning, minerals blown up into the atmosphere, the action of sunlight —
would only generate one ten thousandth the amount actually detected.
The team can rule out many non-biological ways to generate the
observed levels of phosphine, but that doesn’t mean life is the only
explanation. The atmosphere of Venus is 90% sulfuric acid, raising “many
questions, such as how any organisms could survive,” said MIT researcher
Cara Sousa Silva.
“On Earth, some microbes can cope with up to about 5% of acid
in their environment, but the clouds of Venus are almost entirely made of
acid,” she said.
Greaves’ team is awaiting additional telescope time to look for
signs of other gases associated with biological activity and to determine the
temperature of the clouds where the phosphine is present to gain additional
insights. Ultimately, future visits by spacecraft likely will be needed to
fully resolve the question.
“There can always be something we overlooked,” said Seager. “Ultimately, the only thing that will answer this question for us — is there life, is there not life — is actually going to Venus and making more detailed measurements for signs of life and maybe life itself.”
banner image: A false-colour image of Venus as captured by the Ultraviolet Imager aboard Japan’s Venus Climate Orbiter (Akatsuiki). JAXA
Science Saturday 0919 – CGTN
In this week’s Science Saturday, we look at science news ranging from possible signs of life on Venus to wildlife protection.
Scientists detect gas in Venus clouds linked to life on Earth
First, evidence of potential for life on the planet next door! A smelly, flammable gas called “phosphine” has been found on Venus. Here on Earth, phosphine is produced predominantly by anaerobic biological sources. So with this discovery, there’s a chance that there are some living organisms in the clouds of Venus. But scientists say further observations and modeling are needed to explore the origin of the gas in the planet’s atmosphere. The findings are published in the peer-reviewed journal – Nature Astronomy.
Washington bans TikTok downloads from U.S. app stores
Washington has announced a decision to ban TikTok downloads from app stores in the United States. Donald Trump, the U.S. president, is questioning plans by Chinese tech firm, ByteDance, to keep a majority stake in TikTok’s U.S. operations as part of a partnership deal with Oracle. Trump says any agreement to continue operating in U.S. must be “100% as far as national security is concerned.” He has called the popular video-sharing app a security threat, and says he will ban it unless it’s sold by ByteDance.
WWF report: Wildlife populations down by an average of 68 percent over past four decades
The world’s wildlife population is under threat! A new report by the World Wildlife Fund says human activity has wiped out two-thirds of the world’s wildlife since 1970. Latin America and the Caribbean are the world’s worst-affected areas, which have seen an average drop of 94 percent. The report says humans’ over-exploitation of wildlife, grassland conversion and climate change are among the major drivers of this devastating decline. Researchers are calling for changes in production and consumption patterns of food and energy, increased conservation efforts and a global collective effort.
Winners of Breakthrough Prizes announced for 2021
The winners of the 2021 Oscars of Science, also known as Breakthrough Prizes, have been revealed. Eight scientists have been recognized for their achievements in Mathematics, Fundamental Physics and Life Sciences. One of the recipients is David Baker, whose team designed a molecule that potentially inhabits the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The team also successfully synthesized the proteins, which demonstrated a neutralizing antibody, shedding light on a potential new treatment to the disease. The prizes total 21 million U.S. dollars. Due to the global coronavirus pandemic, this year’s ceremony has been postponed until March 2021.
“Science Saturday” is part of CGTN’s science and technology series “Tech It Out.” The segment brings you the latest news about innovations and technological breakthroughs in the past two weeks from across the world.
Physicists may have the first experimental evidence for a new type of Dark Boson
Two experiments looking for the whisper of a particle that prevents the entire galaxy from flying away have recently published some contradictory results. One came out empty-handed, and the other gives you all the reasons to keep searching.
Unlike bosons that we know better, like photons that bind molecules and gluons that bind atomic nuclei together, the exchange of dark bosons has little effect on the surrounding environment.
On the other hand, if they exist, their collective energy may be responsible for making up dark matter. The lost mass that provides the extra gravity needed to keep our stellar universe in a familiar form.
Unfortunately, the presence of such bosons will be as detectable as the murmurs in a storm. But for a physicist, given the right kind of experimentation, the noise can still be enough to stand out.
Two studies led by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and two studies led by Aarhus University in Denmark, examined the subtle differences in the position of electrons in isotopes that jump between energy levels. If it shook, this could be an obvious sign of the dark Boson’s nudge.
Theoretically, the boson comes from the interaction between the orbiting electron and the quarks that make up the neutron in the nucleus.
The team led by MIT used a small number of isotopes of ytterbium for the experiment, and calcium was a factor of choice by a group led by the University of Aarhus.
Both experiments sorted the data on specific plot types that measure this kind of motion in isotopes. Although the calcium-based experiment appeared as expected, the ytterbium plot was off and there was a statistically significant deviation in the linearity of the plot.
This is not the cause of any kind of celebration. First of all, boson can explain the number, but there may be a difference in the way you perform the calculations, this type of correction is called quadratic field shift.
You also need to explain exactly why you found something strange in one experiment and nothing in the other.
As always, we need more data. Much more. But figuring out exactly what makes up more than a quarter of the universe is one of the biggest questions in science, so every potential lead will be pursued with excitement.
Particles that transmit a new kind of force Standard model It’s not exactly ruled out in physics, but finding one is tremendous.
Last year, physicists were excited about particles moving at odd angles, alluding to a hitherto unknown force.
Similarly, the number of rebounding electrons in the XENON1T dark matter setup shook its tongue earlier this year, sparking speculation about a hypothetical dark matter candidate. Called axion.
While this result is interesting, we’ve broken our hearts before. In 2016, the dark matter candidate type was Madala Boson Was Rumors of discovery Among the data collected by the Large Hadron Collider to find Higgs particles.
This particle can be thought of as a kind of dark version of Higgs Boson, and dark matter lends its power without being clearly revealed in other ways.
CERN throws cold water Sad to say about that little gossip. This does not mean that such particles do not exist or that the signal is not tempting. It’s just that we really can’t confirm with some degree of confidence.
Larger colliderA clever new way of searching for subtle nudges and whispers of particles, more sensitive equipment, and almost non-existent, may one day get the answers we need.
Dark matter certainly won’t make it easier.
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A new study finds that an iceberg may not have sunk the Titanic
From famous mechanics
Just knowing when we think we know everything here TitanicUnsinkable ships, giant icebergs, “I am the king of the world,” etc. – come with interesting new discoveries that raise big questions about what really happened on the terrible night of April 14, 1912. The weather effect from space is really the reason Titanic Drowning?
🚢 You like ugly planes. so do we. Let’s get them together.
The main finding of the new study is that the northern hemisphere was subjected to a “moderate to severe” magnetic storm that night, which could have caused a change. TitanicNavigational readings affect its planned course And The crew shared their location during SOS signals.
The idea is very simple. The sun, which is powered by an atomic dynamo that burns millions of degrees, is bathed in sunlight. These, in turn, are punctuated by the size of the Earth by gigantic or larger explosives: solar flares.
“In a few minutes, they heat the material to millions of degrees and generate one billion megatons of TNT.” NASA explains that once the release is released. ”These flares are often caused by magnetic changes or collapses, and their explosions cause magnetic waves through the solar system.
It instinctively suggests that the hottest thing in the solar system experiences a lot of responses to rotating and changing magnetic fields. Earth is a successful habitat for living organisms, in part because humans have a protective magnetic field that represents an enormous amount of solar radiation and cosmic air that would throw us to the surface of a lifeless Mars-like planet. .
This magnetic field changes and changes over time, especially as the magnetic poles revolve around the Earth’s surface. Animals and humans have learned to rely on magnetic poles, in the form of man-made devices such as compasses. Animal knowledge for migration and navigation. Compasses, like hours, should be set to the correct units, for example Calculate magnetic answers It turns out in a natural way.
From here we reconnect Titanic. The newspaper is owned by author Mila Zinkova, which has published about four previous papers Titanic In the magazine RMetS Weather, Investigated the theory that mirrors or other visual disturbances played a role in the sinking. Now, Zinkova is using weather and space data to explore a different theory.
If a solar flare is so intense that it was marked by what is called Aurora borealis on that historic night, it could encircle the Earth’s magnetic field and wreak havoc with magnetic devices like the compass. Even today, solar flares disrupt the power grid and space traffic, and truly valuable backups. Safety can be maintained in a Faraday cage.
Genkova writes that the impact on the compass affected the coordinates contained in the signs of the crisis. “The Titanic A fourth officer, Joseph Backshall, worked in the ship’s SOS condition. The Paxhall site was about 13 nautical kilometers (24 kilometers) from its original location, Zenkova wrote.
But the rescue plane Carpathia Perhaps this was wrong information. The Carpathian Compasses could be under the influence of a geomagnetic storm for 5.5 hours before and after. TitanicIt has SOS, and even hitting lifeboats, “Zinkova continues.” Therefore, a potential compound compass error may be one of the contributing factors to the successful rescue of survivors of the Titanic. “
It also indicates how the solar flare is localized. Ships caught in a certain area. Receive radio calls or miss them altogether. Returning to the ground or outside the affected area, everything seemed normal except upon contact or attempt Titanic And other ships nearby.
Source:- Aviation Analysis Wing
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