One Universe at a Time

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Hydrogen, Helium, Metal

There’s an old joke that the astronomer’s periodic table consists of three elements: hydrogen, helium, and metal. It’s a nice joke, but when you understand how little of matter in the universe is “metal”, you can understand why astronomers focus on hydrogen and helium.

Barringer Crater in Arizona is clear evidence of the meteor impact threat. Credit: Shane Torgerson 0

Hit Me

Yesterday the B612 foundation released a video showing 26 meteor impacts with energies ranging from 1 kiloton to 600 kilotons. They were detected by the global nuclear weapons test network. The claim is that these meteor impacts are occurring much more frequently than originally thought, and they are in the energy range of atomic bombs. The reality isn’t nearly so sensational.

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NASA Outreach

You may have heard about NASA’s budget woes and how that impacts most of their outreach programs. It means we not only lose programs such as the annual NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory open house and CosmoQuest, but also programs such as the one I worked with this past weekend. It is a project called NASA Science and Technology on the Family Calendar.

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Invariable Plane

One aspect of our solar system is that it is essentially a closed system. The stars are so widely separated that it would be rare for a stray asteroid or other object from beyond the Oort cloud to enter our solar system. This means that nearly all the rocky material orbiting the Sun now was also part of the solar system billions of years ago. This has a few consequences, one of which is the tendency for the solar system to lie in a plane.

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