December 19th, 2007

Martian Meteorite

Life's Building Blocks
Organic molecules inside space rock were probably the result of plain old chemistry Chemicals in a Martian meteorite that were once held up as possible evidence of life on ancient Mars were more likely the product of heat, water and chemistry, according to a new study.

Researchers from the Carnegie Institution of Washington and the University of Oslo in Norway reached that conclusion after comparing the four-pound (two-kilogram) extraterrestrial rock, ALH84001, with samples of earthly volcanic material—and discovering a matching pattern of minerals consistent with a chemical process that yields carbon compounds after rapid heating and cooling.
 
Although the study does not support the existence of life on Mars, researchers say it shows that some of the chemical precursors of life—at least as we know it—were kicking around on the Red Planet some 4.5 billion years ago.
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Amun-Re's Temple

Surprise Finds at EgyptTemple "Change Everything"
A series of surprising discoveries has been made at the foot of Egypt's famous Temple of Amun at Karnak, archaeologists say.

 
The new finds include ancient ceremonial baths, a pharaoh's private entry ramp, and the remains of a massive wall built some 3,000 years ago to reinforce what was then the bank of the NileRiver.
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The "New" Threat

Small Asteroids Pose Big New Threat
The infamous Tunguska explosion, which mysteriously leveled an area of Siberian forest nearly the size of Tokyo a century ago, might have been caused by an impacting asteroid far smaller than previously thought.
 
The fact that a relatively small asteroid could still cause such a massive explosion suggests "we should be making more efforts at detecting the smaller ones than we have till now," said researcher Mark Boslough, a physicist at Sandia National Laboratory.
 
The explosion near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River on June 30, 1908, flattened some 500,000 acres (2,000 square kilometers) of Siberian forest. Scientists calculated the Tunguska explosion could have been roughly as strong as 10 to 20 megatons of TNT — 1,000 times more powerful than the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
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Image of the Day

The World's Biggest Telescope


About half the size of a football field and 21 stories tall, the largest optical telescope ever constructed will use almost 1,000 mirrors to hunt for exoplanets—and maybe even unlock the secrets of spacetime.
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