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Fireball 4

Two minerals never before been seen on Earth discovered inside 17-ton meteorite

meteorite somalia two new minerals discovered
© University of Alberta Meteorite Collection
The 2.5-ounce slice of the Somalia meteorite which contains the two brand-new minerals.
The minerals were found inside a slice of the El Ali meteorite, which was found in Somalia in 2020.

Two minerals that have never been seen before on Earth have been discovered inside a massive meteorite in Somalia. They could hold important clues to how asteroids form.

The two brand new minerals were found inside a single 2.5 ounce (70 gram) slice taken from the 16.5 ton (15 metric tons) El Ali meteorite, which was found in 2020. Scientists named the minerals elaliite after the meteor and elkinstantonite after Lindy Elkins-Tanton , the managing director of the Arizona State University Interplanetary Initiative and principal investigator of NASA's upcoming Psyche mission, which will send a probe to investigate the mineral-rich Psyche asteroid for evidence of how our solar system's planets formed.

Comment: More from Global News:
somalia el ali meteorite

The El Ali meteorite is moved for analysis
Chris Herd, a professor in the department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and curator of the University of Alberta's meteorite collection, was contacted a couple years ago about trying to classify a 15-tonne meteorite found in Somalia, the ninth-largest meteorite ever found.

"In the course of doing the classification — describing this new rock for science — I came across some inclusions, some potential different, interesting minerals inside the meteorite. What we've now discovered is there are at least two new minerals in this meteorite from Somalia that have never been discovered before.

"Most people in my profession will go through their career and not even find one new mineral. Here, just by virtue of examining this meteorite... we came across two," Herd said.

"It was an exciting moment when my colleague Dr. Andrew Locock was doing the analysis. The first day he was looking at it, he came to me and said: 'I think you've got at least two new minerals in there,' based on their chemistry, based on the ratio of elements that are in there — in this case, iron, phosphorus and oxygen — you've got two new minerals, and that was really exciting."

The two minerals came from a 70-gram piece that was sent to the U of A for classification. A potential third mineral is also being looked at.

"Whenever you find a new mineral, it means that the geological conditions, the chemistry of the rock, was different than what's been found before," Herd said.

"That's what makes this exciting: In this particular meteorite you have two officially described minerals that are new to science.

"That's my expertise — how you tease out the geologic processes and the geologic history of the asteroid this rock was once part of," Herd said. "I never thought I'd be involved in describing brand new minerals just by virtue of working on a meteorite."

This meteorite is about twice as dense as a regular earth rock, he said, and it's magnetic.

The new minerals have been named elaliite and elkinstantonite. They were identified by Locock, head of the U of A's electron microprobe laboratory, because each had been synthetically created before.

"These minerals have been synthesized in a lab by a group in France in the 1980s, so they were known to science in that regard," Herd explained, "but it doesn't get to be a called a new mineral until it's found in nature."

Elaliite is named after the meteorite itself because it was found near El Ali, in Somalia. Herd named the second mineral after Lindy Elkins-Tanton, a distinguished planetary scientist.

The research is being done with UCLA and the California Institute of Technology.

Herd believes more minerals could be found if researchers can obtain more samples but, researchers say the meteorite appears to have been moved to China and its future is unknown.

"The rock itself sat for at least several generations in the area in Somalia where it was found," Herd said. "It was known by camel herders as a place to stop and sharpen their tools. It's been removed from the site and actually removed from the country now, which is a bit unfortunate... It's a gigantic stone that has potential cultural significance."

The meteorite could also reveal clues about asteroid formation, the university said in a news release Monday.

"Intriguingly, the meteorite that elaliite, the group that it belongs to, may not actually be from the core of an asteroid, it might be from kind of a gigantic pond of originally molten metal near the surface of an asteroid," Herd said.

"Whenever there's a new material that's known, material scientists are interested too because of the potential uses in a wide range of things in society," he added.

"You never know what you're going to find until you start to investigate these rocks in detail."

The university is often asked to conduct meteorite classifications and does a couple dozen a year, Herd said.

Light Saber

Debunking "Professor Dave's" hit piece against intelligent design proponent Stephen Meyer

Dave Farina intelligent design debunk Casey Luskin
© YouTube
Dave Farina
In a previous series at Evolution News (Bechly 2022a, 2022b, 2022c), I answered the diatribe by YouTuber "Professor Dave" directed against our Discovery Institute colleague, geologist Dr. Casey Luskin. The popular YouTuber, whose real name is Dave Farina, is neither a professor nor a PhD but just a failed ex-teacher who unsuccessfully tried twice to get a master's degree in chemistry. These are simply facts about him. But his more than two million subscribers and others, who may come across his misleading content, deserve some fact-checking. Therefore, I exposed the non-professor's propaganda and incompetence. In a second episode (Farina 2022) aimed at intelligent design proponents, Mr. Farina did it again, focusing on philosopher of science Dr. Stephen Meyer and in particular Meyer's New York Times bestseller Darwin's Doubt (Meyer 2013a). This YouTube video runs to about an hour and a quarter, so I will be answering him once again in a series, minute by minute. I have added timecodes in square brackets for easier reference.

Comment: For the full flavor, here is the complete video:

Ice Cube

Dramatic recovery in global sea ice levels confounds the Net Zero catastrophists

iceberg sea ice
© MB Photography/Getty Images
It's a mystery. Why has Arctic sea ice cover roared back so quickly over the last few years? Nobody knows - not one scientist on the planet can tell you, writes Willis Eschenbach in a short essay on the climate site Watts Up With That? It might be noted, of course, that there was no shortage of explanations when there was a cyclical downturn, mostly to do with humans having something to do with it. Ice melting at the Poles is still one of the crucial supports for the entire command-and-control Net Zero political agenda.

Comment: A sampling of mostly ignored reports over the years:


Inside the proton, the 'most complicated thing' you could imagine

proton particle physics
© Samuel Velasco/Quanta Magazine
Researchers recently discovered that the proton sometimes includes a charm quark and charm antiquark, colossal particles that are each heavier than the proton itself.
The positively charged particle at the heart of the atom is an object of unspeakable complexity, one that changes its appearance depending on how it is probed. We've attempted to connect the proton's many faces to form the most complete picture yet.

More than a century after Ernest Rutherford discovered the positively charged particle at the heart of every atom, physicists are still struggling to fully understand the proton.

High school physics teachers describe them as featureless balls with one unit each of positive electric charge — the perfect foils for the negatively charged electrons that buzz around them. College students learn that the ball is actually a bundle of three elementary particles called quarks. But decades of research have revealed a deeper truth, one that's too bizarre to fully capture with words or images.

Better Earth

3.5 billion-year-old rock structures are one of the oldest signs of life on Earth

© Keyron Hickman-Lewis
Dresser Formation stromatolite showing complex layered structure of hermatite, barite, quartz and domed upper surface
Fossils called stromatolites from Western Australia were created by microbes 3.48 billion years ago. Layered rocks in Western Australia are some of Earth's earliest known life, according to a new study.

The fossils in question are stromatolites, layered rocks that are formed by the excretions of photosynthetic microbes. The oldest stromatolites that scientists agree were made by living organisms date back 3.43 billion years, but there are older specimens, too. In the Dresser Formation of Western Australia, stromatolites dating back 3.48 billion years have been found.

However, billions of years have wiped away traces of organic matter in these older stromatolites, raising questions about whether they were really formed by microbes or whether they might have been made by other geological processes.

"We were able to find certain specific microstructures within particular layers of these rocks that are strongly indicative of biological processes," said Keyron Hickman-Lewis, a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in London, who led the research.


Study investigates a rare type Icn supernova

SN 2022ann
© Davis et al., 2022
Finder charts of SN 2022ann (right) and its host galaxy, SDSS J101729.72–022535.6 (center and left).
An international team of astronomers has conducted optical and near-infrared observations of a rare Type Icn supernova known as SN 2022ann. The results of the study, published November 9 on the preprint server arXiv, shed more light on the nature of this supernova and its unique properties.

Supernovae (SNe) are powerful and luminous stellar explosions. They are important for the scientific community as they offer essential clues into the evolution of stars and galaxies. In general, SNe are divided into two groups based on their atomic spectra: Type I and Type II. Type I SNe lack hydrogen in their spectra, while those of Type II showcase spectral lines of hydrogen.

Type Icn SNe are an extreme subtype of interacting stripped-envelope supernovae (SESN). They have strong, narrow oxygen and carbon lines but weak or absent hydrogen and helium lines, presenting additional complications to the stripping mechanism. They have narrow emission features indicative of circumstellar interaction.

To date, only five Type Icn SNe have been discovered, and SN 2022ann is the latest addition to the short list of this SN subtype. SN 2022ann was detected on January 27, 2022 in the faint host galaxy SDSS J101729.72-022535, at a distance of about 710 million light years.

Microscope 2

48,500-year-old virus revived from Siberian permafrost

© Tatiana Gasich/iStock/Getty Images Plus
As the world warms, permafrost is being exposed.
As the world warms up, vast tranches of permafrost are melting, releasing material that's been trapped in its icy grip for years. This includes a slew of microbes that have lain dormant for hundreds of millennia in some cases.

To study the emerging microbes, scientists have now revived a number of these "zombie viruses" from Siberian permafrost, including one thought to be nearly 50,000 years old - a record age for a frozen virus returning to a state capable of infecting other organisms.

Comment: Whilst true, viruses have also been found to be raining down on our planet from space: Viruses from space & evolution: Dr. Wickramasinghe explains it all in new video

The team behind the work, led by microbiologist Jean-Marie Alempic from the French National Centre for Scientific Research, says these reanimating viruses are potentially a significant threat to public health, and further study needs to be done to assess the danger that these infectious agents could pose as they awake from their icy slumber.

Comment: Of greater concern are those viruses being 'gain of functioned' at US bioweapon laboratories, and those falling from space:


Cryovolcanic eruption on comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann reported

comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann
The British Astronomical Association (BAA) is reporting a new outburst of cryovolcanic comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann. On Nov. 22nd, amateur astronomer Patrick Wiggins watched 29P increase in brightness by more than 4 magnitudes--a sign that a major eruption was in progress. On Nov. 23rd, André Debackère used the Faulkes Telescope North in Hawaii to photograph the expanding shell of debris:

The Pac-Man shape of the ejecta shows that this is not a uniform global eruption. Instead, it is coming from one or more discrete sources on the comet's surface.

This fits a leading model of the comet developed by Dr. Richard Miles of the British Astronomical Association. Miles believes that 29P is festooned with ice volcanoes. There is no lava. The "magma" is a cold mixture of liquid hydrocarbons (e.g., CH4, C2H4, C2H6 and C3H8) akin to those found in lakes and streams on Saturn's moon Titan. The cryomagma is suffused with dissolved gases N2 and CO, much like carbonation in a soda bottle. These bottled-up volatiles love to explode when a fissure is opened by the warming action of sunlight.

Comment: See also:


New analysis helps reconcile differences between satellites and climate models

Weather Satellite
New research provides an improved understanding of the causes of historical changes in climate and increases confidence in model simulations of continued global warming over the 21st century.
Satellite observations and computer simulations are important tools for understanding past changes in Earth's climate and for projecting future changes.

However, satellite observations consistently show less warming than climate model simulations from 1979 to the present, especially in the tropical troposphere (the lowest ~15km of Earth's atmosphere). This difference has raised concerns that models may overstate future temperature changes.

Rather than being an indicator of fundamental model errors, the model-satellite difference can largely be explained by natural fluctuations in Earth's climate and imperfections in climate-model forcing agents, according to new research by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists.

"Natural climate variability appears to have partly masked warming over the satellite era," said Stephen Po-Chedley, a LLNL climate scientist and lead author of a paper appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The results of the study provide an improved understanding of the causes of historical changes in climate and increase confidence in model simulations of continued global warming over the 21st century.

"Although the Earth is warming as a result of human emissions of carbon dioxide, natural variations in the Earth's climate can temporarily accelerate or diminish this overall warming trend," noted Zachary Labe, a co-author from Princeton University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. In addition to modulating the rate of warming, natural fluctuations in climate such as the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation also produce unique patterns of regional surface temperature change.


Machine learning autonomously identify 1,000 supernovae

© California Institute of Technology
Today's astronomical facilities scan the night sky deeper and faster than ever before. Identifying and classifying known and potentially interesting cosmic events is becoming impossible for one or a group of astronomers. Therefore, increasingly they train computers to do the work for them. Astronomers from the Zwicky Transient Facility collaboration at Caltech have announced that their machine-learning algorithm has now classified and reported 1000 supernovae completely autonomously.

"We needed a helping hand and we knew that once we train our computers to do the job, they would take a big load off our backs", says Christoffer Fremling, a staff astronomer at Caltech and the mastermind behind the new algorithm, dubbed SNIascore. "SNIascore classified its first supernova in April 2021 and a year and a half later we are hitting a nice milestone of 1000 supernovae without any human involvement".

Many of the current and most exciting scientific questions that astronomers are trying to answer require them to collect large samples of different cosmic events. As a result, modern astronomical observatories have become relentless data-generating machines that throw tens of thousands of alerts and images at astronomers every night. This is particularly true in the field of time-domain astronomy, in which researchers look for fast-changing objects, or transients, such as exploding and dying stars known as supernovae, black holes eating orbiting stars, asteroids, and more.

"The traditional notion of an astronomer sitting at the observatory and sieving through telescope images carries a lot of romanticism but is drifting away from reality," says Matthew Graham, the ZTF project scientist at Caltech.

Apart from freeing time for astronomers to pursue other science questions, the machine learning algorithm is much faster at classifying potential supernova candidates and sharing the results with the astronomical community. With SNIascore the process is shortened from 2-3 days to about 10 min, or near real-time. Such early identification of cosmic explosions is often critical to better study their physics.