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Thu, 09 Dec 2021
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Ultra-dense exoplanet seemingly made of solid iron has been spotted by astronomers orbiting a nearby star

According to the Interactive Extra-Solar Planets Catalogue, humans have spotted some 4,878 planets in 3,604 solar systems other than our own. Termed exoplanets, only few have been found in the habitable zone around their parent star, and none have been confirmed to have life.

There are few things that are standard or typical across the universe, but the exoplanet GJ 367b still manages to stick out as an oddball in Earthling discoveries. Astronomers at the German Aerospace Center's Institute of Planetary Research, using data gathered by NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), reported the find in a paper published in Science on Thursday.

© NASA/JPL-Caltech
Artist’s rendering of TOI-1231 b, a Neptune-like planet about 90 light-years away from Earth.


Second exoplanet with four stars discovered
Darker than asphalt: Hubble telescope captures images of pitch-black exoplanet
'Behaving like a comet': Astronomers discover enormous exoplanet with wild, slingshot-like orbit

Blue Planet

Recycling of tectonic plates found to be a key driver of Earth's oxygen budget

Parinacota Volcano Atacama Desert  Chile
© Glenn Gaetan
Parinacota Volcano, in the Atacama Desert of Chile.
A new study co-led by a Cornell researcher has identified serpentinite -- a green rock that looks a bit like snakeskin and holds fluids in its mineral structures -- as a key driver of the oxygen recycling process, which helped create and maintain the sustaining atmosphere for life on Earth.

"This cycle is a really a big deal," said Esteban Gazel, associate professor of earth and atmospheric sciences in Cornell's College of Engineering, and co-lead author on the study. "In the end, we're talking about the budget of oxygen on the planet and how that gets balanced through processes like subduction."

Earth is constantly recycling its life-giving supply of water and oxygen as tectonic plates sink, or subduct, deep into the planet. Elements are carried down as one piece of the planet's crust slips below another, and resurface through the resulting volcanoes.

It's a critical process, but how, exactly, subduction recycles oxygen and allows it to interact with other elements has always been a topic of debate among geoscientists.

Comment: Gazel has refined and expanded the theory which was proposed in 2010

Geologist's Discoveries Resolve Debate About Oxygen In Earth's Mantle


New dinosaur species from Chile had a unique slashing tail

© Mauricio Alvarez
Segouros illustration
Fossils found in Chile are from a strange-looking dog-sized dinosaur species that had a unique slashing tail weapon, scientists reported Wednesday.

Some dinosaurs had spiked tails they could use as stabbing weapons and others had tails with clubs. The new species, described in a study in the journal Nature, has something never seen before on any animal: seven pairs of "blades" laid out sideways like a slicing weapon used by ancient Aztec warriors, said lead author Alex Vargas.

"It's a really unusual weapon," said Vargas, a University of Chile paleontologist. "Books on prehistoric animals for kids need to update and put this weird tail in there. ... It just looks crazy."

The plant-eating critter had a combination of traits from different species that initially sent paleontologists down the wrong path. The back end, including its tail weapon, seemed similar to a stegosaurus, so the researchers named it stegouros elengassen.
© Lios Perez Lopez
Stegouros illustration

Arrow Down

Breakthrough infection study compares decline in COVID vaccine effectiveness: Pfizer vs Moderna vs J&J

3 vaccines
© Unknown
Study in Science of more than 780,000 Veterans is the first to compare waning protection rates across all three vaccine types available to most Americans and to directly report death rates after breakthrough infection.

As COVID-19 breakthrough infections continue to emerge in some vaccine recipients and health authorities are developing policies around booster vaccinations, national data on COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough infections is inadequate but urgently needed. Now a study from the Public Health Institute, the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the University of Texas Health Science Center published today in the journal Science analyzed COVID infection by vaccination status among 780,225 Veterans.

Researchers found that protection against any COVID-19 infection declined for all vaccine types, with overall vaccine protection declining from 87.9% in February to 48.1% by October 2021.
  • The decline was greatest for the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine, with protection against infection declining from 86.4% in March to 13% in September
  • Declines for PfizerBioNTech were from 86.9% to 43.3%
  • Declines for Moderna were 89.2% to 58%.
Covid Breakthrough infections chart
© Public Health Institute
COVID Breakthrough Infections

Comment: The results and validations in this study seem to be criteria-based on partial evidence versus detailed and complete analysis. It appears some crucial factors have been dismissed or ignored.


Strong winds power electric fields in upper atmosphere, NASA's ICON finds

Spaceweather ionosphere
© NASA/Youtube
What happens on Earth doesn't stay on Earth.
Using observations from NASA's ICON mission, scientists presented the first direct measurements of Earth's long-theorized dynamo on the edge of space: a wind-driven electrical generator that spans the globe 60-plus miles above our heads. The dynamo churns in the ionosphere, the electrically charged boundary between Earth and space. It's powered by tidal winds in the upper atmosphere that are faster than most hurricanes and rise from the lower atmosphere, creating an electrical environment that can affect satellites and technology on Earth.

The new work, published today in Nature Geoscience, improves our understanding of the ionosphere, which helps scientists better predict space weather and protect our technology from its effects.

Comment: Again: one wonders just what accounts for the other half? Because, whilst they conclude that "much" of the effect observed is a result of activity closer to earth, it begs the question: since there's good reason to believe that solar cycles seem to drive climate on Earth, just what impact does a 'ripple' in Space Weather eventually have down here on Earth?

That question is ever more pressing because our planet has clearly entered a period of extreme weather, erratic seasons, unusual atmospheric and terrestrial phenomena, along with significant global cooling.

See also: And check out SOTT radio's:


Research shows cold far more deadly than heat

More warming would save lives. A new, comprehensive Lancet study shows that far more people are being killed globally by cold weather than by hot weather.
Death due Cold
© Burkart et al 2021, Lancet
Almost 20 times more deaths were attributed to cold than to heat in South Africa.
Die kalte Sonne here looks at the impacts of temperature extremes on mortality. There's no doubt that extreme weather kills more people. But the question in these times of "global warming" is whether or not warming is going to lead to more deaths.

A new publication in the renowned journal Lancet, by Burkart et al studied 65 million deaths in 9 countries occurring between Jan 1, 1980, and Dec 31, 2016 in relation to temperature effects.

The researchers found that 17 of the 176 categories for the cause of death "showed J-shaped relationships with daily temperature, whereas the risk of external causes (eg, homicide, suicide, drowning, and related to disasters, mechanical, transport, and other unintentional injuries) increased monotonically with temperature."

The 17 causes of death with J-shaped curves (dependent of temperature) included heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, lower respiratory infection, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Using the data, the team of authors extrapolated the results to the entire global population and examined the year 2019.


Plato's revenge? Geometry is showing how the world is constructed from cubes

sanskrit cubes
© WillRead8888/Imgur
An exercise in pure mathematics has led to a wide-ranging theory of how the world comes together.

On a mild autumn day in 2016, the Hungarian mathematician Gábor Domokos arrived on the geophysicist Douglas Jerolmack's doorstep in Philadelphia. Domokos carried with him his suitcases, a bad cold and a burning secret.

The two men walked across a gravel lot behind the house, where Jerolmack's wife ran a taco cart. Their feet crunched over crushed limestone. Domokos pointed down.

"How many facets do each of these gravel pieces have?" he said. Then he grinned. "What if I told you that the number was always somewhere around six?" Then he asked a bigger question, one that he hoped would worm its way into his colleague's brain. What if the world is made of cubes?

Comet 2

New study shows the largest comet ever observed was active at near-record distance

UMD astronomers discovered that comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein is among the most distant active comets from the sun, providing key information about its composition.
comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein
© NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/J. da Silva/Spaceengine
The Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein (BB), represented in this artist rendition as it might look in the outer Solar System, is estimated to be about 1000 times more massive than a typical comet. The largest comet discovered in modern times, it is among the most distant comets to be discovered with a coma, which means ice within the comet is vaporizing and forming an envelope of dust and vapor around the comet’s core.
A new study by University of Maryland astronomers shows that comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein (BB), the largest comet ever discovered, was active long before previously thought, meaning the ice within it is vaporizing and forming an envelope of dust and vapor known as a coma. Only one active comet has been observed farther from the sun, and it was much smaller than comet BB.

The finding will help astronomers determine what BB is made of and provide insight into conditions during the formation of our solar system. The finding was published in The Planetary Science Journal on November 29, 2021.

"These observations are pushing the distances for active comets dramatically farther than we have previously known," said Tony Farnham, a research scientist in the UMD Department of Astronomy and the lead author of the study.

Knowing when a comet becomes active is key to understanding what it's made of. Often called "dirty snowballs" or "icy dirtballs," comets are conglomerations of dust and ice left over from the formation of the solar system. As an orbiting comet approaches its closest point to the sun, it warms, and the ices begin to vaporize. How warm it must be to start vaporizing depends on what kind of ice it contains (e.g., water, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide or some other frozen compound).

Arrow Up

Meet the technology that's uncovering 2020's voter fraud

Phantom voter
© Croc Auto
The Phantom Voter
The search for phantom voters is over. Phantom voters are sitting next to you at the restaurant or standing next to you at the bank. They are your friend and neighbor. You may be a phantom and not know it.

Phantom voters, the definition, is morphing from fake voters hiding in UPS boxes to people who advanced computer models predict will not vote.

Don't get me wrong — there are thousands of phantom voters living in churches, R.V. parks, cemeteries, homeless shelters, hotels, and virtual mailboxes. It's just that there are as many, perhaps more, who live active, healthy, honest lives on voter rolls. They just don't know they voted.

You've heard the stories, denied by the mainstream press and almost every secretary of state: there is no significant voter fraud. Why not say that? There is no way you can check.

Now there is.

Comet 2

Unexpected Andromedid meteor outburst, strongest ever detected by CMOR

Andromedid meteor outburst

This radar sky map shows a hot spot of meteor activity on Nov. 28th.
The Andromedids are back. Over the weekend astronomers reported an outburst of more than 100 faint meteors per hour. "[It was] the strongest outburst of Andromedid meteors ever detected by the Canadian Meteor Orbit Radar (CMOR)," says Peter Brown of the University of Western Ontario.

The shower's not over yet. "The current outburst is ongoing and it may be another few days or even a week before the activity ramps down," says Brown. "These meteors are too faint to see with the naked eye, but they are easy targets for our radar."

Andromedids are debris from Biela's Comet, known to historians as "the comet that split in two." 3D/Biela started to fall apart not long after it was discovered in 1772. It was a double comet when it swung by Earth in 1852 and, after that, was never seen again. In 1872 and 1885, thousands of meteors shot out of the constellation Andromeda as Earth passed through Biela's remains. Chinese records described "stars that fell like rain."

Comment: For fascinating insight into Biela's comet, check out Laura Knight-Jadczyk's article Comet Biela and Mrs. O'Leary's Cow.

Comment: There appears to be a significant uptick of all kinds of Fire In The Sky activity: See also: And check out SOTT radio's: