Shadow Biosphere, plasma, water and the magnetic monster

19 Jul 2012

Some interesting speculative biology going on - and NASA forced to retreat. The idea of a shadow biosphere, or a biosphere that has been crowded out by the current one, appealed to some people, including a group at NASA, as it mikght have helped them in their search for life on other planets. It seems a couple of papers and studies have put the idea to bed - see http://phys.org/print261680276.html.

Why is Earth so dry? - you many have not noticed this as in western Europe this year it has been raining bucket loads, but apparently the Earth is dry - in spite of all the oceans, rivers, lakes, ditches and ponds full of water. Less than one per cent of the mass of the Earth is water, it is claimed, and even that may have been delivered by comets or asteroids (see http://phys.org/print261755920.html). The lack of water inside the Earthg does nopt fit the Standard Model which explains how the solar system formed from a proto planetary disk of swirling gas and dust surrounding the Sun.

Plasma is the next science target of NASA - see http://phys.org/print261762623.html ... two giant donuts of charged particles associated with the Van Allen belts surround the Earth. Life on Earth exists in an electrically neutral environment - but Life on Earth differes, it is alleged, from everywhere else as beyond the protective atmosphere electrified particles dominate space, and some 99 per cent of the universe is made of electrified gas, or plasma. The Van Allen belts are plasma, and NASA plans to launch a mission, the Radiation Belt Storm Probes or RBSP, in August in order to study plasma more closely. The radiation belts were discovered by Explorer 1 way back in 1958. Now, the search is on for what drives the plasma - its origin and the mechanism that gives the particles speed and energy, and where they dissipate - and why.

At http://phys.org/print261679688.html ... the focus is on a magnetic monster, a recently discovered star. It is neither a pulsar or a magetar but behaves somewhat oddly. Its presence is known from short X-ray bursts.