Sand dunes on comet


This is an image from Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko taken by the Rosetta spacecraft. Sent in by member Gary Gilligan it shows sand dunes on the surface of the comet - go to the link where you will see a succession of images,

Atmospheric Gases

At ... a paper in Nature Geoscience (Oct 2014) has suggested the origin of Earth's nitrogen rich atmosphere is due to the tectonic forces that drive mountain building, subduction, and Plate Tectonics. It also adds, presumably quoting a consensus source, the chemistry of the air we breathe has been affected by millions and millions of years of photosynthesis. The oxygen upstairs, it is thought, can be mostly explained away as due to plants and trees growing on the surface of the Earth. This sounds a bit like a chicken and egg situation.

Idaho Mammoth

At ... part of a mammoth skull and tusks have been unearthed at a reservoir in Idaho. It is possible an entire skeleton is buried there but this has yet to be determined. A fossil hunter working in the area as a volunteer spotted it, as one does if you have an eye for these things, and informed the authorities. Students from Idaho State University dug the head but funds are required to continue next summer.

Magnetic fields and young stars

At ... astronomers have found that the accretion discs around young stars also have a magnetic field which is described as a big surprise. This appears to indicate magnetic fields play a role in the formation of solar systems such our own one (Nature, 2014, DOI:10.1037/nature13850).

Sink Holes and Fossilised Remains

At ... it is claimed an earthquake in Alaska was responsible in generating a tsunami wave that struck Hawaii in the 15th century AD. That s the main thrust of the news story but caught my eye is they declared a tsunami wave after investigating a sink hole 328 feet beyond the shoreline and 23 feet above sea level. It was choked with marine debris - including large quantities of corals and shells dredged up from the foreshore.


Two articles in Current Biology of October 23rd 2014 both concern Polynesians reaching S America. The first one claims the indigenous Botocundos tribe of Brazil have a genomic history that is Polynesian - see ... and in the second article it is said there was considerable genetic evidence of early contact between Polynesians and the Americas, especially with Easter Island.

Lockheed Fusion

The Lockheed Fusion project is going well they claim - go to ... (October 24th 2014) are working on a fusion reactor that could fit on the back of a truck and power a large town. Fusion is a nuclear reaction to which small nuclei are melded together to make larger ones - the opposite of what happens in the fission reaction of the normal nuclear power station. Both methods release lots of energy but fusion does not produce harmful and long lasting radioactive waste. The fuel on which it feeds, heavy hydrogens, is relatively cheap and commonly available.

The Step Pyramid of Djoser (update November 2014)

Laurence Dixon supplied the link to this picture of the Stepped Pyramid which has apparently upset UNESCO. Go to

clouds above the Poles

At ... astronomers are looking at strange clouds in the upper atmosphere of Titan, as seen by NASAs Cassini Mission - see also Oct 24th. These are described as methane ice clouds and they are situated above the Poles of Titan. The interesting thing is that the Earth  also has stratospheric clouds which are also above the Poles.

Unusual Comets

At ... again, this is a piece of French observation and research beginning way back in 1986. The astronomer, Anne-Marie Legrange, and colleagues, witness something peculiar. Beta Pictoris seemed to be in the process of assembling its own planetary system. After months of trying to work out what was going on and what exactly they might have seen they came out with an odd explanation - for the time. They offered up what seemed to be an unlikely explanation.