Brian Cox and raining glass

Brian Cox, on BBCs 'Stargazing Live' (9th January 2014), made a remark about recently discovered exoplanets where they believe it 'rains silica' (or raining glass according to some reports). The interesting thing here is that flint is made of silica and flint and related silica deposits are common on Earth. In the 19th century flints were collected from chalk pits and transported to London as an ingredient in the glass industry. Glass manufacture also involves sand - a form of silica.

Brown Dwarfs raining molten iron and sand

A different perspective on Brown Dwarfs can be viewed at www.space.com/24192-stormy-weather-brown-dwarfs-aas223.html ... violent storms and molten iron rain 'may' be a common occurrence on 'failed' stars known as brown dwarfs, according to research from a news conference at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society. They say Brown Dwarfs are cool, star like objects that don't have enough mass to fuse hydorgen into helium, the main energy source for stars, they allege. They are, in effect, giant cousins of gas planets such as Jupiter and Saturn.

A Broken Back

At www.nature.com/news/geology-north-america-s-broken-heart-1.14281 ... apparently, a huge rift valley cleaved N America down the middle, one billion years ago - and then failed. Why?

Ammolite

At http://geology.com/stories/13/ammolite/ ... gems made from iradescent ammolite are quite striking - a confusion of colours. The colour and gem quality come from a thin iradescent shell material found in two species of extinct ammonite. You know, those nautilus fossils you find embedded in walls and buildings and which fall out of the Jurassic cliffs of Dorset. However, ammolite comes from a particular locality, a small arc along the St Mary River in SW Alberta in Canada.

A Space Plane, a Space bang, and a Space surprise

The surprise is that an asteroid entered Earth's atmosphere on January 1st and appears to have broken up over the mid Atlantic, not too far from Brazil. However, it was just 6 to 9 feet across, which is smaller than last year's Russian meteor - see http://phys.org/print308222006.html

At http://phys.org/print308021026.html ... we have news of a space plane that is being developed, presumably to succeed the Space Shuttle. Apparently, it orbited the planet for seven months in 2010 - unmanned.

Earthquake Lights

Earthquake lights were considered to be apocryphal in the lobbies of academia, and largely ignored. They were taken up by the likes of Paul Devereux, on the fringe of science. He wrote two books on the subject - and they are very illuminating. No actual scientist had made a study or witnessed them and therefore they did not exist - the usual pretence. This could be described as the perfect example of consensus science.

Natural Catastrophes during Bronze Age civilisation

Natural Catastrophes during Bronze Age civilisations, edited by Benny Peiser, Trevor Palmer and Mark Bailey, is available to download in pdf version directly from the Archaeopress web site at a cost of £18. This is half the price of the original - back in 1997. To buy a hard copy in print will set you back a lot of money nowadays but the pdf can be downloaded fairly easily - but be warned it is some 257 pages in length. Remember to have an adequate printer ink in place before you start.

The Zodiacal Light in history

Mark Bailey (Armagh Observatory) in 'Sources and Populations of Near Earth Objects: Recent Findings and Historical Implications' which was published in the Proceeding of the SIS Second Cambridge Conference, made the following observation - 'so far as the Milky Way is concerned, it is interesting to note that early Greek sources describe 'stars' as lying below the Sun and Moon (Anadimander, Leucippus), call the Milky Way the former path of the Sun (metrodorus) and describe the Milky Way's location in the sky 'in the Earth's shadow' (Anaxagorus, De

The Devil and the BBC

I was out and about this morning, and caught snatches of a Radio 5 talk show on the car radio where the BBC had lined up a bishop in one corner and an atheist writer/journalist in the other. The target was belief in the Devil among evangelicals - with the added point of interest that Islamists also fervently believe in the equivalent of the Devil (which is why the ayatollahs described the US as the 'Great Satan').