Man, you guys are so much faster than I am at getting these updates posted.
The James Webb Space Telescope: Six Months of Waiting To See If Perfection Is All It's Cracked Up To Be.
I love this line:
It’s also a reminder of how our knowledge of the cosmos is only as good as our best technology.
It’s something that people need reminding of. Our knowledge, as always, is limited by our technology. As the tech improves, so does our understanding.
Very true. And we will soon have an Earth-based telescope in Chile which will rival the Webb telescope. It will be able to observe atmospheres on Earth-sized exoplanets. If we find one with oxygen, it likely has life on it. If we find one with artificial compounds like CFCs, it likely has intelligent life with technology.
You’re busy science-ing with the updates. The rest of us can just go “ooh pretty” and post it.
Just want to point out that oxygen is not necessary for life. Life existed on Earth before it became an oxygen environment, and still exists in oxygen-free environments.
Life on Earth takes lots of forms, let’s not limit what exo-biology might look like.
Or at least had intelligent life with technology. Lightspeed lag, the “Great Filter,” and whatnot.
Point being that free oxygen is so reactive that for it to persist in quantity in the atmosphere something must be actively putting it there. Similar conclusions can be drawn from the presence of a fluorine-rich atmosphere.
Difference between a “consequence” and a “requirement”.
I stumbled on this a few weeks ago and it kinda blew my mind:
I mean, it’s an internet meme so I don’t hold it as gospel, but assuming there’s some truth to it, it’s pretty wild. And in the grand scheme of things, it seems about right – universe spawns us on a planet, we eventually figure out that oxygen is important to us, then universe reveals a hidden camera behind a bush, points at us and laughs.
I KNEW I should have given up oxygen before I got hooked.
First molecule’s free.
As @KHalleron said, this is true. When I teach about that (or rather taught about it) to my students, I tell them, “Please, don’t stop breathing. Your body does need that oxygen to function and you’ll die much faster if you stop breathing.”
I think the notion that oxygen, or anything else really, is slowly killing us is what got me. All sorts of things our bodies need can kill us if the amounts are out of whack – metals, water, etc. Given how much we can all do with these human bodies, it’s been easy to move through life with a sort of unarticulated assumption that we’re what we’re “meant” to be – the cake has finished baking in the oven, so to speak.
But of course evolution is an ongoing process, presumably without end, and revelations like this remind me we’re still in the thick of it. Maybe one day we won’t need oxygen, or we’ll need less of it, or become able to process it without being damaged by it.
New Webb Image Captures Clearest View of Neptune’s Rings in over 30 years
(NASA Article link)
The article says Neptune appears quite dim in near-infrared due to methane in its atmosphere absorbing most of those wavelengths. The white dots/streaks on the planet are high-atmosphere methane-ice clouds. The above image also shows Neptune’s rings and six of its moons. (Its large moon Triton, very bright in comparison, is in the full image in the article.)
Are we sure that’s not… Uranus?
I first read that headline as saying “Icky”:
Billions and billions of snot particles…
<keanu voice> Whoa.</keanu voice>
…you know what, Lovecraft may have been right about What’s Out There.
Those stars are looking pretty right to me.