My fellow carbon-based lifeforms: we stand here today with an understanding of the universe that our fathers and forefathers could only imagine at. With the technology of today we have come to realize some amazing things about this world, the area of space around it, and even to the depth of matter itself. Find below but three issues that came to press today.
Some Dinosaurs Were Red-Headed Stepchildren
Paleontologists from China and the UK have examined the melanosomes locked into a 125-million-year-old fossil and have determined that it had what the BBC article about the discovery term, “ginger feathers.” The red-headed “Mohicaned” Sinosauropteryx lived during the Cretaceous period, was roughly the size of a turkey, and ate reptiles smaller than itself. Though the discovery should theoretically be a great set-up for jokes about red-heads and extinction, these creatures actually strengthen the theory that birds evolved from theropods, a group which Sinosauropteryx belongs to. Why there are no orange-mohawked birds around today is proof that evolution does have a softer side.
As far as the BBC goes, terming the feathers as “ginger,” I’d be careful, or else they may have Tim Minchin after them.
NASA Gets Funding (Sort Of)
As The New York Times reports, President Obama will announce on Monday that NASA’s budget will see a $6 million influx, giving them $100 million between 2011 and 2015 fiscal years. Except that most of the money will be going to commercial companies, effectively shutting down the Ares 1 project NASA’s been working on for the past four years. Despite, as we’ve reported previously, the rocket has been esteemed a success by NASA brass but was doomed to fail without an influx of cash money, which is apparently going to others. This passage towards to the commercial groups sounds kinda like a crazy Brit has been whispering in the President’s ear.
The switch to commercial delivery to the International Space Station for American scientists effectively puts the kibosh on aspirations of returning to the moon by 2020 (or ever). This is slightly disappointing to me considering I’ve always wondered what moon water tastes like. I guess I’ll never know, but with enough green I can get a trip to the ISS!
Universe Thirty-Times More of a Geezer Than Initially Presumed
Turns out this article couldn’t have hit at a better time, because who knows how much longer the universe will be a state after all. PHD student Chas Egan and Dr. Charles Lineweaver of the Australian National University have re-computed the entropy rate to take into account super-massive black holes and have found that the universe is 30x more banged up than initially thought, Popular Science reports. As Dr. Lineweaver puts it, in a very Australian and at times understated way: “Contrary to common opinion, the maintenance of all the complicated structures we see around us – galaxies, stars, hurricanes and kangaroos [I see no kangaroo around me -Ed.]– have the net effect of increasing the disorder and entropy of the universe. But to be fair, their contributions are negligible compared to the entropy of super-massive black holes.”
To say that kangaroos have less entropic effects than a black hole is like saying that my flatulence produces less gust than a tornado. Moving on. The two discovered that super-massive black holes not only have risen the rate of entropy, but have done so exponentially, leading them to their next step: trying to figure out specifically how much longer the universe has. I for one hope it’s after the pro-life Superbowl ads.