The Astronomy, Technology and Space Science News Podcast.
SpaceTime Series 24 Episode 77
*The Earth has a cycle of geological activity
A new study claims geologic activity on Earth appears to follow a 27.5-million-year cycle, giving the planet a...
The Astronomy, Technology and Space Science News Podcast.
SpaceTime Series 24 Episode 77
*The Earth has a cycle of geological activity
A new study claims geologic activity on Earth appears to follow a 27.5-million-year cycle, giving the planet a pulse.
*New studies suggest Asteroid Psyche isn’t what scientists are expecting
The widely studied metallic asteroid known as 16 Psyche was long thought to be the exposed iron core of a small planet that was smashed apart during the earliest days of the solar system.
*Solving one mystery of Martian methane
Why do some science instruments detect the gas on the Red Planet while others don’t?
*More power for the International Space Station
Astronauts successfully install a new pair of solar panels on the International Space Station.
*The Science Report
New computer modelling shows the COVID-19 virus is most ideally adapted to infect humans.
A new human species which could be homo sapien’s closest relative yet.
267 million people worldwide now live on land at risk from sea-level rise.
A little milk chocolate every day may actually help the body burn fat and decrease blood sugar levels.
Alex on Tech: Microsoft new Windows 11
For more SpaceTime and show links: https://linktr.ee/biteszHQ
SpaceTime Series 24 Episode 77 AI Transcript
[00:00:00] Stuart: [00:00:00] This is time series 24, episode 77 for broadcast on the 7th of July, 2021. Coming up on space time, the earth cycle of geologic activity. You study suggest asteroid psyche, probably isn't going to be what side is they're expecting and solving at least one of the mysteries of mash and methane. All that and more coming up on SpaceTime.
VO Guy: [00:00:27] Welcome to space time with Stuart Gary.
Stuart: [00:00:47] And you steady claims geologic activity on planet earth at peace to follow a 27.5 million years cycle giving the planet sort of pulse. The findings reported in the journal. Jair science [00:01:00] frontiers contradicts the, except that idea that geological events are random over time. The study's lead author, Michael Rampino from New York university says he's research provides the distill evidence for a common cycle, suggesting that these geologic events are correlated and not random.
Over the past five decades, scientists have proposed cycles for major geological events, including volcanic activity and mass extinctions ranging from roughly 26 to 36 million years. But early work on these correlations in the geological record was hampered by limitations in the age dating of geological events, which prevented scientists from conducting quantitative investigations.
However, in recent times there have been significant improvements in radio. I stopped dating techniques and that's led to changes in the geologic timescale, which in turn has led to new data on the timing of past the vein. Using the latest age, dating data available Rampino and [00:02:00] colleagues compiled updated records of major geological events over the past 260 million years, and then conducted new analyses.
The authors analyzed the ages of 89 world dated major geological events over the past 260 million years. These events include both Marine and land extinctions, major volcanic outpourings of lava known as flood basalt eruptions events. When oceans were depleted of oxygen, sea level fluctuations and changes, or the reorganization of Earth's tectonic plates, they found that these global geological events are generally cost that at 10 different time points over 260 million years grouped in pixel pulses, roughly 27 and a half million years apart.
The most recent cluster of geologic events was approximately 7 million years ago. And that suggested the next pulse of major geological activity is more than 20 million years into the future. The author suggested these pulses may be a [00:03:00] function of cycles of activity in the Earth's interior geophysical processes related to the dynamics of plate tectonics and climate or similar cycles in Earth's orbit in space, which might also be pacing.
These events. This is space-time still the calm he study suggest asteroid psyche, probably isn't going to be what scientists are expecting and solving at least one of the mysteries of mash and methane, all that, and more still to come on space time.
The intensely studied metallic asteroid known as 16 psyche as long Megan sitted to be exposed iron core of differentiated small planet that was smashed apart during the early days of our solar system. But a new study reported in the planetary [00:04:00] science journal suggest instead that the 253 kilometer wide asteroid might actually be a rubble pile asteroid rather than a planetary core.
Scientists are interested in 16 psyche because if it's presumed origins are true, it would provide an opportunity to study an expose planetary core up close psyche, orbits the sun in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter around three times further out from the sun than earth. And new studies lead author, David Cantilla from the universe.
Arizona says his observations suggest that 16 psyche is 82.5% metal, 7% low iron pyroxene and 10 and a half percent. Carbonaceous chondrites. That was like they delivered by impacts from other asteroids. Cantillon estimate that the asteroids bald density or porosity, which refers to how much empty space is found within the asteroid, somewhere around 35%.
Now, these estimates are very different from past analyses of psyches [00:05:00] composition, which have led researchers to estimate that it could contend as much as 95% metal and be matched matched until it says the drop in metallic content and bolt densities. Interesting, because it shows that 16 psyche is far more money, five than had previously been thought rather than being the intact exposed core of an early planet.
Saki may actually be closer to a rubble. In fact, very similar to the asteroid. Benu the university of Arizona leads the science team for NASA's Osiris-Rex mission, which retrieved a sample of Benu surface and is now making its way back to earth. Discovered back in 1852 scientists estimate that Saki probably contains about 1% of all the main asteroid belts material.
Having a lower metallic content than once thought means that the asteroid could have been exposed to collisions with other asteroids containing carbonaceous chondrites, which were then deposited as a surface layer, which is being detected Nash's Dawn [00:06:00] spacecraft observed a similar occurrence when it was studying the asteroid Vesta.
Meanwhile the most recently studied asteroid does contain a lot of carbonaceous chondrites material. And it has a porosity of over 50%, which is a classic characteristic of a rubble pile. Asteroid of course, such high porosity is common for relatively small and low mass objects, such as burner that's because of weak gravitational field events and objects, rocks, and boulders for being packed tightly together that foreign object, the size of psyche to be served.
Porous is unexpected. Past estimates of psyches composition were done by analyzing the sunlight reflected off its surface and the specter of that light match that of other metallic objects and tilling colleagues instead used a different approach. They recreated psyches, regular Thor, loose Rocky surface material by mixing different materials in a lab, and then analyzing the light patterns till they met the telescope observations of the asteroid.
[00:07:00] They also believed that the carbonaceous material on psyche surface could be rich in water. And so they played emerge data from brown based telescopes and spacecraft missions to other asteroids helped determine the amount of water present. Well, NASA may be able to resolve the issue in the Nazi distant future.
They're planning to launch the psyche mission to the asteroid next year, aiming to arrive around the space rock in 2026. To find out more and you're directly speaking with astronomer professor, Fred Watson, asteroid
Andrew: [00:07:33] 16, psyche, it starting to look like it is not what we thought it was. What did we think?
Fred: [00:07:38] It was? Well, from my personal experience, I've known about 16 psyches into those masters student. Cause it's one of the asteroids that are used in. Writing my master's thesis on asteroid orbit. So it's an old friend is 16 psyche, but it's also famous as an astroid because for some years [00:08:00] now, astronomers have thought that what we're seeing in this asteroid is the metal core of a protocol.
And the protoplanets what planets grow out of as they're being formed. And this is a protoplanet that's had its Rocky mantle knocked tough, leaving behind just the metal core, because we know it's highly metallic. We can tell from measurements that it surfaces very, very metallic. It's one of the bigger asteroids, not a small object.
And indeed all the speculation that we can talk about now is going to be set to rest in, I think about four years, because there's a mission going to 16 psyche. It's a NASA mission. It's called psyche. And by the way, psych is that. Goddess of the soul. It's a very nice, very nice name. But the thinking now, which comes from research in the university of Arizona is that it's density is too low for it to be the solid metal core of a proton plan.
And what, what they're saying is it's, in fact, they're turning it around. They're talking about porosity. Porosity is if you think of something like a piece of pumice, [00:09:00] the porosity is the amount of empty space that's within it. And the porosity of 16 psyche has now been measured to be about 35%, which means that 35% of its bulk is empty space.
And that doesn't really tally with the idea. Of a metallic core of a protoplanet, unless it's kind of more solid in the middle. And it's just a bit frothy on the outside, which I guess is a possibility, but this, that sort of detail is probably not something we'll really get to see until the psychic space.
It gets there. It will go into orbit around psyche. I can't remember when, but it's in a few years' time and hopefully will give us much more detail. In fact, we'll get a very precise measurement of its density from that, and as well as much else besides, so yeah, watch this space is the answer there. Um, it's uh, yeah.
Interesting story. Have they
Andrew: [00:09:49] been able to compare it to. Other
Fred: [00:09:51] objects that, um, might be similar. Yeah, that's a good question. Thank you for raising that because there's been a [00:10:00] suggestion that it might actually be a rubble pile. And w we know of many rubble piles. In fact, two of them have been visited by a spacecraft recently Banu and Rio group, the other one Benu and Rio group.
That's it. They are in fact, spacecraft are on their way. To earth with samples from both those asteroids, they are they're rubble piles. They're just debris that's bound together quite loosely, but they have porosities more than 50%, which says that half of the asteroid is empty space inside it. Psyche is not at that level, but it does make them wonder if maybe what we're seeing is is that perhaps the metallic core of a protoplanet as was originally thought, but maybe with a rubber pile on top of it or something like that.
It's yeah. Very interesting. Very interesting stuff.
Andrew: [00:10:45] Can't wait for those samples to come back because it'll just add more pieces to the puzzle. That is our solar system and the universe. And it makes me wonder if aliens ever sent a probe down to earth and took samples back. They'd [00:11:00] probably end up with an old KFC box and hamburgers.
Stuart: [00:11:03] So hopefully we'll be disappointed
Fred: [00:11:08] and maybe, you know, maybe the old V8 engine or something that's been thrown away because it's
Stuart: [00:11:13] Fred Watson and astronomer with the department of science speaking with Andrew Dunkley on our sister program space knots. And this is space time still the come solving one minister of marsh and methane and more power to the international space station, all that and most third account.
Um, space time.
what are the big ones? The histories of Mars is why as some site instruments detect methane on the red planet. Well, others don't. Reports of methane [00:12:00] detections on Mars have captivated scientists for years here on earth. Most methane is produced by microbes often inside the intestinal track of livestock digesting plants.
So Metham Mars could well suggest marsh in microbes, and that's what scientists are excited about. However, before you get too excited, methane could also be produced through geological processes involving interactions between rocks, water, and hate. So no biology needed, and that means no life on Mars, but before identifying the source of methane on Mars site is firstly to settle a more basic question.
That's been gnawing away at them. Why is it some instruments detect this gas? Well, others don't. For example, messes Mars, curiosity Rover as repeatedly detected methane, right above the surface of Gale crater using its tune-able laser spectrometer, but the European space agencies ExoMars trace gas, orbiter.
Hasn't been able to detect [00:13:00] any methane higher in the Martian atmosphere. Mass curiosity Rover site is Chris Webster from NASA's jet propulsion laboratory in passing. California says that when the trace gas orbiter arrived at Mars in 2016, he was expecting the orbiter to report small amounts of methane everywhere in the Martian atmosphere.
But the trace gas orbiter has measured less than one part per billion in volume of methane. On average, that's equivalent to that. A pinch of salt diluted in an Olympic size swimming pool. The European findings are quite shocking. XO mass trace gas orbit. It was designed to be the gold standard for measuring methane and other gases over the entire planet.
At the same time, curiosity's tuneable as a spectrum at a so precise it's even used for early warning fire detection on the international space station and for tracking oxygen levels in astronaut suits during Ava. It's also been licensed for use in power plants on oil pipelines and on fighter [00:14:00] aircraft, where pilots use it to monitor oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in their face.
Masks, Webster and colleagues were surprised by the European orbiters findings and set out to scrutinize the curiosity measurements on Mars. See some experts who suggested that maybe the Rover itself was somehow causing the release of the game. So Webster and colleagues looked at correlations with the direction the Rover was facing the ground, the crashing of rocks, and even the amount of wear and tear on the rovers.
Six whales Webster says after looking at every little detail to make sure those measurements were correct, he's now certain that they are webs throughout his team have now reported their results in the astronomy and astrophysical journal. But while they were working to confirm their methane detections, another member of curiosity's team, planetary scientist, John Morris from York university in Toronto, was looking at gal creditors, wind pans, and he are publicized that the discrepancy between methane measurements could come down to the time of the day [00:15:00] taken see, cause it needs a lot of power.
Curiosity, spectrometers usually only operated at night when no other curiosity instruments are working. And the thing is the Martian atmosphere is fairly calm at night. So any methane seeping up from the ground would boot up near the surface at night where curiosity can easily detect it. On the other hand, trace gas orbiter requires sunlight to pinpoint methane about five kilometers above the surface, and any atmosphere near the planet surface would go through a cycle during the day with heat from the sun, churning the atmosphere as warm air rises and cooling C.
So the methane that's confined near the service at night would instead be mixed into the broader atmosphere during the day, which would dilute it to virtually undetectable levels. Therefore, an Albany instrument would have difficulty detecting anything to test most hypothesis, curiosity, mission managers collected the first high precision daytime measurements.
They measured me continuously over a [00:16:00] full Martian day. And going even further bracketing one, Marcia, nighttime measurement with two mash and daytime ones with each experiment, they sacked in marsh air for two hours, continually removing the cam the oxide, which makes up 95% of the planet's atmosphere.
This left the concentrated sample of methane, which was easily measured by an infrared laser. And the readings confirm that methane levels do drop to near zero during the day and go up at night just as predict. Well, the study suggests that methane concentrations rise and fall throughout the day on the surface of gal crater scientists have yet to solve the global methane puzzle at Mars.
See, methane's a stable molecule, which should last in Mazda's atmosphere for around 300 years before getting torn apart by solar radiation. If methane is consistently seeping up from all the small craters on the red planet, which side is suspect is lightly. Given the girl credit doesn't seem to be geologically unique enough of it should be [00:17:00] accumulating in the atmosphere with a trace gas orbiter to detect it.
So that means something else must be the strain methane in less than 300 years. Experiments are now underway to test with a very low level electric discharges induced by Dustin. The Martian atmosphere could be destroying the methane or with abundant oxygen of the Martian surface is quickly destroying the methane before it can reach the upper atmosphere.
This is space time, still, the calm, more powerful, the international space station. And later in the science report, you computer modeling shows that the COVID-19 virus is unusually, ideally adapted specifically to infect humans. All that are more car. On space time,
[00:18:00] astronauts have successfully installed a new pair of solar panels on the international space station installation took three extra vehicular activities or space walks in just over a week to complete. The new panels, which was set up a board of dragon cargo ship last month, or supplement the Albany outposts existing massive solar arrays, providing enough energy to keep the space station running until the end of the decade.
The project was expected to take just two space walks to complete better control panel display problem, and a fleeting pressure spike in the cooling system. One of the spacesuits hampered work during the first DVA, and there were also issues with a mounting bracket for the new solar arrays, which took Tam they're resolved.
All this meant that the first of the 19 meter solar panels needed a second space walk before astronauts were set to unfurl it. And then a third space walk was needed to install and extend the second solar panel as a precaution, most of the work was undertaken on the night side of the earth. [00:19:00] So the solar panels didn't start soaking up sunlight and generating electricity while the astronauts were still working on the power grid.
Thanks to new materials and technology. The two new solar panels are generating more power than the stations that original 20 year old solar arrays for more of the new panels will be installed on the space station in the coming year. Meanwhile, two Russian cosmonauts carried out their own space Walker by the Albany outpost to prepare for the arrival of a new Russian module.
The work involved, getting things ready for the undocu of the PS Docky module, which will be replaced later this year by the new Nalco multipurpose science laboratory, the preliminary work included, replacing fluid flow regulators and relocating biological and material science samples on the exterior of the Russian module.
This is space time.
And [00:20:00] Tom Meditech, another brief look at some of the other stories making use in science with the science report, you compute a muddling, the SARS cov two virus, which causes COVID-19 as discovered that the virus is most ideally adapted specifically to infect humans rather than other animals, such as bats or pangolin.
The findings published in the journal scientific reports, raising new questions about the true origin of the deadly pandemic and the lining. The possibility that a virology lab origin cannot be ruled out a new study by scientists from Flinders university in Adelaide and Melbourne Latrobe university use genetic data from 12 animal species to painstakingly build computer models of the key ACE to pray and receptors for eight species.
These models were then used to calculate the strength of binding of the size, curvy to spike protein, to eat species ACE, two receptor. The results showed that SaaS COVID two [00:21:00] bound to ACE, two receptors on human cells, far more tightly than any other test. That animal species, including bats and pangolin pangolins.
So if one of the animals species tested was the origin, it would normally be expected to show the highest binding to the virus. But instead it was humans which showed the strongest spike binding, and that's consistent with people's high susceptibility to the virus. And that also raises significant questions about where the virus really came from the world health organization.
Now estimates more than 8 million people have been killed by the COVID-19 Corona virus, including over 4 million confirmed fatalities. The who also says more than 184 million people have now been infected with COVID-19 since the deadly disease first spread out a warhead, China scientists believe they've discovered a new human species.
That could be a homicide peons closest relative. Yeah. A [00:22:00] report in the journal. Innovation suggested the fossil is that of a man, about 50 years old belonging to a new species of human home, Homer Longy or dragon man, which is closer to homosapiens. Then the end Athol research is fair to skull that could hold a brain comparable in size to that of modern humans.
But with Elijah almost square eye sockets thick, a brow ridges, a wide mouth, an oversized teeth. Geochemical analysis suggested the ne perfectly preserved fossil known as the Harbin, cranium dates, backs and monitored. And 46,000 years, I see it in the middle Pleistocene and that's a, just at this new species and modern humans could have encountered each other during this era.
And you steady claims some 267 million people worldwide are now living on land at risk from sea level rise. The findings reported in the journal nature communications used satellite technology to analyze the global terrain defined regions that are less than two [00:23:00] meters above sea level. The authors found that in 2020, there were some 267 million people living less than two meters above sea level where severe storms and flooding could put their homes at risk.
The analysis also found that 62% of the most at-risk land was located in the tropics within the Nasia being the most at risk. The orthos predicted by the year 2100, the number of people at risk will increase the 410 million with 72% of those living in the tropics. But a good news now, and a new study is found that eating a little milk chocolate every day may actually help the body burn fat and decrease blood sugar levels.
The findings reported in the face. B journal may sound like a recipe for weight gain, but research has found eating a concentrated amount of chocolate. During a narrow window of time, did not lead to weight, gain the find out about the effect of eating milk chocolate. At different times of the day, the research is conducted a [00:24:00] randomized controlled crossover trial of 19 menopausal.
The subjects were each asked to consume either a hundred grams of chocolate in the morning, within one hour of waking or at night around an hour before bedtime, they found that compared to no chocolate intake at all eating a small amount of chocolate in the morning or the evening can influence hunger and appetite, microbiota, composition, sleep, and physiological mechanisms involved in the regulation of body weight.
Researchers say a high intake of chocolate during the morning hours could help burn fat and reduce blood glucose levels while night chocolate consumption, altered next morning, resting and exercise metabolism. Microsoft has shown off its new winners, 11 operating system, which will arrive later this year as a free upgrade to windows 10.
That is that a real upgrade or simply a faceless. With all the details we're joined by technology editor, Alex, from [00:25:00] ity.com.
Alex: [00:25:00] It's got a nicer set of best of wallpapers. It's got a new set of centered icons at the bottom of the screen with the start menu on the left hand side of those, which also is a simplified stop.
The lifestyles have been taken away, but we are in this new section on the task that you can click in from the left hand side. News sport weather and a bunch of different widgets that you'd expect. And so this new design and features that enable you to run Android apps from the Amazon app store, notably not the Google play store, but still a selection of Android apps.
Plus new ways to snap your windows. When normally you can snap a winner to the side and you can see which one to snap to the left on a big enough screen, you can have three apps snapped open, or you can have two. There's a whole stack of cool little things. X-Box games integration, the ability to access much faster forms of storage than previous versions, but there's also a downside to when there's a living in that not everybody will be able to upgrade.
You need an eighth generation Intel core CPU 3, 5, 7, 9. Well, a better price. I said, there's also some select atoms and sell ons, [00:26:00] Pentium silver and pinching goals. Obviously not the really old ones, but not recent ones that are able to be compatible. We've been at 11. So that means people with older Intel processes, the core I seven seventh generation and down pat upgrade to windows level, even though the decision seems to be arbitrary, although it is being spun as being for security, which is a legitimate thing to want to achieve that a
Stuart: [00:26:17] free upgrade or.
Alex: [00:26:20] But it's a free upgrade only for those qualifying computers. Now that has been an outcry when people say, well, my computer says, you know, we'll get you a Ram and SSDs and all the rest of them, it's just a shame. I can't use it. And personally, I have a Samsung galaxy book, 12 core I five seventh generation process.
And it takes every other box CPM, minimum amount of storage that it requires and full gigabytes. We have been requested as a minimum. And originally it said a one year that's probably, as I said, that was 64 bit, but it has now been clarified for compatible one. Much of the world's 1.3 billion PC users. A lot of them would be on older equipment.
Now Microsoft still allow you to run windows 10 until 2025, October the 24th, 2025. That's the cutoff time. So you're being abandoned. [00:27:00] Microsoft windows 10 will continue being supported, but if you want to use windows 11, you either have to have a qualifying thing where you have to buy a new PC. So there's something this isn't that this is just a big play to get everyone to buy new things and in the middle of a pandemic.
And change concerns is building all this extra stuff and shipping it to power it and then
Stuart: [00:27:16] potential e-waste on their stockpot. And they'll actually see a windows 11 introduction there that was put there automatically by microsite. Well, as a
Alex: [00:27:26] Mac user, I use windows as much as I should. Well, no, but I, I do have my Samsung, which I've been wanting to load 11, Peter, but they won't even let you.
On a machine that doesn't match the minimum specs, but to develop a version, it can run on machines that that might suspect. But the catch is that if your relevant machine doesn't meet the match specs, you'll be able to run it in the, in the interim. But as soon as windows 11 is launched, you will have to go back to windows 10, that won't give you a free pass to get into windows 11.
But you as a developer, you probably want to test for it and not have to buy into that. And look, there'll be plenty of new winners live in machines [00:28:00] for Christmas. Microsoft said the holiday season, people are pointing towards the Tober end of October, which is sort of traditionally when they have the interview.
Christmas buying holiday season revving up and there'll be tons of windows, 11 computers, and all the computers are on sale. Now that can be the adult, you know, I'm sure the website side windows 11 compatible
Stuart: [00:28:18] from it. y.com.
VO Guy: [00:28:36] That's the
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Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows.