Space Station and Lizards | SciByte 19

Space Station and Lizards | SciByte 19

Hello everyone and welcome back to SciByte!

We take a look at the Space Station resupply mission, dinosaurs, Mars, Snake Oil, Asteroids, cryptography, and take another peek at what’s up in the sky this week.

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Show Notes:

The Master Swtich: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires

Space Station Re-Supply Mission


Migrating Dinosaurs

  • The low down
  • studying chemical variations in the teeth of the chewing-challenged sauropod
  • When animals drink water, the oxygen in that water gets incorporated into the blood stream and eventually into tooth enamel
  • water from a mountain tarn and water from a lowland swamp will have different amounts of a particular form, or isotope, of oxygen that has two extra neutrons in its nucleus
  • Significance
  • oxygen isotopes extracted from the tooth enamel of eight fossils remains from the western United States, and then compared the enamel isotope levels to those of minerals found in nearby sediments
  • isotopic variation suggests, that they were moving around
  • Multimedia
  • By comparing the levels of a chemical tracer found in the enamel of sauropod teeth
  • Social Media
  • Twitter account for Colorado College @ColoradoCollege
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Giant dinosaurs may have migrated
Mars feels the Suns Wrath

Snake Oil
  • The low down
  • snakes naturally enlarge their own hearts by some 40 percent in two to three days after eating one of their huge but rare meals
  • A mix of compounds called fatty acids identified in pythons can spur an exercise-like boost in the size of mouse hearts
  • three fatty acids identified in the blood of Burmese pythons boosted the mass of a heart chamber in lab mice by 10 percent in just a week
  • Significance
  • Enlarging heart tissue can be a danger sign for humans
  • the growth seen in the mice looks more like an athlete’s healthful heart growth than a heart disease patient’s worrisome one
  • These ubiquitous compounds perform a variety of functions in reptiles and humans alike. Just the right mix of three of them — myristic, palmitic and palmitoleic acid — turns out to trigger a quick upsizing in heart muscle cells
  • many questions remain about how the snakes’ fatty acids actually work to trigger heart muscle cells to bulge
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Python’s heart-restoring elixir works in mice
Story of a Molten Asteroid

  • The low down
  • Lutetia and its asteroid cousins are thought to be relics from the early solar system
  • rocky fossils that have recorded a history of the solar system’s early days in their pits and fractures
  • In July 2010, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft flew within 3,200 kilometers of Lutetia, peered at the asteroid and attempted to read its stony story.
  • Images from the OSIRIS camera reveal that parts of Lutetia’s surface are around 3.6 billion years old. Other parts are young by astronomical standards, at 50–80 million years old.
  • Astronomers estimate the age of airless planets, moons, and asteroids by counting craters.
  • Lutetia’s weak gravity tugged on Rosetta. The slight change in Rosetta’s path was reflected in radio signals received back at Earth
  • Significance
  • Scientists now think it is a leftover planetary seed, booted into the main belt
  • Lutetia turns out to have one of the highest densities of any known asteroid: 3400 kg per cubic metre.
  • The density implies that Lutetia contains significant quantities of iron, but not necessarily in a fully formed core.
  • The only explanation appears to be that Lutetia was subjected to some internal heating early in its history but did not melt completely and so did not end up with a well-defined iron core.
  • Multimedia
  • ESA Rosetta Images of Lutetia
  • ESA Rosetta Images of Lutetia
  • Social Media
  • Twitter account for ESA Science Team @esascience
  • Twitter Results for [#Lutetia](
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Chronicles of Lutetia
  • Asteroid Lutetia: postcard from the past @ ESA
Cracking a 250 year old puzzle


Looking back this week
  • Nov 06, 1572 – 439 years ago : Tycho’s Supernova – A supernova was first noted in the W-shaped constellation of Cassiopeia but was seen by many observers throughout Europe and in the Far East. For two weeks it was brighter than any other star in the sky and visible in daytime. By month’s end, it began to fade and change colour, from bright white to yellow and orange to faint reddish light. It was visible to the naked eye for about 16 months
  • Nov 08, 1895 – 116 years ago : X-rays – Wilhelm Röntgen discovered X-rays during an experiment at Würzburg University
  • Nov 07, 1908 – 103 years ago : Single atom – Prof. Ernest Rutherford announced in London that he had isolated a single atom of matter
  • Nov 07, 1918 – 93 years ago : Goddard rocket – Goddard demonstrated a tube-launched solid propellant rocket, using a music stand as his launching platform,. Goddard began work for the Army in 1917 to design rockets to aid in the war effort.
  • Nov 04–05, 1922 – 89 years ago : Tutankhamen’s tomb – The entrance to King Tutankhamen’s tomb was discovered in Egypt in the Valley of the Kings where the English archaeologist Howard Carter had been making extended excavations. One of Carter’s labourers stumbled upon a stone step, the first step in a sunken stairway that ran down into the rock. Howard Carter excavated a further 11 steps and exposed a large part of a plastered and sealed doorway to Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings near Luxor, Egypt. The tomb was the most complete ancient Egyptian royal tomb ever found.
  • Nov 07, 1940 – 71 years ago : Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse – at approximately 11:00 am, the first Tacoma Narrows suspension bridge collapsed due to wind-induced vibrations. Situated on the Tacoma Narrows in Puget Sound, near the city of Tacoma, Washington, the bridge had only been open for traffic a few months. Video of Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse “Gallopin’ Gertie”
  • Nov 02, 1947 – 64 years ago : Spruce Goose – Howard Hughes piloted his huge wooden airplane, known as the Spruce Goose on its only flight, which lasted about a minute over Long Beach Harbor in California. It was the first test of a U.S. plane with eight engines. Wing span was 319 feet, 11 inches. Originally conceived by Henry J. Kaiser, a steelmaker and builder of Liberty ships, the aircraft was designed and constructed by Hughes and his staff. The original proposal for the enormous, 400,000-pound wooden flying boat, with its spectacular 320-foot wingspan, came from the U.S. government in 1942. The entire airframe and surface structures are composed of laminated wood (primarily birch, not spruce).
  • Nov 03, 1957 – 54 years ago : Laika – Sputnik 2 was launched, with the first live animal sent into space – a Siberian husky dog, Laika (“barker” in Russian). By design, the craft which was built in only 4 weeks. Biological data, the first data of its kind, was transmitted back to Earth while she lived. The data showed scientists how Laika was adapting to space – information important to the imminent planned manned missions. The 508-kg satellite remained in orbit 162 days. The true cause and time of Laika’s death was not made public until 2002, Laika likely died within hours after launch from overheating.
  • Nov 05, 1963 – 48 years ago : Vikings in America – Archaeologists found Viking ruins in Newfoundland predating Columbus by 500 years. Leif Ericson, Icelandic explorer, second son of Eric the Red, is believed by most historians to have been the first European to reach the North American mainland.
Looking up this week
  • You might have seen …

  • A small comet dove into the sun during the late hours of Oct. 30th. Watch the movie to see what SOHO saw

  • Keep an eye out for …

  • Wednesday, Nov. 2 : 1st Quarter Moon

  • Thursday, Nov. 3 : Look lower left of the Moon this evening, by two or three fist-widths at arm’s length, for Fomalhaut, the Autumn Star.

  • Friday, Nov. 4 : Jupiter’s Great Red Spot should be crossing the planet’s central meridian.

  • Sat November 5, 2011 : The planet Saturn is quite low in the east at first light. It looks like a golden star, with the true star Spica to its lower right. Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, is visible through modest telescopes as a tiny “star” quite near Saturn.

  • Mars, the red planet, is a morning object among the stars of Leo during November

  • In the Southern Hemisphere : Mercury and Venus get together in the evening sky

  • Early November : The Taurids meteor shower is active in early November and although rates are not high with no well-defined peak, around five meteors per hour can be expected with hopefully some unusually bright and slow moving events. Although Eastern Europe and the Middle East are most favoured, it is essential that observers head out as soon as the Sun is a few degrees below the horizon also be aware you will

  • Saturday, Nov. 5 : Daylight-saving time ends (for most of North America) at 2 a.m. Sunday morning. Clocks “fall back” an hour.

  • More on whats in the sky this week

  • Sky&Telescope

  • AstronomyNow


  • HeavensAbove


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