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Monday, February 28, 2011

Dalle meteoriti la vita sulla Terra

 La vita sulla Terra è arrivata con le meteoriti. Dopo tanti anni di ipotesi e teorie, è finalmente arrivata la prova sperimentale, fornita da un tipo di meteorite molto primitivo scoperto in Antartide. La ricerca è pubblicata sulla rivista dell'Accademia delle Scienze degli Stati Uniti, Pnas, ed è stata coordinata da un'autorità internazionale in fatto di meteoriti, l'italiana Sandra Pizzarello, che da più di 40 anni lavora negli Stati Uniti, nell'università dell'Arizona. 
La conferma è arrivata dall'analisi della composizione di una meteorite che appartiene alla famiglia delle condriti carbonacee, i più antichi tra questi fossili del Sistema Solare precipitati sulla Terra. "Abbiamo scoperto che la sua composizione è più primitiva rispetto a quella di altre meteoriti", scrivono i ricercatori. Soprattutto, le polveri della meteorite hanno rilasciato una grande quantità di ammoniaca nel momento in cui sono state trattate in condizioni che riproducevano quelle che esistevano sulla Terra primitiva, con temperature molto alte e pressione elevata. E' quindi molto probabile che sia arrivata dallo spazio l'ammoniaca grazie alla quale è nata la vita sulla Terra. E' stato il "la" che fra 4,4 e 2,7 miliardi di anni fa ha dato origine alla formazione delle prime molecole organiche.
ESPERTA METEORITI,VIA DA ITALIA PER STUDIARLE - C'é chi l'ha definita "la signora delle meteoriti" e la ricerca appena pubblicata sulla rivista dell'Accademia delle Scienze degli Stati Uniti, Pnas, dimostra che la definizione calza a pennello: Sandra Pizzarello lavora nell'università dell'Arizona dal 1970 e sa che in Italia la sua storia professionale sarebbe stata completamente diversa. Veneta di origine, biochimica nell'università di Padova, aveva interrotto la sua attività di ricerca per dedicare il suo tempo ai quattro figli. Una scelta coraggiosa, che l'ha tenuta fuori dall'università per ben 15 anni. Poi la voglia di tornare al lavoro e l'opportunità di trasferirsi negli Stati Uniti per seguire il marito. 

"Sono ancora convinta che in Italia non sarei mai riuscita a tornare al lavoro. Immagini se dopo 15 anni avessi bussato alla porta del dipartimento di Biochimica ...." Negli Stati Uniti, invece, "é stato possibile, prima di tutto perché qui non esiste il preconcetto che debba esserci una continuità: se in Italia si lascia un anno la continuità é rotta. Se poi si diventa madri o se si vuole fare altro arriva il pregiudizio. 

In Usa basta dimostrare che sai fare una cosa". Così 40 anni fa Sandra Pizzarello ha seguito un corso avanzato di Biochimica nell'università dell'Arizona, poi un finanziamento dalla Nasa. "Ho cominciato così, grazie ad una combinazione di competenze da offrire e di voler dare opportunità di fare ricerche". Oggi ha 78 anni, è professore emerito dell'università dell'Arizona e le sue ricerche sulle meteoriti, come quella appena pubblicata, sono tuttora finanziate dalla Nasa. Continua a lavorare a pieno ritmo e senza soste: "lavoro quando voglio, praticamente a tempo pieno, ero qui anche nel fine settimana. Questa è la bellezza di quello che faccio".

Dalle meteoriti la vita sulla Terra 28 febbraio, 21:21


The carbonaceous meteorites of the Renazzo-type family (CR) are known to be especially rich in small soluble organic molecules, such as the amino acids glycine and alanine. To test for the presence of ammonia, the researchers collected powder from the much-studied CR2 Grave Nunataks (GRA) 95229 and treated it with water at high temperature and pressure. They found that the treated powders emitted ammonia, NH4, an important precursor to complex biological molecules such as amino acids and DNA, into the surrounding water.
Next, the researchers analyzed the nitrogen atoms within the ammonia and determined that the atomic isotope did not match those currently found on Earth, eliminating the possibility that the ammonia resulted from contamination during the experiment. Researchers have struggled to pinpoint the origin of the ammonia responsible for triggering the formation of the first biomolecules on . The authors suggest that now, they may have found it.
“The findings appear to trace CR2 meteorites’ origin to cosmochemical regimes where  was pervasive, and we speculate that their delivery to the early Earth could have fostered prebiotic molecular evolution,” they write.
More information: Pizzarello et al., Abundant ammonia in primitive asteroids and the case for a possible exobiology. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1014961108

Meteorites may have delivered first ammonia for life on earth: new study February 28, 2011

Monster Prominence l'eruzione solare più violenta da 4 anni

This huge solar flare certainly lives up to its name. It's called the Monster Prominence, and was filmed by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory when it exploded on 24 February. The magnetic eruption has been sped up here (see video) but in reality it twisted and flared for 90 minutes.
To find out more about solar flares, check out this recent video and blog post about how seemingly independent solar flares are connected.

Monster solar eruption captured on camera


Il satellite della Nasa Solar Dynamics Observatory (Sdo) ha inviato a Terra le immagini di un'altra spettacolare eruzione.

Risvegliatosi l'estate scorsa dopo una lunga quiete, il Sole ha ripreso appieno la sua attività e ora sta viaggiando verso la Terra una nube di particelle che nelle prossime ore potrebbe dare origine a tempeste magnetiche.

Secondo gli esperti della Nasa l'eruzione è la prima del nuovo ciclo solare e la macchia che ha dato origine al nuovo fenomeno si sta espandendo progressivamente. Il Solar Dynamics Observatory della Nasa ha registrato un intenso fascio di raggi ultravioletti in direzione della Terra e una grande esplosione nella corona. Fenomeni di routine, che però preoccupano una struttura delicata come la Stazione Spaziale Internazionale. 

Conseguenza certa saranno le spettacolare aurore polari e boreali, generate dall'impatto del vento solare con il campo magnetico terrestre.

Sole, l'eruzione più violenta da 4 anni
In arrivo tempeste magnetiche


The sun unleashed a powerful flare Thursday (Feb.24) that – while not the strongest solar storm ever seen – let loose a massive wave of magnetic plasma in a dazzling display.
The solar flare kicked up a huge, twisting tendril of plasma that scientists call a solar prominence. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the flare in an eye-catching video, with mission scientists calling the eruption a "monster prominence."
"Some of the material blew out into space and other portions fell back to the surface," NASA scientists wrote in a statement released Friday (Feb. 25). [Amazing Sun Photos from Space]
Dazzling sun flare
Thursday's solar flare was the latest in a series of strong sun storms this month. Scientists classified it as an M3.6 Class solar storm. NASA described the solar eruption as a "rather large-sized flare."
Scientists use a three-class system to measure the strength and intensity of solar flares. The most powerful sun storms are Class X – a Class X2.2 solar flare erupted on Feb. 14. Class M solar storms are medium strength but still powerful, according to a NASA description. The weakest types of solar flares are Class C storms.
Thursday's solar flare erupted from a new spot on the sun called sunspot 1163, according to the website Spaceweather.com, which monitors space weather and skywatching events. The flare was not aimed at Earth, and so should not pose a concern to satellites or other systems.
"Earth was little affected," Spaceweather.com reported Friday. "Plasma clouds produced by the blast did not come our way."
The sun is in the midst of an active phase of its 11-year solar weather cycle. The current cycle is known as Solar Cycle 24.
Strong solar flares aimed at Earth can disrupt satellites and power grids, as well as pose a hazard to astronauts on spacecraft.  They can also spark dazzling shows of the northern lights, or aurora borealis.
The threat of solar flares to satellites and infrastructure has been gaining notice among decision makers lately. Last week, Jane Lubchenco – the chief of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – told a gathering of scientists that the United States must take steps to protect assets from potentially dangerous space weather events.
"This is not a matter of if, it's simply a matter of when and how big," Lubchenco said of the potential for a dangerous solar flare. "We have every reason to expect we're going to be seeing more space weather in the coming years, and it behooves us to be smart and be prepared."


Massive waves in giant magnetic holes on the surface of the Sun have been discovered for the first time by solar scientists from the University of Sheffield and Queen's University Belfast, something that will bring experts a step closer to unlocking the secrets of the Sun.
The Sun is interwoven by a complex network of magnetic field lines that are responsible for a large variety of fascinating features that can be seen in the solar atmosphere.
Large, dark regions, which look like holes on the Sun's surface, mark out areas where the magnetic field breaks through from the Sun's deep, boiling interior and rises into the very hot solar atmosphere, which is over a million degrees. The largest of these dark regions are often called sunspots and have been studied since their discovery from as early as 364 BC.
Led by Professor Robertus von Fay-Siebenburgen, Head of the Solar Physics and Space Plasma Research Centre (SP2RC) at the University of Sheffield, the team studied a magnetic region of the Sun much smaller than a sunspot, however its size was still many times greater than the size of the UK.
Their research, which was published this week in Astrophysical Journal, has shown that the magnetic hole they observed, which is also known as a pore, is able to channel energy generated deep inside the Sun, along the magnetic field to the Sun's upper atmosphere. The magnetic field emerging through the pore is over 1,000 times stronger than the magnetic field of the Earth.
The energy being transported is in the form of a very special form of waves, known as `sausage waves' which the scientists were able to observe using a UK-built solar imager known as ROSA (Rapid Oscillations of the Solar Atmosphere), which was designed by Queen's University Belfast and is in operation at the Dunn Solar Telescope, Sacramento Peak, USA.
This is the first direct observation of `sausage waves' at the solar surface. The magnetic hole is seen to increase and decrease in size periodically which is a characteristic feature of the `sausage wave.'
The team of experts, including Dr Richard Morton from the University of Sheffield, as well as Professor Mihalis Mathioudakis and Dr David Jess from Queen's University Belfast, hope these giant magnetic holes will play an important role in unveiling the longstanding secrets behind solar coronal heating.
This is because the solar surface has a temperature of a few thousand degrees but the solar corona - the outermost, mysterious, and least understood layer of the Sun's atmosphere - is heated to temperatures often a thousand times hotter than the surface. Why the temperature of the Sun's atmosphere increases as we move further away from the centre of energy production, which lies under the surface, is a great mystery of astrophysics. The findings, which demonstrate the transfer of energy on a massive scale, offer a new explanation for this puzzle.
The team now hope to use further similar solar images from ROSA to understand the fine substructure of these massive magnetic holes by reconstructing the images to view what is inside the holes.
Professor Robertus von Fay-Siebenburgen, said: "This is a fascinating new discovery in line with a number of discoveries made in recent years by the team. It is the first time that `sausage waves' have been detected in the Sun with such detail. Analysing these waves may bring us closer to understanding the physical mechanisms in the atmosphere of a star.
"I am very proud that such talented young researchers like Richard and Dave have shown such a serious commitment in bringing us closer to unveiling the secrets of the Sun. We're also very pleased that Professor Keenan and the Queen's University Belfast solar team were able to build such a wonderful instrument that allows us to make unprecedented observations with relatively low costs."
The news comes as part of the University of Sheffield's unique venture entitled Project Sunshine, led by the Faculty of Science. SP2RC plays a key role in Project Sunshine, which aims to unite scientists across the traditional boundaries in both the pure and applied sciences to harness the power of the Sun and tackle the biggest challenge facing the world today: meeting the increasing food and energy needs of the world's population in the context of an uncertain climate and global environment change.

Solar Experts Detect Waves In Giant Magnetic Holes The Size Of The UK Feb 25, 2011

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mayan Calendar "Unity Wave"

I'm listening to popular Mayan calendar translator Carl Johan Calleman from a February 22nd discussion, now posted at Mastering Alchemy. He's describing another wave set for March 9th, which he says will be a wave of unity consciousness.
Calleman is adamant that 2012 has nothing to do with planetary alignments, asteroids 

hitting Earth, solar flares or magnetic pole shifts. It's happening now, he says, and is about the evolution of life, not just on Earth, but across the cosmos.


Nothing is coming from the outside to hit us, says Calleman, and this is so misleading in the popularized version of 2012 and catastrophic changes. He continues, "Really what the Mayan calendar is about is waves coming from the holy heart of the universe, and influencing our inner selves in such a way that we see the world differently." As we see he world anew, he says, we create a new reality.
This wave he's describing, comes two days before Uranus goes into Aries. There's definitely a sense of being on the verge of something brand new -- perhaps as psychic beings we're sensing what's just on the horizon.
Calleman has a site called Tree of Life Celebration, with a forum to share intentions for this next wave. "The Tree of Life symbolically illustrates that all life is connected," Calleman says in the welcome. We embrace this idea of the Tree of Life Celebration(s) as a starting point for unity from which we intend to branch out."
Between now and the 9th, is the New Moon in Pisces, a sign that encourages devotion to a sacred purpose. I'm sensing the need to consecrate - move with the sacred - an intention to align with the Tree of Life, and ritualize this for myself in a small way at the New Moon on the 4th.
It's timely for dedicating your talents, gifts, intentions, to where your own personal path meets the good of the whole. As souls alive now, this can helps us ride the waves with purpose, and a sense we're contributing to the great changes underway. In the meantime, enjoy this great talk on Mayan calendar -- one that can inspire, rather than feed anxiety about the future.

Mayan Calendar "Unity Wave"
Sunday February 27, 2011

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