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Over Easy: Monday Science


What is hiding under the ice?


In the search for life elsewhere in the solar system, scientists are settling on Europa as the most likely location . The next mission to arrive in that area is Juno in 2016, but it’s not really there to study Europa so anything we get is going to be incidental.The European space agency is planning a launch in 2022 for a mission to Europa that would study sites for a landing.  NASA scientists also have a probe planned, The Clipper Mission, but funding is uncertain and not in the current budget.

This makes the research into the sub-glacial antarctic lakes even more interesting. Still waiting for a confirmation that the Lake Vostok sample is good, since there is concern that the Russian technique could have contaminated the sample. Until we can figure a way to successfully sample here, we should probably hold off landing on Europa.

In Florida, hundreds of hunters netted just 68 pythons.  That’s about one hatching from one snake. Florida swamp hunters are clever people, they’ll figure out the best way to hunt these things. But it may well be that we acted too late and the snake is not even controllable. Which means that they’ll spread until they eat everything, the population will crash, and a new equilibrium is established.

I missed this first time around. It seems that the Zebra Mussel invasion in the Great Lakes has enabled another type of mussel to invade deeper waters and do basically the same thing.  I think we’re gonna have to accept a mixed ecosystem in this day of globe trotting and come up with ways to support local habitats in spite of that. And accept the fact we’re gonna lose a few species. This is the safest method we have of controlling Zebra mussels so far.

On the subject of invasive species, how about predatory flying jumbo squid invading California waters?   The Humboldt squid is one of the few squids confirmed to have attacked (and eaten!) humans.

Iron based catalyst for fuel cells. Right now, we use expensive platinum. Could drop the price of fuel cells to the point where they’d be usable in some forms of transportation, though I think they’ll still be too large for cars.

We’ve wondered for awhile what produced high energy cosmic rays. The Fermi observatory has produced evidence strongly supporting the idea tha supernova remnants are the source of at least some.

Fukushima hasn’t really changed, but here’s an update on Chernobyl. Almost 30 years later, we’re seeing a recovery. But still some problems.

What could possibly go wrong?

Boxturtle (Happy Valentines day!)


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