Wednesday Reads: Arms a plenty…Posted: January 9, 2013
It was a hellish day yesterday, thank you Dak for covering for me last night. I have a few links for you about arms, both animal and astrological.
Let us start this morning’s reads with very big cephalopods…or as Mark Twain would say…damn big cephalopods.
A Japanese-led team of scientists has captured on film the world’s first live images of a giant squid, journeying to the depths of the ocean in search of the mysterious creature thought to have inspired the myth of the `”kraken”, a tentacled monster.
This 10 foot (3 meters) creature is a little one compared with other giant squids that have washed ashore dead or caught …but this one is live and on video.
Though the beast was small by giant squid standards – the largest ever caught stretched 18 meters long, tentacles and all – filming it secretly in its natural habitat was a key step towards understanding the animal, researchers said.
“Many people have tried to capture an image of a giant squid alive in its natural habitat, whether researchers or film crews. But they all failed,” said Tsunemi Kubodera, a zoologist at Japan’s National Museum of Nature and Science, who led the team.
Kubodera had some nice quotes about seeing this squid in action…
“If you try and approach making a load of noise, using a bright white light, then the squid won’t come anywhere near you. That was our basic thinking,” Kubodera said.
“So we sat there in the pitch black, using a near-infrared light invisible even to the human eye, waiting for the giant squid to approach,” he said.
“I’ve seen a lot of giant squid specimens in my time, but mainly those hauled out of the ocean. This was the first time for me to see with my own eyes a giant squid swimming,” he said. “It was stunning, I couldn’t have dreamt that it would be so beautiful. It was such a wonderful creature.”
“A giant squid essentially lives a solitary existence, swimming about all alone in the deep sea. It doesn’t live in a group,” he said. “So when I saw it, well, it looked to me like it was rather lonely.”
That last quote seemed a bit haunting to me…a lonely squid, surrounded by darkness.
Video clips are below, I’ve got two for you because they show different images of the squid…they are quick so you can watch them in a couple of minutes.
These next articles are out of sight amazing. They deal with our Milky Way Galaxy, and unlike that squid swimming alone in darkness…our planet is just one of billions and billions in this galaxy.
First, the “bones” in the arms.
Just as there are bones in your arms, there are bones in our galaxy’s arms as well — and researchers using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope have shared the x-rays to prove it.
Alright, they’re not actually x-rays but rather images made from observations in infrared light, which Spitzer is specifically designed to detect. (One does need to clarify such things in astronomy.) Orbiting Earth over 172 million kilometers away, Spitzer can see infrared radiation that isn’t visible from the ground, radiation that’s emitted from anything in the Universe warmer than zero Kelvin.
The image above, looking into the plane of the galaxy, shows a long thin strand of dark, cold material stretching between two brighter regions in the lower half — this is a segment of what’s being called a “bone” of the Milky Way, a part of the vast skeletal structure that forms its framework.
It’s the first image of such a structure within our own galaxy.
The “bone” nicknamed “Nessie” and is a long thin piece of our galaxy’s skeleton.
Astronomers have spotted a new component of the Milky Way galaxy’s skeleton — a “bone” of dust and gas that contains about as much material as 100,000 suns.
The newfound Milky Way bone is more than 300 light-years long but just 1 or 2 light-years wide, giving it the appearance of a slender cosmic snake, researchers said.
“This is the first time we’ve seen such a delicate piece of the galactic skeleton,” study lead author Alyssa Goodman, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said in a statement. “This bone is much more like a fibula — the long skinny bone in your leg — than it is like the tibia, or big thick leg bone.”
Now for the part that will make you say, wow…
A simulation based on data from NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler mission has determined that about one out of every six stars has an Earth-sized planet, which would translate to at least 17 billion such worlds in our Milky Way galaxy. And that’s not even counting the alien Earths we’d want to live on.
These 17 billion planets would be circling their parent stars more closely than Mercury orbits our own sun — which means that, in many cases, the planets would be too hot for liquid water to exist. A few such worlds already have been found, including a “lava planet” known as Alpha Centauri Bb that’s just 4.3 light-years away from us.
This estimate of 17 billion hot Earth-like planets stems from another report that was released on Monday…
Kepler mission scientists announced Monday that a new batch of analysis yielded 461 more exoplanet candidates – and that is from within a relatively small cross-section of our galaxy, bringing the total number of potential planets awaiting confirmation to 2,740. Of the several dozen Earth-sized planets, the smallest of 5 categories, 4 were found to be located within their stars’ habitable zone, which is defined as an orbit where surface water can exist as a liquid.
Candidates require additional follow-up observations and analyses to be confirmed as planets. At the beginning of 2012, 33 candidates in the Kepler data had been confirmed as planets. Today, there are 105.
Take a look at this graph from NASA:
(Photo : NASA)
Since the last Kepler catalog was released in February 2012, the number of candidates discovered in the Kepler data has increased by 20 percent and now totals 2,740 potential planets orbiting 2,036 stars. Based on observations conducted May 2009 to March 2011, the most dramatic increases are seen in the number of Earth-size and super Earth-size candidates discovered, which grew by 43 and 21 percent respectively.