Spacesuits for goalposts?
Astrophysicists have found the single largest molecule yet floating in the interstellar medium, the soup of matter and radiation that floods space in between all of the universe’s objects. The molecule known as Buckminsterfullerene (C60) is made of 60 carbon atoms arranged in a soccer-football-thing-like structure. Carbon is a …
However, that was around a dying star. This article states interstellar so the stuff in between systems, so .... space*. So I guess this is what they mean and it goes to show that clickbait is rife in EVERY field. :)
*Space is weird. And big. Bigger than big.
22 May 2010 - NASA Telescope Finds Elusive Buckyballs in Space
"PASADENA, Calif. -- Astronomers using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have discovered carbon molecules, known as "buckyballs," in space for the first time..."
This time, they did their proper homework and assigned multiple absorption bands. The older claims of buckyballs in space were a bit speculative, now they actually have some hard data.
The uncertainties scale quite non-linearly: you observe 1 absorption band in the right spot, you might be 90% certain that you got the right molecule (there are always some issues with getting the Doppler shift right).
If you observe two absorption bands, you get more than 90%+9%, because you know that the Doppler shift must be the same if the bands stem from the same molecules.
A cheer for the scientists who went beyond the bare minimum required for a catchy headline!
I'm not certain that is actually "hard data" as such. It's still based on distant observation with some excellent guess work. To be fully "hard data" and factual, we need to collect a sample. But still, it's a great leap and in the scheme of things tells us more about the universe than we ever imagined.
I think a pint in order for the boffins.
Considering helium was first discovered and named from analysing the dark bands in sunlight before any was found here on Earth I think as a scientist (even if a mere biologist) that precedence should firm up things up a bit.
I'm an experimentalist so I'm always up for samples but it's a MEASUREMENT. I'm a Physiologist and we measure anything that moves and some things that don't. In my PhD in the subject I invented, validated and used a novel measurement.
The body measures some things via proxies. For eg the amount of CO2 in the blood which means you have to breathe harder is measured indirectly by measuring the blood pH. Which is why metabolic acidosis will make you unwontedly breathless and metabolic alkalosis might turn you a bit blue.
Which goes to show that direct measurements are a pretty good standard in practice.
Also we could do an experiment. Send a vehicle high enough above the plane of the ecliptic then release a cloud of C60 into the medium with a nice bright star behind it and show the bands are the same. If we put one of those newfangled chemistry synthesis machines on the craft it can make a load of other carbon molecules and puff them out to check the other bands as well.
I offer this experimental design under a creative commons. I simply want acknowledgment and my name on the paper.
Since there are those still wondering if silicon based lifeforms are possible (the chemistry is very impoverished in comparison and bond strengths much stronger) such observations are scientifically germane.
Since Carbon is such an obvious goto base silicon just gets to make the rocks if there's carbon everywhere.
Also since Carbon is element 6 and Silicon is element 14 you need earlier sequence supernovae to get lots of carbon than you do to get enough silicon. Since ice can be rock hard you don't actually needs rocks for life, though it helps.
Colour isn't real, of course. It's just a tag our brains apply to objects in our vision. In any case, you don't look for carbon in the visual spectrum. You find it using infra-red, and in fact the researchers here used near-IR, just beyond the 800 nm limit of our vision.
For the record, a serious survey some years ago concluded that the average colour of the universe is beige. And Douglas Adams had nothing to do with it.
Dyson spheres are where an advanced civilisation largely encloses its star to capture it's energy.
You might recall the interest in Tabby's Star which had irregular dips in light indicating lots of large chunks of Something orbiting it. Then someone did some simulations and showed a broken up large rocky planet or two could give the same result and is more likely and should be found more often and Tabby's star is the active sort to achieve that and not really a nice stable red dwarf it would be sensible to build a sphere around.
The idea that the star would turn green from all the plant life in the sphere seemed fanciful to me. Why make them shine through? that green light is still energetic and an advanced civilisation would want to grab as much energy as they can.
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