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A potpourri of musings....barely related to minerals.
  
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Bob Harman




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PostPosted: Jun 12, 2019 22:12    Post subject: A potpourri of musings....barely related to minerals.  

Sometimes, when I have some free time, I think of odd natural situations, interesting, but usually barely having much directly to do with minerals.

Maybe some forum users will find these of interest or add to this thread so here goes.

In 2011 I visited Alaska. I had always wanted to see an Alaskan glacier so we went to see several up there. I was really impressed with the deep blue color of the glacial ice. Reading about that, I learned that the color is due to the play of light thru the glacial ice and the blue ice is denser than usual ice such as in ice cubes. This is due to extreme compression of this ice over very long time periods. All else being equal, this being the case, glacial blue ice floats lower in water than an equal amount of ordinary ice. However it still floats......hmmm.

Consider this. You are out field collecting near a rock wall such as a road cut. I have done this many times over the past 30+ years. Several times very large boulders have fallen from hi up on the rock wall. (I have never been hit.....lucky me!). If a 10 ton boulder falls 20 feet away you both feel a slight ground vibration, and hear the loud boom from the falling rock. If you are not looking at the falling rock, it is the loud boom that catches your attention. On Earth that is. When rock collectors go to the Moon a 10 ton boulder (much, much larger than 10 ton boulder on Earth because of less gravity) falling right next to you would not make even a whisper. You might only feel the slight ground vibration. As there is no atmosphere, there would not be the slightest sound from this falling giant size rock, even just a few feet away! Accustomed to hearing sounds here on Earth, this concept of nary a whisper from a falling boulder is hard for me to grasp.

Finally think of this situation. Watching TV one evening, you see the weather people reporting in the midst of a gale. The wind is howling at 70 mph (or 100+kmh). The reporter is leaning over, hardly able to stand up to report. When we go to Mars, the same weather reporter will barely notice the 70 mph Martian winds as there is very little air pressure. The reporter will only feel the howling winds of a Martian gale as a gentle zephyr in the thin Martian atmosphere.
If the same reporter could ever stand on the surface of Jupiter, a 1 mph wind flow would shove him along, going 1 mile in 1 hour, just as if he were being shoved along by a raging river here on Earth. No fighting that current, air or water! Very dense atmosphere and "very dense" thoughts. Here the 10 ton boulder, now much much smaller than that on Earth, due to immense Jovian gravity, might just float gently thru the dense atmosphere toward the surface.....or will it fall quickly due to the immense pull of the planet's gravity?? Dense to think about!

Interesting to muse about. BOB
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alfredo
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PostPosted: Jun 13, 2019 01:41    Post subject: Re: A potpourri of musings....barely related to minerals.  

Bob, I had wondered before how the very thin Martian atmosphere was able to create dust storms... How is that extremely thin wind able to lift up and entrain particles of minerals? Yet apparently it does so on a planetary scale. Perhaps because the dust particles are extremely small? Colloidal size? If so, that would perhaps be rather deleterious for the health of any human colonists. Dust control will be a problem.
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Bob Harman




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PostPosted: Jun 13, 2019 04:41    Post subject: Re: A potpourri of musings....barely related to minerals.  

I am sure you are right, Alfredo. Martian dust storms are often nearly planet wide. The only dust able to be picked up into the thin atmosphere must be extremely small particles. Far far smaller particles than dust particles in any terrestrial dust storm. I think this also suggests how extremely dry much of the Martian surface must really be.

I have one more musing that, not only I, but many other theoretical planetary scientists are currently thinking about. I will add it soon. BOB
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Dale Hallmark




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PostPosted: Jun 13, 2019 08:31    Post subject: Re: A potpourri of musings....barely related to minerals.  

Since Mars gravity is 0.376 of earth...and if density were to be the same for dust, then a thinner atmosphere (much thinner) would still pick up a slightly larger particle size that the same flow on earth. Since the atmosphere is so much thinner on Mars I suspect that difference in size due to gravity is negligible.

Whatever dust prevention the Mars Rover may have had seems to have worked well so I don't think excluding dust and wear from mechanical parts and from potential habitations would pose that big of a challenge. Compaction of sediments would happen much deeper seems like. It is a wonder there is a solid surface seems to me like.

Dale
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PostPosted: Jun 13, 2019 09:01    Post subject: Re: A potpourri of musings....barely related to minerals.  

The upside of collecting at a roadcut on the moon, amongst falling rocks, is that falling rocks of a size that would kill or seriously injure you here on Earth, would just glance off of your shoulder or you could just bat them away if you happened to notice them falling relatively slowly towards you. :)
Icebergs are just chunks of fresh-water glaciers floating around in the ocean. On the island of Newfoundland, there is a tradition of going out in boats and chopping off "bergy bits" and storing them in the freezer to use as ice in drinks. The Newfoundlander delights in giving a rum and coke to a an unexpecting visitor (often a "mainlander") then watching the visitor when a "bergy bit" explodes in the drinking glass, as the extra dense ice expands quickly in the relatively warm liquid. :)
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Bob Harman




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PostPosted: Jun 18, 2019 22:24    Post subject: Re: A potpourri of musings....barely related to minerals.  

One of the greatest scientific mysteries of modern times is that question of "are we alone". And, if we are not unique in the universe, might there be other intelligent life forms out there.

These 2 related questions are constantly being mulled over by, not only planetary scientists, but most thoughtful curious folks in today's developed societies. Witness all the movies based on these questions.

From a purely faith based point of view, the answer might be argued that Humanity is unique in the universe. Most scientists however believe that based on all scientific principles and evidence of large number statistics of the huge numbers of stars in the galaxies, some surely will have planets capable of containing life. Of these, if evolutionary principles are universal, intelligent life might somewhere have evolved. Maybe even in large numbers of multiple places.

My musing, however, assumes the above scientific assumptions. I assume intelligent life out there exists. The musing is 2 fold: what will this intelligent life look like and have we ever been physically visited or will we ever really be physically visited?

I first will give you the answers, then briefly discuss them. I feel very strongly that any really intelligent life out there will look surprisingly like us. They will be surprisingly human-like.
As for the second part, no they have never come here....no Area 51.....no UFOs.....Too bad! I just think distances are so vast, that even with light speed travel or suspended animation etc etc physical visits to other worlds with intelligent beings probably will never occur. Maybe radio signals, but never visits. Consider this, if anyone has ever really visited us relatively recently such as 1000 years ago or 100,000 years ago, they apparently left without any really tangible evidence of them being here. Surely a true exploratory visit might have initiated some(!) evidence to be be left behind for others to discover. Visiting, probably taking animal, plant and mineral samples home and then leaving the world without leaving even a trace of the visit just seems unlikely to me. Perhaps, if they visited 10 million or more years ago their calling card has disappeared by now. So why not return again more recently? Intelligent beings leave some type of calling card so others might find it to ponder.

The question of what the intelligent beings might look like is, to me, the most interesting of these musings. Humans are not "built" randomly. We are intelligent, in large part, by the way we are built. We follow physical laws of size and weight based on our planet. We follow laws of breathing, taking in nutrition and getting rid of waste products also based on universal laws of evolution of life. We reproduce, are born, grow to adulthood, and then, die all based upon some type of universal laws. If we are to be intelligent, we have a forward looking head to sense the environment. That is, we have to see, hear, touch, smell etc. We have to manipulate the environment with free limbs including opposable fingers like our thumbs. All this is not random. Intelligent beings, generation after generation will have to improve the world around them to make things both better and more complex. So a forward facing head with a large brain, a complex communication system, speech, free limbs with opposable fingers and thumbs all will be necessary for intelligent life to develop. If all the laws of evolution and development are universal, intelligent aliens almost certainly will look surprisingly like us.

Oh, by the way, I am looking for a well crystallized example of Kryptonite, anyone have any?? BOB
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Peter Lemkin




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PostPosted: Jun 19, 2019 00:44    Post subject: Re: A potpourri of musings....barely related to minerals.  

Bob Harman wrote:
One of the greatest scientific mysteries of modern times is that question of "are we alone". And, if we are not unique in the universe, might there be other intelligent life forms out there.

These 2 related questions are constantly being mulled over by, not only planetary scientists, but most thoughtful curious folks in today's developed societies. Witness all the movies based on these questions.

From a purely faith based point of view, the answer might be argued that Humanity is unique in the universe. Most scientists however believe that based on all scientific principles and evidence of large number statistics of the huge numbers of stars in the galaxies, some surely will have planets capable of containing life. Of these, if evolutionary principles are universal, intelligent life might somewhere have evolved. Maybe even in large numbers of multiple places.

My musing, however, assumes the above scientific assumptions. I assume intelligent life out there exists. The musing is 2 fold: what will this intelligent life look like and have we ever been physically visited or will we ever really be physically visited?

I first will give you the answers, then briefly discuss them. I feel very strongly that any really intelligent life out there will look surprisingly like us. They will be surprisingly human-like.
As for the second part, no they have never come here....no Area 51.....no UFOs.....Too bad! I just think distances are so vast, that even with light speed travel or suspended animation etc etc physical visits to other worlds with intelligent beings probably will never occur. Maybe radio signals, but never visits. Consider this, if anyone has ever really visited us relatively recently such as 1000 years ago or 100,000 years ago, they apparently left without any really tangible evidence of them being here. Surely a true exploratory visit might have initiated some(!) evidence to be be left behind for others to discover. Visiting, probably taking animal, plant and mineral samples home and then leaving the world without leaving even a trace of the visit just seems unlikely to me. Perhaps, if they visited 10 million or more years ago their calling card has disappeared by now. So why not return again more recently? Intelligent beings leave some type of calling card so others might find it to ponder.

The question of what the intelligent beings might look like is, to me, the most interesting of these musings. Humans are not "built" randomly. We are intelligent, in large part, by the way we are built. We follow physical laws of size and weight based on our planet. We follow laws of breathing, taking in nutrition and getting rid of waste products also based on universal laws of evolution of life. We reproduce, are born, grow to adulthood, and then, die all based upon some type of universal laws. If we are to be intelligent, we have a forward looking head to sense the environment. That is, we have to see, hear, touch, smell etc. We have to manipulate the environment with free limbs including opposable fingers like our thumbs. All this is not random. Intelligent beings, generation after generation will have to improve the world around them to make things both better and more complex. So a forward facing head with a large brain, a complex communication system, speech, free limbs with opposable fingers and thumbs all will be necessary for intelligent life to develop. If all the laws of evolution and development are universal, intelligent aliens almost certainly will look surprisingly like us.

Oh, by the way, I am looking for a well crystallized example of Kryptonite, anyone have any?? BOB


With all due respect to your views on the subject [which I wonder fits into the rubric of this Forum well], I took a course long ago in University in 'Intelligent Life In the Universe', have followed the subject carefully since and have in my library over 100 books on the subject and exobiology as well as exoplanets [which would support such life].

First, I am serious when I ask rhetorically if life on Earth is really intelligent!? Yes, more so than ants and amoeba, but hardly so. Second, as a born-again atheist I think religion or 'gods' play no role in this and this third rate star around which we orbit in a very non-special part of one of hundreds of billions of galaxies is NOTHING SPECIAL.

The basic elements of carbon-based life is found in the universe and in large amounts in/on asteroids, comets, other planets and exoplanets - even in interstallar gas. Nothing is unique about Earth other than it happens to have a lot of liquid water and is in the Goldilocks zone - but billions of other planets are as well.

I subscribe to panspermia [life or the basic building blocks were transported here from elsewhere and life in primitive forms or 'intelligent forms' populate the universe in profusion - billions of places [probably only a small % rise to intelligent life and many of them likely kill themselves off - as I predict humans will in the next 100 years.

I also think there are chances that Si - based life could exist other than C - based, but that C-based is more common and more likely.

We ARE NOT alone [and there was no 'big bang']. These concepts are driven by Western Religion which I do not subscribe to and feel have been always in opposition to science and advancement.

Lastly, I think that other life forms on other planets will bear only vague similarities to life here. Differences in their own evolution, gravity, physical and chemical conditions, radiation levels and other factors - including chance - have made them very different. We likely have the ability [if open minded] to realize they are life forms and if so, intelligent life forms.

Remember too, we have had 'intelligence' [as limited and questionable as it is to me] for only a few tens [at most] thousands of years and technology only for the last few hundreds; advanced technology perhaps only 50 years. Many civilizations have had millions to hundreds or billions of years of technology if they did not, as I fear we will, destroy themselves. Knowing that, as they do if they survived, they either are not interested in contacting ants like us, or wary to - even if we can't effect them due to distances. We just are primitive to them and they have no interest, or have had bad experiences in 'contact' with other civilizations and keep to themselves.

I think we will soon find life does or did exist on Mars and many other places. Earth is not unique at all...nor is the sun...nor is our Milky Way, nor is our corner of the vast universe. Religion would have one believe that. I do not. The Big Bang is 'driven' by religious beliefs - not science [not much]; Ditto life only on Earth - or only intelligent [sic] life here. Life is found all over the universe and really intelligent life [millions+ years of technology more rare, but hundreds of millions to a few billion in the visible universe I would assume. Look at Drake's equation and the numbers we now know for it...it shows about [min] 10 million intelligent civilizations [living or now dead] in the visible universe [which may be only a part of the total universe...... Amino acids and their precursors have been located on asteroids, comets and in meteorites and other places. Life is common where temperature and other physical conditions allow. Intelligent life forms much more rarely and they may be intelligent enough to not be interested or wary to even make their presence known to us - and even if they wanted to, the speed of light slows down such 'conversations' by millennia. We are not alone, but we are lonely.
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PostPosted: Jun 20, 2019 04:30    Post subject: Re: A potpourri of musings....barely related to minerals.  

The probability that any intelligent extraterrestrials, if they exist all, would look humanoid, like in Hollywood films, is close to zero. The fact that intelligent life even on Earth looks humanoid is just due to random chance.

The universe is a very violent place, and life on Earth has been almost wiped out several times in geological history. We Homo sapiens, the current dominant life form, are descended from those who happened to survive. For example, the asteroid impact at the end of the Cretaceous period wiped out the dinosaurs and allowed mammals to take off and evolve from their previous role of being little nocturnal creatures hiding from the dominant dinosaurs. What if that asteroid had been smaller? Perhaps today the ruling species on our planet would be some intelligent descendant of a velociraptor and there would be no humanoid life forms at all. And there were many other such geological events with chance outcomes. The probability that the exact same series of evolutions and catastrophes occurred in some other star system is zero, zilch, nada.

IF there is any other intelligent species in a nearby star system, some species with a long lifespan (so they won't mind decades-long journeys to come visit us), then, contrary to Hollywood films, forget about any sort of communication between us and them. After decades of trying, we still have not managed to understand the languages of the other intelligent species on our own planet, like dolphins, with whom we share so much of our DNA, and shared environment and history. How much more difficult would it be to communicate with creatures from a totally different environment and biology? Their thought processes will be unrecognizably different. But if they bring some mineral specimens with them and want to swap, I'll rethink those communication difficulties.
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PostPosted: Jun 27, 2019 05:55    Post subject: Probably not yet in your collection - and not likely to be anytime soon......  

Scientists re-creating Titan-esque conditions in their laboratory have discovered new compounds and minerals not found on Earth, including a co-crystal made of solid acetylene and butane.

Acetylene and butane exist on Earth as gases and are commonly used for welding and camp stove fuel. On Titan, with its extremely cold temperatures, acetylene and butane are solid and combine to form crystals, the new research found.

The new mineral might be responsible for the bathtub rings that are suspected to exist around Titan's hydrocarbon lakes, according to Morgan Cable of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, who will present the new research Monday at the 2019 Astrobiology Science Conference.

Titan's lakes are filled with liquid hydrocarbons. Previous research using images and data gathered during the Cassini mission has shown that lakes in the moon's dry regions near the equator contain signs of evaporated material left behind, like rings on a bathtub.

To create Titan-like conditions in the laboratory, the researchers started with a custom-built cryostat, an apparatus to keep things cold. They filled the cryostat with liquid nitrogen to bring the temperature down. They then warmed the chamber slightly, so the nitrogen turned to gas, which is mostly what Titan's atmosphere contains. Next, they threw in what abounds on Titan, methane and ethane, as well as other carbon-containing molecules, and looked for what formed.

The first things to drop out of their Titan hydrocarbon soup were benzene crystals. Benzene is perhaps best known as a component of gasoline and is a snowflake-shaped molecule made out of a hexagonal ring of carbon atoms. But Titan benzene held a surprise: The molecules rearranged themselves and allowed ethane molecules inside, creating a co-crystal.

The researchers then discovered the acetylene and butane co-crystal, which is probably a lot more common on Titan than benzene crystals, based on what's known about the moon's composition, Cable said.

In the moon's cold climate, the acetylene-butane co-crystals might form rings around the moon's lakes as the liquid hydrocarbons evaporate and the minerals drop out -- in the same way that salts can form crusts on the shores of Earth's lakes and seas, according to Cable.

To confirm whether Titan has bathtub rings of co-crystals and other, undiscovered, hydrocarbon crystals, scientists will have to wait until a spacecraft can visit the shorelines of this moon, Cable said.

"We don't know yet if we have these bathtub rings," Cable said. "It's hard to see through Titan's hazy atmosphere."

Information provided by American Geophysical Union.
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