This week in science: space diamonds in the dark
If our understanding of how the solar system formed is at all accurate, there were probably at least several and probably dozens of planets accruing from the flattened disk that surrounds young, forming stars circling that have long since been gobbled up by other planets, sent into a fiery rendezvous with the sun, or cast out into interstellar space to wander the galaxy as a rogue world. Evidence for such a menagerie would disappear forever in all three cases. Or would it? Fragments from a meteorite that splintered high above Sudan a decade ago may hold the answer:
Upon closer inspection, he found that the material inside the diamonds could only have been formed at incredibly high pressures—much higher than anything the meteorite would have been subject to as it crashed toward Earth. These diamonds must have held the weight of an entire world—literally. At 20 gigapascals, the pressure necessary to form these substances is likely to occur deep within a planet—one between the size of Mercury and Mars.
“Space” diamonds are probably more common than one might think. Very tiny, nano meter-sized diamonds can sometimes form in meteorites during reentry. There could be exo-planets made of so much carbon that it would be awash in a sort of diamond bedrock. Astrophysicists have even suggested that certain types of diamonds here on Earth actually originated inside certain kinds of stars, such as white dwarfs, where they would exist in the trillions of tons.
Earth has exploding ants, how cool is that? Well, not for the ant maybe …
The Hubble Space Telescope marks its 28th anniversary with dazzling pics of the Lagoon Nebula. And speaking of images and space, this interview piece by Mark earlier this week on the TESS replacement for Kepler is a great read!
You can learn a lot about Trump loyalists by examining the claims and methods of moon landing hoaxers. You’ll learn that both groups have abysmal critical thinking skills.
I suffer from chronic pain in the form of an autoimmune disease, I will continue to suffer for the rest of my life, and it will only get worse, not better. So I have a dog in this hunt; that dog being to keep painkillers available in the face of growing opioid abuse. There was some good news on that front, at least in the sense that more people who have become dependent appear to be getting the help they need:
[T]he report also found that the number of people newly prescribed these medications, including buprenorphine and naltrexone, nearly doubled over the course of 2017, to 82,000 per month from 42,000.