Dream of the Dragon

Tag: spacemen

Dark Energy

by Justin

As I am utterly unequipped to articulate such grand awesomeness any better than Lisa Grossman over at the Wired blog, I’ll stick to her version of last week’s news:

Our view of dark energy, the mysterious force that is shoving the universe apart, just got a little clearer. By observing the way large clumps of mass distort their local space-time into enormous cosmological lenses, astronomers have zoomed in on a quantity that describes how dark energy works.

The universe’s composition breaks down roughly as follows: traditional atomic matter = 4%; dark matter = 24%; dark energy = 72%. Dark matter is observable because of its gravitational effects on the 4% with which we’re well acquainted. The majority of the universe, however, is composed of a mysterious energy that astronomers and physicists believe must be responsible for our ever-expanding (at an ever-accelerating rate) cosmos.

Forgive the sheen of my ignorance on this subject – I’ll do my best to keep things accurate. The catch with dark energy is that it seems to drive the universe outward, but without the observable particles of other fields (i.e. electromagnetic and photons). And it’s doing it at a faster and faster rate.

Before I touch on the Wired article and the new study, here’s a slice of weirdness that is worth exploring if you’ve got the time and inclination to have your brain rocked: Read the rest of this entry »

New Genesis

by Justin

Mankind may now be capable of executing the greatest and most miraculous act of divinity: creation. From chemical scratch a couple scientists managed to cross the Frankenstein threshold. Maybe. I slipped rapidly from mindblown elation into a sort of cynicism about just how devastating this news is. I’m not a frontlines reporter, so all I can do is read the work of the professionals and then form opinions. Often I rely upon journalists to articulate my own opinions and do the distillation work for me. What does one do, then, when the Atlantic, Guardian, and the Economist frame this revelation so differently? I stumbled upon this first in the Economist:

Craig Venter and Hamilton Smith, the two American biologists who unravelled the first DNA sequence of a living organism (a bacterium) in 1995, have made a bacterium that has an artificial genome—creating a living creature with no ancestor. Read the rest of this entry »

A Tree Killing a Whale

by Justin

A bit of Friday lightness. The British Kew Gardens joined with an organization called Velvet to launch an excellent children’s competition with the following prompt:

Imagine your dream tree! What does it look like? What grows on it? What kinds of insects, animals and birds live there? Let your imagination run wild and then draw a picture of this amazing tree.

Every entry is rewarded with a new tree planted and a special certificate honoring that contribution to ‘Trees for Cities.’ And then special prizes are available to the winners selected in the competition. The Guardian covered it in an online gallery showcasing a good range of artistic skill and childlike insanity. Read the rest of this entry »