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Hank CampbellRSS Feed of this column.

I'm the founder of Science 2.0® in 2006 and, since July of 2015, the President of the American Council on Science and Health..

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Welcome to 42

Welcome to 42

Oct 10 2010 | 4 comment(s)

Welcome to October 10th, 2010, 10/10/10, unless you are in Europe, where they will write it 10/10/10 just to be different.  If you are a fan of binary counting, 101010 translated to decimal is...42.   If you are a fan of Douglas Adams, you know that the "answer to life, the universe, and everything" arrived at by the Deep Thought supercomputer was "42" ... after 7+ million years of analysis(1).
A new report in Nature Geoscience says there may be large deposits of carbonate sedimentary rocks a few miles beneath the surface of Mars.

If substantial carbonate minerals exist it might indicate a past surface environment with carbon dioxide, in contrast to its current acidic (and inhospitable) state.  

Researchers Joseph Michalski and Paul B. Niles found evidence for carbonate bedrock deep under the Martian crust and believe the ancient sediments were linked to a volcanic eruption by the Syrtis Major volcano.
Conspiracy theorists love photo effects.   If you want to see a man on Mars, you will eventually find it.  But if NASA cleans up an image and then posts it, and then a high-contrast photo makes the rather weak lighting look like some anthropomorphized UFO, well, it's a conspiracy.

Face on Mars. Viking mission 1976
"Anti-science" or "cautious" ... how you regard skeptics of positions that are ethically or scientifically subjective is often a matter of how you already believe.   If you are a Republican concerned about the ethical implications of human embryonic stem cell research, whole books can be written on how Republicans hate science.   But if you are in astronomy and have watched every program started during the Bush years get gutted since Democrats took control of Congress, you might think Democrats hate Congress(1) more.  In reality there are legitimate issues involved and it is up to policy makers to navigate them.
Say you have a curious kid and you want to confirm the planet is round to, you know, show off how experimental results can verify mathematical ones.    If you are with the Brooklyn Space Program group, you build your own spacecraft, of course.

But it isn't that easy.    You can put a camera on a balloon, sure, but your camera needs to survive 100 MPH winds, temperatures of -60, speeds of 150 MPH and maybe a water landing.  To find it if it does land safely, you need to have a GPS attached that transmits coordinates to a cell tower.

Here is their story:
A persistent hypothesis is that perhaps life did not 'originate' on Earth at all, perhaps its building blocks came from space.

In April, the public, fed by astronomy's runaway hype train, were excited by the discovery of water on an asteroid - but it was exciting, it was just the conjecture that followed was a little cloying.