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Space Science

First Full Science Results From Herschel 22

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the moon-is-made-of-ham dept.
davecl writes "Today the first full science results from the Herschel Space Observatory were released, including results ranging from the formation and evolution of galaxies to the detailed physics of star formation. Details can be found from The European Space Agency, the BBC, and the Herschel mission blog that I help maintain. Briefer reports, covering rather more of the science, can also be found under the #eslab2010 hashtag on Twitter."
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First Full Science Results From Herschel

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  • Not so fast... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by swanzilla (1458281)
    TFA claims:

    Herschel is also a prime instrument for detecting the smallest forms of matter: molecules. It has made the first discovery in space of a new ‘phase’ of water. It is electrically charged and unlike the more familiar phases, namely solid ice, liquid water and gaseous steam, it does not occur naturally on Earth.

    Hmm...sounds a lot like plasma. I'm fairly certain that I have observed the existence of this 'phase' first-hand, as I have seen the tail of a comet. Provided there is in fact H2O on comets, I suppose.

    • by gardyloo (512791)

      Yeah, the flame from a candle or match? Plasma.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Chris Burke (6130)

        Uh, nooooo, that's fire, one of the four fundamental elements. The match is earth, demonstrating how earth begets fire. Water quenches fire, yet fire also requires air and water both begets air and air begets water. This is the great mystery of the elements, and is precisely why Herschel was launched. It has already imaged large amounts of fire, earth, and water! The role of air in the cosmos is yet unknown, but hopefully this 'new phase of water' is a clue.

        • Re:Not so fast... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @12:28PM (#32112464) Homepage

          The match is earth, demonstrating how earth begets fire.

          No, the match is a mix of earth and fire. See, if you burn a match (releasing the fire), you end up with a small pile of ashes, which are obviously earth. In addition, we know that fire wants to move up, because fires on earth try to get to the heavens, plus there are some pretty big fires up there like the sun and moon. By contrast, earth very clearly wants to move down, which you see as soon as you let go of a rock.

          The amazing thing about these theories which we now know to be completely wrong is how well they worked to describe the universe.

          • The match is earth, demonstrating how earth begets fire.

            No, the match is a mix of earth and fire.

            No! No! No! No! The match is a slashdot argument. Easily enflamed, all heat and light but no substance, if you get too close ot it you'll choke, and in the end all you're left with is a pile of dirty useless crap no one wanted.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by element-o.p. (939033)
      Stupid question, maybe, but PP got me thinking...

      [physlink.com]

      A plasma (or, more properly, an electromagnetic plasma) is a phase of matter that has enough energy for the electrons to [be] separated from the nucleus. It consists of independently moving electrons and nuclei...

      Wouldn't it be impossible to have a plasma made from a molecule, especially a polar molecule like H2O? It's been a long time since high school and college chemistry, so please correct me if I'm wrong, but if a plasma, by definition, has enough energy to strip electrons from the nucleus of an atom, then wouldn't it also have enough energy to break molecules into their elemental constituents? Or are some molecular binding forces stronger than the electri

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by John Hasler (414242)

        > ...if a plasma, by definition, has enough energy to strip electrons from
        > the nucleus of an atom, then wouldn't it also have enough energy to break
        > molecules into their elemental constituents?

        Not necessarily.

        > Or are some molecular binding forces stronger than the electrical forces
        > that bind electrons to nuclei?

        Same force.

  • by mapkinase (958129) on Thursday May 06, 2010 @11:59AM (#32112118) Homepage Journal

    "The first scientific results" ESA [esa.int]

    Nothing "first" at BBC.

    Many references to "first", none to "full" Herschel mission blog [wordpress.com]

    I might be the only one who got confused by word "full" which I understood that some scientific results has been already produced.

    Could the word "full" be more related to this [bbc.co.uk]?

    • by Kingrames (858416)
      These are the first full science results, because the previous results were half-science, half-magic.

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