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Space Science

Strange Asteroids Baffle Scientists 125

Raver32 writes to mention that two nearby asteroids may be evidence of a new class of asteroid or long eroded mini-world. Mineral evidence gathered using photometric data shows these asteroids to contain basalt not normally found in asteroid belt objects. "The lack of basalt and another mineral, olivine, in asteroid belt objects has long puzzled scientists. These two minerals would have formed the crust and mantle, respectively, of belt objects the size of Vesta or larger; theory predicts that more than half of all asteroids should be composed of one or the other of these substances"
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Strange Asteroids Baffle Scientists

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  • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @10:06AM (#20318523) Homepage
    That's no asteroid....
    • Note, the scientists involved are Spanish, and possibly Italian, and their hypothesis that some asteroids are made of meat can only lead to one thing: Space Spaghetti and Meatballs.
    • by metlin ( 258108 )
      Anubis!

      Those damn goa'ulds.
    • by moxley ( 895517 )
      Your post is missing something:

      "That's no Asteroid.... - It's SPACE STATIONS"

      Maybe the empire finally realized that big metal planets are a dead giveaway of mal intentions; whereas small planetoid looking bodies look innocuous; (and thermal exhaust ports can be more easily concealed as little volcanos)....

  • by Anonymous Coward
    When the facts don't fit the theory, maybe it's time to re-evaluate the theory.
    • ... but scientists do re-evaluate lots of stuff. They just aren't as quick as we'd like them to be.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lane.exe ( 672783 )
      Or you do more data gathering to see if those facts are anomalous.

      /Undetermination for the win!

    • Keep up the good hints. But don't make any suggestions like the possibility that the universe is electrical or that Einstein might have goofed up if you want mod points to survive. But since I don't care about their mod points anyway and I really am a decent science type...., Here goes!

      Nothing of the nebular theory works. Comets are not dirty snowballs and we have the data to prove it now. The physics for the universe is easily explained by electrical functions we commonly use for our industry but the

  • by Silver Sloth ( 770927 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @10:11AM (#20318579)
    From TFA

    "Roughly 99 percent of the stuff we expect to see [in the asteroid belt] is missing."
    I'm no astronomer but what with 'dark matter' and now this it seems that an awful lot of the universe is 'missing'.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Most of it's probably hiding in a cave in southern Afghanistan.
    • They said "stuff" not "matter".

      In the context of the paragraph, I believe he meant that "99% of the things we see are not in the expected composition" and not "We can only find stuff to account for 1% of the calculated mass".

      "Finding either one is significant because both are quite rare, much rarer than they should be," said Michael Gaffey, a geologist at the University of North Dakota who was not involved in the study. "Roughly 99 percent of the stuff we expect to see [in the asteroid belt] is missing."

    • --I'm no astronomer but what with 'dark matter' and now this it seems that an awful lot of the universe is 'missing'.--

      It's obviously in another dYmENshUN.
    • by geobeck ( 924637 )

      ...it seems that an awful lot of the universe is 'missing'.

      Don't worry. The cops will find most of it at Io Joe's Pawn Shop & Discount ToE Outlet by morning.

    • It's always in the last place you look for it, so for a nice change, we should start there!
  • by Joe Random ( 777564 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @10:12AM (#20318589)

    two nearby asteroids may be evidence of a new class of asteroid
    One of the major distinguishing features of this new class of asteroid is that, when leaving the telescope's field of view, they reappear on the opposite edge.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @10:12AM (#20318591) Journal
    I just wish people in other fields, politics, religion, law, philosophy, etc would admit when they are baffled as readily as the scientists do. For all the amount of explanations they offer and advance understanding of nature, these scientists seem to delight on admitting they are baffled at the drop of a hat.
    • That's the thing about Science. Figuring out that you don't understand something is considered an important part of progress. In those other disciplines it's the ultimate failure.

      -Peter
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by geekoid ( 135745 )
        The other thing being the desire to disprove hypothesis of the new observation.

      • by Shotgun ( 30919 )
        There's also the idea that if you understand it all, there's not job left to do.

        Politicians freely admit that "society needs fixing".
        Religious leaders freely admit that "morality needs fixing".
        Philosophers freely admit that . . . we don't know enough to know what to fix?
        Shoot, painters will freely admit that my house needs painting if I give 'em a chance.

        If you job is to acquire understanding, it's not strange that you'll be excited that new mysteries appear.

        • I'm not sure if you're implying that Scientists make up mysteries. Surely this happens, but I don't believe it is prevalent. I think that wonder at the natural world is a common trait among Scientists, and that they largely wouldn't see the point in making stuff up, since there are so many clear, real, and important questions out there.

          I also think there is an imortant distinction between all the other "leaders" you name and Scientists; Scientist just want to figure out what is, where the others want to
    • by dbolger ( 161340 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @10:24AM (#20318765) Homepage
      Would you vote for a politican who admitted that he was delightfully baffled by questions of how to fix the economy? Would you hire a manager who eagerly told people that he had no idea how to rally sales or improve worker morale?

      I can imagine sitting in court as the RIAA shows a jury undeniable evidence that I have downloaded and shared the newly released Bratz movie. I know I didn't do it, but turning to my lawyer to see his reaction, I am faced with his goofy grin and shrugging shoulders. Uh-oh.

      Science is the only field (that I can think of) where being stumped could be considered anything other than a bad outcome. That's what sets it apart from other fields.
      • by cathector ( 972646 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @10:30AM (#20318851)
        it's not *being* stumped that's so great,
        what the parent is lauding is *admitting* when you're stumped.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by EL_mal0 ( 777947 )

          what the parent is lauding is *admitting* when you're stumped.

          And trying to unstump yourself is the next necessary step. That's the critical part of scientific progress.

        • Being "stumped" is a wonderful thing in direct proportion to how well you can state what it is you dont know. As any software engineer debugging a program can also tell you, at about the same time you can say what is exactly wrong is about the same time you know what it is you have to do!

          Collorary: an exact question and an exact answer approach unity; they are the same thing, in the end. Thus, it is the persuit of the right question as much as the right answer, that makes for the ethic of science appreciate
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        I will admit to you that I am baffled as to why the RIAA is involved in a court case concerning the downloading of a movie.
      • Would you vote for a politican who admitted that he was delightfully baffled by questions of how to fix the economy?

        Sure, because he's obviously the first honest candidate in recorded history.

      • Would you vote for a politican who admitted that he was delightfully baffled by questions of how to fix the economy? Would you hire a manager who eagerly told people that he had no idea how to rally sales or improve worker morale?

        Definitely.

        I'd take someone who knows when to look for the correct answer over someone who confidently does the wrong thing any day. I don't want a manager who confidently imposes stupid rules and destroys moral and then assumes they could not possibly have made an error. They make bad managers, but are good at selling themselves as good managers to people who don't work for them. When people claim they never make mistakes, I can confidently assume they are lying or too incompetent to notice their own

      • by Magada ( 741361 )
        Erm... yes. Actually, if I was trying to decide on hiring any type of manager (political, business, military, you name it), I'd be sure to kick back out the door any numbnuts who would waltz in with a fully-formed plan or MO and no doubts that it's the correct one, real sharpish like.

        General incompetence is one thing, admitting you don't know the particulars of a situation and forming a sound plan for information gathering is quite another. How would you feel if , in your RIAA suit, the lawyer would stand u
    • If you don't know the answer yet, you can apply for funding. Funding is difficult to procure, however, and next to impossible if the answers are already known.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by haystor ( 102186 )
        I'll raise your cynical view of the world: Funding is easier to secure if the research is assured to support specific answers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rthille ( 8526 )
      I'd seen the quote before, but I'm reading "The Atheist's Bible" right now (gift from my wife), and it has the quote:

      Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.

      Voltaire

      Absurd is certainly a good description for my feelings about religion...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I think it was Steven J Gould who said that science is never right, but it is always our closest approach to right, based on our understanding at the time. That's why science is remarkable: it relies on people arguing, being not right, and figuring out what's more right based on the previous mistakes. People who have trouble admitting that something they previously supported is, in fact, wrong, are going to have a tough time in science. The problem with that is that most people don't work that way, and t
      • This is the heart of cognitive dissonance. I never verbalized it before, but it always seemed to me that CD is just mental laziness. People don't want to go through the trouble of relearning, or discriminating between competing interpretations by examining the evidence.

        Underlying it all is a latent anti-intellectualism on the right, but I don't feel like starting that argument right now...

        • While I agree with your analysis, I think cognitive dissonance is something more complicated than simple laziness. The examples I was given when the idea was explained in psych and philosophy classes were of the form of self-delusion, specifically deluding yourself that a bad experience, job, relationship, or purchase was in fact a good one, so you don't have to deal with the emotions of having done something bad. Case in point: boot camp. Although it's designed to be hell, people look back on it as a gr
          • No one I know ever looked fondly back on boot camp. Having shared the experience with a close friend, it is something that we can talk about and laugh about now. Neither one of us would say "well, it must've been good."

            Anywhile, Boot camp isn't designed to be hell. It is designed to tear down the individual (body, mind and soul) and transform them into a person capable of participating in warfare. The people who run the show, from the DIs up to the OIC, understand what it is they are trying to do and
      • The people who complain about scientific results changing are the ones who
        notice some results change back and forth from one answer to another, then back to the original answer.

        This seems to specifically happen in medicine.

        It is still a strength of the scientific process. Yes, but you could see how people might be upset.

        • Absolutely. The reason I find it so interesting is that the precise characteristic that, to me, defines good science, is what makes people irritated and untrusting of it. The process of science is unsettling, by which I mean it unseats what has been there before. As such, it's continually changing, and that's not what people want so they're pissed at it. In Greek theater, the concept of a tragedy, and a tragic hero, wasn't just that something sad happened, but that a person had a characteristic that mad
    • I just wish people in other fields, politics, religion, law, philosophy, etc would admit when they are baffled as readily as the scientists do.

      Lawyer: My client is suing BigBox Corporation, but for the life of me I don't understand why because my client pretty much inflicted the harm on himself.

      Politician: I have no idea how to solve everyone's problems. I figured once in office I'd consult some experts and the latest theory on any particular issue.

      Minister: Seriously, I got nothin'.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Darby ( 84953 )
      these scientists seem to delight on admitting they are baffled at the drop of a hat.

      Come now, they haven't been baffled at the drop of a hat since Newton ;-)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GreatDrok ( 684119 )
      "I just wish people in other fields, politics, religion, law, philosophy, etc would admit when they are baffled as readily as the scientists do. For all the amount of explanations they offer and advance understanding of nature, these scientists seem to delight on admitting they are baffled at the drop of a hat."

      OK, I'll admt it, I'm a scientist (hangs head.)

      Anyway, yes, you're right. One of the things that scientists have to learn as part of the scientific method is to admit when they don't know something,
      • > Non-scientists seem to have so much trouble understanding the ease with which a scientist
        > will happily admit to being wrong or being surprised or baffled or just plain shocked and
        > stunned.

        Many non-scientist just view science as a new religion, one that just happens to be much better at delivering miracles that the older religions. So they expect scientists to act like priests, and utter absolute truths.

        When discussing science versus religion, it is not the religious nuts I find most annoying,
  • a lot of objects in the solar system were liquid at some point and could grow very large until collisions broke the pieces apart. that and some solar system formation models predict the jovian worlds had migrated, it could very well be that something large did form before the jovian worlds disrupted the region where the asteroid belt is which could cause collisions to happen frequently enough to destroy a very large object.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jamstar7 ( 694492 )
      Or, some of these objects could be formed as a result of collisions. Just Googled Vesta, for instance, and at 525 km, it's pretty big for a projectile thrown clear from an impact:

      Vesta is the most geologically diverse of the large asteroids and the only known one with distinctive light and dark areas -- much like the face of our Moon. Hubble images have revealed a diverse world with ancient lava flows and a gigantic impact basin that is so deep, it exposes the asteroid's subsurface, or mantle. Vesta's surf

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Just Googled Vesta, for instance, and at 525 km, it's pretty big for a projectile thrown clear from an impact:
        the object that smashed into Earth to produce the moon was roughly the size of Mars, that kind of thing is plenty big a collision to make Vesta.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by MBGMorden ( 803437 )
          Good ol' Theia :). IIRC, the Science Channel will be showing "What if we had no Moon" on the 28th (next Tuesday). I'm I'm remembering correctly this does a great explanation of the Giant Impact Theory (though the impactor is referred to as Orpheus on the show - both Theia and Orpheus are two different names used for the same thing, though Theia is a little more common).
  • These are aliens from mars... risen from the ashes (basalt)

    Bored with the martian landscape, they're on a 'world' tour.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    My sedentary job gives me frequent cases of Asteroids ,I have no clue what color they are, but Damn they hurt!!

  • They now believe that some asteroids are derived from larger, planet-like bodies? Now the question arises, what happened to these bodies to cause their current state of being?
  • objects by mineral content and reaction?
  • "The lack of basalt and another mineral, olivine, in asteroid belt objects has long puzzled scientists.[snip]

    Meh, as long it is not slowing down, I am not worried.

  • maybe that little triangular spaceship finally made his way and succeeded blowing some asteroids up.
  • wtf? (Score:2, Informative)

    From TFA:

    The asteroids, (7472) Kumakiri and (10537) 1991 RY16, were found to contain basalt, a grey-black mineral
    Basalt is a rock, not a mineral!
  • I bet Barry Bonds would deny the existence of these asteroids in his system...
    • I bet Barry Bonds would deny the existence of these asteroids in his system...
      Coming soon to a bookstore near you -- The Jose Canseco Guide to Astrophysics.

      What? He's a well known expert on the movement of spheres. Look at his last book -- "Using Your Head in the Outfield"
  • If these two asteroids were once the same asteroid, does that mean they are now half-assteroids?
  • I misread the headline and immediately thought of the new Kongregate game. [kongregate.com]
  • This is odd (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @12:28PM (#20320283)
    From the article:

    "The lack of basalt and another mineral, olivine, in asteroid belt objects has long puzzled scientists. These two minerals would have formed the crust and mantle, respectively, of belt objects the size of Vesta or larger; theory predicts that more than half of all asteroids should be composed of one or the other of these substances"

    It would appear as though the above 'theory' is incorrect if, up until now, very little basalt has been detected. Perhaps the material in the asteroid belt never went through the planetary formation stages necessary to form such rocks (volcanism).


    The presence of this new class of material might suggest that the asteroid belt is made up of the remains of a small planet (moon perhaps) plus lots of additional garbage that never formed a planet.

    • If that's the case, then why are many meteors made of pure nickel/iron - a sure sign of a larger differentiated body having broken up.
  • The Moonseed [amazon.com] ate the olivine, of course!
  • Some pineosal and we've got flying pestoline?
    still on first coffee
  • Perhaps asteroids are not what we thought they were. Someone has suggested that they come from a planet that somehow exploded [metaresearch.org] (of which Mars was originally a moon, maybe). Unfortunately, people poo-poo this hypothesis because they are unimaginative boobs and cannot imagine how a planet could possibly explode.. details details.

    Its interesting that, as I recall, this model led to some predictions about Mars that seemed to pan out. But then again, I don't remember anything accurately anymore, and primarily ent
  • Let's play 20 questions...

    Is it a mineral? ...yes
    Is it a tank? ...Yeah!!!

The only possible interpretation of any research whatever in the `social sciences' is: some do, some don't. -- Ernest Rutherford

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