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Space Science

Astronomers Find Oldest Known Asteroids 72

Researchers from the University of Maryland have recently discovered three asteroids that appear to be roughly 4.55 billion years old, dating back to the formation of the Solar System. The scientists say that the asteroids have survived relatively unchanged since that time, and make good candidates for future space missions. "'The fall of the Allende meteorite in 1969 initiated a revolution in the study of the early Solar System,' said Tim McCoy, curator of the national meteorite collection at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. 'I find it amazing that it took us nearly 40 years to collect spectra of these [CAI-rich] objects and that those spectra would now initiate another revolution, pointing us to the asteroids that record this earliest stage in the history of our Solar System.'"
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Astronomers Find Oldest Known Asteroids

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  • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Sunday March 23, 2008 @01:14PM (#22837208)
    It was created around the time Adam was riding his dinosaur.
    • Eve actually took the dinosaur as her ride while Adam was forced to walk.
    • by jav1231 ( 539129 ) on Sunday March 23, 2008 @02:29PM (#22837634)
      It's funny that you would make this joke because many in the scientific community put the same kind of "faith" in researchers that haven't even so much as touched these objects. It always amazes me that when science has to change it's findings on anything it's reported with hardly a whisper. This finding is based largely on the assumption that these calcium deposits or strata are going to occur only in this manner from a given time-period. Assumptions...almost...religious-like.

      I know I know, I'm daring to distrust the gods of research. I get it. Flamebait me now for my insurrection.

      • by microbox ( 704317 ) on Sunday March 23, 2008 @02:43PM (#22837728)
        Your point is well taken - the paper's findings are not bullet proof.

        But your point about the "gods of research" is disingenuous... that is unless you believe that one is better off putting their faith in intelligent designers and corporate-science-sophistry. It's true that science could be *more* conservative with declaring findings, but really it's a question of who is more credible with the facts, and more pliable when it comes to standing corrected.
      • by Adambomb ( 118938 ) on Sunday March 23, 2008 @02:46PM (#22837762) Journal
        The difference with science is that, if you're honest about it, you mentally append to everything said "According to our current observations, ...". This is why science is in a state of CONSTANT revision, and always will unless we somehow become omniscient ourselves.

        This is not a negative connotation, this is the whole point. If someone refuses to revise their opinion regardless of new data (whether the data is for or against or not), that is faith imo. It is also the antithesis of the scientific method.

        The upshot is, to the open minded, science and spirituality are not mutually exclusive until such a time that we can observe _everything_, in which case there would be no more mysteries anyways and life would be quite boring.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by BountyX ( 1227176 )
        The thing about Science is that it's ok to be wrong. Scientists are encouraged to prove each other wrong. What starts as an assumption will slowly morph into a solid fact as more and more scientist one-up the other in a quest to disprove/improve. With religion, that dosn't exist. Here is the absolute word of god, you cannot challenge cannot disprove it and if you dont accept it, you can burn in hell. There is a very big difference between "faith" in science and "faith" in religion.
      • Flamebait me now for my insurrection.

        Oh, you're so tough. So daring. Such a rebel, speaking truth to power.

        GMAFB. If you've got something to say (even if it's something which, like your post, is BS) just say it. Don't brag about it.
        • Christians are into the whole masochism thing. You're just turning him on now.
          • (snicker) Yeah, you're probably right. With people like that, the more you point out how wrong they are, the more they take it as proof that they're Persecuted Standard-Bearers Of The Truth.
      • Scientists disagree a lot. For instance just recently the species-hood of Homo floresiensis (the "hobbit people") has been called into question. Some researchers think it may have been malnutrition or genetic disorder of some old fashioned Homo sapiens.

        This article isn't bringing in any opposing viewpoints regarding the research since it's a press release from the institution that the research is happening. Actual science articles from sources like New Scientist often bring in scholars of the field who aren
      • Insightful !? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by aepervius ( 535155 )
        There is no faith going on in the scientific community. At worst the is only trust. Those assumption on strata deposition are not religious-like any ANY way whatsoever. Firstly , if I recall correctly they were corroborated by other measurement (like radio emission measurement) secondly, if anybody came up with EVIDENCE contradicting the current supposition and theory, then stratta aging would be dropped out. Up to now , it was never the case.

        You wanna religion ? Religion is trusting a little book (be it
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by drerwk ( 695572 )
          While I am in agreement with the tone of your reply to the GP, I would point out one consideration for your claim

          There is no faith going on in the scientific community
          . As I have come to understand the basis on which I do work as a scientist, I have to take on faith that the Universe is rational, can be explained, and that the basis of those explanations are congruent with causality. Everything I've done is science assumes causality and I equate this to my faith in it.
          • It is an "physical" axiom. You just happen to TRUST that the axiom is true. But if you are a true scientist, if you happen to stumble on evidence that the universe is irrational, then as a true scientist you will be the first on a rush to publish it. A true dogmatic / faithful person would sweep it under the carpet and try to forget it. And this is why I used the word trust instead of faith. A true scientific would not have faith in anything, at best he would only trust a few axiom which were never disprove
      • by sohare ( 1032056 )
        You are not distrusting the gods of research so much as conflating two somewhat opposite notions of faith. Religious faith is absolutely nothing like scientific acceptance. It's a rather disingenuous (or purely ignorant) to try and see parallels between the scientific method and religious credulity. So yes, if you're being disingenuous, you should be modded flamebait. If you are purely ignorant, why the hell even bother with making inane comments? (I know, I know...this is Slashdot).
      • but is it not better to find new and further evidence (corroborating or not) rather than accepting a religious explanation and not looking further into it ? I think that the change you speak of is a good thing, to have a good or complete understanding of nature and how it works only two decades after the first extra-solar planets were found is unrealistic. New findings are going to be inevitable, there is nothing whispery about the old ones. These will either be integrated and explained, observed to be inc
        • by jav1231 ( 539129 )
          Well I would first point out that I didn't make a religious argument per se' so much as point out what to me is an interesting point about the state of science today. I contend that science is itself a system of faith. I say that because I believe "faith" and "belief" to be synonymous. Some would disagree. Science should be about collecting evidence, accepting the obvious, and making educated guesses and contemplation upon where that evidence leads. If time and more evidence leads logic elsewhere, the scien
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by lazyforker ( 957705 )

        It always amazes me that when science has to change it's findings on anything it's reported with hardly a whisper.

        Einstein's GR blew away Newton's model spectacularly. Likewise Darwin's Theory of Evolution swept away all the "competing" hypotheses. Similarly Galileo caused a little bit of a fuss when he supported heliocentrism. Those corrections to earlier theories caused more than a "whisper".

        Genuine peer-reviewed science journals contain corrections, addenda, clarifications, amendments etc. Occ

      • The difference is that Science has peer review and Religion has the Inquisition.
    • What was there prior to the Universe being born and who did it?
      • I found the answer to that question yesterday when I setup 6 virtual servers inside my dedicated server. Guess what...what I called my dedicated server, was actually another virtual server. I concluded that the universe is a giant fractal.
      • by Teran9 ( 1163643 )
        What was there before god and who made hem?
    • It was created around the time Adam was riding his dinosaur.
      And they told him to get off their Lawn

  • 2 light years later that same asteroid crashes into earth and kills all the animals. Humans already killed each other by then.
    • While things like nuclear destruction and massive climate failure remain possibilities for an end to human life, it might be best to continue to get people scared of asteroid impacts. The space infrastructure that would need to be set up to adequately detect and deflect asteroids would provide a good start at getting off this rock and colonizing the rest of the solar system, helping humanity survive even if life on Earth is wiped out.

      This is the premise behind Michael Flynn's future history beginning with

      • I remember hearing a lecture from Mr. Hawking talking about how humanity will only survive by expanding into space. It eliminates tremendous threats like disease, war, planetary impact, sun blowing up, etc. Very similar to what your talking about. Mr. Hawking actually asked the question on yahoo answers here [] , a fun read.
        • I don't know about disease; I guess it depends on how fast travel between planets / stations is vs. how fast/virulent the disease is and how fast it could kill? I mean all these sci-fi stories of far-flung civilizations being wiped out by disease shared among locations by their supply ships don't seem that far out of the realm of possibility. I'd imagine something that kills quickly like Ebola wouldn't make it to the other locations, but that something slower - akin to a more virulent airborne thing with a
    • 2 light years later

      Ummm, how many years would that be?


  • And then, (Score:3, Funny)

    by RedRumRobot ( 1237340 ) on Sunday March 23, 2008 @01:56PM (#22837466)
    They blew them up with the oldest know Atari 2600.
  • by Zymergy ( 803632 ) * on Sunday March 23, 2008 @02:14PM (#22837550)
    If I remember Geology 101, that would place the Asteroid in the Precambrian time frame (if it were found on earth or if suspected it was originally sourced from earth material.) []

    I am guessing that most of the rocky Asteroids are from the same formation time period. I had thought the Earth was mostly still being formed by asteroids and comets prior to 4.5 billion years ago? It is likely to be a part of the Earth from ~4.5 Billion years ago when the Moon is said to have formed via the giant impact hypothesis by planetoid Theia. []
  • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Sunday March 23, 2008 @02:14PM (#22837554)
    I would be impressed if they would have found the oldest unknown adstroid.
  • by tinkerton ( 199273 ) on Sunday March 23, 2008 @02:41PM (#22837714)
    What do the models say? Does an early star have rings, like Saturn? I'd expect processes like this

    - dust to lumps
    - dust to rings
    - lumps to sun
    - lumps to planets
    - rings to planets
    - rings to sun

    Depending on the speed of each of these factors you get different scenarios. Rings could never happen, they could disappear before the sun is created, they could be be created before , during or after planet creation. Planet creation could also start before the sun. You get the idea.
  • roughly 4.55 billion years old,

    So it wasn't a supernova, just some much closer asteroid with a birthday cake with 4,550,123,724 candles on it ...

    Recalibrating with this new constant, the universe is actually 1.4 light-years across, and only 341 years old. So much for "God created the universe 6,000 years ago." No cake for you!

  • Doesn't it appear that the words asteroid and hemorrhoid got accidentally switched at some point?

    Apologies to serious people I'll go away now...
    • Rusty: Ya' got Asteroids?

      Cousin Dale: Naw, but my dad does. Can't even sit on the toilet some days.

      -National Lampoon's Vacation

  • We won't know if these are actually the oldest asteroids until someone goes out there and checks their Best used by date.

You will never amount to much. -- Munich Schoolmaster, to Albert Einstein, age 10