Editor’s Selections: Bayesian comet orbits, Exploring Europa, Superconductivity, Life and Death in Yellowstone

Editor's Selections No Comments
By Sarah Kendrew

Sarah Kendrew Sarah Kendrew selects interesting and notable ResearchBlogging.org posts in the physical sciences, chemistry, engineering, computer science, geosciences and mathematics. She blogs about astronomy at One Small Step.

On my own blog, I talk about a recent paper by US scientists demonstrating how the treasure trove of images of the night sky on the web can be useful in scientific research, without the need for the kind of metadata usually present in scientific datasets. Using a simple web query and Bayesian inference methods, they reconstruct the orbit of Comet 17P/Holmes. Citizen science with unwitting participants: it doesn’t get much cheaper than that.

And there was more interesting writing from the solar system. Anthropologist Greg Laden discusses exploration of Jupiter’s ice moon Europa, one of the most likely hosts of extraterrestrial life in our cosmic neighbourhood. I enjoyed reading a non-astronomer/planetary scientist’s take on the ethical issues around astrobiology and space exploration; this is a clear field where there’s much to learn from cross-disciplinary communication.

Exploring cold stuff is precisely what led to one of the most exciting scientific breakthroughs of the 20th century, exactly 100 years ago this week. In 1911 Heike Kamerlingh Onnes discovered superconductivity in his Leiden laboratory. Joerg Heber talks about this important discovery on All That Matters.

In Life after Death in Yellowstone, paleontologist Andy describes some great new research into tracking of animal populations in Yellowstone National Park by cataloging animal bones found on the surface. This provides a new avenue for studying the evolution of such populations where the historical record is spotty. In an accompanying post he talks to the study’s author, who gives some interesting background on the work.

Thanks for the posts, and I’ll be back next week with more selections.

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