News Highlights, or
The Molemen Took My Creativity

Posted By Pamela on Jun 19, 2007 | 5 comments

When I said we have moles on Saturday, I was not kidding. I walked across our front yard today to water some flowers that were threatening to die, and it felt like I was walking on a crunchy sponge. Our entire front yard is undermined. This creates a bit of a dilemma for my crunchy granola, left-leaning brain. I am honestly worried about how few animals are able to survive in urban and suburban areas, and generally I’m the type of person who will rehome things in hopes that the critter I don’t want in my house/garage/car will live to either reproduce or become some other critters dinner somewhere else. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to catch and release a mole, and the sonic mole repelling things will just send the moles to my neighbors where they will get killed.

Not that any of this has anything to do with astronomy. I write about this because I currently have writers block. The molemen took my creativity. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

So, for a not particularly creative discussion of recent astronomy news, here is a list of a few neat new things waiting to be discussed in detail:

  • Orion jumps 100pc closer: A new study by researchers at UCal Berkeley lead by Karin Sandstrom used the VLBA network to measure the distance to and motion across the sky of a star that is active in the radio to determine the Orion Nebulais 389 +24/-21 parsecs away. Prior work had placed it ~480 parsecs away. This new study clarifies several problems with temperatures and luminosities of the most massive stars, but it also creates some problems. This newer distance also means all the stars are 1.5 times brighter than previously thought, and a lot of stuff is going to now need to get recalculated based on the new information.
  • Gamma Ray Bursts May Probe First Billion Years: Volker Bromm (U-Texas) and Abraham Loeb (Harvard) look at how gamma ray bursts can be used to probe the early universe. Specifically they ask: “What is the expected signature of GRBs that were triggered by the death of a massive Pop III star?” While it is unclear if stellar evolution in metal-free stars allows massive stars to reach the configuration necessary for a the type of nova (a Type Ib/c supernova) that is associated with a long duration GRB, this still opens a fascinating line of questions. If GRBs do occur in the earliest moments of the universe, they would be visible even at this distance, and we should be eventually observe them.

Words found in titles that I had never seen before, but I know need to find reasons to use:

And finally, the title and abstract that days the most with least (and probably invokes fear in the process:
Baryogenesis from the amplification of vacuum fluctuations during inflation, by Bjorn Garbrecht, Tomislav Prokopec
We propose that the baryon asymmetry of the Universe may originate from the amplification of quantum fluctuations of a light complex scalar field during inflation. CP-violation is sourced by complex mass terms, which are smaller than the Hubble rate, as well as non-standard kinetic terms. We find that, when assuming 60 e-folds of inflation, an asymmetry in accordance with observation can result for models where the energy scale of inflation is of the order of 10^16 GeV. Lower scales may be achieved when assuming substantially larger amounts of e-folds.


  1. Eeeewwww – That would leave me with a lawn filled with dead moles. Mole Trap = metal device thatstabs or cuts mole to bits (think mouse trap). In English, not all the devices that trap the animal are humane.

  2. Pamela, I think your local hardware store would have some humane traps for the moles.

  3. Sorry about the moles Pamela..
    So I have a couple subjects that maybe you could write on..( it’s ok if you humor me..maybe something will click )
    1) I know you have seen the picture of the cosmic microwave map..It’s kindof an elongated bubble with hot spots and cooler spots of microwave energy from the big bang.. I’ve always wondered about that map.
    At the moment of the big bang the biggest most powerful explosion of all time..and it obviously had to occur in the center of the bubble..
    My question is..shouldn’t most of the leftover radiation be at the center of the explosion?
    Just as a star explodes and leaves it’s imprint and radiation? where is that center of the big bang and how come no one, even with a map can find the smoking gun of the biggest explosion of all time?

    2) I saw a picture of a ring of dark matter..or it’s effects..If it’s everywhere in come we don’t see more of it in our corner of space? If we can detect dark dust and dark matter is real matter..some kind of particle..
    how come it doesn’t block out light from stars? like dust? Could dark matter just be a property of gravity that we don’t understand yet? and speaking of gravity..When you speak of gravity can a wave exist from a large body yet not exert sort of a wavy property on another body obiting? You folks say it’s like a rock thrown into a lake..yet waves on a boat in the lake causes a bobbing or weaving action on it.planets seem to obit in a smooth action.Strange if you ask me.

    3) What’s the deal with Mars? there is no water probably no life..Yet there is a moon around Saturn full of water..albeit frozen on top.
    Why hasn’t there been a probe sent there ? Yet everybody wants to keep sending probes to Mars..yea i get rocky and dusty on mars with no water..
    Then send another probe or rover there? I predict we’ll find more rocks on Mars..and in another 50 probes we’ll know if some small insignicant trace of water is underground somewhere. big whoop..we have a whole planet of water to go explore.

    4) So the speeding up of the expansion of the universe breaks every law of Physics..after 13.7 BILLION years the explosion continues out ever faster and faster..a thought..are we sure there isn’t a property of red shift that we don’t understand or have not discovered? there is no way we are going faster..or is the vaccum of space pulling us apart..or it’s just a property of space and we call it dark energy..All I know is there is no way something happens without following the laws of Physics.. and the universe isn’t following that law.
    5) Write a it ‘the universe for dummies’
    that way you’ll be able to afford a gardener for the mole problem..
    Thanks so much for your time
    Kind Regards

  4. WOW HoosierHoops! Lots of great topics. I’m going to start working on them tomorrow and plug away on them 1 a day or every other day. (Although the book may take longer… And “Astronomy for Dummies” is already taken 🙁 )

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