Oxygen not a reliable sign of life after all

RedNova News – Saturnian Oxygen, Without Life
It seems that significant amounts of oxygen ions have been detected in the Saturnian atmosphere, suggesting that the widely held belief that oxygen’s presence must indicate biology is wrong.
Following from what my brother said in my recent entry on Methane and Mars, it does seem that these molecules can have plausible abiotic origins and thus aren’t as reliable detectors of life as once we thought.

The Unexpected in SB

in the Shadow of Greatness: Lunchtime Poll 15 :: Off-Label Use
In Arref’s latest Lunchtime Poll answer to Li’s meme, he mentions:
In Strange Bedfellows, I expected an intimate scale game, with few reasons to think my sorceress character would be ever dealing with intense spells of large scale. So her ‘spellbook’ is full of quirky esoteric spells suited to drawing rooms and labs.
What I threw at her was something different…

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Evolution in a Kangaroo Court

The Panda’s Thumb: ID advocates set up Kangaroo Court in Kansas
(I may need a seperate Blog category for this sort of stuff).
Apparently, the Board of Education of the State of Kansas is set to put the Theory of Evolution “on trial”, basically giving proponents of Intelligent Design creationism an opportunity to show why it should be taught in schools as well.
Somehow, I don’t think this is going to be impartial and fair because the overwhelming preponderance of the evidence is for Evolution, not creation by Fiat. As Carl Sagan said so briefly and eloquently 25 years ago, Evolution is a Fact. It really happens.
Politics, however, looks set to try to trump Science once again.
Maybe the second episode of Cosmos should be required viewing for everyone. Its a bit dated but still a wonderful way to get the point across.

A Galaxy called Rome, for real?

BBC NEWS | UK | Wales | South East Wales | Astronomers find star-less galaxy
Astronomers have found a dark object which appears to be a galaxy without any visible stars. I recall the Malzberg story (really more of a meta-story), but this galaxy, I think, is more dark matter and not something like a galaxy of black holes.
Still, there are wild and wooly things out there. A Black Galaxy without stars is probably not the weirdest thing out there.

Lunchtime Poll 15: Creative Spellcasting

Ravings of a Textual Deviant � Lunchtime Poll #15: Off-Label Use
The uses of some things are fairly obvious, or so you�d think. Grappling hooks, fire extinguishers, blenders, and Magic Missile spells, for example, would seem to be fairly straightforward, one-use tools�but not always. What�s the best or most creative �off-label use� of a spell or item that you�ve seen?
I am going to highlight part of the incident that I mentioned in a previous Poll, the one where Marcus literally threw his sister Agacerie at Brand…

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IRE #13: Miracle on Ice

Our 13th “Unlucky” IRE harkens back a quarter century to one of the most stunning events in Hockey, or any other sports, history. The unheralded, plucky US Hockey team beat the defending Olympic champion Russian team (enroute to eventually beating Finland for the gold medal at the 1980 Winter Olympics). This story of David versus Goliath is the fodder for this outing’s IRE.

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