Sunday, April 29, 2012

Habitable zone around Red dwarf

Artist's conception of a the red dwarf star CHRX 73 A and its companion object CHRX 73 B. The companion object is around 12 Jupiter masses, and may either be a planet, a failed star or a brown dwarf

wikipedia tells

Planetary habitability of red dwarf star systems is subject to some debate. In spite of their great numbers and long lifespans, there are several factors which may make life difficult on planets around a red dwarf star.

Tidally locked
First, planets in the habitable zone of a red dwarf would be so close to the parent star that they would likely be tidally locked.

This would mean that one side would be in perpetual daylight and the other in eternal night. This could create enormous temperature variations from one side of the planet to the other. Such conditions would appear to make it difficult for forms of life similar to those on Earth to evolve.

And it appears there is a great problem with the atmosphere of such tidally locked planets: the perpetual night zone would be cold enough to freeze the main gases of their atmospheres, leaving the daylight zone nude and dry.

On the other hand, recent theories propose that either a thick atmosphere or planetary ocean could potentially circulate heat around such a planet, or life could survive by migration.

Alternatively, a moon in orbit around a gas giant planet may be habitable. It would circumvent the tidal lock problem by becoming tidally locked to its planet. This way there would be a day/night cycle as the moon orbited its primary, and there would be distribution of heat.

In addition, red dwarfs emit most of their radiation as infrared light, while on Earth plants use energy mostly in the visible spectrum.

Red dwarfs emit almost no ultraviolet light, which would be a problem, should this kind of light be required for life to exist.

Variability in stellar energy output may also have negative impacts on development of life. Red dwarfs are often covered by starspots, reducing stellar output by as much as 40% for months at a time. At other times, some red dwarfs, called flare stars, can emit gigantic flares, doubling their brightness in minutes. This variability may also make it difficult for life to develop and persist near a red dwarf star. Gibor Basri of the University of California, Berkeley claims a planet orbiting close to a red dwarf star could keep its atmosphere even if the star flares.

This is important stuff for Astrobiology considering planetary habitable zones around the billions of stars in the Universe.

It also and makes us praise even more our Heavenly Father for His Sun which He generously allows to shine to us also visible and ultraviolet light regardless of whether we are evil or good, as His only Son has said.

But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you, that ye may be the children of your Father who is in Heaven. For He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
Matthew 5:44-45 KJ21

Update 3 June 2012  Search for intelligent life with highly focused technique BBC article

Red dwarf

Schematic Hertzsprung-Russel diagram.

wikipedia tells
A red dwarf is a small and relatively cool star on the main sequence, either late K or M spectral type. They have a mass of less than half that of the Sun (down to about 0.075 solar masses, below which stellar objects are brown dwarfs) and a surface temperature of less than 4,000 K.

Red dwarfs are by far the most common type of star in the Galaxy, at least in the neighborhood of the Sun. Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to the Sun, is a red dwarf (Type M5, apparent magnitude 11.05), as are twenty of the next thirty nearest. However, due to their low luminosity, individual red dwarfs cannot easily be observed. From Earth, none is visible to the naked eye.

Timeless stars!
Stellar models indicate that red dwarfs with less than 35% of the Sun's mass are fully convective. Hence the helium produced by the thermonuclear fusion of hydrogen is constantly remixed throughout the star, avoiding a buildup at the core.

Red dwarfs therefore develop very slowly, having a constant luminosity and spectral type for some hundreds of billions of years, until their fuel is depleted. Because of the comparatively short age of the universe, no red dwarfs of advanced evolutionary stages exist in the current era.

Personally, I really love this awesome sentence cleverly written by an anonymous contributor to the wikipedia article:

Because of the comparatively short age of the universe, no red dwarfs of advanced evolutionary stages exist in the current era.

Inga Nielsen and a Red dwarf

A Dangerous Sunrise on Gliese 876 d
© 2012 Inga Nielsen

The amazing digital art by Inga Nielsen shows a flary Red dwarf Gliese 876 in action. The view is from one of the planets labelled Gliese 876 d. For a detailed description of the details shown in this image see NASA APOD.

The nice thing about this extra solar planet is that it is mere 15 light years from us.

The artist
Inga Nielsen (1983) uses TerraGen landscape generator from Terra Dreams for creating the basic landscape and continues working on it on Adobe PhotoShop visually combining facts with imagination.

The results of her skilled work are stunning as we can see from this example. Digital art necessarily involves both facts and imagination. The media is nevertheless highly educational in helping us to visualize the dry facts offered to us by astronomers describing environments that no camera of today can reach.

The planet
Gliese 876 d is an extrasolar planet approximately 15 light-years away in the constellation of Aquarius (the Water-bearer). The planet was the third planet discovered orbiting the red dwarf star Gliese 876. At the time of its discovery, the planet had the lowest mass of any known extrasolar planet apart from the pulsar planets orbiting PSR B1257+12. Due to this low mass, it can be categorized as a super-Earth.

The star
Gliese 876 is a red dwarf star approximately 15 light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Aquarius. As of 2011, it has been confirmed that four extrasolar planets orbit the star. Two of the middle planets are similar to Jupiter, while the closest planet is thought to be similar to a small Neptune or a large terrestrial planet, and the outer planet has mass similar to Uranus. The orbits of all but the closest planet are locked in a rare three-body Laplace resonance.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

There is something about Oxygen

When water gets frozen...

We have seen that oxygen is created deep inside massive stars in the set of highly ordered fusion reactions. This was my gut feeling already before I learned about this order when I was looking at those enormous furnaces in space, stars burning at such high temperatures and with such violent explosive reactions going on - our God likes order and there must be order in that fierce reactor - and so there is.

If it was all building up material from the fundamental particles it would already be a masterpiece of planning, design, thinking, creativity ... just awesome. Our cosmos, I mean.

But take this oxygen, for example.

Science has found out that most of the mass of the matter in the universe consists of these three, hydrogen, helium and oxygen (not talking about dark matter). So oxygen is everywhere and also of our bodies about 50% is oxygen. This element is the substance of life as we know it. (Another argument that life is probably flourishing all over the universe...)

But there is something about oxygen.

Something that is not so simple to explain as a natural chain of reactions, events leading to events, lego put over lego. Something quit exceptional like in that Mary in that movie...

If we are just reading boring chemistry or studying the physical properties it may pass our attention among the myriad of facts science has learned about oxygen.

But when we are looking at the marvels of creation we pay attention to exceptions in Nature that are somehow out of the regular patterns and yet highly significant.

So we gasp breath of air when we learn the following:

Oxygen solubility and temperature
The increased solubility of O2 at lower temperatures has important implications for ocean life, as polar oceans support a much higher density of life due to their higher oxygen content.

(From The Chemistry and Fertility of Sea Waters by H.W. Harvey, 1955, citing C.J.J. Fox, "On the coefficients of absorption of atmospheric gases in sea water", Publ. Circ. Cons. Explor. Mer, no. 41, 1907. Harvey however notes that according to later articles in Nature the values appear to be about 3% too high.)

This property of oxygen is truly remarkable!

Wikipedia gives accurate details about this wonder of Nature:
Oxygen is more soluble in water than nitrogen is; water contains approximately 1 molecule of O2 for every 2 molecules of N2, compared to an atmospheric ratio of approximately 1:4.

The solubility of oxygen in water is temperature-dependent, and about twice as much (14.6 mg·L−1) dissolves at 0 °C than at 20 °C (7.6 mg·L−1).

At 25 °C and 1 standard atmosphere (101.3 kPa) of air, freshwater contains about 6.04 milliliters (mL) of oxygen per liter, whereas seawater contains about 4.95 mL per liter.

At 5 °C the solubility increases to 9.0 mL (50% more than at 25 °C) per liter for water and 7.2 mL (45% more) per liter for sea water.

Scientist, please explain!
Although these blogs are about theology I turn all the time to the scientists in order to learn more about creation. That's how it is - they know, because they have studied Nature as it is.

So how come that oxygen has this enormously important property that the solubility increases when temperatures get lower?

I stop this discussion here - there must be a perfectly good scientific explanation on molecular and nuclear chemistry to this strange behaviour and there probably is.

Continued First of May, 2012... well, there probably will be but at the moment there are more questions than answers. A very nice explanation by a young scientist about Higgs boson and other things why matter has properties..  here

Fine tuning of creation
My point is that our Creator is free to make exceptions to the systems He has made when necessary.

We could call this kind of activity "the fine tuning of the natural laws" to fit some specific purpose, like maintaining life on Earth.

And God saw every thing that He had made, and behold, it was very good. 
Genesis 1:31

Stellar oxygen

Fusion shells in a mature massive star
"This diagram shows a simplified (not to scale) cross-section of a massive, evolved star (with a mass greater than eight times the Sun.)

Where the pressure and temperature permit, concentric shells of elements are burning inside the star

Hydrogen (H)
Helium (He)
Carbon (C)
Neon/Magnesium (Ne)
Oxygen (O) 
Silicon (Si) plasma

The resulting fusion by-products rain down upon the next lower layer, building up the shell below.

As a result of Silicon fusion, an inert core of Iron (Fe) plasma is steadily building up at the center.

Once this core reaches the Chandrasekhar mass, the iron can no longer sustain its own mass and it undergoes a collapse. This can result in a supernova explosion."
R. J. Hall

And so these fundamentally important elements are blown sky high into the deep space and everything, including oxygen and also us, is made of this stellar stuff.

Oxygen of life

We learned that although lithium with atomic number 3 is number three product in the creation of the universe it has surprisingly little importance for organic life. Somewhere there with tungsten or even less (tomorrow scientists may find out that this is not quite so, but as of today, this is the information we get.)

  • Oxygen with atomic number 8 is on the opposite end of importance for organic life and is abundant everywhere. Here are some facts about this among the most significant elements God has created and a perquisite for much of the life as we know it (there were and still are some anaerobic life forms).
  • By mass, oxygen is the third-most abundant element in the universe, after hydrogen and helium and the most abundant element by mass in the Earth's crust, making up almost half of the crust's mass.
  • Because it comprises most of the mass in water, oxygen comprises most of the mass of living organisms (for example, about two-thirds of the human body's mass). All major classes of structural molecules in living organisms, such as proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, contain oxygen, as do the major inorganic compounds that comprise animal shells, teeth, and bone.
  • About 0.9% of the Sun's mass is oxygen.[5] Oxygen constitutes 49.2% of the Earth's crust by mass[3] and is the major component of the world's oceans (88.8% by mass).[5] Oxygen gas is the second most common component of the Earth's atmosphere, taking up 20.8% of its volume and 23.1% of its mass (some 1015 tonnes).
  • Another form (allotrope) of oxygen, ozone (O3), helps protect the biosphere from ultraviolet radiation with the high-altitude ozone layer.

Planet Earth blessed with plenty of oxygen
The unusually high concentration of oxygen gas on Earth is the result of the oxygen cycle.

This biogeochemical cycle describes the movement of oxygen within and between its three main reservoirs on Earth: the atmosphere, the biosphere, and the lithosphere.

The main driving factor of the oxygen cycle is photosynthesis, which is responsible for modern Earth's atmosphere. Photosynthesis releases oxygen into the atmosphere, while respiration and decay remove it from the atmosphere. In the present equilibrium, production and consumption occur at the same rate of roughly 1/2000th of the entire atmospheric oxygen per year.

Free oxygen also occurs in solution in the world's water bodies. The increased solubility of O2 at lower temperatures has important implications for ocean life, as polar oceans support a much higher density of life due to their higher oxygen content

The creation of green grass in the Bible

Genesis 1 story of creation is written at time when people had geocentric view of the universe. So we learn that green grass was created on the Third Day before Sun was set on the firmament above Earth on the Fourth Day of Creation.

And God said, "Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear"; and it was so.

And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called He Seas; and God saw that it was good.

And God said, "Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth"; and it was so.

And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind; and God saw that it was good.

And the evening and the morning were the third day.
Genesis 1:9-13

So it is written and I understand this factually from the way the Biblical writers understood reality. They certainly had no idea at that time almost 3000 years ago about the connection between Sun and green grass or about photosynthesis.

But then I learned the amazing fact about the very first life form known from Earth - cyanobacteria. And these tiny things that appeard some 3 billion years ago have this one ability - they use photosynthesis to produce oxygen.

So now always when I read the creation story in the Bible and remember how it was bugging me this green grass I start to think the wonder of the purposeful appearance of the forebringers of life to our planet - they came to create the atmosphere that the life forms to come would absolutely need. To prepare the stage, so to say.

I take the Biblical story as it is and give glory to the Creator, God of Israel, for this amazing feat of creation - oxygen producing bacteria.

Free oxygen is too chemically reactive to appear on Earth without the photosynthetic action of living organisms, which use the energy of sunlight to produce elemental oxygen from water. Elemental O2 only began to accumulate in the atmosphere after the evolutionary appearance of these organisms, roughly 2.5 billion years ago. Diatomic oxygen gas constitutes 20.8% of the volume of air.

Question and answer chain

Let me explain the road map on the posts in the Space Theology blog.

Launch of chain reaction
The process is ignited when I ask a question, in this case I was my curiosity about the element next to hydrogen and helium, the impressive fuels burning in the stars.

In addition to what I had in mind and asked, the online dictionary wikipedia told me about lithium many other things that I had never known before in a way that was making sense to me.

The additional information relating to the making of lithium merged with what I have learned before about stellar physics and introduced to me many new significant concepts that help me to understand the world we live in.

As a theologian, all this new information is also source of joy and happiness as I can see how incredibly smart our Heavenly Father is, who has made all this with such enormous energy and power that is unimaginable.

The three blogs I wrote from Lithium on is thus a chain-reaction of learning.

As a result I have new conceptual tools that will be very helpful should I want to learn more about these things.

Process stops
But since my purpose is not to write a handbook on nucleosynthesis - there are many good ones already in the Web and in libraries even more - but to act as a tour guide pointing at interesting and important things, I do not do so.

LIFO pipe
Those following me in on these tours should start with me from the first question, which makes the consequent questions and answers meaningful in the following blogs.

These blogs have LIFO pipe structure - text last in is first out - so that the starting point is buried back in the stack of messages.

Making of the elements - nucleosynthesis

Sections of the introduction to nuclesynthesis in wikipedia (paragraphs and emphasis added)

In the beginning primordial nucleosynthesis
Nucleosynthesis is the process of creating new atomic nuclei from pre-existing nucleons (protons and neutrons).

It is thought that the primordial nucleons themselves were formed from the quark–gluon plasma from the Big Bang as it cooled below two trillion degrees. 

A few minutes afterward, starting with only protons and neutrons, nuclei up to lithium and beryllium (both with mass number 7) were formed, but only in relatively small amounts.

Some boron may have been formed at this time, but the process stopped before significant carbon could be formed, because this element requires a far higher product of helium density and time than were present in the short nucleosynthesis period of the Big Bang.

The Big Bang fusion process essentially shut down due to drops in temperature and density as the universe continued to expand.

This first process of primordial nucleosynthesis was the first type of nucleogenesis to occur in the universe.

500 million human years later stellar nuclear reactions
The subsequent nucleosynthesis of the heavier elements required heavy stars and supernova explosions.

This theoretically happened as hydrogen and helium from the Big Bang condensed into the first stars 500 million years after the Big Bang.

The primordial elements still present on Earth that were once created in stellar nucleosynthesis range in atomic numbers from 6 (carbon) to 94 (plutonium).

Synthesis of these heavier elements occurs either by nuclear fusion (including both rapid and slow multiple neutron capture) or by nuclear fission, sometimes followed by beta decay.

Ongoing destruction of elements by cosmic rays
By contrast, many stellar processes actually tend to destroy deuterium and isotopes of beryllium, lithium, and boron which have collected in stars after their primordial formation in the Big Bang.

This effective destruction happens via the transmutation of these elements to higher atomic species.

Quantities of these lighter elements in the present universe are therefore thought to have been formed mainly through billions of years of cosmic ray (mostly high-energy proton) mediated breakup of heavier elements residing in interstellar gas and dust.

The making of additional elements found on Earth
In addition to the major processes of primordial nucleosynthesis in the Big Bang, stellar processes, and cosmic-ray nucleosynthesis in space, many minor natural processes continue to produce small amounts of new elements on Earth.

These nuclides are naturally produced on a continuing basis
via the decay of long-lived primordial radionuclides (via radiogenesis),
from natural nuclear reactions in cosmic ray bombardment of elements on Earth (cosmogenic nuclides)
from other natural nuclear reactions powered by particles from radioactive decay, (producing nucleogenic nuclides).

Big Bang: Hydrogen, Helium, Lithium

Wikipedia explains in its clear, concise and comprehensible way

According to modern cosmological theory, lithium—as both of its stable isotopes lithium-6 and lithium-7—was among the 3 elements synthesized in the Big Bang.

Though the amount of lithium generated in Big Bang nucleosynthesis is dependent upon the number of photons per baryon, for accepted values the lithium abundance can be calculated, and there is a "cosmological lithium discrepancy" in the Universe: older stars seem to have less lithium than they should, and some younger stars have far more.

The lack of lithium in older stars is apparently caused by the "mixing" of lithium into the interior of stars, where it is destroyed.

Furthermore, lithium is produced in younger stars.

Though it transmutes into two atoms of helium due to collision with a proton at temperatures above 2.4 million degrees Celsius (most stars easily attain this temperature in their interiors), lithium is more abundant than predicted in later-generation stars, for causes not yet completely understood

Though it was one of the three first elements (together with helium and hydrogen) to be synthesized in the Big Bang, lithium, together with beryllium and boron are markedly less abundant than other nearby elements. This is a result of
the low temperature necessary to destroy lithium, and
a lack of common processes to produce it


God has created the world in order of increasing complexity of atoms.

First we have plenty of hydrogen and then we have hydrogen fusion main sequence stars producing hydrogen.

One proton

Two protons

These two elements are gases

So why on earth (and heaven) is the next element with three protons in its nucleus a metal?

Lithium (from lithos, Greek for stone) is a soft, silver-white metal that belongs to the alkali metal group of chemical elements. It is represented by the symbol Li, and it has the atomic number 3.

Under standard conditions it is the lightest metal and the least dense solid element.

Like all alkali metals, lithium is highly reactive and flammable. For this reason, it is typically stored in mineral oil.

When cut open, lithium exhibits a metallic luster, but contact with moist air corrodes the surface quickly to a dull silvery gray, then black tarnish.

Because of its high reactivity, lithium never occurs freely in nature, and instead, only appears in compounds, which are usually ionic.

Lithium occurs in a number of pegmatitic minerals, but due to its solubility as an ion is present in ocean water and is commonly obtained from brines and clays.

On a commercial scale, lithium is isolated electrolytically from a mixture of lithium chloride and potassium chloride.

Is lithium important to humans?

Of course, it can and has been used in thermonuclear weapons so it is important to humans. (Has some civilian usages also...)

The nuclei of lithium verge on instability, since the two stable lithium isotopes found in nature have among the lowest binding energies per nucleon of all stable nuclides.

Because of its relative nuclear instability, lithium is less common in the solar system than 25 of the first 32 chemical elements even though the nuclei are very light in atomic weight.

For related reasons, lithium has important links to nuclear physics. The transmutation of lithium atoms to helium in 1932 was the first fully man-made nuclear reaction, and lithium deuteride serves as a fusion fuel in staged thermonuclear weapons.

Lithium batteries, yes, but what about human bodies?
Trace amounts of lithium are present in all organisms.

The element serves no apparent vital biological function, since animals and plants survive in good health without it.

Nonvital functions have not been ruled out. The lithium ion Li+ administered as any of several lithium salts has proved to be useful as a mood-stabilizing drug due to neurological effects of the ion in the human body.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tungsten and the Rods from God

Rods from God - Space based tungsten rods can cause 
some serious havoc upon Earth

Tungsten - so what?

Let us get into the subject of tungsten and the real business of humanity - making war!

When President George Bush opened Star Wars debate, militarization of space, he just did what people have always done. For we are so made that we fight each other for power over other humans and resources and benefits and power and most of all, power.... ah, did I mention the word power?

By chance, the same day that Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith was released in theaters across the country, the world learned of the Bush administration's plans to weaponize space.

So while critics speculated about the parallels between the Evil Empire and the Bush administration, pundits debated the merits of "space superiority"--the allies it would alienate, the treaties it would violate, the billions it would cost.

The irony was not lost on Teresa Hitchens, vice president of the Center for Defense Information, whose insistence that the world would not "accept the U.S. developing something they see as the death star," was carried in the pages of the New York Times.
Michael Godlfarb

Rods from God
Tungsten, usually alloyed with nickel and iron or cobalt to form heavy alloys, is used in kinetic energy penetrators as an alternative to depleted uranium, in applications where uranium's additional pyrophoric properties are not required (for example, in ordinary small arms bullets designed to penetrate body armor).

Similarly, tungsten alloys have also been used in cannon shells, grenades and missiles, to create supersonic shrapnel.

Tungsten has also been used in Dense Inert Metal Explosives, which use it as dense powder to reduce collateral damage while increasing the lethality of explosives within a small radius.

A kind of slingshot stationed in space.

No nuclear fall-out, no explosives, no fires and ignitions. Just simple rods of hardened tungsten hitting suddenly from the blue sky above with enormous speed stationary targets, such as bunkers or important enemy buildings. Leaving nothing undamaged.

Something like the fire and brimstone raining on Sodom and Gomorrah in the Bible or the huge hailstones thrown by God of Israel from sky causing great havoc to Canaanite kings and their soldiers on the way of Beth Horon.

As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the LORD hurled large hailstones down on them from the sky, and more of them died from the hailstones than were killed by the swords of the Israelites.
Joshua 10:11

There is no way to stop them things falling from the sky, no way to detect in time the launch, no way to intercept the falling objects with missiles or other projectiles. They just come and do their thing.

In short, an ideal weapon for the militarily minded.

Based in militarized space around planet Earth.

HOW DO THE RODS WORK? The system would likely be comprised of tandem satellites, one serving as a communications platform, the other carrying an indeterminate number of tungsten rods, each up to 20 feet in length and 1 foot in diameter. These rods, which could be dropped on a target with as little as 15 minutes notice, would enter the Earth's atmosphere at a speed of 36,000 feet per second--about as fast as a meteor. Upon impact, the rod would be capable of producing all the effects of an earth-penetrating nuclear weapon, without any of the radioactive fallout. This type of weapon relies on kinetic energy, rather than high-explosives, to generate destructive force (as do smart spears, another weapon system which would rely on tungsten rods, though not space-based).
Michael Godlfarb

Welcome to the world of the most important source of funding for space research in all nations - Star Wars.

For from up there you have real power.

Tungsten 74

Electron shell 74 Tungsten

God has created the world so that also tungsten is made in those majestic supernova explosions that - according to our current understanding - generate all the heavier elements in the universe.

Like uranium and throium, also tungsten is a modern era discovery almost unknown to the ancients. It is used in many industries because of its resistance to heat, corrosion and extreme hardness, especially when combined with carbon. It is one of the modern things that humanity has discovered hidden in the soils and rocks of mother Earth and learned to take advantage of.

Tungsten filament lamp

Who has not heard of tungsten lights? Tungsten filaments do not melt under three thousand Celsius (some of us still remember those old times electric lamp bulps going off in the night with a crack just when most needed...)
Faceted tungsten carbide ring

Tungsten rings are very beautiful and durable unless you hit them with a hammer (don't). 

There is natural tungsten on planet Earth in chemical compounds. It is extremely hard and has one of the highest melting points of any metals at 3,422 °C  (6,192 °F).

But really, what is it good for?

Tungsten, also known as wolfram, is a chemical element with the chemical symbol W and atomic number 74. The word tungsten comes from the Nordic tung sten directly translatable to heavy stone.

A hard, rare metal under standard conditions when uncombined, tungsten is found naturally on Earth only in chemical compounds. It was identified as a new element in 1781, and first isolated as a metal in 1783. Its important ores include wolframite and scheelite.

The free element is remarkable for its robustness, especially the fact that it has the highest melting point of all the non-alloyed metals and the second highest of all the elements after carbon.

Also remarkable is its high density of 19.3 times that of water, comparable to that of uranium and gold, and much higher (about 1.7 times) than that of lead.

Tungsten with minor amounts of impurities is often brittle and hard, making it difficult to work. However, very pure tungsten, though still hard, is more ductile, and can be cut with a hard-steel hacksaw.

Minerals and mining
Tungsten is found in the minerals
  • wolframite (iron-manganese tungstate, (Fe,Mn)WO4), 
  • scheelite (calcium tungstate, (CaWO4), 
  • ferberite (FeWO4) 
  • hübnerite (MnWO4). 
China produced 51,000 tonnes of tungsten concentrate in 2009, which was 83% of the world output. In the prelude to WWII China's production of tungsten played a role as China could use this leverage to demand material assistance from the US government.

Most of the remaining production originated from Russia (2,500 t), Canada (1,964 t), Bolivia (1,023 t), Austria (900 t), Portugal (900 t), Thailand (600 t), Brazil (500 t), Peru (500 t) and Rwanda (500 t).

Tungsten is also considered to be a conflict mineral due to the unethical mining practices observed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

Tungsten in living beings
Tungsten, at atomic number 74, is the heaviest element known to be biologically functional, with the next heaviest being iodine (Z = 53). Although not in eukaryotes, tungsten is used by some bacteria.

Found in some bacteria?

So what?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Stellar evolution or lifecycle of stars?

Stellar evolution - or lifecycle?

As the title of this schematic drawing demonstrates astronomers frequently use the expression stellar evolution when actually talking about the lifecycles of stars.

The choice of terminology is a matter of language preferences, convenient usages, the associations a given term raises in our minds. But ultimately choice of words is also related to its exact contents and the accuracy of the expression.

Human evolution?
Human evolution - or lifecycle?

Scientists do not use the word evolution when describing the human life cycle from conception and birth to old age and death. Human evolution is something else altogether tracing the history of life of our species on Earth.

The life of a star from its conception in the Mother Hydrogen Cloud to its final demise as a dwarf, neutron star or black hole does not include evolutionary processes that biologists discuss when studying the history of life forms on Earth.

(Of course, we also need to consider in what context the word evolution is properly used in the study of life.)

IMHO, as a scientific expression evolution of stars is less accurate than lifecycle of stars.

UPDATE 24.6.2012
The following facts may explain the introduction of the evolutionary terminology

Henry Norris Russell (October 25, 1877 – February 18, 1957) was an American astronomer who, along with Ejnar Hertzsprung, developed the Hertzsprung–Russell diagram (1910). In 1923, working with Frederick Saunders, he developed Russell–Saunders coupling which is also known as LS coupling

Russell was born in 1877 in Oyster Bay, New York. He studied astronomy at Princeton University, obtaining his B.A. in 1897 and his doctorate in 1899, studying under Charles Augustus Young. From 1903 to 1905, he worked at the Cambridge Observatory with Arthur Robert Hinks as a research assistant of the Carnegie Institution and came under the strong influence of George Darwin.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Light revisited

History of the Universe
Particle Data Group, LBNL, © 2008

The Particle Adventure - the fundamentals of matter and force.
An award-winning interactive tour of quarks, neutrinos, antimatter, extra dimensions, dark matter, accelerators and particle detectors from the Particle Data Group of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

This is a rare educational Web site in its ability to get us started in studying the fundamental elements in the Universe.

The chart is humbly called "History of the Universe" and contains much information in a very helpful graphic drawing.

It also illustrates the Theological point I have been making about the first Creation story in Genesis myBlog. Among all ancient religions Judaism is unique in the way personal God creates everything through words and sovereignly starts creation with light.

The first Words of Creation are Let there be light!
ויאמר אלהים יהי אור ויהי־אור
Gen 1:3

The chart shows that according to our current scientific understanding immediately after the Big Bang there are photons. Also visible light consists of photons, fundamental particles with no mass and speed of light in a vacuum. The study of light and electromagnetism with it led humanity at the end of 19th century to the track of theorizing and experimental research that has expanded our understanding of the Cosmos a bit better. 

Thanks to the intensive research today we have much more light upon what God of Israel has done!

Gamma ray bursts upon Earth - chance or control?

Gamma-ray burst. Artist's view.
"Artist's illustration of one model of the bright gamma-ray burst GRB 080319B. The explosion is highly beamed into two bipolar jets, with a narrow inner jet surrounded by a wider outer jet. NASA"

Several mass extinctions have taken place during the history of life upon Earth. Scientific discussion on the possible effects of Eta Carinae exploding as a supernova or hypernova so near to us, only 7500 ly, helps us to understand current theories on how the extinctions may have happened.

The end of the Mesozoic era when the asteroid hit Yucatan myBlog is a well known and visually spectacular theory that has inspired several Hollywood movies.

A more quiet death caused by invisible radiation hitting Earth from some stellar source is less spectacular but not less deadly. After the early deaths of Marie and Pierre Curie studying radioactivity, seeing the victims of Hiroshima, Nagasaki decades after the explosions in August 1945, humans in general are well aware of the possible effects of gamma radiation on organic life. We understand that even the genes carrying the Book of Life can be affected and gamma rays affect the future of all organic life upon planet Earth.

Chance or control?
A materialist will, of course, think that such events are random in the universe and the effects on Earth are not determined in anyway.

A believer will, of course, think that good God and not some impersonal matter/energy force is in control of also such events and that their occurrence and impact on Earth are in accurate control.

Astronomy, cosmology or any other branch of natural sciences cannot decide which one is the correct view. It is not a question to which science can give an answer. However, natural sciences cannot study the acts of God using Him as an explanation.

So if science cannot argue on divine intervention and natural sciences must limit themselves on studying what can be studied, what is the point of the theological view?

The point is quite significant.

A person adopting materialistic view that gamma ray bursts are random events with no-one in control have a different view of the world than a person, who trusts that God of Israel is in control of absolutely everything.

He has made a number of good Laws of Nature, so why not let them to work as intended?

But when intervention is required from God, why would He not intervene?

Excellent outcome
My main argument for the view that Gamma ray bursts upon Earth are strictly controlled is the excellent outcome of the massive extinctions they have caused.

Excellent to whom?

Well, the trilobites may not be too happy or other Paleozoic life-forms that had their time of living and then came the time to die.

Also, we might assume that the Raptors - if they were that intelligent - did not like to die when their turn came at the end of Mesozoic.

But we, the rulers of the world today, are starting to understand that the evolution of life upon Earth is indeed punctuated equilibrium and for us, the final outcome of deadly GRB and mass extinctions is excellent.

It is our world now.

When it comes our turn to die and to become extinct on Earth, well, God has some plans for that too.

Wolf-Rayet star WR 124

Wolf–Rayet star WR 124

One of the millions of wonders of creation revealed by the Hubble Space Telescope!

This NASA Hubble Space Telescope picture of the energetic star WR124 reveals it is surrounded by hot clumps of gas being ejected into space at speeds of over 100,000 miles per hour.

Also remarkable are vast arcs of glowing gas around the star, which are resolved into filamentary, chaotic substructures, yet with no overall global shell structure.

Though the existence of clumps in the winds of hot stars has been deduced through spectroscopic observations of their inner winds, Hubble resolves them directly in the nebula M1-67 around WR124 as 100 billion-mile wide glowing gas blobs. Each blob is about 30 times the mass of the Earth.

The massive, hot central star is known as a Wolf-Rayet star. This extremely rare and short-lived class of super-hot star (in this case 50,000 degrees Kelvin) is going through a violent, transitional phase characterized by the fierce ejection of mass.

The blobs may result from the furious stellar wind that does not flow smoothly into space but has instabilities which make it clumpy. The surrounding nebula is estimated to be no older than 10,000 years, which means that it is so young it has not yet slammed into the gasses comprising the surrounding interstellar medium.

 The star is 15,000 light-years away, located in the constellation Sagittarius. The picture was taken with Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 in March 1997.

The image is false-colored to reveal details in the nebula's structure.

Gamma ray bursts

GRB ESO/A. Roquette

From the introduction from yet another excellent wikipedia article:

Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are flashes of gamma rays associated with extremely energetic explosions that have been observed in distant galaxies.

They are the most luminous electromagnetic events known to occur in the universe.

Bursts can last from ten milliseconds to several minutes; a typical burst lasts 20–40 seconds.

The initial burst is usually followed by a longer-lived "afterglow" emitted at longer wavelengths (X-ray, ultraviolet, optical, infrared, microwave and radio).

Most observed GRBs are believed to consist of a narrow beam of intense radiation released during a supernova event, as a rapidly rotating, high-mass star collapses to form a neutron star, quark star, or black hole.

The sources of most GRBs are billions of light years away from Earth, implying that the explosions are both extremely energetic (a typical burst releases as much energy in a few seconds as the Sun will in its entire 10-billion-year lifetime) and extremely rare (a few per galaxy per million years).

All observed GRBs have originated from outside the Milky Way galaxy, although a related class of phenomena, soft gamma repeater flares, are associated with magnetars within the Milky Way. It has been hypothesized that a gamma-ray burst in the Milky Way, pointing directly towards the Earth, could cause a mass extinction event.

GRBs were first detected in 1967 by the Vela satellites, a series of satellites designed to detect covert nuclear weapons tests.

Hundreds of theoretical models were proposed to explain these bursts in the years following their discovery, such as collisions between comets and neutron stars. Little information was available to verify these models until the 1997 detection of the first X-ray and optical afterglows and direct measurement of their redshifts using optical spectroscopy.

These discoveries, and subsequent studies of the galaxies and supernovae associated with the bursts, clarified the distance and luminosity of GRBs, definitively placing them in distant galaxies and connecting long GRBs with the deaths of massive stars.

Deadly Gamma radiaton on Earth? Eta Carinae

Deadly gamma ray burst might reach Earth from Eta Carinae.

Drawing of a massive star collapsing to form a black hole. Energy released as jets along the axis of rotation forms a gamma ray burst that lasts from a few milliseconds to minutes. Such an event within several thousand light years of Earth could disrupt the biosphere by wiping out half of the ozone layer, creating nitrogen dioxide and potentially cause a mass extinction.
Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation Press Release 05-156: Gamma-Ray Burst Smashes a Record

Mass extinction on Earth?
It is possible that the Eta Carinae hypernova or supernova, when it occurs, could affect Earth, about 7,500 light years away.

It is unlikely, however, to affect terrestrial lifeforms directly, as they will be protected from gamma rays by the atmosphere, and from some other cosmic rays by the magnetosphere.

The damage would likely be restricted to the upper atmosphere, the ozone layer, spacecraft, including satellites, and any astronauts in space, although a certain few claim that radiation damage to the upper atmosphere would have catastrophic effects as well. At least one scientist has claimed that when the star explodes, "it would be so bright that you would see it during the day, and you could even read a book by its light at night".

A supernova or hypernova produced by Eta Carinae would probably eject a gamma ray burst (GRB) out on both polar areas of its rotational axis. Calculations show that the deposited energy of such a GRB striking the Earth's atmosphere would be equivalent to
  • one kiloton of TNT per square kilometer 
  • over the entire hemisphere facing the star 
  • with ionizing radiation depositing ten times the lethal whole body dose to the surface.

This catastrophic burst would probably not hit Earth, though, because the rotation axis does not currently point towards our solar system. If Eta Carinae is a binary system, this may affect the future intensity and orientation of the supernova explosion that it produces, depending on the circumstances.

Stellar art! - Eta Carinae Nebula

A Hubble Space Telescope image of NGC 3372.
The image is 50 light-years wide and a composite of 48 frames.

Because of their disproportionately high luminosities, very large stars such as Eta Carinae use up their fuel very quickly. Eta Carinae is expected to explode as a supernova or hypernova some time within the next million years or so.

As its current age and evolutionary path are uncertain, however, it could explode within the next several millennia or even in the next few years.

LBVs such as Eta Carinae may be a stage in the evolution of the most massive stars; the prevailing theory now holds that they will exhibit extreme mass loss and become Wolf-Rayet stars before they go supernova, if they are unable to hold their mass to explode as a hypernova.

Peculiar star - Eta Carinae

Eta Carinae Chandra X-Ray image
Credit: Chandra Science Center and NASA.(ref)

Chandra has revealed unexpected structures around the nova at the center of Eta Carina. The colors are artificial to help the viewer sort out details and structure.

The new X-ray observation shows three distinct structures:

  • an outer, horseshoe-shaped ring about 2 light years in diameter, 
  • a hot inner core about 3 light-months in diameter 
  • a hot central source less than 1 light-month in diameter which may contain the superstar that drives the whole show. 

The outer ring provides evidence of another large explosion that occurred over 1,000 years ago.

For a detailed article on this photo at Science@NASA see
Dr. John M. Horack, Chandra Takes X-ray Image of Repeat Offender Image of Eta Carina reveals shocking details of mysterious star. (url)

Heavenly impostor - Eta Carinae

Eta Carinae (wikimedia)
What a picture!

Heavenly impostor is a star explosion that looks like a supernova - but it only looks so, because the star itself survives the massive loss of material and does not collapse into a white dwarf.

Brilliant light from Eta Carinae explosion reached Earth and was the second brightest star on the sky. The Carina Nebula and the bright  visible only in the Southern Hemisphere.

One of the brightest stars in the Milky Way
Eta Carinae (η Carinae or η Car) is a stellar system in the constellation Carina, about 7,500 to 8,000 light-years from the Sun.

The system contains at least two stars, one of which is a Luminous Blue Variable (LBV), which during the early stages of its life had a mass of around 150 solar masses, of which it has lost at least 30 since.
It is thought that a Wolf-Rayet star of approximately 30 solar masses exists in orbit around its larger companion star, although an enormous thick red nebula surrounding Eta Carinae makes it impossible to see optically.

Its combined luminosity is about four million times that of the Sun and has an estimated system mass in excess of 100 solar masses.

Because of its mass and the stage of life, it is expected to explode in a supernova or even hypernova in the astronomically near future.

Heavenly impostor
Eta Carinae's chief significance for astrophysics is based on its giant eruption or supernova impostor event, which was observed around 1843.

In a few years, Eta Carinae produced almost as much visible light as a supernova explosion, but it survived.
Other supernova impostors have been seen in other galaxies, for example the possible false supernovae SN 1961v in NGC 1058 and SN 2006jc in UGC 4904, which produced a false supernova, noted in October 2004. Significantly, SN 2006jc was destroyed in a supernova explosion two years later, observed on October 9, 2006.

The supernova impostor phenomenon may represent a surface instability or a failed supernova. 
Eta Carinae's giant eruption was the prototype for this phenomenon, and after nearly 170 years the star's internal structure has not fully recovered.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Bible and the Beginning

The scientific term original singularity for the earliest known cosmos has also Theological implications

For the Jews - of whom is salvation - confess faith in ONE God

שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָד

Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Eḥad
Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is One

Ye worship ye know not what; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.
Jesus (John 4:22)

The Jewish man who believed that Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messiah did not outright condemn Greek Philosophy when allowed to talk in the Hyde Park of ancient Athens, Areoapagus, where he said something quite startling dangerously sounding like pantheism

For as I passed by and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription: `To the Unknown God'. Whom therefore ye worship in ignorance, Him I declare unto you.

God who made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of Heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands.Neither is He worshiped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, seeing He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.

And He hath made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation, that they should seek the Lord,

if perhaps they might feel after Him and find Him,

though He be not far from every one of us.
For in Him we live, and move, and have our being;

as also certain of your own poets have said, `For we are also His offspring.'
Acts 17:23-28 KJ21

This is a spectacularly brave statement from Apostle Paul, even in Athens when facing Epicurean and Stoic philosophers among others.

But let us think.

If everything began from that original singularity.

So everything is from that original singularity.


In the Beginning

How could the ancients figure out the beginning of everything except by referring to something beginning that was familiar to them? Sexuality has a strong role in the origin myths of many nations exactly for this reason.

Modest ancient Finns believed - according to the epic poem Kalevala - that everything began from an egg of a pochard (Aythya ferina).

  ARKive photo - Common pochard eggs in the nest
Pochard nest

Not very scientific, we admit, but logical reasoning. All people have origins in a tiniest female egg but it is hidden in the womb. In contrast, we can wonder the birth of life in the hatching of an egg. Today very rare, pochard must have been an impressive bird in the beautiful nature of Finland.

Instead of a Primeval egg, modern Finns - like scientific people in the rest of the world - talk about a Primeval atom.

Science spares no effort in studying the amazing particle soup that was in it the beginning of everything.

Both the egg and the atom are still rather mysterious - there are many questions in the biological study of the genius of an egg.  Similarlym nuclear physics and other sciences have their questions in explaning the origin of atoms.

We are optimistic that we can solve all scientific problems given enough time.

But our amazing, almost divine, ability to figure out things has its limits. For example, we have little knowledge of a person before conception or after death.

Similarly, science recognises that it may never be able to describe the very beginning scientifically as it is something not from this world, so to say.

The very beginning is out of the reach of our empirical methods and leads to Philosophy and, yes, Theology.. what to do.

That's how it is.

From where the hydrogen?

The Ring Nebula M57
From hydrogen to iron ... and then Bang!!

So we have followed in very generic way the life cycle of stars - why they call it stellar evolution? - and learned about the important cosmic limit of iron with atomic number 26.

Cold mother hydrogen molecule gas is ignited and atom nuclei are fused into helium and more nuclear reactions occur in star factories generating energy and heavier elements - until they reach iron. When the iron producing red giant reaches the boiling point it explodes generating the rest of the elements we know from the Period Table.

But from where comes the oridinal hydrogen that floats in those dusty gas clouds in the nebulae forming those majestic Pillars of Creation where young bright stars are born as in the dagger of Orion visible to naked eye?

Big Bang!
We all know the catchy term for the Beginning somewhat jokingly introduced by Sir Fred Hoyle to ridicule the theory in a BBC program 1949 - Big Bang!

Especially in a blog discussing Astrotheology it is nice to notice that it was a Roman Catholic priest, Georges Lemaître, who first suggested in an article published 1927 the expansion of the Universe and suggested a "Primeval atom" from which the entire cosmos begins.

Lemaître is an example that religion does not have to stifle scientific study despite the fact that it can and does in many cases.

So what happens in the Beginning according to modern science?

From where the simplest atom, hydrogen?

Big Bang theory 

The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model that explains the early development of the Universe.

According to the Big Bang theory, the Universe was once in an extremely hot and dense state which expanded rapidly. This rapid expansion caused the Universe to cool and resulted in its present continuously expanding state. According to the most recent measurements and observations, the Big Bang occurred approximately 13.75 billion years ago, which is thus considered the age of the Universe.

After its initial expansion from a singularity,
  • the Universe cooled sufficiently to allow
  • energy to be converted into various subatomic particles, including protons, neutrons, and electrons. 
While protons and neutrons combined to form the first atomic nuclei only a few minutes after the Big Bang, it would take thousands of years for electrons to combine with them and create electrically neutral atoms.

The first element produced was hydrogen, along with traces of helium and lithium.

Giant clouds of these primordial elements would coalesce through gravity to form stars and galaxies, and the heavier elements would be synthesized either within stars or during supernovae.

Why can't iron fusion occur?

My astronomy prof. told me this the other day...BUT he wouldn't give the reason why...

Because to fuse iron into heavier elements requires more energy than is released by the fusion reaction, thus making the reaction unsustainable. Every element heavier than Iron was created in a stellar explosion (Supernova).
Al Bundy

[Poignant discussion in Yahoo! Answers]

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The age of the Universe, Uranium and Thorium

Thor's battle with the Ettins (1872), painting by Mårten Eskil Winge
We have had a look at the production of iron in the majestic nuclear fusion reactions in stars spreading iron into deep space in supernova explosions. Other products of these massive explosions of elements into star dust are uranium (Uranus named by German M.H. Klaproth in1789) and thorium (Thor named by Swedish J.J. Berzelius in 1828).

In the Periodic Table of the elements iron (Fe) has atomic number 26. The nucleus is very stable and most iron in nature is found in combinations. In comparison to iron, uranium (U) and thorium (Th) are much heavier metals - Thorium with atomic number 90 and weight 232, Uranium 92 and 238.

The heavy nuclei are less stable than iron. Nuclear decay of thorium and uranium produces bluish grey lead. Lead (Pb) has atomic number 82 and normal atomic weight 207. Thorium-232 decay series ends with lead-208 and when uranium-238 nucleus looses an alpha-particle the element turns into lead-206.

Very slow decay of thorium with half-life14 gy - the age of cosmos - and considerably faster uranium decay into lead with half-life 4.5 gy - the age of Sun - is going on all the time in the Universe. Thus uranium gives better atomic clock than thorium. [Recently a more accurate figure has been suggested for uranium.]

We humans have learned to hasten the decay of uranium and use nuclear fission to produce energy and also, of course, weapons of mass destruction the Iranian's are accused of today by those, who already have the Bomb. Thorium would be even more powerful - and destructive - source of energy but the technology is not yet there.

Age of the Universe
CS31082-001European Southern Observatory, Chile 

If we can date an old star we will know that the minimum possible age of the entire universe must be equal or more than that. Sun is a relatively young star, near the half-life of uranium at 4.5 gy. A much older star, CS31082-001, has been studied to measure the decay of uranium that has taken place there.

In 2001 interesting results were reported from the atomic clock - or rather calendar - using uranium. I quote from a clearly written article in  The original article by R. Crayel in ESO has more details.

Astronomers have spotted for the first time the fingerprint of uranium-238 in an ancient star - and have used it to make the most reliable guess yet of the age of the universe. Roger Cayrel of the Observatoire de Paris-Meudon, France, and colleagues have used a kind of 'stellar carbon dating' to estimate the age of the star - and therefore the minimum age of the universe. The new estimate makes the universe 12.5 billion years old - give or take 3 billion years (R Cayrel et a l2001 Nature 409 691).

Cayrel and colleagues used the Very Large Telescope at the European Southern Observatory in Chile to measure the spectra of a very old star - known as CS31082-001 - near the edge of the Milky Way.

Astronomers know that the star formed in the very early universe because it contains so little metal.

Metals were scarce at this stage in the evolution of the universe because very few supernova, which create metals, had yet exploded.

Indeed, the traces of uranium-238 in the star's atmosphere could have come from just one supernova. The uranium-238 absorption lines are relatively easy to detect in metal-poor stars because they are not obscured by the strong absorption lines of other metals.

Taking into account uncertainties about the initial abundance of elements, Cayrel's and co-workers have obtained an estimate of 12.5 billion - or 12.5 x 109 - years old, plus or minus just 3 billion years.

This is three times more accurate than the previous best estimate, which was based on absorption lines of thorium-232. Thorium-232 has a half-life of 14 billion years - similar to our current best guess of the age of the universe, and this means it can only have decayed by about half.

Other methods of dating the universe - such as measuring how quickly galaxies recede from us - are less reliable because they are based on untested assumptions about the evolution of the universe.
Physics world 2001

A Note on Throrium
There is probably more untapped energy available for use from thorium in the minerals of the earth's crust than from combined uranium and fossil fuel sources. Much of the internal heat the earth has been attributed to thorium and uranium.

When pure, thorium is a silvery white metal which is air-stable and retains its lustre for several months. When contaminated with the oxide, thorium slowly tarnishes in air, becoming grey and finally black. Thorium oxide has a melting point of 3300°C, the highest of all oxides. Only a few elements, such as tungsten, and a few compounds, such as tantalum carbide, have higher melting points.

Thorium is slowly attacked by water, but does not dissolve readily in most common acids, except hydrochloric. Powdered thorium metal is often pyrophoric and should be carefully handled.When heated in air, thorium turnings ignite and burn brilliantly with a white light.

Thorium is named for Thor, the Scandinavian god of war. It is found in thorite and thorianite in New England (USA) and other sites.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Stellar Astronomy, Aristotle, Hegel and God of Israel

They are all in the big picture.

Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) teaches classification, categorization and this is going on in descriptive way.

Stellar classification is today very accurate and much has been invested into it because grouping stars into classes helps us to understand these heavenly bodies in the way classification works in all sciences.

Most stars are currently classified using the letters O, B, A, F, G, K, and M, where O stars are the hottest and the letter sequence indicates successively cooler stars up to the coolest M class. According to informal tradition, O stars are called "blue", B "blue-white", A stars "white", F stars "yellow-white", G stars "yellow", K stars "orange", and M stars "red", even though the actual star colors perceived by an observer may deviate from these colors depending on visual conditions and individual stars observed.

In the current star classification system, the Morgan-Keenan system, the spectrum letter is enhanced by a number from 0 to 9 indicating tenths of the range between two star classes, so that A5 is five tenths between A0 and F0, but A2 is two tenths of the full range from A0 to F0. Lower numbered stars in the same class are hotter.

Another dimension that is included in the Morgan-Keenan system is the luminosity class expressed by the Roman numbers I, II, III, IV and V, expressing the width of certain absorption lines in the star's spectrum. It has been shown that this feature is a general measure of the size of the star, and thus of the total luminosity output from the star. Class I are generally called supergiants, class III simply giants and class V either dwarfs or more properly main-sequence stars. For example, our Sun has the spectral type G2V, which might be interpreted as "a 'yellow' two tenths towards 'orange' main-sequence star". The apparently brightest star Sirius has type A1V.

Hegel (1770 – 1831) teaches us to search for logical processes, chain reactions, that provide scientific explanation how the stars described by various classification systems came to be what they are.

Stellar evolution is a fascinating and complex subject that requires experimental research but even more than that, theoretical considerations in human minds involving Mathematics, Theoretical Physics and other fields in Cosmological modelling.

Stellar evolution is the process by which a star undergoes a sequence of radical changes during its lifetime. Depending on the mass of the star, this lifetime ranges from only a few million years for the most massive to trillions of years for the least massive, which is considerably longer than the age of the universe.

All stars are born from collapsing clouds of gas and dust, often called nebulae or molecular clouds. Nuclear fusion powers a star for most of its life. Stars similar to our Sun gradually grow in size until they reach a red giant phase, after which the core collapses into a dense white dwarf and the outer layers are expelled as a planetary nebula. Larger stars can explode in a supernova as their cores collapse into an extremely dense neutron star or black hole. It is not clear how red dwarfs die because of their extremely long life spans, but they probably experience a gradual death in which their outer layers are expelled over time.

Stellar evolution is not studied by observing the life of a single star, as most stellar changes occur too slowly to be detected, even over many centuries. Instead, astrophysicists come to understand how stars evolve by observing numerous stars at various points in their lifetime, and by simulating stellar structure using computer models.

God of Israel
God of Israel is the only real God there is.

In His Book God says that He has created heavens and earth.

Space Theology does not mix religion and science in improper way.

There is no attempt to argue that in such and such way invisible God does this or that. The Book of Nature is open for all of us to study how things were created up to certain limit and regardless of our faith or lack of thereof.

Space Theology is worship
It takes science seriously and tries to understand what learned men and women have found out about Cosmos. It recognizes that God has made all this, that it really is His Sun as the Son of God says, and praises Him in worship for the grandeur and deep wisdom of His work.

But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you, that ye may be the children of your Father who is in Heaven. For He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
Matthew 5:44-45 KJ21

What is the point? you ask
We are the point.

There are cosmologists who use their knowledge of Nature in order to deny that God exists.

This is nonsense.

Science does not ask the ultimate question - Aristotle describes stellar classification, Hegel explains stellar evolution, but neither can answer Why?

Bible does also not provide the big answer Why?

But it says that God has made it all and that our job is to praise Him for it, like Adam and Eve praise Lord in Joseph Haydn's oratorio Creation and Haydn praises the Sun.

There are cosmologists who user their knowledge of Nature in order to praise God.

The difference is in attitude.

Those have a slight ironic smile on their lips when looking at the less-informed humans holding to religious world views and imagine, that their materialism is objective science.

These have soft smiles and humility in heart in face of the majesty of creation.

This is not just IMHO

German Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955) who passed away on April 18 was thinking in the same way, atheists tend to be proud but we should be humble.

British Sir Isaac Newton (1642 – 1727) was a truly humble man.

Both believed in God of Israel in their own way.

This in no way reduced from the quality and value of their scientific work.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How to make Steel

Allegheny-Ludlum steel furnace in action. wikimedia

Iron making is strictly divine business and is done in the heavens in enormously powerful furnaces, using nuclear processes inside supergiant stars.

Steel making is a human business that is made possible by inventions of the almost divine spirit God has breathed into us. It takes lots of energy, heat and furnaces, spectacular glows of red and yellow flames and molten materials... somewhat resembling iron making.

Luckily, steel making is not quite as demanding on resources and energy as iron making. It is not based on nuclear reactions that fuse atoms and molecules into something new. It is a more simple chemical reaction in which iron and oxygen are combined to produce a very useful material for all sorts of things.

Adding carbon to iron made Steel and changed the modern world in much the same way as adding tin to copper made Bronze and changed the ancient world. However, it was not all that easy, required some perquisites and so it took us some time. But now steel making is big business and major industry.

Metal Ages
Archaeologists divide human history by identifying the key metal used. The modern Three Age System was originally created by C.J. Thomsen (1788-1865) working as an antiquarian in the Danish National Museum in Copenhagen. Using principles of Aristotelian classification he arranged the collections by material into classes. The three-age system is so useful that it survives also in modern Archaeology although in significantly modified form.

Here is the schema with rough dates currently in use (early history in Eastern Mediterranean, some other regions may have lagged behind.)

Stone Ages 2 mya - 5000 BC.
First human tools were made of stones. Very soon people began to use silica (flint) because of the razor sharp edges it gives. Silicon is a kind of metallic mineral.

Chalcolithic (Copper/Stone) 5000 - 3500 BC
The use of copper in addition to stone tools identifies the Chalcolithic period.

Bronze Ages 3500 - 1200 BC
When copper was improved by adding a bit tin to the mixture a much harder metal was created called Bronze. This marks the beginning of the high River valley cultures.

Iron Age 1200 BC - 1600 AD
Most of the history familiar to us from school and books is from the period when Iron was the main material for tools. Since Iron Age is so long it is not practical and world history. Therefore archaeologists and historians use period names like Persian, Roman, Ottoman Turkish.

Steel Age 1600 AD - present

According to the schema based on metals we are living now in Steel Age. Since a dear child has many names, people commonly use terms like Plastic Age or Atomic Age. But the main metal for tools is definitely steel as future archaeologist of our settlements will also note.

Modern steel making
Making steel is not easy for humans and it took quite a time and some pretty smart people before it became reality. Introduction of steel making in Europe marks the beginning of the New Era and the rise of Western civilization, science and technology and first British Victorian rule of the world, then other Rulers of Steel passing in power even the Roman Rulers of Iron.

Since the 17th century the first step in European steel production has been the smelting of iron ore into pig iron in a blast furnace. Originally using charcoal, modern methods use coke, which has proven to be a great deal cheaper.

Processes starting from bar iron was used to make Blister steel and Crucible steel. In these processes pig iron was "fined" in a finery forge to produce bar iron (wrought iron), which was then used in steel-making.

The modern era in steelmaking began with the introduction of Henry Bessemer's Bessemer process in 1858. His raw material was pig iron. This enabled steel to be produced in large quantities cheaply, thus mild steel is now used for most purposes for which wrought iron was formerly used.

The Gilchrist-Thomas process (or basic Bessemer process) was an improvement to the Bessemer process, lining the converter with a basic material to remove phosphorus. Another improvement in steelmaking was the Siemens-Martin process, which complemented the Bessemer process.

These were rendered obsolete by the Linz-Donawitz process of basic oxygen steelmaking (BOS), developed in the 1950s, and other oxygen steelmaking processes. Basic oxygen steelmaking is superior to previous steelmaking methods because the oxygen pumped into the furnace limits impurities.

Now, electric arc furnaces (EAF) are a common method of reprocessing scrap metal to create new steel. They can also be used for converting pig iron to steel, but they use a lot of electricity (about 440 kWh per metric ton), and are thus generally only economical when there is a plentiful supply of cheap electricity