Weekly News Round-up 07.06.13

Well we failed yet again! 2 weeks ago I promised that we’d get back on track with these weekly news updates, but we didn’t manage to find time to write anything last week – apologies once again. We have all been very busy in the lab – we might not be getting anywhere very fast, but at least we’re trying… We do promise to try to get back to posting regular news updates on Fridays.


Live from Jodrell Bank

The full line-up for this summer’s 4 Live from Jodrell Bank concerts have now been announced:

  • Saturday 6th July – Australian Pink Floyd
  • Sunday 7th July – New Order and Johnny Marr
  • Friday 30th August – Sigur Rós
  • Saturday 31st August – Hallé Orchestra

You might be wondering why I’m telling you about these concerts on a blog about science. Well, Live from Jodrell Bank  is where science meets music. There is a Science Arena at these concerts, with lots of hands-on activities for visitors. We shall be in the Science Arena at all 4 concerts, with a selection of meteorites and activities, so please come along and visit us if you’re there.

Fingers crossed the weather will be as nice as it has been this week!

Ticket info is available here.


Museum of Science and Industry under threat?

In the news this week we heard that the Science Museum Group (SMG), which runs a number of museums including Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) has lost some of its government funding. This lead to speculation that MOSI might have to start charging admission fees or could even be under threat of closure. The SMG, however, say that they have no plans to close attractions. And MOSI have stated on their Twitter and Facebook sites that no decision has been made to close the museum.

You can show your support for MOSI by signing The Manchester Evening News’s petition to save this fantastic museum which attracts close to a million visitors a year.


Earth’s first ice age explained by water bubbles

In a paper published in this week’s Nature researchers from England (our very own Dr Ray Burgess and Prof Grenville Turner) and France show that the key to understanding the Earth’s first ice age may be in bubbles of water found in quartz grains from Australia. The composition of argon isotopes in the bubbles was very different to that in our atmosphere today. This helps explain why the Earth’s first ice age only occurred 2.5 billion years ago, despite the heat from the sun being weaker earlier in the Earth’s history.

You can see the University’s press release about this research here.


Can we get astronauts to Mars and back safely?

Over the past few months there’s been quite a lot of talk about manned missions to Mars, with thousands of people applying to take part in the Mars One mission.

However, things might not be so straightforward. NASA’s Curiosity rover counted the number of high energy particles that hit it during its 8 month journey to the red planet. Data published in Science last week shows that astronauts on a mission to Mars would receive a dangerously high dose of radiation, almost 250 times the annual average. An astronaut would receive two-thirds of the maximum career exposure limit imposed by several space agencies on their astronauts in just one return trip – and that doesn’t include any time spent exploring the planet itself. And unfortunately increased exposure to radiation increases the risk of developing cancer. So to keep astronauts safe, scientists and engineers will either have to significantly reduce the journey time or find a way to better protect the astronauts from radiation.

About Sarah Crowther

I'm a Post Doc in the Isotope Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry group. I study xenon isotope ratios using the RELAX mass spectrometer, to try to learn more about the origins and evolution of our solar system. I look at a wide range of samples from solar wind returned by NASA's Genesis mission to zircons (some of the oldest known terrestrial rocks), from meteorites to presolar grains.
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