RB Editor’s Selections: A new alien life (non-)controversy, peeking into neutron stars, and dinosaur pareidolia

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.

[Cross-posted from ResearchBlogging.org News]

  • Following last autumn’s arsenic/life hubbub, another extraterrestrial life controversy hit the media in the last week when a NASA scientist reported finding signs of alien bacterial life in a meteorite. Lots of chatter and analysis ensued, reminding us that the search for extraterrestrial life, despite numerous false alarms, is still one of the most inspirational endeavours in science. Rosie Redfield’s breakdown of the work was one of the most thorough discussions I came across, with some excellent contributions in the comments and links to further reading.
  • Neutron stars are the corpses of massive stars whose final collapse is halted when the core is transformed into an exotic state of neutron-only matter. But what is the stuff they’re made of actually like? Greg Fish describes new research into one well-known neutron star that is helping scientists understand the nature of the weird stuff that’s inside it.
  • Brian Switek talks dinosaur pareidolia on the Dinosaur Tracking blog this week. He describes new results showing that the man-made “dinosaur” rock paintings in Utah, hailed by creationist groups as evidence of man and sauropod walking the Earth together, don’t actually depict a dinosaur. Let’s hope creationists are listening.

Thanks for the great posts to all the contributors. I’ll be back next week with more picks.