December 2014

The Orion capsule: the next spaceship – December test flight / “The test should pave the way for a crewed flight in 2021 to visit a nearby asteroid. The ultimate goal is a journey to Mars, when Orion would dock with another traveling habitat for extra living space.” (SA, 12/2014)

. . .

In 1971, George aka Lonesome George (1910 – June 24, 2012), the last of his subspecies of the Galápagos’s Pinta ISland turtles [helonoidis nigra abingdonii], was discovered by a Hungarian scientist studying snails. George is now taxidermied and was shown at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City in the month of December, 2014. He died of old age, yet even one hundred is not especially old for a Galápagos tortoise. [“Before a species goes extinct, there must be one last survivor. Often that final individual slips away unknown, but for the Pinta Island tortoise from Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, that survivor was this male, known as Lonesome George. When he died of natural causes, his species, Chelonoidis abingdoni, vanished.”] He was named after a famous 1950s American TV comedian, George Gobel, who called himself “Lonesome George.” (SA, 12/2014)


. . .

Rodham Tulloss: maintains one of the world’s largest and most diverse collections of amanitas in a converted garage in Roosevelt, N.J. / Tullpss, aged 70, had documented species so rare they have been seen only once or twice in the past 50 years / Of the estimated 1.5 million fungi species worldwide, only a small percentage have been categorized / [“I don’t know how much time I have left, so I want to give it my all”] (SA, 12/2014)

Amanita of Manicata, New Zealand


. . .

Finding’s in October’s American Naturalist suggest that “deep commonalities exist among the cries of most young mammals.” (SA, 12/2014)

. . .

“Predicting which scientific discoveries will change the world is, arguably, a fool’s game. Who knows what the future will bring?” (SA, 12/2014)

. . .

CRISPR: clustered, regularly, interspaced, short palindromic repeats (genetic sequences which bacteria use to remember viruses that have attacked them). (SA, 12/2014)

. . .

In 2012, the skeleton of 15th-century English king Richard III was found buried underneath a parking lot in Leicester (many thought his bones had been scattered in the River Soar).

[The initial plan was to reinter Richard’s body in Leicester Cathedral. However, the choice of burial site was controversial, as there were proposals for Richard to be buried at Westminster Abbey (alongside 17 other English and British kings), or in York Minster, which some claimed was Richard’s own preferred burial site. The original decision was challenged in court and was the subject of a judicial review. The Conservative MP and historian Chris Skidmore proposed a state funeral should be held, while John Mann, the Labour MP for Bassetlaw, suggested the body should be buried in Worksop in his constituency—halfway between York and Leicester. However the Mayor of Leicester has said: “Those bones leave Leicester over my dead body.”

The present Royal Family made no claim on the body and so the Ministry of Justice initially confirmed that the University of Leicester would make the final decision on where the bones should be re-buried. David Monteith, Canon Chancellor of Leicester Cathedral, said Richard’s skeleton would be reinterred at the cathedral in early 2014 in a “Christian-led but ecumenical service”. He said it would not be a formal reburial but rather a service of remembrance, as Richard would already have had a funeral service at the time of burial.

Richard’s wife Anne Neville is buried within Westminster Abbey. It is uncertain where their only child Edward of Middleham, Prince of Wales, is buried; theories have included Sheriff Hutton Church, or Middleham, both in North Yorkshire. Richard’s parents are both buried in Fotheringhay Church, in Northamptonshire.

Legal action brought by 15 of Richard’s distant relatives, known as the “Plantagenet Alliance”, meant that his final resting place was uncertain for nearly a year. Those bringing the legal challenge wanted Richard to be buried within York Minster, which, they believed, was his “wish”.  The Dean of Leicester, however, called their challenge “disrespectful”, and confirmed the Cathedral would not be investing any more money until the matter was decided. In August 2013 a judge granted permission for a judicial review as the original burial plans ignored the Common Law duty “to consult widely as to how and where Richard III’s remains should appropriately be reinterred”. Mark Ormrod of the University of York expressed scepticism over the idea that Richard had devised any clear plans for his own burial. Mathematician Rob Eastaway calculated that Richard III may have millions of living collateral descendants saying that “we should all have the chance to vote on Leicester versus York”.

The judicial review opened on 13 March 2014 and was expected to last two days but the decision was deferred for four to six weeks. Lady Justice Hallett, sitting with Mr Justice Ouseley and Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, said the court would take time to consider its judgment. On 23 May the High Court ruled that there was “no duty to consult” and that “There was no public law grounds for the court to interfere”, so that re-burial in Leicester could proceed. The reinterment ceremony was scheduled for spring 2015 with a new design for the tomb expected to be revealed in “three or four weeks”.] (SA, 12/2014)

. . .

The Milky way is itself is not simply one galaxy: recent work has shown that it has lured in and engulfed many smaller galaxies over time, integrating their stars into itself…The ingestion started when the Milky Way was younger and smaller than it is now and continues today.

Galactic archaeology / faint streams of stars left over from the ingestion of the Milky Way / fossils of our galaxy’s past

hierarchical structure formation: [the architectonics of the universe] [connect to Peirce’s view of how we learn about science] / the widely held theory that our galaxy started small and swelled in part by adding mass in large gulps.

baryonic matter (the stars, gas and dust, etc.) and dark matter


SDSS Sky Server – Why do stars have colors? –


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