Scientists hail unique, and surprisingly damp, Mars find

Los Angeles Times, By Amina Khan, January 5

Los Angeles — Scientists have identified the first meteorite to originate from the surface of Mars, a 2.1-billion-year-old specimen that contains about 10 times more water than any other space rock from Mars.

Discovered in the Sahara Desert, the rock – called NWA 7034 – is unlike any of the 110-odd Martian meteorites yet found on Earth, according to a report published online Thursday by the journal Science. Experts said it provides an unprecedented close-up view of the Red Planet’s surface and may help scientists understand what NASA’s Curiosity and Opportunity rovers are seeing as they roam the Martian surface.

“This opens a whole new window on Mars,” said Munir Humayun, a cosmochemist at Florida State University in Tallahassee who was not involved in the study.

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  • Beyond ‘absolute zero’ temperatures get hotter

    TG Daily, By Flora Malein, January 5

    It sounds like a contradiction in terms but scientists have reached temperatures that go beyond absolute zero in a lab, and get hotter as they do so.

    Whereas we’re all aware of what happens when temperatures hit negative temperatures on the Fahrenheit and Celsius scales (hint: it gets really cold), the Kelvin scale is an absolute temperature scale in physics where it is not possible to go beyond 0 degrees Kelvin. Therefore, the lowest point that any temperature can reach is 0 K or −460 °F (−273.15 °C); at least that’s what scientists thought until till now.

    When they cooled an atomic gas to extreme lows, known as ‘ultracooling’, physicists at the Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Germany created a gas that went beyond absolute zero.

    They found that the atoms in the ultracooled gas attract each other and give rise to a negative pressure. Instead of standing still when they go beyond 0 K, the gas becomes hotter.

    “The gas is not colder than zero kelvin, but hotter,” says physicist Ulrich Schneider, lead author on the paper that is published in the journal Science.

    “It is even hotter than at any positive temperature.”

  • “…instead of standing still when they go beyond 0K…..” ???
    Postulating a ‘beyond’ in this case is like talking about the universe before Time – a self-contradicting position.

    In theory and by definition, matter has no thermal energy at absolute zero. This does not mean it lacks energy on the quantum level. What might be happening is that at the density involved, quantum effects dominate the behavior of the gas, which is hardly news. What is most interesting is the last line “It is even hotter than at any positive temperature“. Since a gas could be heated to the point the molecules break down, one wonders what ‘hotter’ means in this context. Dissolution of the atoms?
    As dear Arte used to say, “Verrrrry interesting”.

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