Monday, July 7, 2008

Primordial Quark Nuggets from Space!

We had to sit through a 3 hour concert by a bad Beach Boys cover band (and is there such thing as a good one?) before we could see fireworks on the 4th of July this year. Didn’t start til 10:30, didn’t get the kids in bed til almost midnight. Arg. I deem President Monkeybone’s decision to trample upon our most basic constitutional rights in the name of preserving freedom the biggest current affront to my civil liberties, not to mention my sense of irony, but being forced to listen to “Surfer Girl” in order to watch fireworks ranks a close second.

And while I’m on the subject, on July 8th (tomorow!) the Senate votes on the FISA bill's telecom annesty amendment, which shields telecom companies from prosecution if they hand the government confidential information about private citizens (those weasels in the House already passed it). Call or email your Senator TODAY to vote against it. Even Sen. Obama, who I’ve generally liked up to now, plans to vote for it, flip-flopping from his previous position while seeking the political center. If he votes “yes,” as he says he will, it will seriously erode my confidence in him.

It’s only Christmas once a year, but our kids’ obsession with it is year-round. They kept telling us yesterday that Santa was going to come and take them for a ride to the North Pole in the middle of the night, but not to worry, as they’d be back by supper. This morning they awoke full of tales of Santa. KK got to ride on Rudolf (she held onto his horns). They landed on a cloud, and she floated to the ground on a balloon. She also got to meet Rudolf’s Mom. S, never one to be outdone, got to make toys with the elves (sound like a violation of child labor laws to me, but I kept my mouth shut). They gave her an elf suit and everything. Apparently, the girl elves wear red, the boy elves wear blue. And they sit at separate tables while they work, but they are allowed to talk to each other.

Mrs. Claus, I’m told, is quite beautiful.

In space news, the possibility of yet another deeply cool thing in space: Primordial Quark Nuggets. They are, according to this article, leftover bits from the big bang, clumps of quarks that never dissolved into protons, neutrons, etc as the universe cooled down. In this way they are similar to those primordial black holes the Babe in the Universe is so fond of, leftover pieces from the beginning of time. And space, for that matter. The article says they would be indistinguishable from near Earth asteroids. So they next time you are looking up at the night sky, and your gaze lingers on a faint star, consider that it might not be a star at all. It might be a Primordial Quark Nugget!

The picture, by the way, is a computer simulation of the "quantum foam" created when the universe cooled down enough to form matter (and, presumably, those crazy quark nuggets), back when the universe was one hundred-thousandth of a second old. I found it here.


Eric Shonkwiler said...

I love hearing off-the-cuff science. I want a Daily Show science textbook. Or a Colbert Report book. It'd be two pages long.

Hilary said...

The kidlets sound like such a joy. I envy their wonderful imaginations. You're lucky to have that entertainment to enjoy.. the Beach Boys cover - not so much. ;)

Maggie said...

1. my confidence in Mr. Obama is waivering as well.

2. weasels - oh yeah

3. personally the beach boys themselves would be torture enough

4. i love your girls' imaginations, but I gotta say, Santa has some civil rights issues I'd say - separating the sexes

5. primordial quark nuggets sounds like something out of Star Trek that a Ferengi would be selling.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

I agree about the beach boys, I'm delighted about Santa (how did they both do that?) and I will keep my eyes peeled and start mining the dark night skies for priceless nuggets.


Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Clowncar said...

I should write a book: Science for Short Attention Spans, eh, Eric?

The kidlets are a joy, Hil, when they aren't a terror. Frighteningly creative. Comes from such a jumbled childhood. Though I would like to take partial credit...

Mags, he voted for it, so our confidence continues to wane. He did go to the trouble to explain his position. But he could have stood up in the Senate and said "No," and told us why, and the media would have hung on every word. What a missed oportunity.

"Mining the dark night skies for priceless nuggets" is beautifully phrased, Scarlett.