“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Celestial Gold

Meteorites delivered gold to Earth

Meteorite impactsA burst of meteorite impacts around 3.9 billion years ago delivered precious metals to Earth

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Scientists have shown that the Earth's surface became enriched with precious metals by impacting meteorites.
The Earth's crust and mantle has considerably more gold than expected from favoured models of planetary formation.
A study from the University of Bristol looked at some of the oldest rocks on Earth, demonstrating that gold was delivered by meteorites long after their formation.
Their results are published in Nature.
While the Earth was forming, iron sank to the centre of the planet, forming the core.
Any precious metals in the planetary mix would have gone with this iron and concentrated in the core, leaving the mantle devoid of elements such as gold, platinum, and osmium.
But this is not what we observe. In fact, the silicate mantle has up to 1,000 times more gold than anticipated.
Several reasons for this enrichment were proposed in the past, including delivery by meteorites, although until now it has not been possible to prove.
By measuring isotopes in rocks that are nearly four billion years old from Greenland, the team has managed to date the gold delivery, and to relate it to an event known as the "terminal bombardment".
Impact theory
Earth formed by a snowball-effect known as accretion 4.55 billion years ago. The iron core with its accompanying mixture of precious metals formed very soon after that, within just a few million years.
A final impact of a Mars sized body with the Earth formed the Moon and finalised our planet's formation. By this time all gold would be locked up in the core.
A final burst of meteorite impacts around 3.9 billion years ago is known as the "terminal bombardment" and caused the cratering that we still see on the Moon.
Gold nuggetTheories could not explain why there was so much gold on Earth's surface
It was during this last impact event that the gold which we can access in the crust was delivered.
"The proportions of gold and other precious metals are difficult to measure because they concentrate into nuggets, and we need to analyse a lot of rocks to get meaningful data." said lead researcher Dr Matthias Willbold.
They have therefore developed a way of telling this remarkable story of gold's extraterrestrial origin using a completely different element - tungsten.
Tungsten acts very similarly to precious metals like gold, but importantly it comes in different forms, or isotopes.The team have looked at the proportions of the different isotopes in modern rocks and in the most ancient rocks in Greenland.
They found a small but significant difference in the proportions, indicating that the modern rocks had received a dose of tungsten, and therefore also gold, from meteorites.
The Greenland rocks showed no such enrichment, giving a date to the input of gold. This date corresponds to the time of the terminal bombardment around 3.9 billion years ago.
During this time, the Earth would have been hit with 20 billion billion tonnes of asteroid material, although "it is not clear whether this would have come in the form of many small impacts, or just two or three mega-impacts", Dr Willbold said.
The research group at the University of Bristol are the first to successfully make such high-quality measurements of tungsten in ancient rocks, but so far have only analysed samples from Greenland.
"We hope to find more," said Dr Willbold, "and look at a time sequence for one billion years after the Greenland rocks, to see how the tungsten anomaly develops."


  1. An interesting story and a treat to see some intelligent live and entertaining television.

  2. The team also found that black carbon particles – those particles released by diesel engines, industrial processes and fires – are more widely distributed in the atmosphere than had been previously estimated.

    “What we didn’t anticipate were the very high levels of black carbon we observed in plumes of air sweeping over the central Pacific toward the U.S. West Coast,” says NOAA scientist Ryan Spackman, a member of the HIPPO research team. “Levels were comparable with those measured in megacities such as Houston or Los Angeles.

    This suggests that western Pacific sources of black carbon are significant and that atmospheric transport of the material is efficient.”

  3. A book of newly released interviews with former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy says President John F. Kennedy openly scorned the notion of Vice President Lyndon Johnson succeeding him in office.

    The book is "Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy." It'll be published Sept. 14 by New York-based Hyperion Books. The Associated Press bought a copy Thursday.

    JFK chose Johnson as his running mate in 1960. But Jackie Kennedy told historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. her husband and his brother Robert F. Kennedy discussed ways to keep Johnson from winning the Democratic nomination in 1968.

    She told the historian JFK said: "Oh, God, can you ever imagine what would happen to this country if Lyndon were president?"

    JFK was assassinated in November 1963, and Johnson succeeded him. The book barely mentions the assassination.

  4. You look at this clip and you can come to no other conclusion that the culture has slipped on a tectonic scale.

  5. And if you need further proof of a societal loss of elegance and style check this out

  6. Salvador dali fue un genio de la pintura y de las artes en general un ser incomprendido que utilizo su ego, su honestidad, su inteligencia.... y hasta su locura, para defender sus propias convicciones y su particular forma de ser y de vivir... SALVADOR DALI, sera siempre el mejor... y aunque nunk lo reconocio siempre sera uno de los mayores genios de las artes visuales y uno de los artistas mas influyentes de la historia... como artista plastico doy fe de ello... ES MI FAVORITO....!!!!

  7. i agree completly…I found Obama's speech another cold bowl of his vapid lumpy gruel and not worthy of discussion.

  8. Damn the gods.

    Without gold we'd one hell of a lot better off.

    Worthless stuff, all we do is fight over it.

    There's even a new word for it - blang, or somethin' like that.

    As in, a one trillion dollar platinum coin can buy a lot of blang.

    In other astronomical news, a supernova went off just 21 billion (?) miles away, little outside of our neighborhood but nearby as these things go.

    The next two or three nights you should be able to see it, second star up on the handle of the Big Dipper, then look a little to your left. (If you don't see it there look a little to your right maybe)

    Naked eye should do it, or binoculars.

    If you are down Sam's way, look under your legs, then up.


  9. Salvador Dali pushed old men over in the street.

    Fuck him.


  10. Spits On His Mother's Picture

    But he died with the king by his side, provide, provide.


  11. Salvador Domènec Felip Jacint Dalí i Domènech i Quirk, Marquis de Púbol aka

    In 1989
    With only
    King Juan Carlos
    By his side
    Provide, Provide

    Fred Remington, now there was a painter.


  12. It has been our home for more than 3500 years. It will remain our home until time ceases. If that hurts, come join us; we make no distinctions based on race, color or nationality. All that is required is the sincere belief that G-d is one.

    Really? That's it?

    لا إله إلا الله محمد رسول الله

    "There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God."

  13. A federal appeals court in Virginia on Thursday rejected a pair of challenges to last year's federal health care overhaul, providing a boost to the Obama administration after it lost a high-profile case last month.


    The Fourth Circuit was the third appeals court to weigh in on the law. The Atlanta-based 11th Circuit ruled Aug. 12 that the insurance mandate was unconstitutional.

  14. I forgot just how smart tv used to be (at times, anyway.) :)

  15. All I ever wanted was 100% of his 10%....heh


  16. Roger, ex-pat in LAFri Sep 09, 02:40:00 AM EDT

    Deuce said..I found Obama's speech another cold bowl of his vapid lumpy gruel and not worthy of discussion.

    When you put all of Bush's spending together with all of Obama's, the trillions we've spent at least get us one nugget of pure bipartisan truth: we know for certain that this Keynesian nonsense is pure bunk.

    Incidentally, anyone else find it mildly ironic that they're asking for more money by telling us they didn't know what they were doing when they got the first lump of cash? Hi, we made up a bunch of numbers to sucker you into that last wad of cash, but this time we're serious. And we only want half as much!

    The government. We can't run a profitable business, so trust us to kick-start the economy. Right after we're done altering the sea levels and controlling the very heavens. And ending poverty. And providing efficient, quality schooling. And on and on and on.

  17. House Speaker John Boehner and Vice President Biden set the tone at the start. Waiting for Obama to make his way down the center aisle, they stood before the House and had a talk – not about jobs, but about golf.

    “Seven birdies, five bogies,” Boehner reported to Biden.

    “You’re kidding me!” the vice president said.

    “I missed a 4-foot straight-on birdie on the last hole,” Boehner said of another round.

    “Whoa!” the vice president said.

    “So, the next day,” Boehner went on, “I shoot an 86! Ha, ha, ha!”

    “That’s incredible,” the vice president said.

    Obama rose to the occasion with a bold jobs proposal that delighted liberals but also had elements conservatives grudgingly endorsed. Yet long before the speech, both sides had concluded it didn’t much matter: Obama has become too weak to enact anything big enough to do much good.

    “I thought it was a great speech,” said Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) But the odds of Obama getting his plan through Congress “are probably as good as the Nationals winning the league this year.”

    Presidential addresses to Congress are often dramatic moments. This one felt like a sideshow. Usually, the press gallery is standing room only; this time only 26 of 90 seats were claimed by the deadline. Usually, some members arrive in the chamber hours early to score a center-aisle seat; 90 minutes before Thursday’s speech, only one Democrat was so situated.

  18. It has been our home for more than
    Anon said...

    3500 years. It will remain our home until time ceases. If that hurts, come join us; we make no distinctions based on race, color or nationality. All that is required is the sincere belief that G-d is one.

    Thu Sep 08, 09:38:00 PM EDT

    Yep! ... so begins another day of bashing by faceless dwarfs ...