I wanted to share some interesting science facts from the March 2014 Astronomy issue.
Bob Berman shares:
A single 1 gram pencil eraser contains the same energy released in the larger of the two atomic bombs that fell on Japan in 1945…
If the sun were the size of a period at the end of a sentence, Earth would be 1 inch away and no bigger than a dust mote. The nearest star would be 4.3 miles away. The diameter of the Milky Way would extend halfway to the moon. A galaxy is like billions of sand grains, each separated by miles from its nearest neighbor.
Later in this issue, details on the rapid growth in exoplanet discovery is provided. The first candidate worlds were discovered in 1992 (first confirmed 1995) and Kepler added hundreds more when it started reporting in 2010. (source: http://exoplanet.eu)
Still later, an article on extraterrestrial neutrinos: Using the IceCube neutrino detector, which is composed of 5160 basketball sized detectors buried deep in Antarctic ice, astronomers have detected neutrinos of extraterrestrial origin. In a two-year run, 28 neutrinos were discovered with energies from 30 – 1,141 TeV. 17 of these had energies too high to have resulted from atmospheric effects, and had to come from cataclysmic events elsewhere in the universe. To give you a reference of how energetic these particles need to be, visible light has energy between 1.5 – 3 eV. That means these nearly massless particles are traveling about as close to the speed of light, as we are likely to see. (Some might be a million times more energetic than neutrinos detected from supernovae like SN 1987A.)
I will leave you with one more encouraging tidbit… A National Academy of Sciences article lays claim that 22 percent of Sun-like stars harbor Earth-sized planets in habitable zones. If true, this is one more refinement on the Drake Equation estimate of the likelihood of finding other civilizations around other stars.