SAMPLE ALL THE FLAVORS!Increasingly, Vanderbilt instructors are incorporating blogs into their course design. Course Blogs at Vanderbilt is a mash-up of live feeds representing a wide variety of Vanderbilt courses that use blogging to help students reflect on, comment about, and introduce new ideas to course material. Click on the blog title to view the originating course blog. You can also click on the Participating Blogs tab for links to each blog.
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Category Archives: Terrestrials
I was inspired by Victoria’s post to think more about the Fermi Paradox, and specifically, explanations of the uniqueness of intelligent life on Earth. The Rare Earth Hypothesis is one such explanation; it postulates that conditions favorable to life (and particularly intelligent life) are incredibly rare in the universe. It is in opposition to hypotheses […] Continue reading → Continue reading
Discovered in 1970, Archaea might be the least well-known of the three domains of life (the others being Bacteria and Eukaryota), but it is a fascinating and diverse group of organisms and quite possibly the first on Earth. Like bacteria, archaea are unicellular, prokaryotic organisms, meaning that they lack nuclei and other membrane-bound organelles in […] Continue reading → Continue reading
Because the caves, mines, and crevasses on Earth are filled with extremophiles, NASA uses those lifeforms as a guide to its exploration of the universe. The hidden parts of the planet have to make their own way of survival. Surface life has photosynthesis, but subsurface only a tiny fraction of that energy trickles down so … Continue reading A Whole New World! → Continue reading → Continue reading
In his hit song “Rocket Man”, musical legend Elton John aptly remarks that “Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids / In fact it’s cold as hell.” The average surface temperature of Mars is 220 Kelvin, or about -64 degrees Fahrenheit. Now, I’m not sure about hell, but that’s definitely too cold … Continue reading Mars: Investigating the Red Planet → Continue reading → Continue reading
Though we do not currently have the means to see directly inside the Earth (or any other planet), we can use clues to make inferences about what may be lying beneath their surfaces. On Earth and the Moon, our most helpful data stems from the analysis of seismic waves, or vibrations that travel along the … Continue reading A Look Inside the Terrestrial Worlds → Continue reading → Continue reading
Considering all the horrible ways that either humans or otherwise could end life on Earth, the idea of inhabiting another world seems pretty nifty. The only issue with that is we need oxygen and for our soft squishy skin to not get fried by intense sunlight. So, the prospects of getting off our planet for … Continue reading Terraforming Continue reading → Continue reading
Earth experiences a warming through the greenhouse effect: the absorption and re-emission of light from the planet’s surface by compounds in the atmosphere such as carbon dioxide and water. Greenhouse gases are necessary for keeping life on Earth warm enough to survive, but an increase in their concentration has led to a undesirable heating of … Continue reading Cars and the Greenhouse Effect → Continue reading → Continue reading
Venus is the unfortunate victim of a runaway greenhouse effect. Not only does this make the planet uninhabitable, it also causes a tremendous degree of difficulty in observing the planet’s surface. However, there are many interesting things to gain from Venus by just looking at the atmosphere, including a massive gravity wave. Gravity waves in … Continue reading Gravity Waves → Continue reading → Continue reading
Mars, our red-tinted planetary neighbor, has long attracted human curiosity. Due to its unusual color, it was named after the Roman god of war. Although it is so much smaller than our planet (only about half Earth’s diameter and one-tenth its mass), it shares certain Earth-like features, particularly volcanoes and a great canyon. These structures, […] Continue reading → Continue reading
Like many things in space, the planet Mars has been a point of interest for many since its discovery long ago. Some even believe that it could one day be a place for the human race to relocate. Curiosity, a rover launched back in November of 2011, has been exploring the surface of mars for … Continue reading Porous Martian Mountain! → Continue reading → Continue reading