Science Matters with Lawrence Krauss: Meteors, Galaxies and Fossils

Arizona State University Physicist Lawrence Krauss joins Arizona Horizon to explain some of the exciting discoveries recently made, including a fireball that lit up the sky in January, the telescope that will be replacing Hubble and a 180,000-year-old fossil of a human jaw found in Israel.

 

Meteoroid Over Michigan

On Jan. 16, people throughout Michigan reported seeing a bright shooting star light up the sky. Though it was initially described by some as lightning or a small explosion Krauss says the fireball was actually a meteoroid. According to Krauss, this sort of phenomenon is not uncommon; every day the earth is pelted with small meteorites that are typically smaller than a meter in diameter. The reason this particular meteoroid was so bright, says Krauss, is probably because it was two or three meters in length. The rule of thumb when identifying lights in the sky, says Krauss, is this: if the light is brighter than Venus, it’s a meteor.

 

Hubble’s Replacement

Hubble Space Telescope will soon be laid to rest as NASA takes on a new piece of equipment to guide them through space for the next decade. Krauss says the James Webb Space Telescope is designed to see the formation of the first galaxy in existence. Hubble was designed with a lens that could see farther into space, and with advances in technology, James Webb is expected to see even more.

 

Fossilized Jawbone Discovered in Isreal

An ancient fossilized human jawbone discovered in Israel last week is estimated to be around 177,000-190,000 years old. The most startling fact of this discovery is where the fossil is its location, Krauss says, because until this discovery, it was widely believed by scientists that homo sapiens didn’t leave Africa between 90,000 and 120,000 years ago.

This discovery raises the idea that homo sapiens left Africa in waves, Krauss says, although it’s not known yet which waves ended up surviving and which ended up dying. In order to date the fossil, Krauss says scientists will date the burning of the flint in the caves where it was found.

 

About Lawrence Krauss

Lawrence Krauss is the founder and director of the ASU affiliated Origins Project which hosts discussions with other scholars about mankind and its origins. The next event will take place on Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. and will cover national security and the threat of a nuclear war with one of the leading authorities on U.S. Foreign Policy, William J. Perry. More information on The Origins Project can be found here.

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Lawrence Krauss: Physicist, Arizona State University

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