No more "Junk DNA"
Scientists have discovered that some of our non-coding DNA, previously dismissed as “Junk DNA,” may in fact be responsible for the difficulty in predicting and treating diseases such as Diabetes, Crohns, High Blood Pressure, Cancer and Depression.
In 1972, Susumu Ohno, a geneticist and evolutionary biologist at the City of Hope Medical Center, labelled the seemingly large percentage of non-coding DNA as “Junk DNA”[i]. This label may have hampered serious attempts to ascertain the true function of non-coding DNA for over 30 years, but all that changed with the inception of the ENCODE project in September 2003. The culmination of the ENCODE project’s output to date is the simultaneous publication of 30 scientific papers in the journals Nature, Genome Biology, and Genome Research, on 5th September 2012, postulating that at much more of our DNA is biologically active than previously thought.
The importance of the discovery is that the DNA once dismissed as “junk” may in fact hold the key to the behaviour of cells, organs and other tissues. Changes in the junk DNA can alter gene switches the key areas which affects disease growth. These gene switches are found throughout the “junk” DNA, and number in their millions. They have already been linked to over 100 diseases including schizophrenia, and there may even be one which controls height. Understanding how these switches work will allow researchers to better comprehend the risk factors for various diseases, and the possibilities for recovery.
The ENCODE project, which stands for The Encyclopaedia of DNA Elements, was in many the successor to the Human Genome Project. It has received $288 million dollars of funding from the U.S. National Institute of Health, and has a consortium of 443 scientists from more than 30 institutions worldwide. It has conducted over 1,600 experiments on 147 types of tissue, and put in over 300 years of computer time. Some of the results of these experiments overlap with the earlier GWAS (genome-wide association studies) which highlighted the relationship of changes in “junk” DNA to the risk of developing a disease in 2007.
ENCODE’s discovery is the latest milestone on the road to the full understanding of the human genome. Here is a list of the previous key discoveries from a Guardian article in 2007[ii]:
1859 Charles Darwin outlines evolution by natural selection of inherited changes
1865 Gregor Mendel experiments with pea plants, finds genes, and develops theories of heredity
1943 Erwin Schrödinger proposes the gene as the information carrier
1944 A United States team decides that DNA must be acting as the unit of heredity
1953 Francis Crick and James Watson decipher DNA structure
1977 Fred Sanger, in Cambridge, develops a way of sequencing DNA
1987 The US energy department proposes the human genome project
1989 Cystic fibrosis gene indentified
1995 Haemophilus influenzae becomes the first free-living organism to have its entire genome sequenced
1999 At Cambridge, the first map of an entire human chromosome (22)
2000 First draft of human genome announced June 26. Leprosy, meningitis and fruit fly genomes completed
2003 Entire human genome is sequenced
[i] So Much ‘Junk DNA' in our Genome. Dr. Susumu Ohno. EVOLUTION OF GENETIC SYSTEMS. H. H. Smith, Ed. Brookhaven Symposia in Biology, No. 23. Gordon and Breach, New York, 1972. pp 336-370. Click Here for E-version of article So Much ‘Junk DNA' in our Genome.
[ii] Human code fully cracked. Tim Radford. Guardian. 14 April 2003.
Photographing the shadow of a atom
So, just how many atoms does it take to cast a shadow then? Only one, it seems...
The amazing photograph of the shadow of a single Ytterbium atom has opened up a whole spectrum of possibilities for the scientific world. The image is “the first absorption imaging of a single atom isolated in a vacuum.” Professor Dave Kielpinski, from Griffith University’s Centre for Quantum Dynamics in Brisbane, said that “we have reached the extreme limit of microscopy; you cannot see anything smaller than an atom using visible light.” It was not an easy task, though: “if we changed the light we shined on it by just one part in a billion, the image could no longer be seen.”
Griffith University is the only place in the world with a super high-resolution microscope capable of creating a shadow dark enough to be captured. The team at Griffith chose Ytterbium as the subject of the experiment it had “the right internal structure to allow us to do quantum computing,” according to team member Ben Norton, thus enabling them to build a laser of the exact colour to excite the atom. The atom itself was isolated in a chamber, and held in place by electrical forces: a process in itself not new to science, but difficult to accomplish.
The results of all this precision and patience could revolutionize some of the imaging practices in exsitence today. Kielpinski noted in the published paper that the “absorption of photons by single atoms is of immediate interest for quantum information processing,” while it “also point out new opportunities in imaging of light-sensitive samples both in the optical and X-ray regimes.” As fellow team member Dr Erik Streed says, “this is important if you want to look at very small and fragile biological samples such as DNA strands where exposure to too much UV light or x-rays will harm the material” as “we can now predict how much light is needed to observe processes within cells, under optimum microscopy conditions, without crossing the threshold and destroying them."
MRI imaging techniques increase understanding of the Sun's interior plasma motions and convection currents.
Scientists from NYU's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences and its Department of Physics, Princeton University, the Max Planck Institute, and NASA, have come together to produce MRI images of the Sun's internal plasma motions which significantly increase our understanding of how convection currents progress from deep within its structure to the surface. As the Sun is opaque, this convection is not normally observable. It also poses significant questions regarding our understanding of sunspot formation and magnetic field generation.
The research, undertaken from images taken from a 16-million pixel camera, produced readings which seemed to show that "convective velocities are 20 - 100 times weaker than current theoretical estimates." (1) This was done by deducing the motion of the hidden plasma currents beneath the surface of the Sun from the images of movements from its surface. Shravan Hanasoge, an associate research scholar in geosciences at Princeton University and a visiting scholar at NYU's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, said the results that if they "are indeed that slow in the Sun, then the most widely accepted theory concerning the generation of solar magnetic field is broken, leaving us with no compelling theory to explain its generation of magnetic fields and the need to overhaul our understanding of the physics of the Sun's interior."
For more information, click here, and see the video below.
(1) Anomalously Weak Solar Convection, Shravan M. Hanasoge and Thomas L. Duvall, Jr. and Katepalli R. Sreenivasan, 14/06/2012.
Dark matter filament observed
Dark matter structure observed for the first time as scientists discover a dark matter filament between two clusters of galaxies about 2.7 billion light-years away.
For something that makes up an estimated 84% of the universe (1), dark matter is a pretty elusive substance: until now, that is. Scientists have observed a filament of dark matter connecting galaxy clusters Abell 222 and Abell 223, almost 2.7 billion light-years away. The presence of dark matter has been detected by monitoring the way large clumps of it, located in galaxy clusters, bend light. This phenomenon is more difficult to observe with the filaments which are thought to connect the various clusters, much like a spider's web, as they have a much smaller mass.
The observation published in Nature Magazine this week - which was made by Jörg Dietrich, a cosmologist at the University Observatory Munich in Germany, and his colleagues - was of a massive filament which was "oriented so that most of its mass lies along the line of sight to Earth." (2) In the published Abstract we are told that "[i]t is a firm prediction of the concordance cold-dark-matter cosmological model that galaxy clusters occur at the intersection of large-scale structure filaments." (3) Dietrich goes on to say that the discovery "'is the first time a dark matter filament has been convincingly detected" and that it is "a resounding confirmation of the standard theory of structure formation of the universe...and a confirmation people didn't think was possible at this point." (4)
A new particle has been discovered at CERN which is consistent with the theoretical attributes of the long coveted Higgs-Boson or "God" particle.
After 45 years of searching, scientists at CERN have publically stated that a particle with properties consistent with the theoretical characteristics of the Higgs-Boson has been discovered in the LHC. The combination of two separate data sets from the ATLAS and CSM experiments has left the discovery with a five-sigma point confidence level - meaning that there is a one-in-3.5 million chance that the result could have occurred for reasons other than the Higgs-Boson particle. Both experiments observe a new particle in the mass region around 125-126 GeV, which scientists believe to be, beyond doubt, a new particle: "We know it must be a boson and it’s the heaviest boson ever found" said CMS experiment spokesperson Joe Incandela.
The video below is a compilation of snippets of interviews with Peter Higgs, Francois Englert, Carl Hagen and Gerald Guralnik after the discovery.
For further information, please see the official CERN press release, the BBC website, the Guardian website, and the videos below:
The Transit of Venus
The May edition of Physics World will lead with a fascinating story about the transit of the planet Venus across the disk of the Sun, which is to occur on the 5th or 6th (depending on your time zone) of June this year.
Transits occur in pairs separated by eight years, with the gap between pairs of transits alternating between 105.5 and 121.5 years. The last transit, the first of the pair to occur in our lifetimes, was in 2004. The earliest recorded transit was in 1639. The following transits were recorded in pairs: 1761 and 1769, and 1874 and 1882. The pair of transits will not occur again until 2117 and 2125. The transit will take approximately six hours, and viewers will see a small black dot passing slowly across the face of the Sun. Venus has been the brightest star in the sky for most of March, and has been in a visible conjunction with Jupiter recently as well. In the picture below, Venus is to the left of the Moon, with Jupiter below it.
Normally, when Venus passes between the Earth and the Sun, it does so either above or below the Sun, thus passing unnoticed. However, during these transits, Venus crosses the ecliptic, the plane the apparent path of the Sun across the celestial sphere as seen from the Earth. When this happens, an occultation of the Sun occurs - an occultation being the process where one object is hidden by another object by passing between the first object and the observer, much like the process of a solar eclipse. Eclipses, transits and occultations occur at times of syzygy, when three celestial bodies, such as the Sun, Earth and Venus, are configured in a straight line. In the case of a solar eclipse, the Moon, as seen from the Earth, is the same size as the Sun, and so totally obscures the Sun from the point of view of the Earth. In the case of the Sun's occultation by Venus, only a tiny part of the Sun's disk is obscured as Venus, though bigger than the Moon in reality, looks much smaller when viewed from the Earth.
The first person to predict a transit of Venus was the mathematician, astronomer and astrologer Johannes Kepler. In 1627 he made some predictions relating to transits that would occur in the 17th and 18th Centuries. His first prediction was for the 1631 transit. Unfortunately, as the tables he used to make the prediction contained inaccuracies, he did not realise that the transit would not be visable from mainland Europe. Because of this, the first transit of Venus to be predicted went unobserved. Kepler also predicted that there would be a "near miss," i.e. that Venus would pass close to the Sun without causing an occultation, in 1639.
In the early to mid 1630’s, astronomer Jeremiah Horrocks believed that Venus, instead of passing the Sun, would indeed make a transit. Horrocks believed there to be inaccuracies in the tables used by Kepler to predict the 1639 “near miss,” and had started to make observations of his own. He entered into correspondence with another English astronomer, William Crabtree, and the two of them became, on 4 December 1639, the first recorded people to observe a transit of Venus. For Horrocks, it was nearly a disaster, as the transit, due to start at 3pm, was obscured by cloud. It cleared at 3:15pm, allowing Horrocks to view it for a further half hour until sunset. Horrocks and Crabtree managed to view the transit by focusing the image of Sun through a telescope and projecting it onto a piece of card. They could then watch the little black dot that was Venus make its way across the card. Horrocks died only a couple of years later in 1641. He was only 22 years old.
The transit has also sparked, in more recent times, the imagination of the author Andrea Wulf whose book, called Chasing Venus: The Race to Measure the Heavens, is now available. It is an "absorbing account" of the 1761 and 1769 scientific expeditions to record the exact time and duration of the transits, which occurred all over the world. As Wulf says in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, "this heavenly rendezvous spurred the first international scientific collaboration, laying the foundation of modern science." (1) Why did this happen? Well, it was all to do with measuring the distance between the Earth and the Sun.
To do this properly, readings had to be taken from both the Southern and Northern Hemispheres, in as many locations as possible. What is so amazing is that this occured during a period of global warfare: the Seven Years War. "[H]undreds of astronomers from the belligerent nations joined together to plan expeditions to see the transit from India, the Arctic Circle, Siberia, Tahiti, Newfoundland, Baja California and many other places..." (2) The planning of such a collaboration was all the more difficult as the means of communication available was much slower than today: "a letter posted in Philadelphia took two to three months to reach London." (3) In the video below, Wulf discusses her book, and gives examples of the personal stories of the astronomers that took part, and also the world leaders, such as Catherine the Great of Russia, who's minds were captured by the idea of "Chasing Venus."
The 1761 transit also provided Russian polymath, scientist and writer, and founder of the University of Moscow, Mikhail Lomonosov, with the conditions to discover that Venus had an atmosphere. He made observations of the physical properties of the planet during the occultation, which were published in his paper The Appearance of Venus on Sun as It was Observed at the St Petersburg Emperor’s Academy of Sciences on May 26, 1761:
"I found a black indentation from the coming Venus, which replaced the former vague spot. I continued to look attentively how the trailing side of the planet approaches the Sun; suddenly, a hair-thin bright radiance (luminescence) between Venus’ trailed side and solar edge appeared that lasted only less than a second.
"Before the Venus ingress, when its front side approached the solar edge at about one tenth of the planet’s diameter, a bulge set up which progressively became more pronounced as Venus came to leave the Sun. Soon after that the bulge disappeared and instead, Venus appeared with no edge. Similar to the ingress phase, the last touch of the planet’s trailing side at the emergence was also accompanied by a small break and solar edge obscuration." (4)
As a result of these observations, Lomonosov concluded that "the planet Venus is surrounded by a distinguished air atmosphere similar (or even possibly larger) than that [which] is poured over our Earth." (5)
The planet Venus has always fascinated us from earliest times. In Greek mythology Aphrodite, who later became Venus in Roman mythology, was a deity associated with beauty, pleasure and sexuality. In her common form, Aphrodite Pandemos, she was born of Zeus and Dione, and was the legendary beauty who provoked wars and constantly cuckolded her long-suffering husband, Hephaestus (Roman: Vulcan). However, in Hesiod'sTheogony (circa 700BC), she was born when Cronous (Roman: Saturn) castrated his father, Ouranos (Roman: Uranus), and threw his severed genitals into the sea. From the foam these created, arose Aphrodite Ourania, the Heavenly Aphrodite, fully formed. In this version of the myth, she predates Zeus, and was contemporanious with the Titans. Hers was a more exalted cult, representing the love of body, mind and soul.
This idea of Venus as both a force of attraction, and as one of mind and soul, can be seen in the differing stances taken by exoteric and esoteric astrology. In exoteric astrology, Venus is the planet of love and relationships: "Venus is significator...of all expressions of love, and especially so when it comes to the romantic variety." (6) Here is Aphrodite Pandemos. While in esoteric astrology, the planet is linked to the principle of mind: “[t]hrough Venus [one] comes under the power of the mind, transmuted into wisdom through the instrumentality of love.” (7) Here we have Aphrodite Ourania.
It is perhaps appropriate that this planet, one to which we have ascribed the attributes of mind, relationships, and something deeper, should be the inspiration for science's first global collaboration. Andrea Wulf put's it so eloquently when she says that "[t]he most important result of this effort...was the successful collaboration of an international community of scientists—a precedent that has served humankind well. As we look skyward this June...we might pause for a moment to remember the hundreds of men who watched the exact same spectacle some 250 years ago." (8)
For further information about the transit, see the TransitofVenus.org website.
WARNING: Please remember, if you are interested in the transit:
"Never look at the sun directly, even when something exciting is happening, such as an eclipse. Doing so can cause irreversible damage to your eyesight and even lead to blindness. Several studies also suggest that sunlight exposure is a risk factor for cataracts." (9)
© James Edward Hughes 2012
(1) The Wall Street Journal. A Celestial Event That Sparked A Revolution. Saturday/Sunday, April 21-22, 2012
(4) Mikhail Ya. Marov (2004). "Mikhail Lomonosov and the discovery of the atmosphere of Venus during the 1761 transit".Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union (Cambridge University Press): 209–219
(6) The Contemporary Astrologer’s Handbook: An In-Depth Guide to Interpreting Your Horoscope. Sue Tompkins. Flare Publications. 2006. pp125
(7) Esoteric Astrology. Alice Bailey. Lucis Publishing Company. 1936. pp127
(8) The Wall Street Journal. A Celestial Event That Sparked A Revolution. Saturday/Sunday, April 21-22, 2012
(9) NHS UK website. Look after your eyes. Last reviewed: 11/08/2010
New research from Dutch scientists has revitalised the search for the elusive Majorana Fermion (1). The Majorana Fermion was first predicted about 75 years ago by Italian scientist Ettore Majorana, one of the Via Paspernera Boys - a group of scientists named after the street where their lab was located. It is an important concept, as Majorana fermions "are particles identical to their own antiparticles" (2). They behave differently to, for example, electrons and their opposite, the positron, which destroy each other on contact.
Majorana fermions, such as the proposed Neutralino (3), are thought to occur in systems involving superconductors. Leo Kouwenhoven, one of the Dutch scientists mentinoned above, said that "Majorana Fermions can arise as quasi-particles in specially designed nanoscale, electronic devices." (4) In their experiments, "indium antimonide nanowires are connected to a circuit with a gold contact at one end and a slice of superconductor at the other, and then exposed to a moderately strong magnetic field." (5) When analysing the measurements of the electrical conductance of the nanowires, there were peaks "at zero voltage that is consistent with the formation of a pair of Majorana particles." (6)
The importance of the Majorana Fermion is in its projected use in Quantum Computers, something well in advance of the science of the day in Ettore Majorana's time. So, what became of him? Well, we don't really know the answer to the that question. He disappeared in mysterious circumstances from a ship travelling from Palermo to Naples in 1938, never to be seen again. (7) Several theories were put forward, ranging from his becoming a beggar, through being murdered by Nazi agents, to his relocation to South America.
One of the most repeated theories, however, was that of suicide. Indeed, the following note was sent by Majorana to Antonio Carrelli, Director of the Naples Physics Institute, on 25 March 1938:
"Dear Carrelli, I made a decision that has become unavoidable. There isn’t a bit of selfishness in it, but I realize what trouble my sudden disappearance will cause you and the students. For this as well, I beg your forgiveness, but especially for betraying the trust, the sincere friendship and the sympathy you gave me over the past months. I ask you to remind me to all those I learned to know and appreciate in your Institute, especially Sciuti: I will keep a fond memory of them all at least until 11 pm tonight, possibly later too. E. Majorana."
However, Majorana contradicted this seemingly suicidal state of mind in a telegram to Carelli a couple of days later. Also, on 23 March, Majorana had withdrawn all the funds from his bank account - not the action of a suicidal man, some might say. Still, Majorana has left us with some outstanding works in the realm of theoretical physics which still have relevance to this day. Perhaps it is a fitting legacy that the elusive Majorana Fermion, as elusive as Majorana himself, might now possibly have been discovered.
(1) BBC News - Science and Environment: Majorana particle glimpsed in lab.
(2) Signatures of Majorana Fermions in Hybrid Superconductor-Semiconductor Nanowire Devices. V. Mourik, K. Zuo, S. M. Frolov, S. R. Plissard, E. P. A. M. Bakkers, L. P. Kouwenhoven.
(3) Wikipedia: Neutralino.
(4) Bulletin of the American Physical Society. Abstract: D44.00003: The Search for Majorana Fermions in Semiconductor Nanowires. Leo Kouwenhoven.
(5) Nature: Quest for quirky quantum particles may have struck gold.
(7) The Mysterious Disappearance of Ettore Majorana. Barry R. Holstein.
Finally, elements 114 and 116 have been formally added to the Periodic Table. They were officially recognised by a working group from the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), after the results from the original experements were successfully replicated.
Element 114 (ununquadium) was discovered in December 1998, when isotopes of Plutonium and Calcium, provided by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the USA, were fused by scientists at the joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Russia (Dubna). The results were made public in 1999, and at the time only one atom had been identified. Element 116 (Ununhexium) was discovered at the same research facility, fusing the elements Curium and Calcium.
The working group from IUPAC has released a paper, published in the Journal of Applied Chemistry, looking at the evidence for the existence of all the elements from 113 to 118. It is in the cases of 114 and 116 that the evidence is "beyond resonable doubt", and hence they have now been included in the Periodic Table. You can read the paper by clicking here.
The next stage is to decide on the prober names of the two elements. Russian scientists are reported to be considering “flerovium” for 114, after the scientist Georgy Flyorov, and “moscovium” for 116 after the capital, Moscow.
Below is an excellent video from Periodic Videos detailing the full story.
Born in Kent Town, Adelaide, Australia, Mark Oliphant was a Physicist, who received the prestigious Hughes Medal (other recipients include Alexander Graham Bell, Enrico Fermi, Stephen Hawking, and Andre Geim). He was also a life-long vegetarian after seeing a pig slaughtered at a farm as a child. Oliphant initially wanted to be a chemist or to practice medicine but, he says, his physics teacher, Dr Roy Burdon, “who weaned me away... from my ideas of being a chemist or a doctor and taught me the extraordinary exhilaration there was in even minor discoveries in the field of physics.” (1)
It was, however, the New Zealand physicist, Ernest Rutherford who, he says, “has influenced me to the greatest extent in [my] life” (2) and that he was “was the most inspiring man I have ever met” (3). After Rutherford’s speech about the work taking place at the Cavendish Library, Cambridge, England, Oliphant “just immediately decided that this was the man I was going to work with, if possible.” (4) In 1927, after winning the ‘1851 Exhibitioner’ scholarship, he was able to do just that, as he went to study under Rutherford at Cambridge.
In 1929, Oliphant gained his PhD in nuclear physics, specifically looking at the artificial disintegration of the atomic nucleus, and investigating positive ions. As the Cavendish Laboratory received significantly less funding than its findings deserved, laboratory equipment tended to be constructed from unconventional resources. One example of this was the “famed "string and ceiling wax" approach ... which included the use of biscuit and coffee tins as essential pieces of apparatus”. (5)
Some of the amazing research taking place in the 1930’s included the splitting of the atom with the first ever high-powered particle accelerator, by Sir John Cockcroft and Ernest Walton, and the discoveries of both the Neutron (Sir James Chadwick) and confirmation of the existence of the Positron and the opposing spiral traces present at the production of a positron/electron pair (Patrick Blackett).
It was Rutherford’s request that Oliphant investigate further the discoveries of Cockroft and Walton that lead to the discovery of the Helium-3 isotope. Oliphant says of this work that he and Rutherford “were able to discover two new kinds of atomic species, one was hydrogen of mass 3 [Tritium], unknown until that time, and the other helium of mass 3, also unknown. These new atoms were produced as a result of atomic transformations induced by our ion beam hitting targets of lithium, beryllium and other materials.” (6)
The second discovery made from this work was that they “were able to show that heavy hydrogen nuclei, that is to say the cores of heavy hydrogen atoms, could be made to react with one another to produce a good deal of energy and new kinds of atoms. This particular reaction, which we discovered at this time, is the basic reaction in the so-called hydrogen bomb,” (7) athough at the time they had “no idea whatever that this would one day be applied to make hydrogen bombs. Our curiosity was just curiosity about the structure of the nucleus of the atom, and the discovery of these reactions was purely, as the Americans would put it, coincidental.” (8)
It was this discovery, and his subsequent work at the University of Birmingham, which steered Oliphant towards the Manhattan Project and his work on Uranium with Ernest Lawrence (he did not work directly with Oppenheimer). He was a vociferous advocate for the peaceful proliferation of atomic energy, but early on he realised that “anybody who has a nuclear reactor can extract the plutonium from the reactor and make nuclear weapons, so that a country which has a nuclear reactor can, at any moment that it wants to, become a nuclear weapons power. And I, right from the beginning, have been terribly worried by the existence of nuclear weapons and very much against their use.” (9)
After the war, Oliphant returned to Birmingham. Later, he was invited to the Australian National University, from which he established the Australian Academy of Sciences. In 1954, on her first royal visit, Queen Elizabeth II was presented with a charter from the Academy, marking its official establishment. His last major public role came as State governor of South Australia in 1971.
(1) (Conversation with Sir Mark Oliphant, July 1967, National Library Collection, Tape 276, p. 1 of 12 page transcript (Interviewed by Hazel de Berg)).
(2) (Moyal, Ann, Portraits in Science, National Library of Australia, 1994, p. 37).
(3) (Conversation with Sir Mark Oliphant, 24 July 1967, National Library Collection, Tape 276, pp. 1 & 4 of 12 page transcript (Interviewed by Hazel de Berg)).
(4) (Moyal, Ann, Portraits in Science, National Library of Australia, 1994, p. 37).
(5) (Cockburn, Stewart & Ellyard, David, Oliphant: the life and times of Sir Mark Oliphant, Axiom Books, Adelaide, 1981, p. 37)
(6) (Conversation with Sir Mark Oliphant, 24 July 1967, National Library Collection, Tape 276, p. 5 of 12 page transcript (Interviewed by Hazel de Berg)).
(7) (Conversation with Sir Mark Oliphant, 24 July 1967, National Library Collection, Tape 276, p. 5 of 12 page transcript (Interviewed by Hazel de Berg)).
(8) Conversation with Sir Mark Oliphant, 24 July 1967, National Library Collection, Tape 276, p. 5 of 12 page transcript (Interviewed by Hazel de Berg).
(9) Moyal, Ann, Portraits in Science, National Library of Australia, 1994, p. 31.
Possible "Ice volcano" found on Titan
The Cassini probe has discovered more interesting stuff about Saturn's Moon Titan. The 3D image of the supposed "Ice Volcano" came from two separate flybys of the Cassini probe. The mountain causing all the excitement is Sotra Facula. It is a circular mountain about 40 miles (70 kilometres) across. These Ice volcanoes, or cryovolcanoes, are important for many reasons. First, they may explain the abundance of methane in Titan's atmosphere, as the volcanoes would release it into the atmosphere. This would replenish the methane lost to the sun, and keep Titan's atmosphere methane rich. Secondly, this source of methane would help fuel Titan's methane-ethane cycle, similar to the hydrologic cycle on Earth.
More info about Sotra Facula and other possible cryovolcanoes can be seen here:
The Daily Galaxy
Also, check out the video below for more info.