February 26, 2014

4.4 Billion Year Old Zircon Reveals Life on Earth Appeared Earlier Than Believed


Ancient zircon crystals, discovered in Australia in 2001, have now been proved to be our planet’s oldest known substance. The 4.4 billion-year-old gem offers clues that Earth could have become habitable much earlier than previously believed.

Aside from being just a cool fact to know, this recent discovery (available in the journal, Nature Geoscience) gives scientists at the University of Wisconsin a new insight into our planet’s infancy. 

There are now grounds to suggest that Earth cooled down much sooner, and that life appeared way before many scientists had thought. 

"We have no evidence that life existed then. We have no evidence that it didn't,” Wisconsin geoscience professor and report lead, Professor John Valley, told Reuters. “But there is no reason why life could not have existed on Earth 4.3 billion years ago," he added. 

The oldest fossil records of life are stromatolites produced by an archaic form of bacteria from about 3.4 billion years ago. 

Scientists believe that thanks to low enough temperatures, Earth had a hydrosphere and possibly early life even before 4.3 billion years ago. In fact, there is even a theory of a "cool early Earth.”
Professor Valley says their discovery really strengthens this notion.
“The study reinforces our conclusion that Earth had a hydrosphere before 4.3 billion years ago, and possibly life not long after,” John Valley is quoted as saying in the press-release.
Our planet formed as a ball of molten rock 4.54 billion years old. The first 500 million years of Earth have been dubbed Hadean, after the ancient Greek god of the underworld, or hell-like, because scientists believed that it was covered with lava and subsurface magma, making it an absolutely inhospitable place. 

Valley’s discovery undermines this idea. 

This 4.4 billion-year-old zircon crystal proves that the Earth cooled from a ball of magma and formed continents much earlier. 

He and his team confirmed that our planet first developed a crust just 160 million years after the formation of our solar system. 

“Our samples formed after the magma oceans cooled and prove that these events were very early,” he wrote. 

But his team still has no answer to the main question: "One of the things that we're really interested in is: when did the Earth first become habitable for life? When did it cool off enough that life might have emerged?" Professor Valley said. 

So, how did the University of Wisconsin scientists make their breakthrough findings? 

They used two different age-determining techniques on the tiny zircon crystal, as small as 200 by 400 microns, about twice the diameter of a human hair, extracted from a rock outcrop in the Jack Hills region, Western Australia, in 2001. 

But first they used a widely-accepted dating technique based on determining the radioactive decay of uranium to lead in a mineral sample. 

Valley and his colleagues then looked at lead atoms in zircon using a new technique called atom-probe tomography in conjunction with secondary ion mass spectrometry. It helped them identify individual atoms of lead in the crystal and then determine the age and thermal history of zircon by estimating the mass of lead atoms. 

And so it was confirmed that the zircon is indeed 4.4 billion years old. 


With thanks to RT News

More here at NBC. 

And here:

Zircon: the history of the Earth in a grain of sand

February 18, 2014

John Lennon Set To Stir Up US Stamp Collectors


STEVE Jobs, Snoopy, John Lennon and gay rights icon Harvey Milk will likely soon share a distinct honour - their own US postage stamps. 
Well, Snoopy will probably have to share the spotlight with Charlie Brown and the rest of the cast of the popular Peanuts comic, according to a secret planning document obtained by the Washington Post.

But it’s the British Beatles icon John Lennon who will cause the real stir among stamp collectors.

US postage stamps are only supposed to feature citizens. Which is perhaps the reason why a date has not yet been set for the stamp’s release.

The pop culture heavy list is aimed at helping the financially strapped postal service attract a new generation of collectors, the newspaper said.

Which may explain why Sesame Street and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer made the list of stamps set to be released in 2014 and 2015.

There will also be stamps to attract baby boomers featuring 1970s musical icons Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and James Brown along with late talk show king Johnny Carson.

The post office will also reissue its best-selling stamp of all time - Elvis Presley.


And, of course, there will still be plenty of more traditional stamps like the wedding cakes, hearts and flowers used to pretty up invitations.

The list of subjects approved by the citizen’s stamp advisory committee is not final, the Washington Post cautioned.

Among the subjects who have not yet been given a release date: Presidents Bill Clinton, George W Bush and Barack Obama; music icons Michael Jackson, Tammy Wynette and Sarah Vaughn; sharks; and Dora the Explorer.

The postal service likes to keep its plans secret in order to generate more buzz with each release.
With thanks to The Herald Sun

See also  
Dwight Yoakam Names His Top Five David Bowie Songs
Elvis At 21 - National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
25 Most Influential People In History By Attribute
60 Years of Rock And Roll: Elvis Presley Anniversary 2014
Baz Luhrmann Keen To Make A Movie About Elvis Presley 
How Los Angeles and Hollywood Took Rock ‘N’ Roll Around The World
Rock Around the Clock: B-side Find Accidentally Launched Rock Anthem
Elvis Is Touring Australia In 2017, Sort Of


Charlton Heston to be honoured with stamp. 

Not so surprising considering one could learn a lot of history from watching his films.

I think it would now be appropriate to issue a Shirley Temple stamp as well.
She made a huge contribution - social, emotional and financial - to America during the Depression. 



More posts about the Beatles:

George Harrison's Apple Years Box Set To Be Released

The Art of McCartney Project

Paul McCartney: Destiny Game Song "Hope For The Future"

Beatles Lyrics Reveal Enduring Words Of Love And Life

Glyn Johns: Defining That Classic-Rock Sound

George Harrison and The Bee Gees To Receive Recording Academy Honors

John Lennon or Paul McCartney? Matt Schichter Documentary Offers 550 Answers

Sir Paul McCartney To Induct Ringo Starr Into Hall Of Fame

'American Pie' Lyrics Sell For $1.2 million In New York

 Penny Lane: Original On The Block, Minus The Fanfare

Lost Beatles US Concert Movie Blocked From Release

The Three Lennon-McCartney Hits That Went to No. 1 Without Lennon or McCartney 

The Who Release First Song In 8 Years: Be Lucky 

 Beatles’ First Recording Contract to Be Auctioned For An Estimated $150,000

The Beatles 1 To Be Reissued With 50 Videos

John Lennon Born 75 Years Ago Today 

John Lennon's Long-Lost Gibson J-160E Guitar Sells for Record $2.4 Million
George Harrison's Catalogue Is Now Streaming  

Ringo Starr Reflects On His 35 Year Marriage

Celebrating George Harrison


February 16, 2014

Jon English Sings "A Fortunate Life" from The Mini-Series About A.B.Facey


The story of A.B Facey is both inspiring and remarkable. 

Separated from his mother at an early age he spends his time living in different places, and doing many different things.

Most of us would be hard-pressed to endure such a life of instability which includes emotional and physical abuse, working very hard at a very young age and beyond, serving at Gallipoli, and then finally finding stability when he marries.

More details about his life can be found here.

This article is well worth a read as is watching the mini-series and reading the book.

Nowadays there are no survivors of Gallipoli left, and there is a lot of ignorance about it. 

From The Australian an excerpt:

FEWER than half the Britons questioned in a poll had any idea that US and Canadian troops fought in the First World War. Barely more than a third knew that Australia and New Zealand were involved. 


Only 38 per cent of British respondents knew that North America was involved in the war, despite the fact that Canada - as a dominion - declared war on Germany in August 1914, and the US joined the war in April 1917. About 67,000 Canadian troops and 114,000 from the US were killed.

Even though the involvement of Australian and New Zealand troops in the Gallipoli campaign is ingrained on their national consciousness, only 35 per cent of British people were aware that they took part. More than 61,000 Australians were killed in the war and 18,000 New Zealanders.(
156,000 Australians were wounded, gassed, or taken prisoner.)

ANZAC Day is a big part of our culture.


I trust it is still being taught in our schools, just as much as this book, "A Fortunate Life", which has been on the English curriculum  many times since it was published.
It certainly was a big part of my schooling many years ago.

There are other things that interest me about this compelling story.

Firstly, the song from the original soundtrack was written by Mario Millo. 
Jon English sings the title song.

This is not their only collaboration.

The soundtrack from "Against The Wind" is probably the best known.


And Mario Millo has written many very well-known soundtracks as listed here, with many thanks.


The cast is also of interest to me. Here is a list of some from IMDB:
It's a bit of a who's who of Australian actors in the 1980's.

 Bill Kerr     ...    
 Narrator (4 episodes, 1985)

 Dorothy Alison     ...    
 Grandma Carr (3 episodes, 1985)

 Anthony Richards     ...    
 Bert (9 years) (2 episodes, 1985)

Benedict Sweeney         ...    
 Bert (14 years) (2 episodes, 1985)

Dominic Sweeney     ...  
 Bert / ... (2 episodes, 1985)

 Val Lehman     ...    
 Bert's Mother (1 episode, 1985)

Martin Vaughan    ...
Frank Phillips (1 episode, 1985)

Bill Hunter     ...    
 Charlie Bibby (1 episode, 1985)

 Ray Meagher     ...    
 Bad Bob (1 episode, 1985)

 Frank Gallacher     ...    
 Bill Oliver (1 episode, 1985) (also in "Against The Wind")

Val Lehman was in one episode as A.B. Facey's mother. 

By coincidence we both attended the same school in the 1950's.

It says on her 'blog:


Enjoy this hard-to-get song, the book and the mini-series if you haven't already.

I would like to thank the following for information and help :

Mario Millo.

Rate Your Music.


George for the pictures of the album.

Terry for the audio and the bonus clip below - Jon English sings "We'll Be There" live on "Hey, Hey It's Saturday".

Chris for the ANZAC Day video clip.

Please note: 
I like to acknowledge picture credits where possible. Sometimes they are emailed to me and thus I am unable to do so all the time.



Other songs by Jon English on this blog:
Jon English: Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress...And A Bonus Track From "Laid"

Jon English Sings "Waterloo".
Jon English Sings "Behind Blue Eyes".
Jon English : "Dark Horses" 
Countdown Celebrates Its 40th Anniversary: Prince Charles Recreates The Interview With Molly Meldrum

♥♥Remembering Jon English♥♥


Neil Oliver -The Memorial: Beyond The Anzac Legend And Now The Renovated WWI Gallery Re-Opens

Sir John Monash: Grantlee Kieza’s Biography

 Copyright Issues With "Prisoner Theme" Written by Allan Caswell

Biopics Now Focus On Key Moments Rather Than A Whole Life

Russell Crowe's "The Water Diviner" Is Not Complete Fiction

Televison 2016: Some Shows We Can Expect To See

Anzac Day - 2015
ANZAC Day - 2016

Some Mini-Series featured on this blog:
Versaille Palace Treasures Come To National Gallery Of Australia 

Downton Abbey Producers In Talks To Make A 1930s-set Feature-length Movie
Cilla Black's Biography On TV  
Downton Abbey: Ending After Its Sixth Season?
The Real Downton Abbey
‘Downton Abbey’ and History: A Look Back
Texas Rising
Against The Wind 
The Musketeers
The Borgias and Pillars of the Earth
Downton Abbey Becomes Downturn Abbey: Secrets Of Series 6 Revealed
Pride and Prejudice at 20: The Scene That Changed Everything
'Vinyl' Mick Jagger and Martin Scorsese's Mini-series
Caitriona Balfe: A Role Model After Outlander And Money Monster