Grains of sand from ancient supernova found in meteorites

Scientists working at Washington University in St. Louis have discovered two tiny grains of silica (SiO2; the most common constituent of sand) in meteorites that fell to earth in Antarctica. Because of their isotopic composition these two grains are thought to be pure samples from a massive star that exploded before the birth of the solar system, perhaps the supernova whose explosion is thought to have triggered the collapse of a giant molecular cloud, giving birth to the Sun.

Hands-on astronomy

The Presolar Grain Workshop that gathers scientists who study tiny bits of stars that were born and died billions of years ago — before the formation of the solar system — is returning to Washington University in St. Louis this year. Sessions begins at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, and continue through the weekend in Crow and Compton halls. Attendees will include 45 astrophysicists from WUSTL’s Laboratory for Space Sciences and other research institutions in the United States as well as from Australia, Brazil and Italy.

Lodge, Zinner named fellows of AAAS

Jennifer K. Lodge, PhD, and Ernst Zinner, PhD, have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society. Lodge and Zinner are among 539 new fellows who will be acknowledged in the Dec. 23 issue of Science magazine.The 2011 AAAS Fellows also will be honored at a Feb. 18, 2012, ceremony at the organization’s annual meeting in Vancouver, Canada.