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The "Science and Space" Thread #2


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07-Feb-2012, 02:24 PM #1486
Higgs Boson Signal Gains Strength.

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The latest analyses from the Large Hadron Collider boosts the case for the particle's existence


Reanalyses of existing data have pushed the overall Higgs signal up to 4.3σ. Image: CMS
--- Tom
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08-Feb-2012, 02:29 PM #1487
Even Martians are feeling the chill:



Fine ice and dust cascades over a martian polar cliff in March 2010 in another picture captured by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRISE camera
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11-Feb-2012, 12:51 PM #1488
Battery Desalinates Seawater

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For the first time, researchers have designed an electrochemical cell that can desalinate seawater (Nano Lett., DOI: 10.1021/nl203889e). They think that its cost and efficiency eventually could improve on standard techniques of purifying seawater.

Worldwide demand for freshwater is skyrocketing as the population increases. Many of today’s desalination plants use reverse osmosis or evaporation, both of which require enormous amounts of energy to supply heaters or high-pressure pumps. To find cheaper, room-temperature, energy-efficient solutions, many researchers are looking to nanomaterials and electrochemistry.

The new system uses both. It first draws ions from seawater into a pair of electrodes. As the researchers pass current through the electrodes, electrochemical reactions drive chloride ions into a silver electrode and sodium ions to an electrode made from manganese oxide nanorods. Next, the researchers remove the desalinated water and release the trapped ions into a separate stream of waste seawater by reversing the direction of the electrical current. Although the pilot experiments were not automated, the researchers say that a pump could automate the process.
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11-Feb-2012, 02:51 PM #1489
The Pillars of Creation Were Actually Destroyed Before We Discovered Them.

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...
They were destroyed, blasted by a supernova that happened 6,000 years ago.
With our telescopes, we can see the supernova advancing, unstoppable, destroying everything it touches. From that same vantage point, the shockwave has not reached the Pillars of Creation yet. For our senses, they are still there.

In one thousand years, there will be a hell of a show. The shockwave will arrive to the Pillars of Creation and, just like they were created, they will be destroyed once again, obliterated by the force of a dead star. Except that the show really happened a very long time ago.
...

The Pillars of Creation
-- Tom
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11-Feb-2012, 03:42 PM #1490
Scientific American article: A Universe from Nothing: Einstein, the Belgian Priest and the Puzzle of the Big Bang (5 web pages).

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An excerpt from physicist Lawrence M. Krauss's new book explains why we are not the center of the universe
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13-Feb-2012, 08:47 PM #1491
Planck mission steps closer to the cosmic blueprint.

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ESA's Planck mission has revealed that our Galaxy contains previously undiscovered islands of cold gas and a mysterious haze of microwaves. These results give scientists new treasure to mine and take them closer to revealing the blueprint of cosmic structure.


This all-sky image shows the distribution of carbon monoxide (CO), a molecule used by astronomers to trace molecular clouds across the sky, as seen by Planck (blue). A compilation of previous surveys (Dame et al. (2001)), which left large areas of the sky unobserved, has been superimposed for comparison (red). The outlines identify the portions of the sky covered by these surveys. Credits: ESA/Planck Collaboration; T. Dame et al., 2001


This all-sky image shows the distribution of carbon monoxide (CO), a molecule used by astronomers to trace molecular clouds across the sky, as seen by Planck. The inserts provide a zoomed-in view onto three individual regions on the sky where Planck has detected concentrations of CO: Cepheus, Taurus and Pegasus, respectively. Credits: ESA/Planck Collaboration
-- Tom
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13-Feb-2012, 08:52 PM #1492
Leading the quest to crack cosmological mysteries.

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Sometimes a scientist can only laugh in the face of a seemingly insurmountable challenge.


Since 2007 UChicago researchers have used the South Pole Telescope in their attempt to help solve the cosmological mystery of dark energy. Little is known about this force, other than that it works against gravity and appears to have sped up the expansion of the universe. Credit: Keith Vanderline


The South Pole Telescope uses a phenomenon called the Sunyaev-Zeldovich effect to pinpoint when dark energy became important in the history of the universe. The SPT measures the slight temperature difference associated with the SZ effect to produce an image of the gas in a galaxy cluster. The deep dark spot in the middle of the images is the SZ effect from a cluster of galaxies. Credit: John Carlstrom/South Pole Collaboration


This still from a computer simulation illustrates the formation of galaxy clusters and large-scale filaments in a model of the universe, which includes cold dark matter and dark energy. Credit: Andrey Kravtsov and Anatoly Klypin
-- Tom
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15-Feb-2012, 03:07 PM #1493
Swiss craft janitor satellites to grab space junk.

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Swiss scientists said Wednesday they plan to launch a "janitor satellite" specially designed to get rid of space junk, the orbiting debris that can do serious and costly damage to valuable satellites or even manned space ships.

The 10-million-franc ($11-million) satellite called CleanSpace One - the prototype for a family of such satellites - is being built by the Swiss Space Center at the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology in Lausanne, or EPFL.

Its launch would come within three to five years and its first tasks will be to grab two Swiss satellites that were launched in 2009 and 2010 but will be phased out of use, EPFL said.

The U.S. space agency NASA says over 500,000 pieces of spent rocket stages, broken satellites and other debris are orbiting Earth. The debris travels at speeds approaching 17,500 miles per hour (28,000 kilometers per hour), fast enough to destroy or inflict expensive and time-draining damage on a satellite or spacecraft. Collisions, in turn, generate more fragments floating in space.

-- Tom
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15-Feb-2012, 08:32 PM #1494
Odd Black Hole Is Last Survivor of Its Galaxy

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The Hubble space telescope has spotted a supermassive black hole floating on the outskirts of a large galaxy.

The location is odd because black holes of this size generally form in the centers of galaxies, not at their edges. This suggests the black hole is the lone survivor of a now-disintegrated dwarf galaxy.

The black hole — named HLX-1 — is 20,000 times more massive than the sun, and is situated 290 million light-years away at the edge of the spiral galaxy ESO 243-49.
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16-Feb-2012, 10:51 AM #1495
Dark matter, apparently, is midichlorians (i.e. The Force!)

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Dark matter, to re-interpret Obi Wan Kenobi, surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.


... this is a model, and not an actual map. It does show concentrations of dark matter along galaxies and clusters of galaxies, but also shows how even "empty" space well outside of galaxies has pervasive dark matter in it.
...
Dark matter has mass, which means it has gravity… so it should create gravitational lensing.

In this illustration, imagine a bunch of background galaxies depicted by the points on the left. Plop a galaxy with dark matter between us and them, and the galaxy’s gravity warps the light from those more distant objects, bending the grid and also magnifying the background galaxies. All of this information can be used to map out the location and density of the dark matter doing the lensing.
-- Tom
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20-Feb-2012, 10:58 PM #1496
John Glenn chats with space station on 50th anniversary of orbit

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Fifty years ago, John Glenn -- former Marine Corps pilot and astronaut -- flew into history as the first American to orbit the Earth. On Monday, Glenn celebrated the anniversary of his Friendship 7 flight by calling the International Space Station and discussing gravity and combustion experiments.
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22-Feb-2012, 11:42 AM #1497
There’s More to Nothing Than We Knew.

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Cosmologists Try to Explain a Universe Springing From Nothing


MULTIVERSE PROPONENT The cosmologist Lawrence M. Krauss
-- Tom
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23-Feb-2012, 11:28 AM #1498
Faster-than-light neutrino result reportedly a mistake caused by loose cable - UPDATED.

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Since September, scientists have been scratching their head over results that appear to show neutrinos traveling between Switzerland and Italy faster than light would. As far as anyone could tell, the team behind the results had done everything they could to eliminate errors, and had even released some preliminary data that had strengthened their results. But the results remained difficult to square with everything else we know about how the Universe operates.
-- Tom
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24-Feb-2012, 09:57 AM #1499
World's best measurement of W boson mass tests Standard Model, Higgs boson limits.

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Just as firemen use different methods to narrow the location of a person trapped in a building, scientists employ two techniques to find the hiding place of the theorized Higgs particle: direct searches for Higgs interactions and precision measurements of other particles and forces.

Today, scientists from the CDF collaboration have unveiled the world's most precise measurement of the W boson mass, based on data gathered at the Tevatron accelerator. The precision of this measurement surpasses all previous measurements combined and restricts the space in which the Higgs particle should reside according to the Standard Model, the theoretical framework that describes all known subatomic particles and forces.


The new CDF result for the W boson mass, combined with the world's best value for the top quark mass, restricts the Higgs mass to the green area, requiring it to be less than 145 GeV/c2. Direct searches have narrowed the allowed Higgs mass range to 115-127 GeV/c2.
-- Tom
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25-Feb-2012, 10:03 AM #1500
Astrophysicist team suggests axions could explain dearth of lithium-7 in dark matter theory.

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In trying to understand how everything came to be as it appears today, astrophysicists have put together theories that seek to explain how events transpired from the time of the Big Bang, till now. In so doing, they have come up with some ideas that cannot yet be proven. One is the concept of dark matter, which is what many researchers believe makes up to eighty percent of all matter in the universe. The problem with the theory though, is that one particular isotope, lithium-7, should be more abundant if the model is to hold true.


Strong gravitational lensing observed by the Hubble Space Telescope in Abell 1689. Image: NASA.
-- Tom
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