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The "Science and Space" Thread #2


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06-Jan-2012, 11:37 AM #1456
Higgs result means elegant universe is back in vogue.

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AFTER a short spell on the rocks, a mathematically elegant view of the universe is back in vogue. Recent hints of the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider help explain why we have not seen evidence for the beautiful theory of supersymmetry yet - and point to fresh ways to focus the search.


Recent hints of the Higgs boson help explain why we have not seen evidence of supersymmetry yet (Image: Mehau Kulyk/Science Photo Library)


Supersymmetric Particles
-- Tom
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07-Jan-2012, 01:25 AM #1457
Down to the Wire for Silicon: Researchers Create a Wire Four Atoms Wide, One Atom Tall

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The smallest wires ever developed in silicon -- just one atom tall and four atoms wide -- have been shown by a team of researchers from the University of New South Wales, Melbourne University and Purdue University to have the same current-carrying capability as copper wires.
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07-Jan-2012, 01:03 PM #1458
Stephen Hawking: "We Should Look for Evidence of a Collision with Another Universe in Our Distant Past".

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Some people hypothesise that what we call the universe may only be one of many. Is there any conceivable way that we could ever detect and study other universes if they exist? Is it even falsifiable? This was a key question the world's leading expert on the physics of the Universe was was asked in an interview with the BBC.

"Our best bet for a theory of everything is M-theory --an extension of string theory," Hawking continued. "One prediction of M-theory is that there are many different universes, with different values for the physical constants. This might explain why the physical constants we measure seem fine-tuned to the values required for life to exist."

It is no surprise that we observe the physical constants to be finely-tuned. If they weren't, we wouldn't be here to observe them. One way of testing the theory that we may be one of many universes would be to look for features in the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB) which would indicate the collision of another universe with ours in the distant past.

The circular patterns within the cosmic microwave background suggest that space and time did not come into being at the Big Bang but that our universe in fact continually cycles through a series of "aeons," according to University of Oxford theoretical physicist Roger Penrose, who says that data collected by NASA's WMAP satellite supports his idea of "conformal cyclic cosmology".



Do these concentric circles shown below offer a glimpse of before the Big Bang? What do you think?
-- Tom
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08-Jan-2012, 08:24 AM #1459
If them neutrinos are faster than light, physicists have a lot of work to do.

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The story of the faster-than-light neutrinos is a rather unusual one. The good folks at Gran Sasso seem embarrassed by their own results. They had checked, rechecked, and re-rechecked their data, and investigated all the sources of systematic error they could think of, eliminating them all. Yet those pesky neutrinos were still arriving 60ns too soon. You might think this would be a cause for celebration—after all, finding exciting new physics on the horizon is supposed to be every physicist's dream, right?

The truth is that they knew they were not just getting close to a fire, but standing in the flames while taking a gasoline shower. The literature was going to fill up with papers that, in one way or another, stated they were wrong—very wrong. Two such papers have now come out, and they show just how hot the fire is going to get.



A neutrino event captured by Japan's T2K experiment.
-- Tom
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08-Jan-2012, 10:58 PM #1460
Stephen Hawking turns 70 years old

An amazing man who contracted Lou Gehrig's Disease at the age of 21 and has made it this far....
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09-Jan-2012, 09:22 AM #1461
Scientists recreate evolution of complexity using 'molecular time travel'.

Note: This article is Biology: Cell & Microbiology related.

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Much of what living cells do is carried out by "molecular machines" – physical complexes of specialized proteins working together to carry out some biological function. How the minute steps of evolution produced these constructions has long puzzled scientists, and provided a favorite target for creationists.

In a study published early online on January 8, in Nature, a team of scientists from the University of Chicago and the University of Oregon demonstrate how just a few small, high-probability mutations increased the complexity of a molecular machine more than 800 million years ago. By biochemically resurrecting ancient genes and testing their functions in modern organisms, the researchers showed that a new component was incorporated into the machine due to selective losses of function rather than the sudden appearance of new capabilities.
-- Tom
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09-Jan-2012, 10:57 PM #1462
Clearest Picture Yet of Dark Matter Points the Way to Better Understanding of Dark Energy

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The teams' measurements look for tiny distortions in the images of distant galaxies, called "cosmic shear," caused by the gravitational influence of massive, invisible dark matter structures in the foreground. Accurately mapping out these dark-matter structures and their evolution over time is likely to be the most sensitive of the few tools available to physicists in their ongoing effort to understand the mysterious space-stretching effects of dark energy.
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10-Jan-2012, 09:54 AM #1463
Astronomers map the universe's dark matter at unprecedented scale.

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For the first time, astronomers have mapped dark matter on the largest scale ever observed. The results, presented by Dr Catherine Heymans of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and Associate Professor Ludovic Van Waerbeke of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, are being presented today to the American Astronomical Society meeting in Austin, Texas. Their findings reveal a Universe comprised of an intricate cosmic web of dark matter and galaxies that spans more than one billion light years.


The observations show that dark matter in the Universe is distributed as a network of gigantic dense (white) and empty (dark) regions, where the largest white regions are about the size of several Earth moons on the sky. Credit: Van Waerbeke, Heymans, and CFHTLens collaboration.


The observations show that dark matter in the Universe is distributed as a network of gigantic dense (light) and empty (dark) regions, where the largest dense regions are about the size of several Earth moons on the sky. Credit: Van Waerbeke, Heymans, and CFHTLens collaboration.


The densest regions of the dark matter cosmic web host massive clusters of galaxies. Credit: Van Waerbeke, Heymans, and CFHTLens collaboration.


The ubiquitous dark matter cosmic web is seen in all four directions surveyed by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope during each season of the year. The central colour inset shows the previous largest COSMOS Dark Matter map (credit: NASA, ESA, P. Simon and T. Schrabback) and the full moon to scale. Credit: Van Waerbeke, Heymans, and CFHTLens
-- Tom
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10-Jan-2012, 10:04 AM #1464
Not all who wander are lost.

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Some stars have orbits that take them to interesting places, and they have interesting stories to tell about how they were formed. For more than a decade, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) has been mapping the stars in our galaxy. At today's meeting of the American Astronomical Society, astronomers Judy Cheng and and Connie Rockosi (University of California, Santa Cruz) presented new evidence that will help answer long-standing questions about the history of disk of our galaxy.


Measurements of the metal content of stars in the disk of our Galaxy, using stars observed by SDSS-III's SEGUE-2 survey. Horizontal lines describe where SEGUE data measure the chemical composition of stars near and above the plane of the disk. The bottom panel shows the decrease in metal content as the distance from the Galactic center increases for stars near the plane of the Milky Way disk. In contrast, the metal content for stars far above the plane, shown in the upper panel, is nearly constant at all distances from the center of the Galaxy. The image of the Milky Way is from the Two-Micron All Sky Survey. Image Credit: Judy Cheng and Connie Rockosi (University of California, Santa Cruz) and the 2MASS Survey
-- Tom
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10-Jan-2012, 10:15 AM #1465
First Map of Universe's Earliest Stars Unveiled.

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The new map shows how the universe might have looked when it was just 30 million years old.

The evolution of galaxies is one of the the great outstanding mysteries of astrophysics. And in recent years, astronomers have taken great strides in tackling the problem.

The latest generation of telescopes peer back in time to within a few hundred million years of creation. They clearly show the first galaxies shining brightly only 600 million years after the Big Bang. These galaxies form clusters which themselves stretch out across the cosmos in a vast filamentary-type structure known as the cosmic web.

This structure corresponds more or less exactly to the differences in the density of matter that must have arisen in the instants after creation. Cosmologists think they understand this structure well and have accurately simulated how it came into being.

The only wrinkle in their models is the stars from which galaxies are made, which must obviously have formed earlier.
...
Although this is only a simulation, we're likely to find out soon how good it is. The first stars produced light that we ought to be able to see today and a global effort to spot it is currently underway.


Star Map
-- Tom
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11-Jan-2012, 09:00 AM #1466
Belle discovers new heavy 'exotic hadrons'.

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Two unexpected new hadrons containing bottom quarks have been discovered by the Belle Experiment using the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK)'s B Factory (KEKB), a highly-luminous, electron-positron collider. These new particles have electric charge and are thought to be "exotic" hadrons -- non-standard hadrons, containing at least four quarks. Previously, a series of new and unexpected exotic hadrons containing charm and anti-charm quarks have been observed. This latest discovery from Belle demonstrates the existence of exotic hadrons containing at least four quarks in a particle system including bottom quarks.


Figure 1. Existing standard hadrons and exotic hadrons. At the B Factory experiment, a series of new exotic mesons containing charm quarks (c) have been discovered. Unlike these exotic mesons, the newly discovered Zb particles contain bottom quarks (b) and have an electric charge. If only one bottom quark and one anti-bottom quark ( b ) are contained, the resulting particle is electrically neutral. Thus, the Zb must also contain at least two more quarks (e.g., one up quark (u) and one anti-down quark ( d )).


Figure 2. Production of Zb in an electron-positron collision. Immediately after being produced, the Zb decays into a bottomonium ( Υ or hb) and a charged pi meson (π). The bottomonium then decays into a pair of muons (μ), which are subsequently measured with a detector.


Figure 3. Mass distributions of parent particles, which are calculated from the momenta and energy of measured bottomonium and charged pi meson for the cases when bottomonium is Υ (left) and hb (right). Peaks corresponding to the mass values of 10610 MeV/c2 and 10650 MeV/c2 can be observed for both cases.
-- Tom
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11-Jan-2012, 09:52 AM #1467
Astronomy related news from Jan 10, 2012:

Before they were stars: New image shows space nursery.

Quote:
The stars we see today weren't always as serene as they appear, floating alone in the dark of night. Most stars, likely including our sun, grew up in cosmic turmoil — as illustrated in a new image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.


The Cygnus-X star-forming region is located 4,600 light-years from Earth and spans more than 600 light-years. It contains 10 times as much gas as the Orion Nebula -- enough to make over three million suns. This infrared photograph from the Spitzer Space Telescope reveals more than a thousand protostars in the earliest stages of forming. Light of 3.6 microns is color-coded blue: 4.5-micron light is blue-green; 8.0-micron light is green; and 24-micron light is red. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / J. Hora (CfA)
Hubble pinpoints furthest protocluster of galaxies ever seen.

Quote:
Using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have uncovered a cluster of galaxies in the initial stages of development, making it the most distant such grouping ever observed in the early Universe.


The composite image at left, taken in visible and near-infrared light, reveals the location of five galaxies clustered together just 600 million years after the Universe’s birth in the Big Bang. The circles pinpoint the galaxies. The sharp-eyed Wide Field Camera 3 aboard the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope spied the galaxies in a random sky survey. The developing cluster is the most distant ever observed. The average distance between them is comparable to that of the galaxies in the Local Group, consisting of two large spiral galaxies, the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy, and a few dozen small dwarf galaxies. The close-up images at right, taken in near-infrared light, show the galaxies. Simulations show that the galaxies will eventually merge and form the brightest central galaxy in the cluster, a giant elliptical similar to the Virgo cluster’s Messier 87. Galaxy clusters are the largest structures in the Universe, comprising hundreds to thousands of galaxies bound together by gravity. The developing cluster presumably will grow into a massive galactic city, similar in size to the nearby Virgo Cluster, a collection of more than 2000 galaxies. Credit: NASA, ESA, M. Trenti (University of Cambridge, UK and University of Colorado, Boulder, USA), L. Bradley (STScI), and the BoRG team
http://Chandra finds largest galaxy ...early universe.

Quote:
An exceptional galaxy cluster, the largest seen in the distant universe, has been found using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the National Science Foundation-funded Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT) in Chile.


Composite image of the El Gordo galaxy cluster. (X-ray: NASA/CXC/Rutgers/J. Hughes et al; Optical: ESO/VLT & SOAR/Rutgers/F. Menanteau; IR: NASA/JPL/Rutgers/F. Menanteau )
Fermi telescope explores new energy extremes.

Quote:
After more than three years in space, NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is extending its view of the high-energy sky into a largely unexplored electromagnetic range. Today, the Fermi team announced its first census of energy sources in this new realm.


New sources emerge and old sources fade as the LAT's view extends into higher energies. Credit: NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration and A. Neronov et al.


More than half of the sources above 10 GeV are black-hole-powered active galaxies. More than a third of the sources are completely unknown, having no identified counterpart detected in other parts of the spectrum. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
-- Tom
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12-Jan-2012, 07:51 AM #1468
Rice's 'quantum critical' theory gets experimental boost.

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New evidence this week supports a theory developed five years ago at Rice University to explain the electrical properties of several classes of materials -- including unconventional superconductors -- that have long vexed physicists.
...
"We now have a materials-based global phase diagram for heavy-fermion systems -- a kind of road map that helps relate the predicted behavior of several different classes of materials," Si said. "This is an important step on the road to a unified theory."

High-temperature superconductivity is one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of modern physics.
-- Tom
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12-Jan-2012, 08:56 AM #1469
Are you scientifically literate? Take the Christian Science Monitor's (50 question) quiz at the link below to find out:

Are you scientifically literate? Take our quiz.

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You may have an opinion on climate change, evolution education, stem-cell research, and science funding. But do you have the facts to back up your opinion? This quiz will test your basic scientific literacy.
-- Tom
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12-Jan-2012, 12:12 PM #1470
The Einstein Expansion Paradox.

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The universe expands. The galaxies, as they depart ever further from one another, are classically and even in Einstein’s special theory of relativity, described as dust particles: The universe as a cloud of dust expanding through space. However, in Einstein’s general theory of relativity, this same expansion is described as the universe itself expanding. There is no locally observable difference between these descriptions whatsoever – at least as far as we know. Classical expansion through space and Einstein’s general relativity describing expansion of space both fit together seamlessly.

This conspiracy-like symmetry is paradoxical: in the Newtonian and special relativistic descriptions, the underlying space stays the same, uninvolved stage, while in the generally relativistic picture, space expands in the concrete sense that there is more of it than before (true even in infinite universes!). This is the “expansion-paradox” [1]:

Space expands globally although it nowhere expands.


The orthodox relativistic view likes to resolve this with help of space-time not being space in time: The four dimensional whole is one unchanging consistent arrangement, the “block universe”. The smaller space in the past is simply a different region of the whole. It did not grow into the larger space of today; it is still in the past.



Universe expansion


Future Universe
-- Tom
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