Physics in the News

September 10, 2014

The asteroid mining race begins

(Credit: Planetary Resources)
(Credit: Planetary Resources)
via bloombergview

A Black Hole doesn’t die — It does something a lot weirder

Chandra Observatory
If a particle and its antiparticle pop into being on the event horizon, one gets sucked in. The other gets away. If the antiparticle gets sucked into the black hole, and the particle breaks free, the particle no longer has a chance to annihilate. It is now real, and not virtual. Its presence and energy count in the universe. And real radiation leaking from a black hole means that the black hole itself is slowly shrinking. (Credit: Chandra Observatory, NASA, Inglis-Arkell)
via io9

China eyes first space station by around 2022

The U.S. Defense Department has highlighted China's increasing space capabilities, however, saying China was pursuing activities aimed at preventing its adversaries from using space-based assets during a crisis.(Credit: Jaime FlorCruz - CNN Beijing Bureau Chief)
The U.S. Defense Department has highlighted China’s increasing space capabilities, however, saying China was pursuing activities aimed at preventing its adversaries from using space-based assets during a crisis.(Credit: Jaime FlorCruz – CNN Beijing Bureau Chief)
via reuters

Evidence of forming planet discovered 335 light-years from Earth

This graphic is an artist’s conception of the young massive star HD100546 and its surrounding disk. (Credit: VP. Marenfeld & NOAO/AURA/NSF)
The new planet would be an uninhabitable gas giant at least three times the size of Jupiter, and the distance from the star would be about the same distance that Saturn is from the Sun. This graphic is an artist’s conception of the young massive star HD100546 and its surrounding disk. (Credit: VP. Marenfeld & NOAO/AURA/NSF)
via astronomy

Is the universe a stable quantum system?

If our understanding is correct, then the universe as a whole could be in a locally stable configuration, but it could also jump to a lower energy state through a process of quantum tunneling. If that happened, the universe would collapse and we'd all go bye bye. So to our best understanding, it is possible for the universe to collapse. (Credit: )
If our understanding is correct, then the universe as a whole could be in a locally stable configuration, but it could also jump to a lower energy state through a process of quantum tunneling. If that happened, the universe would collapse and we’d all go bye bye. So to our best understanding, it is possible for the universe to collapse. (Credit: )
via phys.org

Newly discovered ‘Tetraquark’ fuels quantum feud

Quarks have one of three “color charges,” which are analogous to the primary colors red, green and blue. Just as an atom strikes a balance between positive and negative electrical charges, particles made of quarks balance colors to reach a neutral state. In the color analogy, that means combining colors to make white. (Credit: Quanta Magazine)
Quarks have one of three “color charges,” which are analogous to the primary colors red, green and blue. Just as an atom strikes a balance between positive and negative electrical charges, particles made of quarks balance colors to reach a neutral state. In the color analogy, that means combining colors to make white. (Credit: Quanta Magazine)
via wired

Alcohol clouds in space

(Credit: HUbble)
There is a giant cloud of alcohol in outer space. It’s in a region known as W3(OH), only about 6500 light years away. Unfortunately it is methyl alcohol (commonly known as wood alcohol, though this stuff is not derived from wood), so it isn’t suitable for drinking. There is some ethyl alcohol (the drinkable kind).(Credit: Hubble)
via phys.org

Why is the Space Station launching satellites on its own?

Two tiny satellites escaping on their own doesn’t sound too bad … except it’s not the first time this has happened. On August 23rd, NASA reports that two other CubeSats set themselves free. OK, 4 out of 100 doesn’t sound too bad either … except only 12 have been launched so far, which means a quarter of the CubeSats un-tethered themselves. (Credit: NASA)
Two tiny satellites escaping on their own doesn’t sound too bad … except it’s not the first time this has happened. On August 23rd, NASA reports that two other CubeSats set themselves free. OK, 4 out of 100 doesn’t sound too bad either … except only 12 have been launched so far, which means a quarter of the CubeSats un-tethered themselves. (Credit: NASA)
via mysteriousuniverse

Black hole thermodynamics

Simulation of a black hole merger. (Credit: NASA/Chandra)
Classical black holes have “no hair”, meaning that they are simply described by their mass, charge and rotation. Because of this, you could toss an object (with a great deal of entropy) into a black hole, and the entropy would simply go away. (Credit: NASA/Chandra, B. Koberlein )
via phys.org

Physics in the News

Monday, Sept 8, 2014

Jupiter’s moon Europa could have tectonic plates, like Earth

Schematic sketch of the growth mechanics of a cycloid Note that the reversal in curvature of the second segment above cannot be explained by the previous model of cycloid formation. (Credit: Marshall & Kattenhorn (2005))
Schematic sketch of the growth mechanics of a cycloid Note that the reversal in curvature of the second segment above cannot be explained by the previous model of cycloid formation. (Credit: Marshall & Kattenhorn (2005))
via motherboard

A strange new theory of how Space-Time is emerging

“What Mark has done is put his finger on a key ingredient of how space-time is emerging: entanglement,” says Gary Horowitz, who studies quantum gravity at the University of California Santa Barbara. Horowitz says this idea has changed how people think about quantum gravity, though it hasn’t yet been universally accepted. “You don’t come across this idea by following other ideas. It requires a strange insight,” Horowitz adds. “He is one of the stars of the younger generation.”
via dailygalaxy

Weird comet is darker than charcoal

via libertariannews

Researchers part water: ‘Electric prism’ separates water’s nuclear spin states

Researchers have separated the nuclear spin states of water. In para water, the spins (depicted as arrows) of water's two hydrogen nuclei cancel out. They add up in ortho water. The scientists produced an ultracold, supersonic beam of water molecules -- a mixture of para and ortho water -- and sent it through an electric deflector (blue device on the left). The deflector acts as a prism for nuclear spin states, separating para and ortho water molecules in space (right). (Credit: Daniel A. Horke, CFEL/DESY)
Researchers have separated the nuclear spin states of water. In para water, the spins (depicted as arrows) of water’s two hydrogen nuclei cancel out. They add up in ortho water. The scientists produced an ultracold, supersonic beam of water molecules — a mixture of para and ortho water — and sent it through an electric deflector (blue device on the left). The deflector acts as a prism for nuclear spin states, separating para and ortho water molecules in space (right). (Credit: Daniel A. Horke, CFEL/DESY)
via phys.org

Part of an asteroid set to skim Earth fell and made a big crater

In this Sunday Sept. 7, 2014, publicly distributed handout photo provided by the Nicaraguan Army shows an impact crater made by a small meteorite in a wooded area near Managua's international airport and an air force base. Nicaraguan government spokeswoman Rosario Murillo said Sunday that a loud boom heard overnight by residents of the capital was a "relatively small" meteorite that "appears to have come off an asteroid that was passing close to Earth." (Credit: Nicaraguan Army/AP)
In this Sunday Sept. 7, 2014, publicly distributed handout photo provided by the Nicaraguan Army shows an impact crater made by a small meteorite in a wooded area near Managua’s international airport and an air force base. Nicaraguan government spokeswoman Rosario Murillo said Sunday that a loud boom heard overnight by residents of the capital was a “relatively small” meteorite that “appears to have come off an asteroid that was passing close to Earth.” (Credit: Nicaraguan Army/AP)
via newsweek

Astronaut trio to return after six months on International Space Station

Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov, performs maintenance and retrieves science experiment packages during a spacewalk on Aug. 18. Skvortsov, along with two other astronauts return to Earth on Sept. 10. (Credit: NASA)
Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov, performs maintenance and retrieves science experiment packages during a spacewalk on Aug. 18. Skvortsov, along with two other astronauts return to Earth on Sept. 10. (Credit: NASA)
via pbs

Long March 4B lofts Yaogan-21 in China’s surprise launch

As usual for this type of satellite, the Chinese media is referring to the new satellite as ‘a new remote sensing bird that will be used for scientific experiments, land survey, crop yield assessment, and disaster monitoring.’ (Credit: NASA)
As usual for this type of satellite, the Chinese media is referring to the new satellite as ‘a new remote sensing bird that will be used for scientific experiments, land survey, crop yield assessment, and disaster monitoring.’ (Credit: NASA)
via nasaspaceflight

Physics in the News

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Giant geysers on Jupiter’s icy moon mysteriously disappear

In 2013, huge active plumes containing water vapour being released from the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa were discovered. This sensational find was made using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Europa has been a focus of extraterrestrial research for some time now, as there were clear indications that it harbors a liquid ocean beneath its icy crust. Now, it appears, the geysers have vanished. (Credit: K. Retherford, Southwest Research Institute, NASA/ESA/K.)
In 2013, huge active plumes containing water vapour being released from the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa were discovered. This sensational find was made using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Europa has been a focus of extraterrestrial research for some time now, as there were clear indications that it harbors a liquid ocean beneath its icy crust. Now, it appears, the geysers have vanished. (Credit: K. Retherford, Southwest Research Institute, NASA/ESA/K.)
via dailygalaxy

Precisest natural clocks can be galactic GPS

A pulsar is the rapidly spinning and highly magnetized core left behind when a massive star explodes. Because only rotation powers their intense gamma-ray, radio and particle emissions, pulsars gradually slow as they age, and eventually cease their characteristic emissions. (Credit: F. Reddy of Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA)
A pulsar is the rapidly spinning and highly magnetized core left behind when a massive star explodes. Because only rotation powers their intense gamma-ray, radio and particle emissions, pulsars gradually slow as they age, and eventually cease their characteristic emissions. (Credit: F. Reddy of Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA)
via onislam

What does it feel like when everyone else finds the Higgs, and you don’t?

via theguardian

Mother of Higgs boson found in superconductors

A weird theoretical cousin of the Higgs boson, one that inspired the decades-long hunt for the elusive particle, has been properly observed for the first time. The discovery bookends one of the most exciting eras in modern physics. The above is a simulation of the production and dec (Credit: Slezak)
A weird theoretical cousin of the Higgs boson, one that inspired the decades-long hunt for the elusive particle, has been properly observed for the first time. The discovery bookends one of the most exciting eras in modern physics. The above is a simulation of the production and dec (Credit: Slezak)
via newscientist

MAVEN Mars Orbiter ideally poised to uniquely map Comet Siding Spring composition – Exclusive interview with Principal Investigator Bruce Jakosky

MAVEN is NASA’s next Mars orbiter and launched on Nov. 18, 2014 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. It will study the evolution of the Red Planet’s atmosphere and climate. Universe Today visited MAVEN inside the clean room at the Kennedy Space Center. With solar panels unfurled, this is exactly how MAVEN looks when flying through space and circling Mars and observing Comet Siding Spring. (Credit: Ken Kremer)
MAVEN is NASA’s next Mars orbiter and launched on Nov. 18, 2014 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. It will study the evolution of the Red Planet’s atmosphere and climate. Universe Today visited MAVEN inside the clean room at the Kennedy Space Center. With solar panels unfurled, this is exactly how MAVEN looks when flying through space and circling Mars and observing Comet Siding Spring. (Credit: Ken Kremer)
via universetoday

Cosmologists probe beyond the Big Bang

“This is a time of very rapid advances in the field.  You don’t know on any given day what new discovery you’re going to see posted that night on arXiv," said Liam McAllister, associate professor of physics and a specialist in string theory.
“This is a time of very rapid advances in the field. You don’t know on any given day what new discovery you’re going to see posted that night on arXiv,” said Liam McAllister, associate professor of physics and a specialist in string theory. (Credit: Glaser)
via cornell

Rosetta sends back science data from dark, dry comet

via pcmag

Variables of nature

Diagram illustrating quasar observations. (Credit: J. C. Berengut, Koberlein)
Diagram illustrating quasar observations. In 2010, a research team looked at light from distant quasars that had passed through large intergalactic clouds of gas. They found evidence of some slight variation of alpha depending on the direction we looked in the sky, which would imply a spatial variation of the physical constants. This made lots of news in the press, but the findings were not strong enough to be conclusive. (Credit: J. C. Berengut, Koberlein)
via phys

The first discovery of a Thorne–Żytkow object? (PDF)

The ratios of various elements found in the sample of RSGs, where the dark gray line is the theoretical model for a RSG, the lighter grey shows a three sigma deviation from normal, and the black points show the observed ratios for the sampled stars. The red, however, are the ratios observed in the TZO candidate HV 2112- indicating some elements are present at ratios far from expected. (Credit: E.Levesque et al.)
via astrobites

Newfound comet visible in binoculars and telescopes: How to see it

Once every year or two, a comet appears in the sky that is bright enough to be seen with a small telescope or binoculars. Right now, observers anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere can see such a comet. (Credit: Credit: Starry Night Software)
Once every year or two, a comet appears in the sky that is bright enough to be seen with a small telescope or binoculars. Right now, observers anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere can see such a comet. (Credit: Starry Night Software)
via space

Works starts on new European neutron source

Sofie Carsten Nielsen, Danish science minister, and Swedish education minister Jan Björklund break ground for the €1.84bn European Spallation Source in Lund, Sweden. (Credit: ESS)
via physicsworld

Physics in the News

Friday, September 5, 2014

The plan to make the Moon an enormous detector of cosmic rays

Artist impression of the Square Kilometer Array. If all goes according to plan in the next decade, we could see these small perturbations on the moon—and begin to solve some of the mysteries of space. (Credit: SKA)
Artist impression of the Square Kilometer Array. If all goes according to plan in the next decade, we could see these small perturbations on the moon—and begin to solve some of the mysteries of space. (Credit: SKA)
via gizmodo

NASA scientists study the Sun by listening to it

via popsci

What would it be like if you fell into a black hole?

via universetoday

Astronaut all-stars will visit China to talk space cooperation

China's first astronaut, Yang Liwei, is now vice director of the China Manned Space Engineering Office. (Credit: CMS)
Space travelers from around the world are headed to China this month for an international Planetary Congress, which will explore the possibilities for expanding human spaceflight cooperation among different countries. Pictured above is China’s first astronaut, Yang Liwei, is now vice director of the China Manned Space Engineering Office. (Credit: CMS)
via space

The ATLAS Humanoid Robot has advanced to the level of a lazy teenager

via gizmodo

AI: How Algorithms make systems smart

An animation of the quicksort algorithm sorting an array of randomized values. The red bars mark the pivot element; at the start of the animation, the element farthest to the right hand side is chosen as the pivot. (Credit: RonaldH)
An animation of the quicksort algorithm sorting an array of randomized values. The red bars mark the pivot element; at the start of the animation, the element farthest to the right hand side is chosen as the pivot. (Credit: RonaldH)
via wired

Google branches out from D-Wave in quantum computing initiative

rather than keeping all its eggs in D-Wave's basket, Google's "Quantum A.I. Lab" announced that it is starting a collaboration with an academic quantum computing researcher, John Martinis of the University of California-Santa Barbara. (Credit: Wiki, Timmer)
Rather than keeping all its eggs in D-Wave’s basket, Google’s “Quantum A.I. Lab” announced that it is starting a collaboration with an academic quantum computing researcher, John Martinis of the University of California-Santa Barbara. (Credit: Wiki, Timmer)
via arstechnica

Sep 5th: Mysterious outer solar system series – The Kuiper Belt

via cosmoquest

Space Station’s ‘Cubesat Cannon’ has Mind of its Own

In the grasp of the Japanese robotic arm, NanoRack’s CubeSat deployer releases a pair of miniature satellites last month. (Credit: NASA)
In the grasp of the Japanese robotic arm, NanoRack’s CubeSat deployer releases a pair of miniature satellites last month. (Credit: NASA)
via discovery

Physics in the News

Thursday, September 4, 2014

New map locates Milky Way in neighborhood of 100,000 galaxies

A new map places the Milky Way (black dot) within a large supercluster of galaxies (white dots) by tracing the gravitational pull of galaxies toward one another. White filaments reveal the paths of galaxies moving toward a gravitational center in the new supercluster, dubbed "Laniakea." (Blue, low galaxy density; green, intermediate; red, high.) SDvision interactive visualization software by DP at CEA/Saclay, France)
A new map places the Milky Way (black dot) within a large supercluster of galaxies (white dots) by tracing the gravitational pull of galaxies toward one another. White filaments reveal the paths of galaxies moving toward a gravitational center in the new supercluster, dubbed “Laniakea.” (Blue, low galaxy density; green, intermediate; red, high.) (Credit: DP at CEA/Saclay, France)
via nationalgeographic

Small asteroid to safely pass close to Earth Sunday

via nasa

Researcher advances a new model for a cosmological enigma — dark matter

This three-dimensional map offers a first look at the web-like large-scale distribution of dark matter, an invisible form of matter that accounts for most of the Universe's imaginary mass. The map reveals a loose network of dark matter filaments, gradually collapsing under the relentless pull of gravity, and growing clumpier over time. The three axes of the box correspond to sky position (in right ascension and declination), and distance from the Earth increasing from left to right (as measured by cosmological redshift). Note how the clumping of the dark matter becomes more pronounced, moving right to left across the volume map, from the early Universe to the more recent Universe.
This three-dimensional map offers a first look at the web-like large-scale distribution of dark matter, an invisible form of matter that accounts for most of the Universe’s imaginary mass. The map reveals a loose network of dark matter filaments, gradually collapsing under the relentless pull of gravity, and growing clumpier over time. The three axes of the box correspond to sky position, and distance from the Earth increasing from left to right. Note how the clumping of the dark matter becomes more pronounced, moving right to left across the volume map, from the early Universe to the more recent Universe. (Credit: NASA/ESA/Richard Massey)
via ku.edu

Dark energy hunt gets weird

mg22329852.400-1_300
Cosmologists have revealed intruiging new ways to probe the mystery of whether dark energy exists and how it might be accelerating the universe’s growth. (Credit: Picturegarden/Getty)
via newscientist

Watching ‘the clock’ at the LHC

As time ticks down to the restart of the Large Hadron Collider, scientists are making sure their detectors run like clockwork.Photo by Antonio Saba, CERN
As time ticks down to the restart of the Large Hadron Collider, scientists are making sure their detectors run like clockwork.  (Credit: Antonio Saba, CERN)
via symmetrymagazine

Mind-blowing science explained: Neutron stars “are basically atoms as big as mountains”

via salon

Ultracold atoms juggle spins with exceptional symmetry

Schematic representation of a spin-exchanging collision. Two atoms in different orbitals (blue and green) and different spin orientations (black arrows) collide. The two atoms exiting the collision have swapped their spins after interacting. Crucially, the process is independent of the two specific initial spin states. Credit: LMU-München / MPQ, Quantum Many Body Systems Division Read more at: http://phys.org
Schematic representation of a spin-exchanging collision. Two atoms in different orbitals (blue and green) and different spin orientations (black arrows) collide. The two atoms exiting the collision have swapped their spins after interacting. Crucially, the process is independent of the two specific initial spin states. (Credit: LMU-München / MPQ, Quantum Many Body Systems Division)
via phys.org

How the enormous mirrors on the world’s largest telescope are made

The Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) is a ground-based extremely large telescope planned for completion in 2020.[5] It will consist of seven 8.4 m (27.6 ft) diameter primary segments,[6] with the resolving power of a 24.5 m (80.4 ft) primary mirror and collecting area equivalent to a 22.0 m (72.2 ft) one,[7] (which is about 368 square meters) (Credit: wiki, Tarantola)
via gizmodo

Cosmic forecast: Dark clouds will give way to sunshine

via phys.org

Do exoplanets transform between classes?

A new analysis suggests that hot super-Earths might be the skeletal remnants of hot Jupiters stripped of their atmospheres. The above image is an artist’s depiction of an early stage in the destruction of a hot Jupiter by its star. (Credit: NASA / GSFC / Reddy, S. Hall)
via skyandtelescope