Tag Archives | Cosmology

The fate of the universe: heat death, Big Rip or cosmic consciousness?

Black holes will be all that remains before the universe enters heath death. But the story doesn’t end there… NASA/ESA/wikimedia

Black holes will be all that remains before the universe enters heath death. But the story doesn’t end there… NASA/ESA/wikimedia

By piecing together an increasing number of clues, cosmologists are getting closer to understanding what the future and ultimate fate of the universe will be. And I’m afraid the news is not good. Star formation will cease and black holes will take over until they eventually evaporate into nothingness. There could even be a “Big Rip” on the horizon. But for those who don’t mind waiting another 101050 years or so, things may start to look up as a number of bizarre events could take place.

But before we consider random events in the very far future, let’s start with what we know about the past and the present.

The past

The reason we can investigate the past evolution of the universe is that, in some regards, astronomy is analogous to archaeology.… Read the rest

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EmDrive Back in the News

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Paul Gilster via Centauri Dreams:

Martin Tajmar (Dresden University of Technology) offers a paper entitled “Direct Thrust Measurements of an EmDrive and Evaluation of Possible Side-Effects” in his presentation on apparent thrust produced by the test device. As he told WIRED (which announced that The ‘impossible’ EmDrive could reach Pluto in 18 months), the current work will not close the story. From the paper itself:

The nature of the thrusts observed is still unclear… Our test campaign can not confirm or refute the claims of the EmDrive but intends to independently assess possible side-effects in the measurements methods used so far. Nevertheless, we do observe thrusts close to the magnitude of the actual predictions after eliminating many possible error sources that should warrant further investigation into the phenomena. Next steps include better magnetic shielding, further vacuum tests and improved EmDrive models with higher Q factors and electronics that allow tuning for optimal operation.

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You Are Here


Ellie Zolfagharifard and Ollie Gillman Via Daily Mail:

Dr Brent Tully made headlines earlier this year when he unveiled a road map of the universe with pathways between the Milky Way and 100,000 other far away galaxies.

Now the University of Hawaii professor is hoping to map out an even greater concentration of galaxies, known as the Shapley Supercluster, to help us better understand our place in the universe.

It’s a massive task. The Shapley Concentration is so huge that it is pulling our home supercluster, including us, toward the constellation Centaurus in the southern sky.

‘I don’t think the story is going to be close to well understood until our maps are encompassing the whole domain around the Shapley Concentration,’ Tully told Discover magazine.

The project would involve maps stretching to over a billion light-years.

‘It’s a huge job, but doable on a time-scale of decades,’ said the University of Hawaii professor.

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Mysterious Anti-electron Clouds Inside Thunderstorm

Daniel Mösch (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Daniel Mösch (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Via Fosters.com:

DURHAM — A terrifying few moments flying into the top of an active thunderstorm in a research aircraft has led to an unexpected discovery that could help explain the longstanding mystery of how lightning gets initiated inside a thunderstorm.

University of New Hampshire physicist Joseph Dwyer and lightning science colleagues from the University of California at Santa Cruz and Florida Tech describe the turbulent encounter and discovery in a paper to be published in the Journal of Plasma Physics.

In August 2009, Dwyer and colleagues were aboard a National Center for Atmospheric Research Gulfstream V when it inadvertently flew into the extremely violent thunderstorm—and, it turned out, through a large cloud of positrons, the antimatter opposite of electrons, that should not have been there.

To encounter a cloud of positrons without other associated physical phenomena such as energetic gamma-ray emissions was completely unexpected, thoroughly perplexing and contrary to currently understood physics.

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A Universe of Causes [Interview with Physicist George Ellis]

We assume that effect follows cause. But could this most basic of beliefs be mistaken?

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Mathematician George Ellis made his name focusing on some of the big questions of cosmology and relativity. Along with Stephen Hawking, he co-authored 1973’s The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time, which attempted to describe the very foundations of space itself.

More recently, Ellis has been focusing on top-down causation – the process by which higher level organised systems, such as humans, interact with their own component parts. His theories have important repercussions across many fields of research – from consciousness and free will to understanding quantum phenomena. Ellis is also an active Quaker and was a vocal opponent of apartheid during the 1970s and ‘80s.

We spoke to Ellis about his theories, their implications, and the reasons behind certain resistance to these ideas.

What exactly is top-down causation?

A key question for science is whether all causation is from the bottom up only.

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Hubble Space Telescope: 25 Years Exploring the Cosmos

Hubble captured this mountain of dust and gas rising in the Carina Nebula. The top of a three-light-year tall pillar of cool hydrogen is being worn away by the radiation of nearby stars, while stars within the pillar unleash jets of gas that stream from the peaks. Photo by NASA, ESA, and M. Livio and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI)

Hubble captured this mountain of dust and gas rising in the Carina Nebula. The top of a three-light-year tall pillar of cool hydrogen is being worn away by the radiation of nearby stars, while stars within the pillar unleash jets of gas that stream from the peaks. Photo by NASA, ESA, and M. Livio and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI)

Jasmine Wright and Margaret Myers Via PBS.org:

Hubble’s contributions to space exploration are countless. Its images, explains Hubble Space Telescope Senior Project Scientist Jennifer Wiseman, have shown the first definitive detection of supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies. They also have provided measurement of the expansion rate of the universe, and detection (along with ground-based telescopes) of acceleration in that expansion, caused by mysterious “dark energy” that appears to be pushing the universe apart.

“Hubble will go down in history as having changed the textbooks by totally revolutionizing humanity’s view of the universe, and our place in it,” Wiseman says.

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Monster black hole discovered at cosmic dawn

This is an artist's impression of a quasar with a supermassive black hole in the distant universe. Credit: Zhaoyu Li/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Misti Mountain Observatory

This is an artist’s impression of a quasar with a supermassive black hole in the distant universe.
Credit: Zhaoyu Li/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Misti Mountain Observatory

via ScienceDaily:

Scientists have discovered the brightest quasar in the early universe, powered by the most massive black hole yet known at that time. The international team led by astronomers from Peking University in China and from the University of Arizona announce their findings in the scientific journal Nature on Feb. 26.

The discovery of this quasar, named SDSS J0100+2802, marks an important step in understanding how quasars, the most powerful objects in the universe, have evolved from the earliest epoch, only 900 million years after the Big Bang, which is thought to have happened 13.7 billion years ago. The quasar, with its central black hole mass of 12 billion solar masses and the luminosity of 420 trillion suns, is at a distance of 12.8 billion light-years from Earth.

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Astronomers spot clouds on Mars: Is the U.S. Government terraforming the red planet?

Via Shepard Ambellas at Intellihub:

Cloud-like formations were originally spotted within the atmosphere of Mars by astronomers in 2012, leading some to believe the planet may be habitable or is being transformed in some way to make it so.

In fact images show the vapor formation to be over 621 miles across, which is larger than any other formation previously spotted within the red planet’s atmosphere to date.

A planetary scientist with the European Space Agency says this “raises more questions than answers”.

Damien Peach, an astronomer said, “I noticed this projection sticking out of the side of the planet. To begin with, I thought there was a problem with the telescope or camera. But as I checked more of the images, I realized it was a real feature – and it was quite a surprise.”

According to reports the haze lasted about 10-days before reemerging about 30-days later as it appears these new clouds are beginning to form in a more consistent manner than ever before, bringing only one thing to mind — the 1990 science fiction film Total Recall starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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Universe is 13.77 billion years old and it contains only 4.9% ordinary matter, says Planck data

Polarisation of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) as revealed by ESA's Planck data mapsESA - collaboration, Planck/E. Hivon/CNRS

Polarisation of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) as revealed by ESA’s Planck data maps
ESA – collaboration, Planck/E. Hivon/CNRS

Jayalakshmi K. via International Business Times:

The high precision Planck data just released has placed the age of the universe at 13.77 billion years, besides showing that the first stars were born 550 million years after the Big Bang.

Data from four years of observation by ESA’s spacecraft shows 4.9% of the Universe to be made of ordinary matter, 25.9% dark matter and 69.2% dark, unknown energy.

The researchers calculate the current rate at which space is expanding to give the age of the universe.

The Planck collaboration, which includes the CNRS, the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), the French National Space Agency (CNES) and several French universities and institutions, aimed to study the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), the light left over from the Big Bang.

The Planck measurements, taken in nine frequency bands, were used to map not only the temperature of radiation but also its polarisation providing information about both the very early Universe (when it was 380,000 years old) and our Galaxy’s magnetic field.

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No Big Bang? Quantum equation predicts universe has no beginning

"This is an artist's concept of the metric expansion of space, where space (including hypothetical non-observable portions of the universe) is represented at each time by the circular sections. Note on the left the dramatic expansion (not to scale) occurring in the inflationary epoch, and at the center the expansion acceleration. The scheme is decorated with WMAP images on the left and with the representation of stars at the appropriate level of development." Credit: NASA

“This is an artist’s concept of the metric expansion of space, where space (including hypothetical non-observable portions of the universe) is represented at each time by the circular sections. Note on the left the dramatic expansion (not to scale) occurring in the inflationary epoch, and at the center the expansion acceleration. The scheme is decorated with WMAP images on the left and with the representation of stars at the appropriate level of development.” Credit: NASA

Lisa Zyga via Phys.org:

(Phys.org) —The universe may have existed forever, according to a new model that applies quantum correction terms to complement Einstein’s theory of general relativity. The model may also account for dark matter and dark energy, resolving multiple problems at once.

The widely accepted age of the , as estimated by , is 13.8 billion years. In the beginning, everything in existence is thought to have occupied a single infinitely dense point, or .

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