Tag Archives | Universe

Court Rejects Woman’s Lawsuit Claiming Hadron Collider Could End The World

Doomsayers, including a few physicists, worry that experiments at CERN could unravel the fabric of our existence. But a German court says no, reports Phys.org:

A German woman who feared the Earth would be sucked into oblivion in a black hole failed Tuesday in her court bid to stop the work of the world’s most powerful atom smasher.

The higher administrative court in Muenster, Germany, rejected her claims, ruling there was no evidence the work of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) posed a danger to public safety. The court noted that the CERN’s own safety reports ruled out any danger to life. “Objectively, there is no evidence to doubt the correctness of these safety reports nor was any conclusive evidence presented,” it ruled.

The woman had failed in a previous attempt to stop the work of CERN in Switzerland at the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe. Other opponents have also sought to stop the experiments, fearing either a black hole whose super gravity would swallow the Earth or a theoretical particle called a strangelet that would in turn liquidise the planet.

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Method Unveiled To Store Data Forever In Quartz Glass

If we hope to preserve the knowledge and art produced by human civilization long after we are gone, or send a message to beings far from us in space of billions of years ahead in the future, it can be done using quartz. Phys.org reports:

Japanese hi-tech giant Hitachi on Monday unveiled a method of storing digital information on slivers of quartz glass that can endure extreme temperatures and hostile conditions without degrading, almost forever (a few hundred million years at least).

Hitachi’s new technology stores data in binary form by creating dots inside a thin sheet of quartz glass, which can be read with an ordinary optical microscope. Provided a computer with the know-how to understand that binary is available—simple enough to programme, no matter how advanced computers become—the data will always be readable, Torii said.

Hitachi have not decided when to put the chip to practical use but researchers said they could start with storage services for government agencies, museums and religious organisations.

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Eventually, Time Itself Will Come To A Halt

 Wondering about the end of everything? At some point, the world may freeze into a single giant photograph-like state, for eternity. Via Unexplained Mysteries:

In a startling new theory, scientists have predicted that the passage of time will stop altogether.

The theory is based on research conducted at two Spanish Universities aimed at explaining why the expansion of the universe appears to be accelerating, a conundrum that has puzzled scientists for years. What they came up with was the notion that the expansion of the universe isn’t accelerating at all; instead time itself is slowing down at an imperceptible rate and that eventually it will stop entirely, resulting in a perpetual static snapshot for the rest of eternity.

“We believe that time emerged during the Big Bang and if time can emerge, may disappear as well as the opposite effect,” said cosmologist Gary Gibbons.

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Voyager I Is Close to Leaving Our Solar System

Writes Rebecca J. Rosen in the Atlantic:
Last week, in the corners of the Internet devoted to outer space, things started to get a little, well, hot. Voyager 1, the man-made object farthest away from Earth, was encountering a sharp uptick in the number of a certain kind of energetic particles around it. Had the spacecraft become the first human creation to “officially” leave the solar system? It’s hard to overstate how wild an accomplishment this would be: A machine, built here on Earth by the brain — and handiwork of humans, has sailed from Florida, out of Earth’s orbit, beyond Mars, beyond the gas giants of Jupiter and Saturn, and may now have left the heliosphere — tiny dot in the universe beholden to our sun. Had it really happened? How would we know?
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No Intelligent Aliens Detected on the SETI-Targeted “Earth Condition” Gliese 581 System

Yet that is. As Ian O'Neill desribes on Discovery News:
SETI astronomers have eavesdropped on an alien star system thought to contain two "habitable" worlds in the hope of hearing a radio transmission from an extraterrestrial intelligence. Sadly, there appears to be no chatty aliens living around the red dwarf star Gliese 581. In results announced last week by Australian SETI astronomers, of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research at Curtin University in Perth, Gliese 581 was precisely targeted by Australian Long Baseline Array using three radio telescope facilities across Australia. This is the first time the technique of very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) has been used to target a specific star in the hunt for extraterrestrials, so although it didn't turn up any aliens, it is a proof of concept that may prove invaluable for future SETI projects...
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41 Percent of UK Don’t Think God Made the Universe (Highest Ever)

Cosmic HistoryCaspar Melville writes at New Humanist:

A press release reaches us from Premier Christian Radio with the headline “UK’s belief that God created the Universe at an all-time low”. It reports the findings of a study conducted by ComRes for PCR (2054 were polled online across the UK in April), ahead of the conference, called “Unbelievable 2012″,  PCR are holding in London on May 26 at which “academics and scientists” from the US and UK will be arguing that contemporary cosmology indicates that God created the world.

The headline findings of the survey are that only 26% believe that God created the world, 41% said they didn’t believe this and 23% didn’t know or didn’t want to say. In what the press release describes as a “strange twist” fully 25% of those who identified as “Christian” did not believe that God was the cause of the Universe.

So, why would a Christian outfit be trumpeting numbers which show that the idea of a God-created universe is is decline, even amongst their own gang?

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California Meteor Found Packed With Alien Organics

Murchison MeteoriteVia the Daily Galaxy:

A sonic boom heard in California last week had an out-of-this world origin as ”a large meteoric event” according to NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. Scientists now estimate the blast measured in near 5 kilotons or roughly 1/3 the power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan during World War II. Bill Cooke of the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, estimates the object was about the size of a minivan, weighed in at around 154,300 pounds.

“Most meteors you see in the night’s sky are the size of tiny stones or even grains of sand and their trail lasts all of a second or two,” said Don Yeomans of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “Fireballs you can see relatively easily in the daytime and are many times that size — anywhere from a baseball-sized object to something as big as a minivan.”

The meteor appears to be much more valuable than scientists first thought.

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Dark Matter Collides With Your Body About Once a Minute

Dark MatterRebecca Boyle writes on Popular Science:

A dark matter particle smacks into an average person’s body about once a minute, and careens off oxygen and hydrogen nuclei in your cells, according to theoretical physicists. Dark matter is streaming through you as you read this, most of it unimpeded.

Dark matter is arguably the greatest mystery in modern physics. Observations from multiple sources across a few decades now shows that most of the universe is made of matter we can’t see — hence the name — but no one has been able to find it. One strong candidate for this dark material is called a WIMP, for weakly interacting massive particle, and there are a variety of observatories in Europe and the U.S. that are looking for these things. Some have found promising hints, but others have seen a whole lot of nothing.

Still, cosmologists generally agree there’s a halo of dark matter particles out there, and our solar system and our planet are flying through it.

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A Universe Without Purpose

Disc CloudLawrence M. Krauss writes in the LA Times:

The illusion of purpose and design is perhaps the most pervasive illusion about nature that science has to confront on a daily basis. Everywhere we look, it appears that the world was designed so that we could flourish.

The position of the Earth around the sun, the presence of organic materials and water and a warm climate — all make life on our planet possible. Yet, with perhaps 100 billion solar systems in our galaxy alone, with ubiquitous water, carbon and hydrogen, it isn’t surprising that these conditions would arise somewhere. And as to the diversity of life on Earth — as Darwin described more than 150 years ago and experiments ever since have validated — natural selection in evolving life forms can establish both diversity and order without any governing plan.

As a cosmologist, a scientist who studies the origin and evolution of the universe, I am painfully aware that our illusions nonetheless reflect a deep human need to assume that the existence of the Earth, of life and of the universe and the laws that govern it require something more profound.

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