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...
Tag Archives | Universe
Caspar Melville writes at New Humanist:
… Read the rest
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?
Via the Daily Galaxy:
… Read the rest
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.
Rebecca Boyle writes on Popular Science:
… Read the rest
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.
Lawrence M. Krauss writes in the LA Times:
… Read the rest
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.
Astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson was asked by a reader of TIME magazine, "What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe?" This is his answer:
Leonid Ksanfomaliti, an astronomer based at the Space Research Institute of Russia’s Academy of Sciences, analyzed photographs taken by a Russian landing probe during a 1982 during a mission to explore the heavily acid-clouded planet.
Venus is roughly the same size as Earth, but it has a thick atmosphere dominated by carbon dioxide. With an atmospheric pressure 92 times Earth’s, a waterless and volcano-riddled surface and a surface temperature of 894 degrees, the planet has never been considered a serious target of research into the possibility of extraterrestrial life.
But in his article, published in the magazine Solar System Research, Ksanfomaliti says the Russian photographs depict objects resembling a “disk,” a “black flap” and a “scorpion.”
“What if we forget about the current theories about the non-existence of life on Venus?” he wrote. “Let’s boldly suggest that the objects’ morphological features would allow us to say that they are living.”
Read More: Yahoo News
The asteroid, estimated to be about 11 m (36 ft) in diameter, was first detected on Wednesday. At its closest, the space rock — named 2012 BX34 — passed within about 60,000 km of Earth — less than a fifth of the distance to the Moon. Astronomers stressed that there had been no cause for concern. "It's one of the closest approaches recorded," said Gareth Williams, associate director of the US-based Minor Planet Center. "It makes it in to the top 20 closest approaches, but it's sufficiently far away ..." he told the BBC. The asteroid's path made it the closest space-rock to pass by the Earth since object 2011 MD in June 2011.Here's more from Space.com:
VY Canis Majoris is a red hypergiant star located in the constellation Canis Major. At between 1800 and 2100 solar radii (8.4–9.8 astronomical units, 3.063 billion km or 1.7 billion miles in diameter), it is currently the largest known star and also one of the most luminous known ...