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Shared Circles including Ethan Siegel

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Activity

Average numbers for the latest posts (max. 50 posts, posted within the last 4 weeks)

6
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8
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36
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807
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Top posts in the last 50 posts

Most comments: 58

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2015-06-08 14:02:47 (58 comments, 64 reshares, 150 +1s)Open 

"But there’s an inevitable conclusion that this leads to that’s even more disturbing. It means that, at a particular, key distance from us, the expansion of the fabric of space itself makes it so that a photon either leaving our galaxy towards a distant one or leaving a distant galaxy headed towards ours will never reach us. The expansion rate of the Universe is so great that distant galaxies become unreachable to our own, even if we were to move at the speed of light!"

97% of the galaxies in the Universe are unreachable, and we're losing an additional ~20,000 stars with every second. Have a nice day.

Most reshares: 64

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2015-06-08 14:02:47 (58 comments, 64 reshares, 150 +1s)Open 

"But there’s an inevitable conclusion that this leads to that’s even more disturbing. It means that, at a particular, key distance from us, the expansion of the fabric of space itself makes it so that a photon either leaving our galaxy towards a distant one or leaving a distant galaxy headed towards ours will never reach us. The expansion rate of the Universe is so great that distant galaxies become unreachable to our own, even if we were to move at the speed of light!"

97% of the galaxies in the Universe are unreachable, and we're losing an additional ~20,000 stars with every second. Have a nice day.

Most plusones: 150

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2015-06-08 14:02:47 (58 comments, 64 reshares, 150 +1s)Open 

"But there’s an inevitable conclusion that this leads to that’s even more disturbing. It means that, at a particular, key distance from us, the expansion of the fabric of space itself makes it so that a photon either leaving our galaxy towards a distant one or leaving a distant galaxy headed towards ours will never reach us. The expansion rate of the Universe is so great that distant galaxies become unreachable to our own, even if we were to move at the speed of light!"

97% of the galaxies in the Universe are unreachable, and we're losing an additional ~20,000 stars with every second. Have a nice day.

Latest 50 posts

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2015-07-07 23:16:48 (0 comments, 1 reshares, 8 +1s)Open 

"The only mode, therefore, in which, under such a state of affairs, we could comprehend the voids which our telescopes find in innumerable directions, would be by supposing the distance of the invisible background so immense that no ray from it has yet been able to reach us at all."

Back in the 1820s, Heinrich Olbers put forth his famous paradox: that if the night sky was filled uniformly and infinitely with stars, eventually the human eye should encounter one in any and all directions. Yet the darkness of the night sky clearly showed this was not the case! In modern times, the Big Bang provides a solution to this by showing that there is a finite age to the Universe, and hence a time before which there were no stars. There is a leftover glow, but it’s redshifted into the microwave region, visible as the CMB. And perhaps surprisingly, Poe — writing in 1848 — proposed a very BigBang-... more »

"The only mode, therefore, in which, under such a state of affairs, we could comprehend the voids which our telescopes find in innumerable directions, would be by supposing the distance of the invisible background so immense that no ray from it has yet been able to reach us at all."

Back in the 1820s, Heinrich Olbers put forth his famous paradox: that if the night sky was filled uniformly and infinitely with stars, eventually the human eye should encounter one in any and all directions. Yet the darkness of the night sky clearly showed this was not the case! In modern times, the Big Bang provides a solution to this by showing that there is a finite age to the Universe, and hence a time before which there were no stars. There is a leftover glow, but it’s redshifted into the microwave region, visible as the CMB. And perhaps surprisingly, Poe — writing in 1848 — proposed a very Big Bang-like solution to Olbers’ paradox!___

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2015-07-02 12:34:39 (25 comments, 22 reshares, 61 +1s)Open 

“[C]ould you ever see what we know about the universe being upended that we find a different explanation for the cmb or could something happen to make us think we were wrong and misunderstood the red shifts of galaxies or the Doppler effect and that we actually are in a steady state or static universe?”

If there's one thing you can be certain of when it comes to the fundamental, scientific truths of our Universe, it's this: someday, in the not too distant future, those truths will be superseded by more fundamental ones. And even those, quite likely, won't be the final truths, but just one step further along the line towards our understanding of reality. Does this mean that we've necessarily got it all wrong, and that we might just as well ignore the successes of our best theories so far? Does it mean that all we know about the Universe could easily be upended and replaced,lea... more »

“[C]ould you ever see what we know about the universe being upended that we find a different explanation for the cmb or could something happen to make us think we were wrong and misunderstood the red shifts of galaxies or the Doppler effect and that we actually are in a steady state or static universe?”

If there's one thing you can be certain of when it comes to the fundamental, scientific truths of our Universe, it's this: someday, in the not too distant future, those truths will be superseded by more fundamental ones. And even those, quite likely, won't be the final truths, but just one step further along the line towards our understanding of reality. Does this mean that we've necessarily got it all wrong, and that we might just as well ignore the successes of our best theories so far? Does it mean that all we know about the Universe could easily be upended and replaced, leading to vastly different conclusions to questions like where everything came from? These are exceedingly unlikely, for a myriad of reasons. Instead, this is what the next major scientific revolution will probably look like.___

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2015-07-02 12:13:36 (0 comments, 5 reshares, 11 +1s)Open 

“[T]he simplest explanation is that different elements and compounds have different characteristic emission lines. For example, if you take some sodium and heat it up, it emits a characteristic yellow glow, because of its two very narrow emission lines at 588 and 589 nanometers. (You’re probably familiar with them from sodium street lamps.)

We have a great variety of elements and compounds that emit a great variety of colors! Different compounds of Barium, Sodium, Copper and Strontium can produce colors covering a huge range of the visible spectrum, and the different compounds inserted in the fireworks’ stars are responsible for everything we see.”

There are few things as closely associated with American independence as our willingness and eagerness to celebrate with fiery explosions. I refer, of course, to the unique spectacle of fireworks, first developed nearly a millenniumago hal... more »

“[T]he simplest explanation is that different elements and compounds have different characteristic emission lines. For example, if you take some sodium and heat it up, it emits a characteristic yellow glow, because of its two very narrow emission lines at 588 and 589 nanometers. (You’re probably familiar with them from sodium street lamps.)

We have a great variety of elements and compounds that emit a great variety of colors! Different compounds of Barium, Sodium, Copper and Strontium can produce colors covering a huge range of the visible spectrum, and the different compounds inserted in the fireworks’ stars are responsible for everything we see.”

There are few things as closely associated with American independence as our willingness and eagerness to celebrate with fiery explosions. I refer, of course, to the unique spectacle of fireworks, first developed nearly a millennium ago halfway across the world. But these displays don’t happen by themselves; there’s an intricate art and science required to deliver the shows we all expect. So what’s the science behind fireworks? Here's the physics (and a little chemistry) behind their height, size, shape, color and sound, just in time for July 4th!___

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2015-07-01 14:36:12 (33 comments, 16 reshares, 56 +1s)Open 

"[T]he Universe starts off with hydrogen and helium, all stars produce helium, and then stars over a certain mass threshold produce carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and lots of heavier elements. But carbon was already element #6; what about lithium, beryllium and boron (elements #3, #4 and #5)?"

From helium up through uranium continuously, every element in the periodic table can be found, created by natural processes, somewhere in the Universe. (With many trans-uranic nuclides found as well.) Yet out of all of those, only three of them aren't created in stars: lithium, beryllium and boron. Boron in particular is necessary for life as we know it, as without it, there would be no such things as plants. Here's the cosmic story of the only three heavy elements to exist that aren't made in stars.

"[T]he Universe starts off with hydrogen and helium, all stars produce helium, and then stars over a certain mass threshold produce carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and lots of heavier elements. But carbon was already element #6; what about lithium, beryllium and boron (elements #3, #4 and #5)?"

From helium up through uranium continuously, every element in the periodic table can be found, created by natural processes, somewhere in the Universe. (With many trans-uranic nuclides found as well.) Yet out of all of those, only three of them aren't created in stars: lithium, beryllium and boron. Boron in particular is necessary for life as we know it, as without it, there would be no such things as plants. Here's the cosmic story of the only three heavy elements to exist that aren't made in stars.___

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2015-07-01 12:56:33 (1 comments, 4 reshares, 20 +1s)Open 

“Venus’ upper atmosphere may well turn out to be the most Earth-like environment in the Solar System beyond our own world. In fact, there are speculations that Venus’ upper atmosphere — at these altitudes — may in fact harbor life right now!

If we could bring our own sources of sustainable food, engineer solar panels to harvest the (considerably more intense than on Earth) energy from the Sun while protecting them from the sulfuric acid conditions, we would have everything we need to build our own floating civilization above the surface of Venus.”

When we talk about humans existing on worlds other than Earth, the first choice of a planet to do so on is usually Mars, a world that may have been extremely Earth-like for the first billion years of our Solar System or so. Perhaps, with enough ingenuity and resources, we could terraform it to be more like Earth is today.But the most Earth-... more »

“Venus’ upper atmosphere may well turn out to be the most Earth-like environment in the Solar System beyond our own world. In fact, there are speculations that Venus’ upper atmosphere — at these altitudes — may in fact harbor life right now!

If we could bring our own sources of sustainable food, engineer solar panels to harvest the (considerably more intense than on Earth) energy from the Sun while protecting them from the sulfuric acid conditions, we would have everything we need to build our own floating civilization above the surface of Venus.”

When we talk about humans existing on worlds other than Earth, the first choice of a planet to do so on is usually Mars, a world that may have been extremely Earth-like for the first billion years of our Solar System or so. Perhaps, with enough ingenuity and resources, we could terraform it to be more like Earth is today. But the most Earth-like conditions in the Solar System don't occur on the surface of Mars, but rather in the high altitudes of Venus' atmosphere, some 50-65 km up. Despite its harsh conditions, this may be the best location for the first human colonies, for a myriad of good, scientific reasons.___

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2015-06-30 15:40:01 (14 comments, 17 reshares, 63 +1s)Open 

"Information doesn’t always travel at the speed of light, though — depending on the environment that the information is traveling through, and the form of that information (which is not always light), the speed of information can proceed at speeds that are much slower than the speed of light. The speed of light in a vacuum seems to be a hard upper limit that nothing can surpass, but if your information is in the form of a compression wave, like sound, then the information travels at the speed of sound in that medium."

There’s something puzzling about black holes, if you stop to consider it. On the one hand, they’re objects so massive and dense — compacted into such a small region of space — that nothing can escape from it, not even light. That’s the definition of a black hole, and why “black” is in the name. But gravity also moves at the speed of light, and yet thegravitational influen... more »

"Information doesn’t always travel at the speed of light, though — depending on the environment that the information is traveling through, and the form of that information (which is not always light), the speed of information can proceed at speeds that are much slower than the speed of light. The speed of light in a vacuum seems to be a hard upper limit that nothing can surpass, but if your information is in the form of a compression wave, like sound, then the information travels at the speed of sound in that medium."

There’s something puzzling about black holes, if you stop to consider it. On the one hand, they’re objects so massive and dense — compacted into such a small region of space — that nothing can escape from it, not even light. That’s the definition of a black hole, and why “black” is in the name. But gravity also moves at the speed of light, and yet the gravitational influence of a black hole has absolutely no problem extending not only beyond the event horizon, but infinite distances out into the abyss of space. Jillian Scudder has the answer to this puzzling conundrum!___

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2015-06-29 18:42:27 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 9 +1s)Open 

"But whereas Earth’s thin atmosphere and distance from the Sun allows for liquid water on our planet’s surface, Venus’ carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid atmosphere, 90 times as thick as Earth’s and covered in constant layers of clouds, has become a cosmic oven."

Of all the worlds in our Solar System, Venus is perhaps the most like Earth. It’s the closest to us in size, in mass, in orbit, and in elemental content. The biggest difference, of course, is Venus’ atmosphere. Over 90 times as thick as Earth’s and composed of carbon dioxide and thick sulfuric acid clouds, the surface of Venus is at a constant 465C (870 F), making it the hottest planet in the Solar System. Yet we’ve both landed on the surface and imaged the entire world through its clouds, finding out exactly what the Venusian surface looks like. Come learn what you're looking at in advance of Tuesdayevening's b... more »

"But whereas Earth’s thin atmosphere and distance from the Sun allows for liquid water on our planet’s surface, Venus’ carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid atmosphere, 90 times as thick as Earth’s and covered in constant layers of clouds, has become a cosmic oven."

Of all the worlds in our Solar System, Venus is perhaps the most like Earth. It’s the closest to us in size, in mass, in orbit, and in elemental content. The biggest difference, of course, is Venus’ atmosphere. Over 90 times as thick as Earth’s and composed of carbon dioxide and thick sulfuric acid clouds, the surface of Venus is at a constant 465C (870 F), making it the hottest planet in the Solar System. Yet we’ve both landed on the surface and imaged the entire world through its clouds, finding out exactly what the Venusian surface looks like. Come learn what you're looking at in advance of Tuesday evening's big conjunction!___

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2015-06-27 13:25:02 (1 comments, 4 reshares, 22 +1s)Open 

“Ever since I was a child I have had this instinctive urge for expansion and growth. To me, the function and duty of a quality human being is the sincere and honest development of one’s potential.” -Bruce Lee

Stop-motion karate dueling is the most epic thing you've seen since you first discovered Mortal Kombat's fatalities!

“Ever since I was a child I have had this instinctive urge for expansion and growth. To me, the function and duty of a quality human being is the sincere and honest development of one’s potential.” -Bruce Lee

Stop-motion karate dueling is the most epic thing you've seen since you first discovered Mortal Kombat's fatalities!___

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2015-06-27 13:10:58 (7 comments, 7 reshares, 45 +1s)Open 

"It always fascinates me that the Milky Way is one of the least understood galaxies around, because our very presence within it prevents us from mapping it well. Just like you could never know your own eye color if it weren’t for reflective surfaces, photographs or other people telling you what it was, the fact that we’re inside the Milky Way itself works against us in tremendous ways."

Also: finding signs of life on exoplanets, how static electricity works, finding the first stars in the Universe and... who would win a battle royale among Disney princesses? My vote is for Merida, but I wouldn't put it past Mulan or Belle (!) to pull it off!

"It always fascinates me that the Milky Way is one of the least understood galaxies around, because our very presence within it prevents us from mapping it well. Just like you could never know your own eye color if it weren’t for reflective surfaces, photographs or other people telling you what it was, the fact that we’re inside the Milky Way itself works against us in tremendous ways."

Also: finding signs of life on exoplanets, how static electricity works, finding the first stars in the Universe and... who would win a battle royale among Disney princesses? My vote is for Merida, but I wouldn't put it past Mulan or Belle (!) to pull it off!___

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2015-06-26 16:55:48 (37 comments, 13 reshares, 47 +1s)Open 

"[T]he latest issue of Discover magazine has a long article on the “radical” theory of MOND and how its predictive power is excellent whereas anyone has yet to find even a trace of Dark Matter. My question is this: What is MOND? Is it a legitimate theory? If it is so successful, why do we only hear of Dark Matter and not MOND?"

When we look out at the galaxies in the Universe, watching how they rotate, we find that the starlight we see is woefully insufficient to explain why the galaxies move as they do. In fact, even if we add in the gas, dust, and all the known matter, it doesn’t add up. Normally, we talk about dark matter as the only viable solution, but it turns out that MOND, or MOdified Newtonian Dynamics, is actually superior at explaining galactic rotation to dark matter. Could it be the solution to the “missing mass” (or “missing light”) problem? A look at thefull suite of... more »

"[T]he latest issue of Discover magazine has a long article on the “radical” theory of MOND and how its predictive power is excellent whereas anyone has yet to find even a trace of Dark Matter. My question is this: What is MOND? Is it a legitimate theory? If it is so successful, why do we only hear of Dark Matter and not MOND?"

When we look out at the galaxies in the Universe, watching how they rotate, we find that the starlight we see is woefully insufficient to explain why the galaxies move as they do. In fact, even if we add in the gas, dust, and all the known matter, it doesn’t add up. Normally, we talk about dark matter as the only viable solution, but it turns out that MOND, or MOdified Newtonian Dynamics, is actually superior at explaining galactic rotation to dark matter. Could it be the solution to the “missing mass” (or “missing light”) problem? A look at the full suite of cosmological evidence reveals the answer, and sets out definitive challenges for MOND to overcome.___

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2015-06-25 23:56:38 (2 comments, 7 reshares, 30 +1s)Open 

"For centuries, it has been assumed that such contact charging derives from the spatially homogeneous material properties (along the material’s surface) and that within a given pair of materials, one charges uniformly positively and the other negatively. We demonstrate that this picture of contact charging is incorrect."

As one of the oldest known physical phenomena, static electricity was thought to be super simple: rub two objects together, one becomes positive and the other negative, and off you go! Only, that's not how it works at all, and we only discovered the truth in 2011. Happy Throwback Thursday, everyone.

"For centuries, it has been assumed that such contact charging derives from the spatially homogeneous material properties (along the material’s surface) and that within a given pair of materials, one charges uniformly positively and the other negatively. We demonstrate that this picture of contact charging is incorrect."

As one of the oldest known physical phenomena, static electricity was thought to be super simple: rub two objects together, one becomes positive and the other negative, and off you go! Only, that's not how it works at all, and we only discovered the truth in 2011. Happy Throwback Thursday, everyone.___

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2015-06-24 16:31:50 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 19 +1s)Open 

"Eventually, if this neutral gas gets dense enough, it should form the most elusive of all classes of stars: Population III stars, which to date, have only been theorized. Unlike super metal-rich stars like our Sun (Population I), which have seen many, many generations of stars form before, or metal-poor (Population II) stars, found in the halos of galaxies and in very young galaxies, where only a few generations of stars have lived-and-died before, these stars should be formed out of the gas left over from the Big Bang and nothing else."

When we look out into the Universe, farther back to greater distances, we’re also looking back in time, farther and farther into the past. If we could look back far enough, close enough to the Big Bang, we’d be able to see the very first stars ever formed in the Universe: stars formed from the Big Bang’s leftover material itself. We’d neverbeen ab... more »

"Eventually, if this neutral gas gets dense enough, it should form the most elusive of all classes of stars: Population III stars, which to date, have only been theorized. Unlike super metal-rich stars like our Sun (Population I), which have seen many, many generations of stars form before, or metal-poor (Population II) stars, found in the halos of galaxies and in very young galaxies, where only a few generations of stars have lived-and-died before, these stars should be formed out of the gas left over from the Big Bang and nothing else."

When we look out into the Universe, farther back to greater distances, we’re also looking back in time, farther and farther into the past. If we could look back far enough, close enough to the Big Bang, we’d be able to see the very first stars ever formed in the Universe: stars formed from the Big Bang’s leftover material itself. We’d never been able to find these before, but by looking at a starburst galaxy at extremely high redshifts, and measuring its signature spectroscopically, we were able to find strong evidence of hydrogen and helium, but none of carbon, oxygen, or any of the other “first-processed” elements we’d expect had we formed stars before. Here's why we think we've finally found the first true sample of Population III stars, with an actual exclusive interview with the lead scientist who made the discovery.___

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2015-06-23 21:05:04 (0 comments, 1 reshares, 11 +1s)Open 

Exoplanets and the seartch for habitable sowlrds. Live-blog and talk complete! #piCONVERGE

Exoplanets and the seartch for habitable sowlrds. Live-blog and talk complete! #piCONVERGE___

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2015-06-23 19:38:31 (2 comments, 1 reshares, 7 +1s)Open 

Almost time for Sara Seager's live talk / my live blog. Tune in at 4:10 ET/1:10 PT today! 

Almost time for Sara Seager's live talk / my live blog. Tune in at 4:10 ET/1:10 PT today! ___

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2015-06-22 18:28:12 (9 comments, 7 reshares, 26 +1s)Open 

“So the planets are there, the rocky planets are there, the rocky planets at the right distances from their stars for liquid water are there… and everything seems possible. If our best estimates for these planets are correct, there are literally billions of potentially habitable worlds in the Milky Way galaxy alone, right now.”

But how do we take that next great leap? How do we go from "potentially habitable" to worlds that are actually inhabited? How do we find them?

The secret lies in directly observing these worlds -- and their atmospheres -- something that NASA's proposed Starshade mission is capable of doing with present technology. And the PI of Starshade, Sara Seager, is speaking this Tuesday at 4:10 PM ET / 1:10 PM PT at Perimeter Institute's conference, Convergence, with an exclusive live-stream and live-blog by me!

“So the planets are there, the rocky planets are there, the rocky planets at the right distances from their stars for liquid water are there… and everything seems possible. If our best estimates for these planets are correct, there are literally billions of potentially habitable worlds in the Milky Way galaxy alone, right now.”

But how do we take that next great leap? How do we go from "potentially habitable" to worlds that are actually inhabited? How do we find them?

The secret lies in directly observing these worlds -- and their atmospheres -- something that NASA's proposed Starshade mission is capable of doing with present technology. And the PI of Starshade, Sara Seager, is speaking this Tuesday at 4:10 PM ET / 1:10 PM PT at Perimeter Institute's conference, Convergence, with an exclusive live-stream and live-blog by me!___

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2015-06-22 14:08:52 (8 comments, 35 reshares, 70 +1s)Open 

"So even though most particles in the Sun don’t have enough energy to get us there, it would only take a tiny percentage fusing together to power the Sun as we see it. So we do our calculations, we calculate how the protons in the Sun’s core have their energy distributed, and we come up with a number for these proton-proton collisions with sufficient energy to undergo nuclear fusion.

That number is exactly zero."

The Sun consists of some 10^57 particles, nearly 10% of which are in the core, which ranges from 4-15 million K, hot enough for nuclear fusion to occur. A whopping 4 × 10^38 protons fuse into helium-4 every second, and due to the temperatures and densities inside, the raw protons undergo billions of collisions during that time. Yet none of those collisions have a sufficient energy to overcome the Coulomb barrier; it's only through the power of quantummech... more »

"So even though most particles in the Sun don’t have enough energy to get us there, it would only take a tiny percentage fusing together to power the Sun as we see it. So we do our calculations, we calculate how the protons in the Sun’s core have their energy distributed, and we come up with a number for these proton-proton collisions with sufficient energy to undergo nuclear fusion.

That number is exactly zero."

The Sun consists of some 10^57 particles, nearly 10% of which are in the core, which ranges from 4-15 million K, hot enough for nuclear fusion to occur. A whopping 4 × 10^38 protons fuse into helium-4 every second, and due to the temperatures and densities inside, the raw protons undergo billions of collisions during that time. Yet none of those collisions have a sufficient energy to overcome the Coulomb barrier; it's only through the power of quantum mechanics that any fusion occurs. Without this inherent indeterminism, the Sun and practically every star in the night sky would be eternally dark.___

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2015-06-22 13:07:52 (4 comments, 19 reshares, 128 +1s)Open 

“But in order to form these new stars, and to drive the density waves that give galaxies their spiral shapes, galaxies require a “skeleton” of neutral, light-blocking atoms and molecules to underlie it all.”

While other galaxies tended to have high-density dust – infrared dark clouds – tracing out the backbones of their spiral arms, none had ever been discovered in the Milky Way. Until, that is, one of these “skeletal” features was discovered using the Spitzer Space Telescope in 2010. Recently, that “bone” was discovered to be even longer than suspected, and may be the central feature of the Scutum-Centaurus arm, the closest major spiral arm to the Sun.

“But in order to form these new stars, and to drive the density waves that give galaxies their spiral shapes, galaxies require a “skeleton” of neutral, light-blocking atoms and molecules to underlie it all.”

While other galaxies tended to have high-density dust – infrared dark clouds – tracing out the backbones of their spiral arms, none had ever been discovered in the Milky Way. Until, that is, one of these “skeletal” features was discovered using the Spitzer Space Telescope in 2010. Recently, that “bone” was discovered to be even longer than suspected, and may be the central feature of the Scutum-Centaurus arm, the closest major spiral arm to the Sun.___

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2015-06-22 01:14:06 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 10 +1s)Open 

Hey Portland, OR people! Don't forget, tomorrow evening, from 7-9 PM, to head over to the Hollywood theatre for my big event!

The Curiosity Club has, as part of their motto: “We admit that it is impossible to know everything about anything and thus we remain perpetually curious and perpetually novice.”

Want to find out when I was wrong about a very, very important scientific matter, and was confronted with mounting evidence showing I was wrong? Did I change my mind, and if so, what did it take? Come see me talk about my "successful failure," along with many others!

Hey Portland, OR people! Don't forget, tomorrow evening, from 7-9 PM, to head over to the Hollywood theatre for my big event!

The Curiosity Club has, as part of their motto: “We admit that it is impossible to know everything about anything and thus we remain perpetually curious and perpetually novice.”

Want to find out when I was wrong about a very, very important scientific matter, and was confronted with mounting evidence showing I was wrong? Did I change my mind, and if so, what did it take? Come see me talk about my "successful failure," along with many others!___

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2015-06-21 19:31:02 (1 comments, 1 reshares, 15 +1s)Open 

"[F]or some of us, it’s combining our past experiences with our own creativity that enables us to put out something new into the world, something that’s never been seen before.

In the case of Laura Cooper, comic creator and artist, that resulted in the combination of Disney princesses with velociraptors to create velociprincesses!"

Disney princesses reimagined as velociraptors: it's the most important thing you'll see all day, guaranteed!

"[F]or some of us, it’s combining our past experiences with our own creativity that enables us to put out something new into the world, something that’s never been seen before.

In the case of Laura Cooper, comic creator and artist, that resulted in the combination of Disney princesses with velociraptors to create velociprincesses!"

Disney princesses reimagined as velociraptors: it's the most important thing you'll see all day, guaranteed!___

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2015-06-20 14:46:04 (4 comments, 1 reshares, 20 +1s)Open 

"It's an interesting thought, and I see where it comes from:

* singularities at the centers of black holes are supposed to be regions of infinite density,
* with all the mass of a black hole concentrated into an infinitesimal volume of space,
* and therefore they should have infinite energy densities,
* yet you just said, Ethan, if the energy density exceeds a certain finite amount, we’d restore the inflationary state and destroy the Universe."

So why don't black holes restore the inflationary state and destroy the Universe? This and many other interesting follow up questions on our comments of the week!

"It's an interesting thought, and I see where it comes from:

* singularities at the centers of black holes are supposed to be regions of infinite density,
* with all the mass of a black hole concentrated into an infinitesimal volume of space,
* and therefore they should have infinite energy densities,
* yet you just said, Ethan, if the energy density exceeds a certain finite amount, we’d restore the inflationary state and destroy the Universe."

So why don't black holes restore the inflationary state and destroy the Universe? This and many other interesting follow up questions on our comments of the week!___

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2015-06-20 00:34:35 (1 comments, 12 reshares, 48 +1s)Open 

"This question has bothered me since I was a kid. If all the random molecular heat motion in an apple picked the same direction, how far would the apple go? And then what?"

Take a common, macroscopic object and imagine what’s going on inside at the level of individual particles. At a small, fundamental scale, they’re just bouncing off of one another, rapidly in motion due to the nature of kinetic theory. Each particle has a certain amount of energy, collides with other particles, and on average moves at a specific speed. If you aligned all these motions — somehow — how fast could you get that object to go? Pretty fast, it turns out: some 147 m/s, but there are two big physical reasons why that will never happen, one being momentum conservation and the other being that objects are solids. Find out the full story on this week's Ask Ethan!

"This question has bothered me since I was a kid. If all the random molecular heat motion in an apple picked the same direction, how far would the apple go? And then what?"

Take a common, macroscopic object and imagine what’s going on inside at the level of individual particles. At a small, fundamental scale, they’re just bouncing off of one another, rapidly in motion due to the nature of kinetic theory. Each particle has a certain amount of energy, collides with other particles, and on average moves at a specific speed. If you aligned all these motions — somehow — how fast could you get that object to go? Pretty fast, it turns out: some 147 m/s, but there are two big physical reasons why that will never happen, one being momentum conservation and the other being that objects are solids. Find out the full story on this week's Ask Ethan!___

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2015-06-18 22:53:28 (2 comments, 7 reshares, 32 +1s)Open 

"If someone tells you “the poles have shifted,” as some conspiracy theory sites may tell you periodically, this is a simple, straightforward and easy experiment you can perform to test it for yourself!

That’s one of the coolest things you can measure on the Solstice, and you don’t even need any astronomical equipment to do it. You could even do this, by following these same steps, on any planet."

Don't believe the conspiracy about the Earth's axial tilt changing. In fact, do one better and measure it for yourself, which you can do on Sunday, thanks to the solstice!

"If someone tells you “the poles have shifted,” as some conspiracy theory sites may tell you periodically, this is a simple, straightforward and easy experiment you can perform to test it for yourself!

That’s one of the coolest things you can measure on the Solstice, and you don’t even need any astronomical equipment to do it. You could even do this, by following these same steps, on any planet."

Don't believe the conspiracy about the Earth's axial tilt changing. In fact, do one better and measure it for yourself, which you can do on Sunday, thanks to the solstice!___

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2015-06-18 00:01:58 (10 comments, 17 reshares, 53 +1s)Open 

"[Y]our space would expand exponentially, be stretched flat, have the same properties everywhere, and when inflation came to an end, you’d get back a Universe that very much resembled our own. In addition, you’d also get five extra, new predictions out, things that all had not yet been observed at the time."

Inflation has five unique predictions that it made intrinsic to all (reasonable) models back in the 1980s, before any of them were known:

1.) A Flat Universe,
2.) A Universe with fluctuations on scales larger than light could’ve traveled across.
3.) A Universe whose fluctuations were adiabatic, or of equal entropy everywhere.
4.) A Universe where the spectrum of fluctuations were just slightly less than having a scale invariant (n_s
5.) And finally, a Universe with a particular spectrum of gravitational wave fluctuations.

How'd itdo? F... more »

"[Y]our space would expand exponentially, be stretched flat, have the same properties everywhere, and when inflation came to an end, you’d get back a Universe that very much resembled our own. In addition, you’d also get five extra, new predictions out, things that all had not yet been observed at the time."

Inflation has five unique predictions that it made intrinsic to all (reasonable) models back in the 1980s, before any of them were known:

1.) A Flat Universe,
2.) A Universe with fluctuations on scales larger than light could’ve traveled across.
3.) A Universe whose fluctuations were adiabatic, or of equal entropy everywhere.
4.) A Universe where the spectrum of fluctuations were just slightly less than having a scale invariant (n_s
5.) And finally, a Universe with a particular spectrum of gravitational wave fluctuations.

How'd it do? Find out!___

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2015-06-15 14:18:36 (14 comments, 10 reshares, 45 +1s)Open 

"Isn’t it time we did the best science that our technology had to offer? As great a success as Philae waking up is, and as much as we’ll learn over the coming months before it gets too hot and fries as it approaches the Sun, we’ll never know just how much more we would have learned if we didn’t lose those seven months, and whether or not those instrument failures would never have occurred if we simply used the technology we could have had to keep the equipment warm."

This past weekend, the Philae lander reawakened after seven dormant months, the best outcome that mission scientists could've hoped for with the way the mission unfolded. But the first probe to softly land on a comet ever would never have needed to hibernate at all if we had simply built it with the nuclear power capabilities it should've had. The seven months of lost data were completely unnecessary, andresulte... more »

"Isn’t it time we did the best science that our technology had to offer? As great a success as Philae waking up is, and as much as we’ll learn over the coming months before it gets too hot and fries as it approaches the Sun, we’ll never know just how much more we would have learned if we didn’t lose those seven months, and whether or not those instrument failures would never have occurred if we simply used the technology we could have had to keep the equipment warm."

This past weekend, the Philae lander reawakened after seven dormant months, the best outcome that mission scientists could've hoped for with the way the mission unfolded. But the first probe to softly land on a comet ever would never have needed to hibernate at all if we had simply built it with the nuclear power capabilities it should've had. The seven months of lost data were completely unnecessary, and resulted solely from the world's nuclear fears.___

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2015-06-15 13:00:44 (0 comments, 7 reshares, 81 +1s)Open 

“The region inside the bubble glows blue with the reflected light from stars, while the border of the bubble shows lots of different elemental signatures, including hydrogen, oxygen and sulfur, highlighted in this Hubble image in green, blue, and red, respectively. Over time, the neutral gas inside the bubble will completely evaporate, with the outer walls being pushed progressively outward, bringing an end to the formation of new stars.”

Thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope and its ability to hone in spectroscopically and at high resolution, we can learn exactly what happens inside the bubble, outside, and right on the border. It's a spectacular sight that teaches us a ton about the Universe.

“The region inside the bubble glows blue with the reflected light from stars, while the border of the bubble shows lots of different elemental signatures, including hydrogen, oxygen and sulfur, highlighted in this Hubble image in green, blue, and red, respectively. Over time, the neutral gas inside the bubble will completely evaporate, with the outer walls being pushed progressively outward, bringing an end to the formation of new stars.”

Thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope and its ability to hone in spectroscopically and at high resolution, we can learn exactly what happens inside the bubble, outside, and right on the border. It's a spectacular sight that teaches us a ton about the Universe.___

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2015-06-14 19:34:09 (1 comments, 5 reshares, 13 +1s)Open 

"There’s something special about setting up a restrictive set of rules for yourself that often allows you to create something more spectacular than what you would’ve made otherwise. This is true in art, in music, and even in the realm of science, where the restrictive “rules” of nature have brought about a diversity and variety of creations far greater than what any of us could’ve concocted."

Balloon animals as you've never imagined them before: accurate down to the finest detail possible, with no ingredients at all other than the balloons themselves. Fine work from artist Masayoshi Matsumoto.

"There’s something special about setting up a restrictive set of rules for yourself that often allows you to create something more spectacular than what you would’ve made otherwise. This is true in art, in music, and even in the realm of science, where the restrictive “rules” of nature have brought about a diversity and variety of creations far greater than what any of us could’ve concocted."

Balloon animals as you've never imagined them before: accurate down to the finest detail possible, with no ingredients at all other than the balloons themselves. Fine work from artist Masayoshi Matsumoto.___

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2015-06-13 14:05:04 (4 comments, 1 reshares, 19 +1s)Open 

"For my money, in hindsight, we probably got there in terms of dark energy in 2003 (where even if you took the supernova observations away entirely, we’d still have strong evidence for dark energy from the CMB and large-scale structure); I was only maybe one year too late before my doubts became too small to be considered reasonable anymore. But those who got there in 1998… well, they accepted what turned out to be right before I did, but they could have turned out to have looked as silly as the OPERA (faster-than-light neutrinos) team, or the BICEP2 (B-modes from inflation are real and r is huge) team, or countless other spurious results announced over the years."

Some great science -- speculative, real, how-to, and what isn't true -- in a little extra detail on our comments of the week!

"For my money, in hindsight, we probably got there in terms of dark energy in 2003 (where even if you took the supernova observations away entirely, we’d still have strong evidence for dark energy from the CMB and large-scale structure); I was only maybe one year too late before my doubts became too small to be considered reasonable anymore. But those who got there in 1998… well, they accepted what turned out to be right before I did, but they could have turned out to have looked as silly as the OPERA (faster-than-light neutrinos) team, or the BICEP2 (B-modes from inflation are real and r is huge) team, or countless other spurious results announced over the years."

Some great science -- speculative, real, how-to, and what isn't true -- in a little extra detail on our comments of the week!___

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2015-06-13 03:37:10 (3 comments, 8 reshares, 35 +1s)Open 

"I teach 8th grade science and my students have been learning about heat and temperature. As part of this we’ve looked at the concept of absolute zero, what it means and how it relates to the motion of atoms. My students want to know if there is a maximum temperature that can occur in nature, or is there no upper limit."

You might think not, that while things like molecules, atoms, protons and even matter will break down at high enough temperatures, you can always push your system hotter and hotter. But it turns out that the Universe limits what’s actually possible, as your physical system will self-destruct beyond a certain point.
What is that point, and how will it get there? Find out on this week’s Ask Ethan!

"I teach 8th grade science and my students have been learning about heat and temperature. As part of this we’ve looked at the concept of absolute zero, what it means and how it relates to the motion of atoms. My students want to know if there is a maximum temperature that can occur in nature, or is there no upper limit."

You might think not, that while things like molecules, atoms, protons and even matter will break down at high enough temperatures, you can always push your system hotter and hotter. But it turns out that the Universe limits what’s actually possible, as your physical system will self-destruct beyond a certain point.
What is that point, and how will it get there? Find out on this week’s Ask Ethan!___

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2015-06-11 19:11:43 (4 comments, 9 reshares, 29 +1s)Open 

“We normally talk about the weak interaction in the context above: some type of radioactive decay. It’s either a heavy quark-or-lepton decaying into lighter, more stable quarks-and-leptons. The weak force certainly does this, among other things. But that doesn’t sound like our other forces, does it?”

Shouldn't the weak force, you know, be a force? Shouldn't there be a weak charge and attraction or repulsion based on that charge? As it turns out, there ought to be one, but due to the fact that it's less than one-millionth the strength of the electromagnetic interaction, we were unable to measure it. Until 2013, that is, when we did for the first time!

“We normally talk about the weak interaction in the context above: some type of radioactive decay. It’s either a heavy quark-or-lepton decaying into lighter, more stable quarks-and-leptons. The weak force certainly does this, among other things. But that doesn’t sound like our other forces, does it?”

Shouldn't the weak force, you know, be a force? Shouldn't there be a weak charge and attraction or repulsion based on that charge? As it turns out, there ought to be one, but due to the fact that it's less than one-millionth the strength of the electromagnetic interaction, we were unable to measure it. Until 2013, that is, when we did for the first time!___

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2015-06-10 21:38:58 (3 comments, 19 reshares, 43 +1s)Open 

"The moment the first star is born, some 50-to-100 million years after the Big Bang, copious amounts of hydrogen start fusing into helium. But even more importantly, the most massive stars (the ones more than about 8 times as massive as our Sun) burn through that fuel very quickly, in just a few million years themselves. Once they run out of hydrogen in their cores, that helium core contracts down and starts fusing three helium nuclei into carbon! It only takes approximately a trillion of these heavy stars existing in the entire Universe for lithium to be defeated."

Shortly after the Big Bang, the first nuclear fusion reactions occurred in the Universe, filling it with hydrogen, helium, and little else. Billions of years later, huge numbers of stars have lived and died, creating copious amounts of heavy elements, running the full gamut of the periodic table. After all this time,... more »

"The moment the first star is born, some 50-to-100 million years after the Big Bang, copious amounts of hydrogen start fusing into helium. But even more importantly, the most massive stars (the ones more than about 8 times as massive as our Sun) burn through that fuel very quickly, in just a few million years themselves. Once they run out of hydrogen in their cores, that helium core contracts down and starts fusing three helium nuclei into carbon! It only takes approximately a trillion of these heavy stars existing in the entire Universe for lithium to be defeated."

Shortly after the Big Bang, the first nuclear fusion reactions occurred in the Universe, filling it with hydrogen, helium, and little else. Billions of years later, huge numbers of stars have lived and died, creating copious amounts of heavy elements, running the full gamut of the periodic table. After all this time, hydrogen is still the most abundant element, followed by helium, although the gap is closer now than it was to start. But who’s third?___

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2015-06-10 16:04:16 (0 comments, 7 reshares, 35 +1s)Open 

"On October 7, 1935, Niels Bohr celebrated his 50th birthday. His friends, colleagues and former students didn’t want to trouble him with a collection of serious essays. Instead, they decided to pen a humor journal: The Journal of Jocular Physics."

How the "boring world of Niels Bohr" inspired the (real!) Journal of Jocular Physics, published from 1935-1955.

"On October 7, 1935, Niels Bohr celebrated his 50th birthday. His friends, colleagues and former students didn’t want to trouble him with a collection of serious essays. Instead, they decided to pen a humor journal: The Journal of Jocular Physics."

How the "boring world of Niels Bohr" inspired the (real!) Journal of Jocular Physics, published from 1935-1955.___

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2015-06-10 00:54:19 (3 comments, 3 reshares, 22 +1s)Open 

“We shall have the basic framework of the quantum theory of gravity by 2010, 2015 at the outside.” -Lee Smolin, 2001

It's 2015 now, and we're not even close. But that doesn't mean we haven't come a long way! +Sabine Hossenfelder has an exclusive interview with Lee Smolin about the state of the field of quantum gravity -- both theoretically and experimentally -- including where we've come to, how we got here, and what we have left to do. For those curious about quantum gravity, there's no better source than this!

“We shall have the basic framework of the quantum theory of gravity by 2010, 2015 at the outside.” -Lee Smolin, 2001

It's 2015 now, and we're not even close. But that doesn't mean we haven't come a long way! +Sabine Hossenfelder has an exclusive interview with Lee Smolin about the state of the field of quantum gravity -- both theoretically and experimentally -- including where we've come to, how we got here, and what we have left to do. For those curious about quantum gravity, there's no better source than this!___

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2015-06-08 14:02:47 (58 comments, 64 reshares, 150 +1s)Open 

"But there’s an inevitable conclusion that this leads to that’s even more disturbing. It means that, at a particular, key distance from us, the expansion of the fabric of space itself makes it so that a photon either leaving our galaxy towards a distant one or leaving a distant galaxy headed towards ours will never reach us. The expansion rate of the Universe is so great that distant galaxies become unreachable to our own, even if we were to move at the speed of light!"

97% of the galaxies in the Universe are unreachable, and we're losing an additional ~20,000 stars with every second. Have a nice day.

"But there’s an inevitable conclusion that this leads to that’s even more disturbing. It means that, at a particular, key distance from us, the expansion of the fabric of space itself makes it so that a photon either leaving our galaxy towards a distant one or leaving a distant galaxy headed towards ours will never reach us. The expansion rate of the Universe is so great that distant galaxies become unreachable to our own, even if we were to move at the speed of light!"

97% of the galaxies in the Universe are unreachable, and we're losing an additional ~20,000 stars with every second. Have a nice day.___

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2015-06-08 12:57:53 (2 comments, 15 reshares, 116 +1s)Open 

“Within our Milky Way, one of the newest, largest concentrations of stars is found at the heart of the nebula RCW 49 in Carina, some 14–20,000 light years away in the galactic plane: the star cluster Westerlund 2. Containing over 3,000 unique stars (and possibly many more), the hottest blue giants burn at brightnesses millions of times our Sun’s luminosity, with blue reflected light mingling with the red signature of excited hydrogen.”

Recently imaged in great detail by the Hubble Space Telescope for its 25th anniversary, a huge slew of interesting features abound, including some of the hottest, youngest stars known and ridges, pillars and valleys formed by the UV radiation. Most interestingly, it may yet turn out to be the location of the next supernova visible from Earth within our galaxy.

“Within our Milky Way, one of the newest, largest concentrations of stars is found at the heart of the nebula RCW 49 in Carina, some 14–20,000 light years away in the galactic plane: the star cluster Westerlund 2. Containing over 3,000 unique stars (and possibly many more), the hottest blue giants burn at brightnesses millions of times our Sun’s luminosity, with blue reflected light mingling with the red signature of excited hydrogen.”

Recently imaged in great detail by the Hubble Space Telescope for its 25th anniversary, a huge slew of interesting features abound, including some of the hottest, youngest stars known and ridges, pillars and valleys formed by the UV radiation. Most interestingly, it may yet turn out to be the location of the next supernova visible from Earth within our galaxy.___

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2015-06-07 20:28:33 (0 comments, 2 reshares, 21 +1s)Open 

"Living a lie is often easier than confronting the truth, but when we do, and bask in its light, there’s else nothing like it in the Universe. We all remember Descartes “cogito ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am), but perhaps a better form of this is given by “dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum,” which is to say, I doubt, therefore I think, and therefore I am.

Be confident, but never certain, and all the knowledge in the world — and beyond — is yours for the taking."

Like learning? Curious about new things? Open to overcoming your preconceptions? Then read this, and get ready for a spectacular LIVE EVENT in Portland, OR on June 22nd, with me and six other experts at the Hollywood Theatre. Don't miss it!

"Living a lie is often easier than confronting the truth, but when we do, and bask in its light, there’s else nothing like it in the Universe. We all remember Descartes “cogito ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am), but perhaps a better form of this is given by “dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum,” which is to say, I doubt, therefore I think, and therefore I am.

Be confident, but never certain, and all the knowledge in the world — and beyond — is yours for the taking."

Like learning? Curious about new things? Open to overcoming your preconceptions? Then read this, and get ready for a spectacular LIVE EVENT in Portland, OR on June 22nd, with me and six other experts at the Hollywood Theatre. Don't miss it!___

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2015-06-06 14:27:12 (3 comments, 2 reshares, 18 +1s)Open 

“Isn't science wonderful? I mean, think about it for a moment, all we've got here is one picture of the three most prominent objects in our experience: Earth, the Moon and the Sun. We've got a snapshot of one moment, taken with a run-of-the-mill camera. And there's so much we can learn just be applying mathematics to what we observe. That's how the scientific process works, and this is a classic example of how you could learn all about the Universe just by asking it questions about itself.”

We’ve had an amazing week of science; come learn a little more about everything we’ve touched on for our Comments of the Week!

“Isn't science wonderful? I mean, think about it for a moment, all we've got here is one picture of the three most prominent objects in our experience: Earth, the Moon and the Sun. We've got a snapshot of one moment, taken with a run-of-the-mill camera. And there's so much we can learn just be applying mathematics to what we observe. That's how the scientific process works, and this is a classic example of how you could learn all about the Universe just by asking it questions about itself.”

We’ve had an amazing week of science; come learn a little more about everything we’ve touched on for our Comments of the Week!___

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2015-06-06 00:11:41 (4 comments, 24 reshares, 46 +1s)Open 

"Amazingly, what it indicated was perfectly in line with what the LHC wound up finding. It’s such an amazing prediction that if asymptotic safety is correct, and — when the error bars are beaten down further — the masses of the top quark, the W-boson and the Higgs boson are finalized, there may not even be a need for any other fundamental particles (like SUSY particles) for physics to be stable all the way up to the Planck scale."

It’s a difficult fact to accept: our two most fundamental theories that describe reality, General Relativity for gravitation and the Standard Model / Quantum Field Theory for the other three forces, are fundamentally incompatible with one another. When an electron moves through a double slit, for example, its gravitational field can’t move through both slits, at least not without a quantum theory of gravity. String Theory is often touted asthe only game in ... more »

"Amazingly, what it indicated was perfectly in line with what the LHC wound up finding. It’s such an amazing prediction that if asymptotic safety is correct, and — when the error bars are beaten down further — the masses of the top quark, the W-boson and the Higgs boson are finalized, there may not even be a need for any other fundamental particles (like SUSY particles) for physics to be stable all the way up to the Planck scale."

It’s a difficult fact to accept: our two most fundamental theories that describe reality, General Relativity for gravitation and the Standard Model / Quantum Field Theory for the other three forces, are fundamentally incompatible with one another. When an electron moves through a double slit, for example, its gravitational field can’t move through both slits, at least not without a quantum theory of gravity. String Theory is often touted as the only game in town as far as formulating a quantum theory of gravity is concerned, but in fact there are five viable options, each with different pros, cons, and approaches to the problem. Many of them, in fact, have undergone significant developments in the past 5-10 years, something String Theory cannot claim.___

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2015-06-05 00:05:16 (5 comments, 10 reshares, 55 +1s)Open 

"What’s amazing is that even if you weren’t being pelted with infalling light that catches up to you from behind — which accounts for the “half” of the visible Universe that still has something to show you — you could still bring gravitational sensors on board. Once you crossed the event horizon, whether there’s light or not, you’d find something shocking.

Your sensors tell you there’s a gravitational gradient that’s downhill, towards a singularity, in all directions! The gradient even appears to go downhill towards the singularity directly behind you, in the direction that you knew is completely opposite to the singularity!"

When you travel towards an object like a moon, planet or star, the closer you get, the larger it appears. Halve the distance and its angular size doubles; reduce the distance to a quarter and it appears four times as large.But for black holes, their ... more »

"What’s amazing is that even if you weren’t being pelted with infalling light that catches up to you from behind — which accounts for the “half” of the visible Universe that still has something to show you — you could still bring gravitational sensors on board. Once you crossed the event horizon, whether there’s light or not, you’d find something shocking.

Your sensors tell you there’s a gravitational gradient that’s downhill, towards a singularity, in all directions! The gradient even appears to go downhill towards the singularity directly behind you, in the direction that you knew is completely opposite to the singularity!"

When you travel towards an object like a moon, planet or star, the closer you get, the larger it appears. Halve the distance and its angular size doubles; reduce the distance to a quarter and it appears four times as large. But for black holes, their gravitation is so strong that relation no longer holds as you approach the event horizon. Instead, the region of “blackness” increases much faster than you’d expect, eventually taking over a full half of the sky as you crossed the event horizon and causing all the light-paths to contract down to a point behind you the instant before you hit the singularity.___

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2015-06-03 22:48:25 (3 comments, 8 reshares, 48 +1s)Open 

"If you were on a fixed point on the surface of Nix, you’d see the Sun rise in the east on one day, then at an ever-changing angle over the next few days, and eventually it would rise in the west, cycling through in chaotic fashion.

Hydra tells a similar story, and although the spacecraft isn’t close enough to measure the rotational properties of Styx and Kerberos, they very likely rotate chaotically as well."

The only known world in the Solar System where a significant fraction of the system’s mass is not in a single component, the outer moons of the Pluto-Charon system provide a unique environment to study how planets might behave in orbit around binary stars. The amazing takeaway? The rotational part of the orbit is chaotic; the worlds tumble, and hence sunrises and sunsets are no longer predictable.

"If you were on a fixed point on the surface of Nix, you’d see the Sun rise in the east on one day, then at an ever-changing angle over the next few days, and eventually it would rise in the west, cycling through in chaotic fashion.

Hydra tells a similar story, and although the spacecraft isn’t close enough to measure the rotational properties of Styx and Kerberos, they very likely rotate chaotically as well."

The only known world in the Solar System where a significant fraction of the system’s mass is not in a single component, the outer moons of the Pluto-Charon system provide a unique environment to study how planets might behave in orbit around binary stars. The amazing takeaway? The rotational part of the orbit is chaotic; the worlds tumble, and hence sunrises and sunsets are no longer predictable.___

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2015-06-03 16:11:28 (8 comments, 2 reshares, 33 +1s)Open 

"The proposed accelerations for the Hyperloop are a factor of seven greater than the Shinkansen in Japan allow for concerning human passengers, as humans can only handle about 0.2g’s (or about 2 m/s^2) of acceleration in the up-and-down or side-to-side directions. More than that? You’re virtually guaranteed a trip to phoning the porcelain God. You might enjoy riding a roller coaster for one or two minutes at a time, but it would take a superhuman to enjoy (or even tolerate) a trip like this for an entire half-hour, which is the San Francisco-Los Angeles travel time on the Hyperloop."

Elon Musk's Hyperloop: is it just a vomit comet for the rest of us?

"The proposed accelerations for the Hyperloop are a factor of seven greater than the Shinkansen in Japan allow for concerning human passengers, as humans can only handle about 0.2g’s (or about 2 m/s^2) of acceleration in the up-and-down or side-to-side directions. More than that? You’re virtually guaranteed a trip to phoning the porcelain God. You might enjoy riding a roller coaster for one or two minutes at a time, but it would take a superhuman to enjoy (or even tolerate) a trip like this for an entire half-hour, which is the San Francisco-Los Angeles travel time on the Hyperloop."

Elon Musk's Hyperloop: is it just a vomit comet for the rest of us?___

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2015-06-01 15:24:40 (0 comments, 1 reshares, 22 +1s)Open 

"Put all of these facts together, and you’ve got two options for the most luminous galaxy in the Universe:

1.) it would either be a very, very young, blue galaxy undergoing a very large starburst, or
2.) it would be a somewhat redder galaxy whose central black hole is undergoing tremendous, sustained activity."

How the brightest galaxy in the Universe got to be that way, and why it won't stay that way for long.

"Put all of these facts together, and you’ve got two options for the most luminous galaxy in the Universe:

1.) it would either be a very, very young, blue galaxy undergoing a very large starburst, or
2.) it would be a somewhat redder galaxy whose central black hole is undergoing tremendous, sustained activity."

How the brightest galaxy in the Universe got to be that way, and why it won't stay that way for long.___

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2015-06-01 15:12:27 (0 comments, 3 reshares, 35 +1s)Open 

“The thinnest layers of the upper atmosphere turn blue, as the indirect sunlight gets scattered very efficiently: the same reason Earth’s sky appears blue during the day. It’s only where the Sun’s light shines through large amounts of atmosphere — closest to the horizon — that the blue light is preferentially scattered away, leaving a reddish/orange color behind. While the disk of the Sun itself turns a bright yellow, then orange, then red during sunset on our surface, it transitions to pure white extremely rapidly in space.”

While we're used to dramatic, slow sunsets where it takes between two and three minutes simply for the Sun's disk to drop below the horizon, it takes mere seconds for the Sun to go from a barely-visible red glow to a brilliant, blinding white. In the space of a few breaths, the entire thing is over, a sight that only around 500 people have everexperienced firsthand... more »

“The thinnest layers of the upper atmosphere turn blue, as the indirect sunlight gets scattered very efficiently: the same reason Earth’s sky appears blue during the day. It’s only where the Sun’s light shines through large amounts of atmosphere — closest to the horizon — that the blue light is preferentially scattered away, leaving a reddish/orange color behind. While the disk of the Sun itself turns a bright yellow, then orange, then red during sunset on our surface, it transitions to pure white extremely rapidly in space.”

While we're used to dramatic, slow sunsets where it takes between two and three minutes simply for the Sun's disk to drop below the horizon, it takes mere seconds for the Sun to go from a barely-visible red glow to a brilliant, blinding white. In the space of a few breaths, the entire thing is over, a sight that only around 500 people have ever experienced firsthand.___

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2015-05-31 23:13:48 (1 comments, 3 reshares, 16 +1s)Open 

"We’ve now reached a point where we publish about five-to-seven new pieces each and every week on Starts With A Bang, and just as I love the Universe, I love getting to share its stories — and the story it tells us about ourselves — with all of you. The story of what the Universe is like from the smallest scales to the largest; the story from the earliest times to the present day and beyond into the far future; the story of everything that exists and how it came to be the way it is.

It’s literally the greatest story one could ever tell."

If you like Starts With A Bang and all the stories we tell about the Universe, consider supporting our Patreon, and help us keep absolutely everything free to read for everyone in the world while keeping me and all our contributors paid. At the same time, you'll help us create new, wonderful things, and also get a shot atsome amazing re... more »

"We’ve now reached a point where we publish about five-to-seven new pieces each and every week on Starts With A Bang, and just as I love the Universe, I love getting to share its stories — and the story it tells us about ourselves — with all of you. The story of what the Universe is like from the smallest scales to the largest; the story from the earliest times to the present day and beyond into the far future; the story of everything that exists and how it came to be the way it is.

It’s literally the greatest story one could ever tell."

If you like Starts With A Bang and all the stories we tell about the Universe, consider supporting our Patreon, and help us keep absolutely everything free to read for everyone in the world while keeping me and all our contributors paid. At the same time, you'll help us create new, wonderful things, and also get a shot at some amazing rewards!___

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2015-05-30 13:11:39 (7 comments, 2 reshares, 26 +1s)Open 

"I thought black holes couldn’t emit anything.”

That’s true, if by “emit anything” you mean “from inside the event horizon to outside the event horizon.” But everything you’re seeing in this image was emitted from outside the event horizon and remained outside the event horizon at all times. Just because much of the emitting matter wound up, afterwards, inside the black hole, doesn’t pose a problem for this type of phenomenon. Note that this applies to all quasars, AGNs, blazars, magnetars, active black holes and microquasars everywhere in the Universe."

Plus E=mc^2, more on Sally Ride, a perfect solution to the see saw problem and plenty more on this edition of Comments of the Week!

"I thought black holes couldn’t emit anything.”

That’s true, if by “emit anything” you mean “from inside the event horizon to outside the event horizon.” But everything you’re seeing in this image was emitted from outside the event horizon and remained outside the event horizon at all times. Just because much of the emitting matter wound up, afterwards, inside the black hole, doesn’t pose a problem for this type of phenomenon. Note that this applies to all quasars, AGNs, blazars, magnetars, active black holes and microquasars everywhere in the Universe."

Plus E=mc^2, more on Sally Ride, a perfect solution to the see saw problem and plenty more on this edition of Comments of the Week!___

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2015-05-30 01:15:33 (2 comments, 8 reshares, 25 +1s)Open 

"But if we can take advantage of the time dilation effect of muons, the ultimate machine may very well be a muon collider, as the factor of 206 in mass increase over an electron means that it would lose two billion times less energy than an electron would with every pass around the ring."

A pipe dream and the stuff of science fiction just 20 years ago, recent advances have this on the brink of becoming reality, with a legitimate possibility that a muon-antimuon collider will be the LHC’s successor.

"But if we can take advantage of the time dilation effect of muons, the ultimate machine may very well be a muon collider, as the factor of 206 in mass increase over an electron means that it would lose two billion times less energy than an electron would with every pass around the ring."

A pipe dream and the stuff of science fiction just 20 years ago, recent advances have this on the brink of becoming reality, with a legitimate possibility that a muon-antimuon collider will be the LHC’s successor.___

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2015-05-29 21:05:40 (52 comments, 13 reshares, 69 +1s)Open 

"Does a black hole have a shape? Is there a front and back or side view? Does it look the same from all vantage points?"

When you think about a black hole, you very likely think about a large amount of mass, pulled towards a central location by the tremendous force of gravity. While black holes themselves may be perfectly spherical (or for rotating black holes, almost perfectly spherical), there are important physical cases that can cause them to look tremendously asymmetrical, including the possession of an accretion disk and, in the most extreme case, a merger with another black hole.

"Does a black hole have a shape? Is there a front and back or side view? Does it look the same from all vantage points?"

When you think about a black hole, you very likely think about a large amount of mass, pulled towards a central location by the tremendous force of gravity. While black holes themselves may be perfectly spherical (or for rotating black holes, almost perfectly spherical), there are important physical cases that can cause them to look tremendously asymmetrical, including the possession of an accretion disk and, in the most extreme case, a merger with another black hole.___

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2015-05-29 18:54:49 (0 comments, 3 reshares, 11 +1s)Open 

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2015-05-29 18:26:10 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 7 +1s)Open 

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2015-05-29 17:31:03 (3 comments, 7 reshares, 34 +1s)Open 

"Eventually all reachable stars in our region will either be burned-out stellar relics, neutron stars (ultradense stellar cores), or black holes (the ultimate state of collapse for massive stars, resulting in gravitational wells from which nothing can escape directly, not even light). Black holes slowly release their energy through the process of Hawking radiation, so they are hardly immortal. Meanwhile space will continue to expand and cool, serving as a kind of vast deep freezer full of the frozen corpses of once shining stars."

Even while we head towards the heat death of the Universe, it may be possible for intelligence in an artificial form to continue for an extraordinarily long time: possibly for as long as a googol years. But, that's still not quite forever. Eventually, it all must end, as +Paul Halpern  explains.

"Eventually all reachable stars in our region will either be burned-out stellar relics, neutron stars (ultradense stellar cores), or black holes (the ultimate state of collapse for massive stars, resulting in gravitational wells from which nothing can escape directly, not even light). Black holes slowly release their energy through the process of Hawking radiation, so they are hardly immortal. Meanwhile space will continue to expand and cool, serving as a kind of vast deep freezer full of the frozen corpses of once shining stars."

Even while we head towards the heat death of the Universe, it may be possible for intelligence in an artificial form to continue for an extraordinarily long time: possibly for as long as a googol years. But, that's still not quite forever. Eventually, it all must end, as +Paul Halpern  explains.___

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2015-05-29 01:51:34 (9 comments, 17 reshares, 84 +1s)Open 

"This Friday marks the 96th anniversary of one of the most important historical events in all of science. We can look back at all the time that’s passed, and find that every single prediction of Einstein’s gravity that’s ever been tested — from gravitational lensing to binary pulsar decay to time dilation in a gravitational field — has confirmed General Relativity as perhaps the most successful physical theory of all-time. It all goes back to one fateful day, nearly a century ago, and our understanding of the Universe has never been the same since."

That time when, after 200+ years, we changed the laws of gravity. THAT'S a throwback thursday/flashback friday!

"This Friday marks the 96th anniversary of one of the most important historical events in all of science. We can look back at all the time that’s passed, and find that every single prediction of Einstein’s gravity that’s ever been tested — from gravitational lensing to binary pulsar decay to time dilation in a gravitational field — has confirmed General Relativity as perhaps the most successful physical theory of all-time. It all goes back to one fateful day, nearly a century ago, and our understanding of the Universe has never been the same since."

That time when, after 200+ years, we changed the laws of gravity. THAT'S a throwback thursday/flashback friday!___

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