Today’s stories range from The “Sci-Fi Star” – Is there an origin in the dark universe for gravitational waves? to a new place for consciousness in our understanding of the universe, to massive black holes behaving like quantum particles, and much more. The Galaxy Report brings you news from space and science that may provide clues to the mystery of our existence, adding a much-needed cosmic perspective in our current Anthropocene epoch.
Extraterrestrial Life: What Would Constitute Gun-Smoking Evidence? – Several lines of evidence – physical, chemical and biological – must converge for scientists to conclude that extraterrestrial life has been found, Big Think reports.
Jupiter’s Alien Twin – Kepler telescope delivers new planet discovery from the grave, reports the Jodrell Bank Center for Astrophysics “Exoplanet K2-2016-BLG-0005Lb, which is almost identical to Jupiter in terms of its mass and distance from the Sun, was discovered using data acquired in 2016 by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope were received. The exoplanetary system is twice as distant as any previously seen by Kepler, which found over 2,700 confirmed planets before ceasing operations in 2018.”
Beyond the second law -Thanks to the power of fluctuation relationships, physicists are bringing the second law of thermodynamics to settings once thought impossible, reports Dr. Nicole Yunger Halpern for Quanta.com. Halpern is a Harvard postdoctoral researcher reinterpreting 19th-century thermodynamics for the 21st century—small, quantum mechanical, and far-from-equilibrium contexts—using the mathematical toolkit of quantum information theory.
1967: Carl Sagan and Frank Drake on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence – There can be little doubt that civilizations more advanced than Earth’s exist elsewhere in the universe. The likelihood of finding one of them requires significant effort, reports Scientific American. “Is humanity alone in the universe?” they ask, “Or are there other intelligent beings somewhere, peering into their night sky from entirely different worlds, asking the same question?”
Where did the universe come from? asks Ethan Siegel about Big Think. To answer a physics question, you have to ask the universe itself. But what happens when the answers are no longer there? The further back we go, the more we encounter an inevitable problem: the universe cannot provide answers beyond a certain point. What we make of it is up to us.”
“Ping-Pong-sized Monsters” – Primeval Black Holes Could Be Any Size Anywhere in the Milky Way reports Maxell Moe for The Daily Galaxy. “Recent studies show that migratory, nomadic black holes less than 10 billion solar masses far outnumber the central supermassive black holes in the universe as a whole, which would make for interesting, if not dangerous, future explorations of our Milky Way by spacecraft!”
NASA’s new message for extraterrestrials -An updated message could be broadcast for extraterrestrial listeners hoping to make first contact, Daniel Oberhaus reports for Scientific American. “NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory published the paper ‘Beacon in the Galaxy’ which was intended as a basic introduction to mathematics, chemistry and biology. The researchers included a detailed plan for the best time of year to send the message, and suggested a dense ring of stars near the center of our galaxy as a promising target.
Hubble Space Telescope Discovers the Most Distant Star Ever Seen, which offers a glimpse 12.8 billion years into the past – A star in a galaxy now more than 27 billion light-years away could help us understand the very first stars after the Big Bang. Since light takes time to travel through the universe, this means we are seeing the star as it existed just 900 million years after the Big Bang, offering a potentially valuable insight into the early universe.”
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope hunt for extraterrestrial life gets new clues – If a rocky exoplanet meets these specific conditions, it could also harbor a few extraterrestrial beings, reports C/Net. “To pursue this question, scientists published a paper Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences to explain what exactly Webb should be looking for in the search for extraterrestrial life. The short answer is methane, a molecule with four hydrogen atoms and one carbon.
A new place for consciousness in our understanding of the universe –In order to understand mysteries such as quantum mechanics and the passage of time, theorists are attempting to reformulate physics to include subjective experience as a physical part of the world, reports New scientist. “There is no more difficult and perplexing question,” says Lee Smolin, a theoretical physicist. We will never understand the mysteries of the universe unless we reinvent the relationship between matter and spirit.”
“Ten billionths of cosmic history” – Previous homo species could not survive – The human experience on our pale blue dot “has spanned less than 10 billionths of cosmic history, surrounded by vast, lifeless space, and yet we humans congratulate ourselves,” says Peter Brannen, author of Ends of the World, of the current reign of humans recently dubbed the Anthropocene — the nuclear-age period of the 1950s when human activity had the dominant impact on climate and the environment, reports The Daily Galaxy.
How Einstein came up with his general theory of relativity –“In 1907, two years after he had proposed his special theory of relativity, Einstein asked himself: How does Newton’s theory of gravitation fit with his principles? The simple answer: it doesn’t. This was actually related to a flaw in Newton’s law of gravitation, which was clear from the moment he proclaimed it, reports LitHub.
Huge ice volcanoes on Pluto, unique in the solar system, reports NASA’s New Horizons mission – “Scientists from NASA’s New Horizons mission team have determined that multiple episodes of cryovolcanism may have created surface features on Pluto not seen anywhere else in the solar system. Material ejected from beneath the surface of this distant, frigid planet may have created a region of large domes and elevations flanked by hills, hills, and depressions. New Horizons was NASA’s first exploration of Pluto and its five-moon system.”
The “Sci-Fi Star” – Is there an origin in the dark universe for gravitational waves? asks Maxwell Moe for The Daily Galaxy. “Scientists working at the frontier of particle physics propose the existence of a theoretical exotic, ultralight boson with a mass billions of times smaller than that of the electron. They’re searching for a “darker” origin of waves in spacetime while proving the existence of a dark matter particle — one of science’s biggest questions.
Mysterious death of a carbon star, reports the NRAO. “Scientists studying V Hydrae (V Hya), a carbon-rich asymptotic giant branch star (AGB), have witnessed the star’s mysterious death spasms in unprecedented detail. Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and Hubble Space Telescope (HST) data, the team discovered six slowly expanding rings and two hourglass-shaped structures caused by the high-velocity ejection of matter into space.”
Massive black holes that behave like quantum particles –Physicists use quantum mathematics to understand what happens when black holes collide. Surprisingly, they have shown that a single particle can describe the entire gravitational wave of a collision, reports Charlie Wood for Quanta. “Physicists falter when they try to use Einstein’s tricky equations to extract ultra-precise forms of all possible reverberations. These currently unrecognizable details will be essential to fully understand the subtle waves that next-generation observatories should be able to pick up.”
A new tool for finding dark matter doesn’t dig up anything –Physicists are developing clever new ways to exploit the extreme sensitivity of gravitational-wave detectors like LIGO. But so far they haven’t seen any signs of exoticism, reports Thomas Lewton for Quanta.com
Thirteen new pulsars discovered with MeerKAT reports Tomasz Nowakowski for Phys.org – “Using the MeerKAT radio telescope, an international team of astronomers has discovered 13 new pulsars in the globular cluster NGC 1851. Twelve of them turned out to be millisecond pulsars (MSPs).”
Astronomers Unveil Remarkable Simulations of the Early Universe, from the Middle Ages to First Light, reports Harvard CfA – “New high-resolution simulations show that a million galaxies formed about 13 billion years ago. It looks like fireflies flickering in the dark. More and more slowly pile up, lighting up the screen in big chunks and clusters. But this is not a video about insects. It is a simulation of the early Universe, a time after the Big Bang when the cosmos transformed from a place of total darkness to a radiant, light-filled environment.”
A primordial “magnetic soul” pervades the universe, reports Maxwell Moe for The Daily Galaxy. “The world’s astronomers are increasingly exploring the mystery of where the tremendous magnetic fields that permeate our universe come from – from Earth to Mars, to the Milky Way, to intergalactic voids and beyond to the darkest, most remote regions of the cosmos.”
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