Dec 9, 2022


Rare cosmic collision acted like one of the ‘factories of gold’ in the universe

“When we followed this long gamma-ray burst, we expected it would lead to evidence of a massive star collapse,” Fong said. “Instead, what we found was very different. When I entered the field 15 years ago, it was set in stone that long gamma-ray bursts come from massive star collapses. This unexpected finding not only represents a major shift in our understanding, but also excitingly opens up a new window for discovery.”

Neutron stars are compact cosmic objects, so researchers never expected them to contain enough material to create a gamma-ray burst that could last nearly a minute.

The explosion occurred in a galaxy about 1 billion light-years away from Earth. Since the event happened relatively close, astronomically speaking, astronomers used multiple telescopes to glean unprecedented detail.

“We found that this one event produced about 1,000 times the mass of the Earth in very heavy elements. This supports the idea that these kilonovae are the main factories of gold in the Universe,” said Dr. Matt Nicholl, an associate professor at the University of Birmingham in the UK and coauthor of one of the Nature Astronomy studies, in a statement.

An extinction-level asteroid that could someday hit Earth was found hiding near Venus

Those who have driven a car are surely familiar with the idea of blind spots — the areas around you where you can't easily see, and thus, are uniquely vulnerable to threats. That principle applies to asteroid hunting just as easily. As telescope technology continues to advance, astronomers have used their scopes to peer into those nearby areas of our solar system that are normally difficult to observe.

This brings us to the recent telescopic observations at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. As the scientists there published in September in The Astronomical Journal, there are three near-Earth asteroids (or NEAs) hiding within the glare of the sun, and which apparently had not been previously noticed. These particular asteroids are lurking between the orbits of Earth and its closest neighbor in the direction of the Sun, Venus. One of them is the largest potentially hazardous NEA spotted in eight years.

The finding is particularly alarming because they suggest that there are some uncatalogued potentially dangerous asteroids that humanity has missed in its quest to catalogue and identify possible civilization-destroying asteroids or comets. In particular, the newly-discovered asteroid dubbed 2022 AP7 orbits the Sun in such a manner that it might someday intersect and strike Earth.

The B612 Foundation, a nonprofit focused on protecting the planet from impacts by dangerous space objects, is focused on stopping humanity from suffering the same fate as the dinosaurs. "This study shows that we still have a ways to go discovering and tracking asteroids that could hit the Earth," said Dr. Ed Lu, three-time NASA astronaut and the Executive Director of the B612 Foundation's Asteroid Institute. "We have the technology to deflect asteroids, but this technology is only useful if we can discover and track asteroids first."

7 times NASA's James Webb Space Telescope spotted something Hubble missed

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has been delivering mind-blowing views of the cosmos since it began science operations in the summer.

Before Webb, astronomers had another workhorse cosmic observatory: the Hubble Space Telescope. Both are space-based telescopes, but they differ in many ways. Hubble sees ultraviolet light, visible light, and a small slice of infrared, while Webb looks at the universe across the infrared spectrum.

Webb is 100 times stronger than Hubble, which allows astronomers to peer even further into space. As its first few months of observations have proved, Webb is capable of taking the most striking shots yet of the universe.

. . .

One of the first images that NASA shared from Webb was a "deep field" image — a long-exposure observation of a region of the sky, which allows the telescope to capture the light of extremely faint, distant objects. The image took less than a day to capture, according to NASA.

Scientists create ‘baby’ wormhole as sci-fi moves closer to fact

Scientists have long pursued a deeper understanding of wormholes and now appear to be making progress. Researchers announced on Wednesday that they forged two minuscule simulated black holes – those extraordinarily dense celestial objects with gravity so powerful that not even light can escape – in a quantum computer and transmitted a message between them through what amounted to a tunnel in space-time.

. . .

The researchers observed the wormhole dynamics on a quantum device at Alphabet’s Google called the Sycamore quantum processor.

A wormhole - a rupture in space and time - is considered a bridge between two remote regions in the universe. Scientists refer to them as Einstein-Rosen bridges after the two physicists who described them – Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen.

Such wormholes are consistent with Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which focuses on gravity, one of the fundamental forces in the universe. The term “wormhole” was coined by physicist John Wheeler in the 1950s.

. . .

The researchers said no rupture of space and time was created in physical space in the experiment, though a traversable wormhole appeared to have emerged based on quantum information teleported using quantum codes on the quantum processor.

New Research Indicates That Mars Was Capable of Supporting Life

A new study reveals that Mars was born wet, with a dense atmosphere allowing warm-to-hot oceans for millions of years. This discovery was recently published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters. To arrive at this conclusion, researchers created the first model of the evolution of the Martian atmosphere, which links the high temperatures associated with Mars’ molten formation to the creation of the first oceans and atmosphere.

Because the water vapor would condense out as clouds at lower altitudes in the atmosphere, this model demonstrates that, similar to the modern Earth, water vapor was concentrated in the lower atmosphere of Mars and that the upper atmosphere was “dry.”

Molecular hydrogen (H2), on the other hand, did not condense and was carried to Mars’ upper atmosphere, where it was lost to space. This finding, that water vapor condensed and was retained on early Mars but molecular hydrogen did not condense and escaped, allows the model to be directly related to measurements made by spacecraft, notably the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity.

“We believe we have modeled an overlooked chapter in Mars’s earliest history in the time immediately after the planet formed. To explain the data, the primordial Martian atmosphere must have been very dense (more than ~1000x as dense as the modern atmosphere) and composed primarily of molecular hydrogen (H2),” said Kaveh Pahlevan, SETI Institute research scientist.

A Supermassive Black Hole Shot a Jet at the Speed of Light Towards Earth

Somewhere right now in the infinite span of our universe, a star is approaching the gaping maw of a black hole. Once it gets close enough, it’ll start to get pulled apart, in a process delightfully dubbed “spaghettification”—resulting in a massive jet of energy that can potentially be detected from Earth.

This phenomenon is known as a tidal disruption event (TDE). It’s rare. But if astronomers spot one, it gives them the chance to observe a black hole eating celestial objects in action.

That’s exactly what happened when an international team of astronomers witnessed the most distant TDE in recorded history. In a paper published Nov. 30 in the journals Nature and Nature Astronomy, the researchers reported detecting a supermassive black hole swallowing a star roughly 12.4 billion light years away in an event dubbed AT2022cmc. The TDE unleashed a jet of energy that was so bright and massive that it was observable using optical telescopes.

The study’s authors now say that the event gave them insights into how supermassive black holes form—and also into what our universe looked like when it was young.

Hundreds of mummies and pyramid of an unknown queen unearthed near King Tut's tomb

Just a stone's throw from King Tut's tomb, archaeologists have unearthed the pyramid of a never-before known ancient Egyptian queen; a cache of coffins, mummies and artifacts; and a series of interconnected tunnels.

. . .

Buried within these shafts, archaeologists found a "huge limestone sarcophagus" along with "300 beautiful coffins from the New Kingdom period," Hawass said.

"Burials from the New Kingdom were not known to be common in the area before, so this is entirely unique to the site," Hawass said. "The coffins have individual faces, each one unique, distinguishing between men and women, and are decorated with scenes from the Book of the Dead [an ancient Egypt funerary text]. Each coffin also has the name of the deceased and often shows the Four Sons of Horus, who protected the organs of the deceased."

. . .

In addition, researchers found a pyramid commemorating a queen whose identity was previously unknown.

"We have since discovered that her name was Neith and she had never before been known from the historical record," Hawass said. "It is amazing to literally rewrite what we know of history, adding a new queen to our records."

2-million-year-old DNA reveals an ancient Greenland ecosystem "unlike any now found on Earth"

North Greenland is known for being "the land of the midnight sun and dog sledding" as a polar desert with massive icebergs. But that wasn't always the case – 2 million years ago, it was "a forested ecosystem unlike any now found on Earth."

A historic and "extraordinary" finding and a new study published in Nature this week reveal just how much the icy landscape has changed. Researchers found 2-million-year-old DNA – the oldest ever discovered – buried in clay and quartz sediment that was preserved in permafrost in Greenland's northernmost point.

. . .

Willerslev, along with Kurt H. Kjær from the University of Copenhagen, uncovered 41 samples, each only a few millionths of a millimeter long, but with an invaluable amount of information. Those tiny samples revealed that the freezing region was once the ancient home for many more animals, plants and microorganisms than are there today, including hares and lemmings.

One of the most surprising discoveries, however, were traces of animals that were thought to have never been in the country at all – reindeer and mastodons. The area where the DNA was found is usually only known for minimal plants, hare and musk ox, according to Nature.

Traces of Denisovan DNA Still Affect The Immune Systems of Modern Papuans

An encounter with a mysterious and extinct human relative – the Denisovans – has left a mark on the immune traits of modern Papuans, in particular those living on New Guinea Island.

This is a new discovery we describe in a study published in PLOS Genetics today. It further suggests that our modern human diversity didn't just evolve – some parts of it we got from other, extinct human groups.

DNA from our evolutionary cousins

Humans are the only living species of the Homo genus. But until 50,000 years ago, our ancestors coexisted – and sometimes interacted – with multiple other Homo groups across the globe. Most of them we know only by sparse archaeological remains, which offer tantalizing glimpses of our evolutionary cousins.

But for two groups there is something else: DNA. Thanks to technological advances, scientists have retrieved DNA from fossils and sequenced it. As a result, we now have complete genome sequences of the best-known archaic hominins, the Neanderthals, and a far more elusive group, Denisovans.

AI could have 20% chance of sentience in 10 years, says philosopher David Chalmers

The likelihood that today's most sophisticated artificial intelligence programs are sentient, or conscious, is less than 10 percent, but in a decade from now, the leading AI programs might have a 20 percent or better chance of being conscious.

That is, if they can achieve fish-level cognition.

That is how NYU philosophy professor David Chalmers on Monday threaded the needle of an extremely controversial topic.

Chalmers's talk, titled, "Could a large language model be conscious?" was the Nov. 28th opening keynote of the 36th annual Neural Information Processing Systems conference, commonly known as NeurIPS, the most prestigious AI conference in the world, taking place this week in New Orleans.

A large language model, of course, is the designation for some of today's most advanced machine learning forms of AI programs, such as GPT-3, from the AI startup OpenAI, which is capable of generating human-seeming text.

A Brain Area Thought to Impart Consciousness Instead Behaves Like an Internet Router

Because of the claustrum’s extensive connections, the legendary scientist Francis Crick, Ph.D., of DNA-discovery fame, first postulated in 2005 that the claustrum is the seat of consciousness; in other words, the region of the brain enabling awareness of the world and ourselves.

Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, however, now posit that Crick may have been incorrect: They developed a new theory—built on data—that the claustrum behaves more like a high-speed internet router, taking in executive commands from “boss” areas of the brain’s cortex that form complex thoughts to generate “networks” in the cortex.

Acting like a router, the claustrum coordinates these networks to work together to accomplish the many different cognitively demanding tasks we perform on a moment-to-moment basis in everyday life.

The new findings and hypothesis were published on Sept. 30, 2022, in Trends In Cognitive Sciences.

Kirstie Alley's Decades-Long Relationship With Scientology Explained

"When I began doing Scientology, I was a drugged-out mess," the late actress wrote in her 2012 memoir, The Art of Men. "I understood hell—depression, anxiety, addiction, failure, and loss."

Alley details her relationship with the church in a chapter titled "The Art of Not Dying." She stumbled upon Scientology during a dark period of her life in the late 1970s. "I'd done enough cocaine to kill several people," Alley, who was still living in her native Kansas, wrote. "I weighed 112 pounds.... We didn't have the term in 1979, but I was a hot mess."

A friend sent her a copy of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's book Dianetics, which she read "while snorting cocaine from a silver tray and drinking limeades."

Alley had driven past Scientology's center in Redondo Beach, California, before and made a mental note of the luxury cars parked outside. Until she received Dianetics, all she knew of the religion was that its adherents seemed to have nicer "rides" than the Methodist families she'd grown up with, she wrote.

Mistrial declared in actor Danny Masterson’s rape trial

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo had ordered the jurors to take Thanksgiving week off and keep deliberating after they told her on Nov. 18 that they could not come to a consensus about the rape allegations after a monthlong trial in which the Church of Scientology played a supporting role.

. . .

The women, all referred to as Jane Does and all former members of the church, said they were intimidated, harassed and stalked after Masterson was charged. They have repeated those allegations in a pending lawsuit against the church.

Masterson attorney Philip Cohen said the church was mentioned 700 times during trial and argued that it became an excuse for the prosecution’s failure to build a believable case against Masterson, a prominent Scientologist.

But Deputy District Attorney Reinhold Mueller said the church had tried to silence the women and that was the reason it took two decades for the case to get to trial.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Opinions and ideas expressed in the comments on this page
belong the people who stated them. Management takes no
editorial responsibility for the content of public comments.