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Monday, January 27, 2014

Stephen Hawking’s new research: ‘There are no black holes’

Exactly 40 years after famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking brought event horizons and black holes into the public eye, he is now claiming that black holes don’t actually exist. Instead of all-consuming event horizons and black holes which nothing can escape from, Hawking now proposes that there are “apparent horizons” which suck in matter and energy — but only temporarily, before eventually releasing them again.

To be clear, Hawking isn’t proposing that black holes don’t exist — just that black holes, as we’ve understood them for the last 40 years or so (thanks to work done by Hawking and others), don’t exist. The current understanding is that black holes are surrounded by an event horizon — a boundary in spacetime which only allow matter and energy to pass through one way, towards the black hole. It is, in other words, the point of no return. This is why black holes appear black — energy can’t escape, and so they produce no light and no heat. In thermodynamics terms, a black hole is a perfect black body — an object that absorbs all energy and radiation.

The problem with this theory, though, is that it’s based on general relativity. In recent years, as our understanding of quantum theory has improved, numerous conflicts have arisen, especially in places where both theories apply — such as black holes and event horizons. Basically, quantum mechanics has a big issue with the idea that event horizons completely and utterly destroy information — a big no-no in the world of quantum. Hawking’s new proposal tries to ameliorate this conflict between the two theories.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Water detected on dwarf planet Ceres

Image: Dwarf planet Ceres is located in the main asteroid belt, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, as illustrated in this artist's conception. Observations by the Herschel space observatory between 2011 and 2013 find that the dwarf planet has a thin water vapor atmosphere. This is the first unambiguous detection of water vapor around an object in the asteroid belt. Artist's concept image by ESA/ATG medialab.

Scientists using the Herschel space observatory have made the first definitive detection of water vapor on the largest and roundest object in the asteroid belt, dwarf planet Ceres.

“This is the first time water vapor has been unequivocally detected on Ceres or any other object in the asteroid belt and provides proof that Ceres has an icy surface and an atmosphere,” said Michael Küppers of ESA in Spain, lead author of a paper in the journal Nature.

Herschel is a European Space Agency (ESA) mission with important NASA contributions. Data from the infrared observatory suggest that plumes of water vapor shoot up from Ceres when portions of its icy surface warm slightly.

The results come at the right time for NASA's Dawn mission, which is on its way to Ceres now after spending more than a year orbiting the large asteroid Vesta.

Dawn is scheduled to arrive at Ceres in the spring of 2015, where it will take the closest look ever at its surface.

“We've got a spacecraft on the way to Ceres, so we don't have to wait long before getting more context on this intriguing result, right from the source itself,” said Carol Raymond, the deputy principal investigator for Dawn at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “Dawn will map the geology and chemistry of the surface in high resolution, revealing the processes that drive the outgassing activity.”

For the last century, Ceres was known as the largest asteroid in our solar system.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Chimpanzees can communicate using Gestures

Georgia State University researchers have concluded that Chimpanzees can communicate using meaningful gestures. Two language-trained chimpanzees named Panzee and Sherman helped human researcher to find hidden food, about which he was not aware.

The experiment conducted by Dr. Charles Menzel and his team at Language Research Center of Georgia State University found that chimpanzees helped human researchers find hidden food by offering meaningful clues. Chimpanzees were interested in offering help for goal-completion task, which gives clue about communication between chimpanzees.

Dr. Menzel and his team members further noticed that chimpanzees use directional gestures. The research team is also confident of memory power of chimpanzees and their communication skills between each other. The study may provide clue to development of language at basic level.

University of Chester’s Department of Psychology researcher Dr. Anna Roberts commented that the research findings are important as they inform us about capability of chimpanzees to share information. They live in community and help each other. They may choose to help each other in finding food. Many other animals communicate between each other whenever they perceive any risk to their life.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Super-Earths Have Land Continents and Oceans, Making Them Much Similar to Earth Than Previously Thought

"Super-Earths" were just recently found to be more common in the universe than previously known, but now the exoplanets are believed to be more Earth-like than ever.

Super-Earths get their name for having a similar makeup to our own planet and for being slightly larger as well. Recent studies have found them to exist more commonly in the universe and our own Milky Way Galaxy.

According to Space.com, a new study finds the tectonically active super-Earths have exposed continents of land surrounded by oceans. Like Earth, these exoplanets most likely store their water in the mantle, creating a stable environment similar to our planet.

"Super-Earths are expected to have deep oceans that will overflow their basins and inundate the entire surface, but we show this logic to be flawed," study researcher Nicholas Cowan said in a press release. "Terrestrial planets have significant amounts of water in their interior. Super-Earths are likely to have shallow oceans to go along with their shallow ocean basins."

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sound Waves Used to Levitate and Move Objects (Video)

Sound waves can levitate and move objects through space, according to the three researchers and coauthors of a recent study, Jun Rekimoto, Takayuki Hoshi and Yoichi Ochiai — but, they’re not wizards, no — they are scientists from the University of Tokyo. Their study is called “Three-dimensional Mid-air Acoustic Manipulation by Ultrasonic Phased Arrays.”

It’s been claimed and might some day be proven that sound waves brought the walls of Jericho tumbling down. These three scientists, however, weren’t examining the potential of using sound as a WMD, but were trying to use a levitation rig and ultrasonic standing waves to move objects in and through space, and essentially, time, if Einstein was right.

The technical term for what the scientists are doing with sound waves is acoustic levitation. The idea and dream of being able to levitate objects acoustically has been around for thousands of years, but it is now becoming a reality.

The paper that the three researchers wrote was submitted just this past month to the Arxiv science site at Cornell University. While objects, and even live frogs, have been levitated using magnetism, and some objects have previously been levitated using sound waves, this is the first time that researchers have figured out how to also move the levitated objects.

Did the researchers attempt to levitate an elephant using sound waves?

The researchers are starting off modestly, as far as size goes — they have no plans to levitate anything the size of an elephant, at least not until they can work up to something that size, gradually.

The study is based on the scientists using high-frequency sound waves to levitate objects which are extremely light. Then, after they levitate or suspend the objects in the air, the researchers have discovered how to move the objects through space by manipulating the sonic waves, something that they couldn’t do with their earlier experiments where they tried bouncing sound waves off of solid surfaces.

Past experiments involving sound waves to levitate objects in mid-air used in-line speakers and utilized sound reflected, or bounced off of, a sound-reflecting surface. The method that the three scientists from Tokyo detail in their study is very different, though.

They didn’t use speakers lined up in a row. Instead, they used four arrays of speakers, facing towards each other, so that they sound emanating from all of the speakers converged into a single focal point where the ultrasonic waves met and merged together. Where the sonic waves converged at this focal point was, the researchers found, an ideal place to levitate small objects.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Rarest Weather Forecast Revealed! Hubble Sees Atmosphere Of Distant Super-Earth [Video]

Astronomers used the Hubble Telescope to reveal accurate details of weather conditions on an alien world, and the forecast is for clouds, clouds and more clouds. Hubble telescope provides first accurate details of climate on exoplanet 40 light years from Earth. (Photo : NASA)
Hubble telescope provides first accurate details of climate on exoplanet 40 light years from Earth.

Astronomers used the Hubble Telescope to reveal accurate details of weather conditions on an alien world, and the forecast is for clouds, clouds and more clouds.

The planet, dubbed GJ 1214b, is considered a super-Earth because its mass is somewhere in between that of Earth's and Neptune's. Super-Earths are believed to be the most plentiful type of planet in the Milky Way, although none exists in our own solar system. 

A team of scientists led by experts at the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago used the Hubble telescope to determine the weather forecast of GJ 1214b, an exoplanet discovered in 2009.

Past observations of GJ 1214b have suggested the planet's atmosphere consisted of water vapor or another heavy molecule, or high-altitude clouds that prevented observation of the planet's surface.

Published in the journal Nature, recently research leaders, Laura Kreidberg and Jacob Bean, were able to confirm the existence of clouds with data from the Hubble Space Telescope.

The observations used 96 hours of telescope time spread over 11 months, the largest Hubble program ever devoted to studying a single exoplanet, a University of Chicago release said Friday.