141 posts · 217,303 views
A blog that explores the unknown, technology, space, science and strange things with a skeptical and analytical eye.
Imagine a speeding star plowing through the Oort Cloud surrounding our solar system and sending a stream of comets towards the Sun, a number of them smashing into Jupiter or diverted by the Jovian gravity into the inner solar system where the Earth could easily careen into them. The impacts could easily cause the kind [...]... Read more »
Bobylev, V. (2010) Searching for Stars Closely Encountering with the Solar System. Astronomy Letters, 2010 Vol. 36, No. 3. arXiv: 1003.2160v1
Another day, another proposed solution to the Fermi Paradox, which asks where are all the aliens if the skies are just filled with extraterrestrial empires. Yesterday, my good frienemies at the arXiv blog shone a light on a paper by a quantum theorist which tackles the possible interactions between alien species from evolutionary points of [...]... Read more »
Around the web, headlines are buzzing about alleged evidence for life on Saturn’s biggest moon Titan, citing a paper which noted a suspicious lack of hydrogen build-up in the lower atmosphere and listing among many a mundane explanation, the possibility of methane-based life. Now, while on this blog I discussed that it’s not impossible to [...]... Read more »
Ed Yong has a summary of a study which tries to show that proselytizing and overzealous support for an idea or an opinion comes from a lack of confidence in it, or basically, the most adamant proselytizers devote so much time and effort to proselytizing because they’re trying to convince themselves and create a bandwagon [...]... Read more »
Gal, D., & Rucker, D. (2010) When in Doubt, Shout!: Paradoxical Influences of Doubt on Proselytizing. Psychological Science. DOI: 10.1177/0956797610385953
Some bloggers just can’t resist going back to the same rich source of things just begging to be really torn into and dissected, and I’m no exception. After growling about the papers being posted and promoted on arXiv, I still find myself going through some of the more bizarre and out of left field proposals [...]... Read more »
Inflationary cosmology, which is the current model of how physics sees space and time, gets pretty tangled in how it describes the Big Bang and its immediate after-effects. All sorts of odd quantum states, asymmetries, and exotic particles had to come into existence after a violent event that carved out an ever-expanding bubble of space, [...]... Read more »
V. G. Gurzadyan, & R. Penrose. (2010) Concentric circles in WMAP data may provide evidence of violent pre-Big-Bang activity. n/a. arXiv: 1011.3706v1
Not only are GPS devices useful, they’re also an ongoing experiment that keeps confirming special relativity’s spot on descriptions of how time flows for fast-moving objects. Without constant adjustments, GPS would be quickly rendered unusable because accurate timing of the signals being sent between the satellites and the moving object they’re supposed to track is [...]... Read more »
Angelo Tartaglia, Matteo Luca Ruggiero, & Emiliano Capolongo. (2010) A null frame for spacetime positioning by means of pulsating sources. Advances in Space Research. arXiv: 1001.1068v3
Here’s something those of you with billions of dollars and a team of experts in cellular and molecular biology on speed dial can try at home. Take the cell of a dead microorganism and a breakdown of another bacteria’s genome. Then, have your DNA assembling machine string together about a million nucleobases with several markers [...]... Read more »
Gibson, D., Glass, J., Lartigue, C., Noskov, V., Chuang, R., Algire, M., Benders, G., Montague, M., Ma, L., Moodie, M.... (2010) Creation of a Bacterial Cell Controlled by a Chemically Synthesized Genome. Science. DOI: 10.1126/science.1190719
When talking about the origins of life, the term universal common ancestor gets thrown around quite a bit. But did all life really come from a single ancestor? Considering that genes can swap species, could there be the intriguing possibility that instead of a single common ancestor there was an entire pool of simple organisms [...]... Read more »
Theobald, D. (2010) A formal test of the theory of universal common ancestry. Nature, 465(7295), 219-222. DOI: 10.1038/nature09014
Reproduction is a complicated business, and for many creatures on our world, its a rather lethal and painful experience, complete with disembowelment and impalement on genitals that could double as weapons in a typical Medieval arsenal. Thankfully, we humans tend to have it relatively easy and generally have the making babies thing down so much [...]... Read more »
Moorman, S., Cordova, R., & Davies, S. (2002) A critical period for functional vestibular development in zebrafish. Developmental Dynamics, 223(2), 285-291. DOI: 10.1002/dvdy.10052
Chances are, your computer's current hard drive can store around 500 GB, and if you're a real video editing or graphics enthusiast, you either bought yourself, or customized your computer to have a 1 TB drive. But what if in the same space that your hard drive takes up now, you could host a multi-PB [...]... Read more »
Drone patrols are nothing new. By now, they're fairly humdrum stuff come to think of it. But what about a drone patrol on an alien world, one that could potentially last for decades and bring us a constant stream of data on everything we wanted to know about the world in question? Well, that's the [...]... Read more »
Barnes, J., Lemke, L., Foch, R., McKay, C., Beyer, R., Radebaugh, J., Atkinson, D., Lorenz, R., Le Mouélic, S., Rodriguez, S.... (2011) AVIATR — Aerial Vehicle for In-situ and Airborne Titan Reconnaissance. Experimental Astronomy. DOI: 10.1007/s10686-011-9275-9
A recently trumpeted paper on astrobiology did some very interesting modeling in a search for places on Mars where some very tough terrestrial microorganisms could survive and came to a very surprising conclusion. It appears that some 3.2% of the red planet could be habitable by volume, which would make it more friendly to life [...]... Read more »
Jones, E., Lineweaver, C., & Clarke, J. (2011) An Extensive Phase Space for the Potential Martian Biosphere. Astrobiology, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1089/ast.2011.0660
Back in September, news worldwide reported the results of a paper which claimed that a supercomputer had a knack for predicting revolutions and key global events, able to pick up on the events of Tahir square in Cairo and even get a fix on Osama bin Laden’s location. After reviewing the paper in question, I [...]... Read more »
Leetaru, K. (2011) Culturomics 2.0: Forecasting large-scale human behavior using global news media tone in time and space. First Monday, 16(9). info:/
Depending on who you talk to, planets around alien suns are either somewhat rare due to the chaotic nature of planetary formation around infant stars, or even more plentiful than the stars themselves. Since exoplanets are rather small and dim, lost in the glare of their host suns, spotting them takes a lot of time [...]... Read more »
Cassan, A., Kubas, D., Beaulieu, J., Dominik, M., Horne, K., Greenhill, J., Wambsganss, J., Menzies, J., Williams, A., Jørgensen, U.... (2012) One or more bound planets per Milky Way star from microlensing observations. Nature, 481(7380), 167-169. DOI: 10.1038/nature10684
One of the big predictions made by evolutionary theory is that if given the selective pressure to do so, colonies of unicellular organisms will combine into multicellular organisms and start forming divisions of labor. Going from single cell, to cooperative colony, to a macroscopic organism with differentiated cells had to happen over several billions years [...]... Read more »
According to string theorists, our universe is just one of many in an otherwise infinite cosmos and that all the different universes don't just sit quietly in a vacuum, but actively interact with each other when space and time bend and fold to create the right conditions for different forces and particles to jump between [...]... Read more »
Michael Sarrazin, Guillaume Pignol, Fabrice Petit, & Valery V. Nesvizhevsky. (2012) Experimental limits on neutron disappearance into another braneworld. n/a. arXiv: 1201.3949v1
Want to get closer to your supernatural deity of choice? You could spend years memorizing holy books, scrolls purported to contain ancient wisdom, and study dense, esoteric tomes filled with endless ruminations on all kinds of vague topics, like most religious scholars. Or you could just have surgery on your parietal cortex and give it [...]... Read more »
Time travel is a pretty tough topic to study since any trip backwards in time triggers seemingly endless ways a paradox could unravel the entire timeline. Think of the good, old fashioned grandfather paradox in which a very disgruntled time traveler goes back in time and kills his grandfather as a baby. According to causality [...]... Read more »
Seth Lloyd, Lorenzo Maccone, Raul Garcia-Patron, Vittorio Giovannetti, & Yutaka Shikano. (2010) The quantum mechanics of time travel through post-selected teleportation. n/a. arXiv: 1007.2615v2
Since the dawn of computers, the processing power of just about every computing device out there has been pushed ever upwards. Today’s mediocre laptops are faster than ten year old supercomputers and a modern supercomputer can carry out more than a quadrillion floating point operations per second, enough to take on complex problems in astrophysics, [...]... Read more »
Levitin, L., & Toffoli, T. (2009) Fundamental Limit on the Rate of Quantum Dynamics: The Unified Bound Is Tight. Physical Review Letters, 103(16). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.103.160502
Volkmar Putz, & Karl Svozil. (2010) Can a computer be "pushed" to perform faster-than-light?. n/a. arXiv: 1003.1238v2
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