Mapping the universe and its billions of galaxies is a tedious business, but a project spanning more than a decade and mashing up near-infrared sky surveys with painstaking redshift analysis has produced the wold’s most detailed 3-D map of the local universe. Reaching out to a distance some 380 million light-years from our own solar system, the 2MASS Redshift Survey (2MRS) was presented today at the 218th meeting of the American Astronomical Society.
After a five-year study of 200,000 galaxies, scientists are more certain than ever that dark energy acts as a repulsive force, tearing the universe apart at an accelerating rate. The research confirms the idea that dark energy dominates gravity throughout the cosmos. But no one has any idea what dark energy actually is or how it works.
Gases, as we all know, don’t generally offer a lot of resistance. That is, if you try to walk through a cloud of gas, you’ll pass right through it. The same is true for two clouds of gases that meet each other: they pass right through each other. But MIT physicists have observed the first exception to the rule by creating two clouds of ultra-cold gases that bounce right off each other like solids.
Metamaterials can be used to create desktop black holes and simulate multiverses; now a physicist is using them to prove time travel can’t happen.
In a new paper, University of Maryland professor and metamaterial theorist Igor Smolyaninov says mapping light distribution in a metamaterial can serve as a model for the flow of time. The model shows that the forward direction of time is unrelenting; you cannot curve back on time and go back to where you started. You just have to build a desktop Big Bang to prove it.
Did a NASA scientist find fossilized alien microbes embedded in a 146-year-old meteorite? As this claim emerged over the weekend, the answer from the scientific community so far appears to be something between “Um, what?” and “No.”
How big is the universe anyhow? We know the universe is roughly 4 billion years old and we know how far light travels in a year, so ostensibly it would seem the visible universe is contained to a radius of 14 billion light years. But we know that photons in the cosmic microwave background have traveled some 45 billion light years to reach earth (because the universe is also expanding the most distant visible objects are actually further than 14 billion light years), giving the universe an apparent diameter of at least 90 billion light years.
So how big is it really? A new mathematical analysis says its at least 250 times larger than the visible universe. Which is really, really big.
After more than a decade of scanning the skies with a 138-megapixel camera mounted on an 8-foot telescope, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) has delivered the largest and most detailed image of the sky ever – an image so detailed and large that it would take half a million high-definition televisions to take it all in at full resolution. And that's just one-third of the sky.
Just when the search for exoplanets looked like the undisputed fashionable field of study for 2010, the cosmic microwave background (CMB) is stepping to the forefront of astronomy and cosmology. Last month, it was Oxford's Roger Penrose claiming that he'd found evidence of a cyclical universe in patterns of concentric circles in the CMB, suggesting our universe is just one of many that have come before it (and will come after it).
The milestones just keep coming over at the Large Hadron Collider. The latest: CERN researchers have glimpsed for the first time the so-called quark-gluon plasma that existed in the early universe before things cooled enough for neutrons, protons, and all the matter in the universe as we know it to form. Via heavy lead ion collisions underway at the LHC over the last month, researchers have recreated the conditions in the universe just a billionth of a second after the Big Bang.
The current widely-held theory of life, the universe, and everything holds that at some point roughly 13.7 billion years ago everything that now is was packed into a tight little package from which sprung the Big Bang, which violently hurled everything into existence. But 13.7 billion years to get to where we are isn't enough for renowned physicist Sir Roger Penrose, and now he thinks he can prove that things aren't/weren't quite so simple.