A bit lengthy, but interesting.
“For the past seven years, this German set-up has been looking for gravitational waves – ripples in space-time thrown off by super-dense astronomical objects such as neutron stars and black holes. GEO600 has not detected any gravitational waves so far, but it might inadvertently have made the most important discovery in physics for half a century.
For many months, the GEO600 team-members had been scratching their heads over inexplicable noise that is plaguing their giant detector. Then, out of the blue, a researcher approached them with an explanation. In fact, he had even predicted the noise before he knew they were detecting it. According to Craig Hogan, a physicist at the Fermilab particle physics lab in Batavia, Illinois, GEO600 has stumbled upon the fundamental limit of space-time – the point where space-time stops behaving like the smooth continuum Einstein described and instead dissolves into “grains”, just as a newspaper photograph dissolves into dots as you zoom in. “It looks like GEO600 is being buffeted by the microscopic quantum convulsions of space-time,” says Hogan.
If this doesn’t blow your socks off, then Hogan, who has just been appointed director of Fermilab’s Center for Particle Astrophysics, has an even bigger shock in store: “If the GEO600 result is what I suspect it is, then we are all living in a giant cosmic hologram.”
Full article here:
Based on a 3000 word essay, available here.
If you do not know who Carl Sagan is, check out Cosmos on youtube or any documentary site. A 13 part series all about the universe. Maybe one of the best out there.
Excerpt from his Wikipedia page:
“Sagan was associated with the American space program from its inception. From the 1950s onward, he worked as an advisor to NASA, where one of his duties included briefing the Apollo astronauts before their flights to the Moon. Sagan contributed to many of the robotic spacecraft missions that explored the solar system, arranging experiments on many of the expeditions. He conceived the idea of adding an unalterable and universal message on spacecraft destined to leave the solar system that could potentially be understood by any extraterrestrial intelligence that might find it. Sagan assembled the first physical message that was sent into space: a gold-anodized plaque, attached to the space probe Pioneer 10, launched in 1972. Pioneer 11, also carrying another copy of the plaque, was launched the following year. He continued to refine his designs; the most elaborate message he helped to develop and assemble was the Voyager Golden Record that was sent out with the Voyager space probes in 1977. Sagan often challenged the decisions to fund the Space Shuttle and Space Station at the expense of further robotic missions.”
Parasites and pathogens may explain why people in some parts of the world are cleverer than those in othersPosted: July 5, 2010
“HUMAN intelligence is puzzling. It is higher, on average, in some places than in others. And it seems to have been rising in recent decades. Why these two things should be true is controversial. This week, though, a group of researchers at the University of New Mexico propose the same explanation for both: the effect of infectious disease. If they are right, it suggests that the control of such diseases is crucial to a country’s development in a way that had not been appreciated before. Places that harbour a lot of parasites and pathogens not only suffer the debilitating effects of disease on their workforces, but also have their human capital eroded, child by child, from birth.”
One of the environmental impacts that an oil spill has on the oceans is an increased amount of arsenic in the water that has a detrimental effect on all kinds of marine life. Arsenic exists in the water at all times, but it is usually kept at non-threatening levels by a natural filtration system. Sediments on the sea floor can bind with the arsenic and remove it from the water, recycling it into the earth’s crust. However, with oil in the water the sediments are blocked from binding with the arsenic which causes levels to rise and arsenic to accumulate. The news report says “It can disrupt the photosynthesis process in marine plants and increase the chances of genetic alterations that can cause birth defects and behavioural changes in aquatic life,”
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