Wow this is … Fantastic

20140201-170827.jpgA composite image showing jets and radio-emitting lobes emanating from Centaurus A’s central black hole. Credit: NASA/ESO/WFI
The photo-art and the article it goes with. The article Grey is the new black hole: is Stephen Hawking right? Jan 29, 2014 by Geraint Lewis at The Conversation. It is a great piece of science writing explaining the evolution of our understanding of Black Holes and the context of Hawking’s latest pronouncements

Anthropic principle and our finely-tuned Universe

Anthropic principle and our finely-tuned Universe Ethan Siegel at Starts With A Bang!

How the mis-application of the Anthropic Principle has led factions of scientists away from the search for a natural, physical explanation of our Universe, and why that’s bad for everyone.

20140105-114648.jpgImage credit: ESO / T. Preibisch, via http://www.eso.org/public/images/eso1208a/

One of the first things you notice — and it’s self-evident if you think about it — is that the Universe is full of stuff. This in itself is a wondrous thing, because it didn’t need to be that way.

Talk about taking your breath away

When tectonics killed everything
by Johnny Bontemps
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Permian Seafloor — More than 90 percent of ocean species vanished during the Permian extinction. Credit: University of Michigan Exhibit of Natural History

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Late Permian (260 million years ago) — All the world’s lands had joined into a single supercontinent, Pangea, and all the world’s sea water had formed a global ocean, Panthalassa. Credit: Ron Blakey, NAU Geology

Some 300 million years ago, at the beginning of the Permian period, all the world’s lands had joined into a single supercontinent, Pangea, and all the world’s sea water had formed a global ocean, Panthalassa.

The formation of Pangea led to higher mountains and deeper oceans. According to an equilibrium principle, a giant continent should have a thicker crust than each scattered continent, and the oceans should become deeper. This recession of water away from the land would have eliminated a lot of the biodiversity that thrives in shallow water near the coasts. This recession would have also led to changes in ocean currents and wind patterns, initiating global climate changes.
What’s more, the inland region of one giant continent would become dry and arid, leading to the disappearance of much vegetation.

But something else also went on, deep within the Earth.

When the lands joined, some tectonic plates moved under others and sunk deep into the Earth’s mantle. That cooler material then may have reached all the way to the Earth’s core layer. Evidence for that includes the reversal of Earth’s magnetic field that occurred around that time, an event called the Illawarra magnetic reversal.

The accumulation of cool material near Earth’s core then could have led to the formation of a large mantle plume (by a process called thermo-convection), other researchers had suggested. That “super-plume” would eventually reach the Earth’s surface in two separate bursts—first with an eruption in China 260 million years ago, and then with the other in Russia 251 million years ago.

By that point, all life had nearly vanished.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-11-tectonics.html#jCp

newScientist: 6 months in the air? Swifts, natures endurance mini drone…

20131014-194818.jpgSwifts stay airborne for six months at a time: by Andy Coghlan. 08 October 2013
It’s possible young swifts don’t spend much or any time on the ground for three years.
Some theorize sleeping on the wing or shutting down half the brain. But it’s known that dolphins and suspected other large marine mammals can be awake for weeks at a time with no harm.

Micro Thrust

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L. Brad King’s prototype of a ferrofluid ion thruster. When subjected to magnetic field, the points of the crown arise from a ring-shaped trench circling a one-inch block of aluminum. (Credit: Sarah Bird)

then an electric field is applied which makes the ‘points’ extend to nano scale and then emit ionic molecules at high velocity. Very neat, self forming, self healing, some scaling details to work out but this looks very promising. Another tech breakthrough from Air Force R&D.

I always figured You were a Martian!

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“The evidence seems to be building that we are actually all Martians; that life started on Mars and came to Earth on a rock,” says Professor Benner. “It’s lucky that we ended up here nevertheless, as certainly Earth has been the better of the two planets for sustaining life. If our hypothetical Martian ancestors had remained on Mars, there might not have been a story to tell.”

Read more at: phys.org

Wired : Space photo of the day

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This image emphasizes the beautiful rays of Qi Baishi, in the top of the image. The crater was named for the Chinese painter, Qi Baishi, known for his whimsical watercolors. The extensive rays of the crater mimic such whimsicality, extending far from the impact, exposing new material across the scene. The bright ray system indicates that Qi Baishi is relatively young, compared to other visible features. Notice the lack of rays extending from the west of the crater. This asymmetry indicates that the impactor struck at a relatively low incidence angle from the west.

This image was acquired as a targeted high-resolution 11-color image set. Acquiring 11-color targets is a new campaign that began in March 2013 and that utilizes all of the WAC’s 11 narrow-band color filters. Because of the large data volume involved, only features of special scientific interest are targeted for imaging in all 11 colors.

More at: Wired : Colorful Mercury Rays

Uh, Guys, the ‘scope’s pointed in the wrong direction?!

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An artist’s rendering of the proposed telescope on the Malapert crater on the moon. Moon Express/ILOA

Read more at: Wired: The Private Plan to Put a Telescope on the Moon
So yes you need an Earth link but I think Earth would be below the local horizon and a mast with a laser or smaller high frequency antenna would provide that link. I imagine the picture was marketing/art departments idea and it is cool.

The whole mission concept is cool and seems to make a lot of sense.

One thing we forget in this ‘later’ more ‘modern’ age is that historically science and scientific instruments were private, and they were not inexpensive it was a rich man’s game and often rich patron’s egos that got us to to the beginning of the twentieth century.

Looks like a great application of a ‘striped down’ mod of a SpaceX Dragon vertical lander…

WIRED, way, way weird, and oh so cool!

Wired: ‘Holographic Duality’ Hints at Hidden Subatomic World
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The holographic duality, discovered in 1997 by Juan Maldacena, says that events inside a region of space that involve gravity and are described by string theory are mathematically equivalent to events on the surface of that region that involve particles and are gravity-free. Illustration: Annenberg Lerner 2013

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In the mathematical parlance of the holographic duality, certain strongly correlated matter in 2-D [such as in cuprate hi temp superconductors shown above; editors note] corresponds, in 3-D, to a black hole — an infinitely dense object with an inescapable gravitational pull, which is mathematically simple. “These very complicated quantum mechanical collective effects are beautifully captured by black hole physics,” said Hong Liu, an associate professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “For strongly correlated systems, if you put an electron into the system, it will immediately ‘disappear’ — you can no longer track it.” It’s like an object falling into a black hole.