Archive for the ‘space’ Category
They range from pretty neat to WTF, viz.:
The GEO600 gravitational wave detector in Hanover, Germany, has not yet detected any gravitational waves. As a consolation prize, it may instead have uncovered the ultimate nature of reality.
In 2008, physicist Craig Hogan at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois, was trying to work out how we might test the idea that everything we see as physical reality is the result of a kind of projection from the boundary of the universe. This is known as the holographic principle.
The information held at the boundary is not smooth, but composed of “bits”, each one occupying an area that corresponds to the most fundamental quanta of distance in the universe. This is the Planck length, around 10-35 metres – far too small for us to see the individual bits. When this information is projected into the volume of the universe, however, each bit gets magnified. That means we might just be able to see pixellation in space-time.
The kinds of scales involved still mean it would only be detectable in the most sensitive instruments we have – such as the gravitational wave detectors looking for the ripples in space-time caused by violent cosmological events such as the collision of two black holes. Hogan worked out how the pixellation might manifest itself for GEO600 and sent his result to the researchers there.
By strange coincidence, the GEO600 team had been having problems with “noise” in their detectors. But here’s the kicker: the noise had uncannily similar characteristics as Hogan’s anticipated signal. Is it indeed the result of information that resides at the edge of the universe? “The issue is still unresolved,” says Karsten Danzmann, principal investigator for GEO600. “The noise is still there and we have no explanation.”
The answer may only come after the instrument is upgraded to make it even more sensitive, a step that is due to be completed this time next year.
White House Briefed On Potential For Mars Life. Just ran across this link on Metafilter, and cannot believe that it’s not linked everywhere yet, as this story was published on the Aviation Weekly site yesterday it seems. News from Phoenix going straight to Bush’s ear has to be some interesting news.
To be honest, i’m one of those nuts who suspects that certain people have known about the potential of life on Mars since Viking, but they didn’t want to go out on a limb, as it would be too controversial as well as based off very little evidence. All of the scientists can line up to say that the Viking program never turned up anything, and anyone who thinks otherwise is a science fiction fantasist nursed on too many conspiracies, but here it is.
Hopefully more will come up in the coming days, not weeks. I’m also demanding more than a simple admission of discovering amino acids or hydrocarbons, as that news doesn’t seem to be something necessary to brief Bush on.
Yeah, yeah, i read the story:
Phoenix scientists have said from the start that neither the TEGA organic chemistry lab nor the MECA wet chemistry system could detect current or past life.
MECA’s two microscopes do, however, have the resolution to detect bacteria–which would be life. Sources, however, say the microscopes have not detected bacteria.
But i could understand these sources lying while they try to conform more, as careers are on the line.
update 08.03.08 from Twitter:
MarsPhoenix Reports claiming there was a White House briefing are also untrue and incorrect.
Warren follows up on his Mars post from yesterday. Good. Our best idea people for science in the 20th century seem to be fiction writers in retrospect. There are a lot of science blogs in my RSS feeds, but most of those are entirely hung up on identity issues with atheism. The breathless war championing atheism gets as tedious as listening to Wiccans explain that they are not Satanists. Rationalism is a handy tool, but as an avid fiction reader, i’m convinced that rationality is overrated.
I’m a little torn here. If there are supertough microbes on Mars (which i think is inevitable, based on nothing more than a hunch,) it pains me to wipe them out without understanding what they are. It’s not any kind of moral code honoring a xeno-species, although i do respect sentience. It’s that if these creatures exist, and have significant genetic differences, it’s going to be damned useful to know these sequences for future genetic engineering adventures. The transhumanism movement generally leaves me cold, but it seems only a matter of time before tinkering with the human genome to allow for better adaptation to varying environments.
In other words, terraforming Mars isn’t going to work completely. Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles “Green Morning” scenario doesn’t seem entirely feasible. Humans are going to have move part of the way by rewiring themselves, possibly by using techniques learned from extremophile organisms. Yeah, that sounds ridiculously naive. How are we supposed apply these particular adaptations of (Martian) microorganisms to macro-organisms? We might not. It could just be another dead end dreamed up by pulp sci fi and comics, but the idea probably came from agricultural engineering in the first place. It’s not so ridiculous.
Besides, planetscale terraforming would take many generations. Humanity is not going to be patient enough to wait around until it’s just like Earth. If there are Martian microbes, they will colonize the human flora, and we should help them do it, unless we want to die or wait possibly hundreds or even thousands of years.
(This is one of those time that i wish that i had the footnotes feature down. If there is life on Mars, it seems highly unlikely that it arose independently from Earth, and i’m still sympathetic to the notion that the seed of life arose from outside this solar system. Whatever turns up there is not going to be that alien. If there is going to be something truly exotic in this system, it’s Titan. Just full of the broad pronouncements lately, aren’t i?)
Sometimes i wish that Warren Ellis would quit writing comics altogether, and just write columns about science and technology. The piece on Robert Zubrin, the feasibility of a manned expedition to Mars, and the cultlike nature of mission was more fun the whole of his run of Thunderbolts (and i like that one, for what it is.) It’s just that his unvarnished musings on science and technology unexpectedly stick with me longer.
Maybe that’s an option for the Mars Society now. Buy some frontier land and ritually smash effigies of the radiation-hardened robot lander currently clunking away at the Martian maidenhead.
Yeah, that’s more like it. It’s either that, or wonder if Norman Osborn has developed anal fissures from fighting the nanobots shackling him to the service of the Initiative.
I sure as hell do. I loved those damned things. It irked me that there seem little interest in the serious scientific community to follow up on what the hell those things were. They were some Martian organism analogous to plant or fungi in my mind. Arthur C. Clarke looked at them and saw the same thing.
Ha! Screw you, “serious” people.
My heart’s kinda broken. I’m 99.999% convinced. I still cannot let go of poring over those photos looking for anomalies though.
Two asteroids have been found to contain basalt. Basalt is a mineral that forms a large portion of the Earth’s crust. Vesta has been found in Vesta as well. The presence of basalt suggests that the asteroids were heated internally, like the Earth’s core.
Nature abhors a vacuum and all that… so why is it there? I likes me a mystery.
Thieves stole from the yard of something calling itself the “Tunguska Space Event Foundation” a large rock allegedly from the Tunguska site. The “foundation” is located in Krasnoyarsk in Siberia and the rock weighed three tons. Ahem. I’m amused.