There’s bad news, and there’s good news here. British physicist Stephen Hawking has warned that particle accelerator experiments involving the Higgs Boson, or “God particle”, may cause it to become unstable, something that may result in the destruction of the universe. Thing is though, said particle accelerator would need to be the size of planet Earth…
He wrote: “The Higgs potential has the worrisome feature that it might become metastable at energies above 100bn gigaelectronvolts (GeV).” What might this lead to? Hawkins explained: “This could mean that the universe could undergo catastrophic vacuum decay, with a bubble of the true vacuum expanding at the speed of light. This could happen at any time and we wouldn’t see it coming.”
As a comparison, this beast would have been seven times heavier than Tyrannosaurus rex. Luckily for us – if people had been around at the time – Dreadnoughtus was a herbivore, meaning the species wouldn’t have had much interest in humans as a food source. Heaven help any creature that did something to annoy them though.
It’s nice, in a way, to know that the universe is divided into suburbs of sorts, and our galaxy, the Milky Way, is, along with some one hundred thousand of its closest galactic neighbours, part of a region that has been named Laniakea… doesn’t that make the cosmos feel all more homely then?
Astronomers were able to identify the boundaries of Laniakea by charting the flow of more than 8,000 galaxies surrounding the Milky Way. By that yardstick, they discovered that the Milky Way, along 100,000 other galaxies, is sailing toward a region named the Shapley super-cluster.
As it turned out, even though all the sounds had short-term neurological effects, not one of them had a lasting impact. Yet to her great surprise, Kirste found that two hours of silence per day prompted cell development in the hippocampus, the brain region related to the formation of memory, involving the senses. This was deeply puzzling: The total absence of input was having a more pronounced effect than any sort of input tested.
US scientist Andy Howell discusses the science of the “Star Wars” films… which he actually describes as “space fantasy”. Could it be that more people might focus on the fiction, rather than the science, of sci-fi stories if they were referred to as fantasy more often?
There’s been a bit of talk recently about solar storms, being flares, or charged particles, emanating from the Sun, and how they might impact on us, were there to be a repeat of the 1859 event. While the inhabitants of Earth should remain unscathed should there be another such storm, it would certainly make a mark otherwise.
With the space weather satellites we have up now, we would have about a half-day’s warning to shut down our power stations and voluntarily shut off the grid in the event of such a flare. These things can not be predicted, and neither can their interaction with the interplanetary-and-Earth’s magnetic field, so you must never listen to fear-mongers who tell you a catastrophic solar flare is imminent; we can only be prepared to react when one is detected.
Working with a pool of over 250 varieties of stone fruit, Van Aken developed a timeline of when each of them blossom in relationship to each other and started grafting a few onto a working tree’s root structure. Once the working tree was about two years old, Van Aken used a technique called chip grafting to add more varieties on as separate branches. This technique involves taking a sliver off a fruit tree that includes the bud, and inserting that into an incision in the working tree. It’s then taped into place, and left to sit and heal over winter. If all goes well, the branch will be pruned back to encourage it to grow as a normal branch on the working tree.
As if there wasn’t enough to think about… there are still unsolved problems in the field of physics… here are ten of them:
Why does the universe appear to have one time and three space dimensions? “Just because” is not considered an acceptable answer. And just because people can’t imagine moving in extra directions, beyond up-and-down, left-and-right, and back-and-forth, doesn’t mean that the universe had to be designed that way. According to superstring theory, in fact, there must be six more spatial dimensions, each one curled up too tiny to detect. If the theory is right, then why did only three of them unfurl, leaving us with this comparatively claustrophobic dominion?
Dr Grimes derived equations describing how string bending, vibrato and whammy bars change the pitch of a note. He found that the properties of the strings had a big effect on the change in pitch – in particular the Young’s modulus (a measure of how much the string stretches under force) and how thick the strings are. He also worked out how easy hammer-ons and pull-offs are, depending on the height of the guitar strings above the finger board. Finally, he confirmed the equation for string bends experimentally, measuring the frequency of the sound produced for strings bent through different angles on a guitar.