The light of the entire universe is yet to fully shine. Thankfully

Tuesday, 14 October, 2014

Ok, if there are trillions upon trillions of stars in the universe, why is the night sky dark, and for that matter, why is there even a night sky in the first place? It’s all rather simple actually, not all of the light from all of the stars in the cosmos has had a chance to reach us yet, so distant are many of them from us.

The question is also referred to as Olbers’ paradox, as named after Heinrich Wilhelm Matthias Olbers, a German astronomer who died in 1840.

“As we look out, we are seeing back in time, and by the time we see 12 billion years back, the universe is only a couple of billion years old and there isn’t stuff there for us to see,” Dr. Jay M. Pasachoff, professor of astronomy at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and co-author of The Cosmos: Astronomy in the New Millennium, told The Huffington Post. “The main solution to Olbers’s paradox is, then, that the universe isn’t old enough for stars and galaxies to fill our view as we look outward.”

Here’s hoping all that star light takes its time reaching us, what fun would a night sky, that was no longer dark, be?

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Many animal species have been lost, is this a mass extinction event?

Tuesday, 14 October, 2014

With animal populations in decline, some scientists are concerned the world is in the throes of a mass extinction event, something they say has resulted in the loss of some fifty percent of wildlife species in the last forty years.

Pixable meantime have compiled a list of animal species that have become extinct in the last one hundred years… needless to say it isn’t the shortest of lists either.

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You can miss out when you miss chemistry classes…

Monday, 13 October, 2014

Chemistry wasn’t one of my stronger subjects at high school, it’s actually very mathematical you know, but these video clips of various chemical reactions are quite enjoyable. Here are some precipitation reactions… what do you know, I remember those.

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No, this is not the end of the world. Oh wait…

Friday, 10 October, 2014

Are we perhaps not mature enough as a people to be using certain of the technologies we have developed – many of which were intended to make life easier – that, through misapplication, could bring about our annihilation? It is a question that is troubling a growing number of scientists and eminent thinkers:

“We’re getting these more and more powerful technologies that we can use to have more and more wide-ranging impacts on the world and ourselves, and our level of wisdom seems to be growing more slowly. It’s a bit like a child who’s getting their hands on a loaded pistol – they should be playing with rattles or toy soldiers,” Bostrom tells me when we meet in his sunlit office at the FHI, surrounded by yet more whiteboards. “As a species, we’re giving ourselves access to technologies that should really have a higher maturity level. We don’t have an option – we’re going to get these technologies. So we just have to mature more rapidly.”

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Perhaps you do not understand the gravity of climate change

Friday, 10 October, 2014

Climate change is altering the world in all sorts of ways, and seemingly not even the Earth’s gravitational field is unaffected, according to data collected by a European Space Agency satellite, that has found gravity dips occurred in regions of Antarctica where there had been heavy loss of ice.

For scientific purposes, the Antarctic ice sheet is often divided into catchment basins so that comparative measurements can be taken to work out how the ice in each basin is changing and discharging ice to the oceans. Some basins are much bigger than others. By combining GOCE’s high-resolution measurements with information from Grace, scientists can now look at changes in ice mass in small glacial systems – offering even greater insight into the dynamics of Antarctica’s different basins. They have found that the loss of ice from West Antarctica between 2009 and 2012 caused a dip in the gravity field over the region.

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Vaseline glass requires something with a little more kick… uranium

Friday, 3 October, 2014

Vaseline glass, also known as canary glass, which is highly collectible, doesn’t stand out solely on account of its name… it also emits radiation, by way of the uranium it contains, which gives off a greenish yellow glow when seen under a black light.

Everyone who collects Vaseline glass knows it’s got uranium in it, which means everyone who comes in contact with Vaseline glass understands they’re being irradiated. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the gaffer making footed cake plates in a glass factory, the driver loading boxes of lace-edged compotes onto a truck, or the tchotchkes dealer setting out vintage Vaseline glass toothpick holders and tumblers for prospective customers – all of you are being zapped.

The radiation content, by the way, poses no hazard however, the levels are far below those that occur around us naturally.

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We may not meet our demise by way of a giant black hole after all

Friday, 3 October, 2014

Nothing can escape the incredibly powerful gravitational field of a black hole, not even light. It therefore stands to reason that we, and everything else in the universe, will eventually end up as black hole fodder. Does it not? Well no, it turns out we won’t, because mathematically at least, it seems black holes cannot even exist:

By merging two seemingly conflicting theories, Laura Mersini-Houghton, a physics professor at UNC-Chapel Hill in the College of Arts and Sciences, has proven, mathematically, that black holes can never come into being in the first place. The work not only forces scientists to reimagine the fabric of space-time, but also rethink the origins of the universe.

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If rats can learn to trade markets will we need financial advisers?

Wednesday, 1 October, 2014

What are we paying our financial advisers for again? It seems rats can learn to trade financial markets with a reasonable degree of success:

One project is Michael Marcovici’s Rat Trader. The book describes the training of laboratory rats to trade in foreign exchange and commodity futures markets. Marcovici says the rats “outperformed some of the world’s leading human fund managers.” The rats were trained to press a red or green button to give buy or sell signals, after listening to ticker tape movements represented as sounds. If they called the market right they were fed, if they called it wrong they got a small electric shock. Male and female rats performed equally well. The second generation of rattraders, cross-bred from the best performers in the first generation, appeared to have even better performance, although this is a preliminary result, according to the text. Marcovici‚Äôs plan, he writes, is to breed enough of them to set up a hedge fund.

I don’t think the rats needed to be zapped if they messed up though, surely they could have just gone without a reward in such an instance?

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Photos of the solar flare powered auroras

Friday, 26 September, 2014

Solar flares have been in the news in recent weeks, and while they can cause a certain degree of havoc to the Earth, possibly disrupting radio and satellite communications, the auroras created of late as a result, around the polar regions, have been eye-catching to say the least.

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Fidelity and interstellar travel, do they mix at the speed of light?

Thursday, 18 September, 2014

There are a million or more scientific, engineering, financial, and who knows what else, hurdles to be jumped before we go taking off to other parts of the cosmos at the speed of light, but I guess now is a good time to address the topic of… fidelity.

Specifically fidelity on the part of the space voyager’s partner, who remains on Earth, while their other half is absent for decades, at the very least, zapping about interstellar space. US author Mary Roach, writer of Packing for Mars, takes the view that such loyalty may not be the best idea, and for good reason really:

And more important, Roach points out, the astronaut who comes back from voyaging to another galaxy will still be relatively young and fit and good-looking (because they were traveling at near the speed of light, so from their perspective the trip didn’t take that long), while the spouse back home will have aged and withered, having waited around on a planet that just kept spinning indifferently. It’s a recipe for disaster, basically. And betrayal. And pain.

It was always my understanding that the crew of interstellar, speed of light craft, would actually be absent for centuries, if not longer, as far as those on Earth were concerned, something that puts another slant on the question all together…

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