Help scan the realm beyond Neptune for brown dwarfs and planet nine!

Help scan the realm beyond Neptune for brown dwarfs and planet nine! Yes, you can join the search for icy worlds, brown dwarfs and other yet to be discovered objects beyond the orbit of Neptune, using a technique that’s not all that different from the method that led to Pluto’s discovery some 87 years ago. Anyone can join the online hunt here: Backyard Worlds: Planet 9


Gravitational Waves Discovered from Colliding Black Holes


A team of physicists announced that they had heard and recorded the sound of two black holes colliding a billion light years away. Albert Einstein first predicted gravitational waves in 1916 based on his general theory of relativity, and scientists began seeking these ripples in spacetime in the 1960s but none succeeded in measuring their effects on Earth until now. Gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space-time that Einstein predicted a century ago. This is one of the major breakthroughs in physics that we all hoped to prove. It opens the doors to many more theories and lays a solid foundation to help further our knowledge of our Universe

The Large Hadron Collider concludes first 3 year run and will continue in 2015


The LHC is the worlds largest and highest energy particle accelerator. It was built by CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research) and used by physicists to study the smallest known sub atomic particles which are the fundamental building blocks of all things. The 17 mile long particle accelerator is located near Geneva, Switzerland. It has helped test different theories of particle physics, high-energy physics, supersymmetric theories, and most importantly prove the existence of the Higgs boson! It will undergo maintenance and upgrades for the next two years and resume proton to proton collisions in 2015. -Rick Viegas


Asteroid Won’t Hit Earth, But Don’t Rule Out Communication Satellites

2012Asteroid.jpgAsteroid 2012 DA14 is about half the width of a football field (150 feet) and will fly within 17,200 miles of our planet on Friday, Feb. 15, zooming closer to the planet than the ring of satellites in geosynchronous orbit. While Earth is safe from 2012 DA14, an asteroid that size would do a lot of damage if it did impact our planet. A similar-sized rock slammed into Tunguska,  Siberia, in 1908, and flattened some 500,000 acres of forest over an area about the size of Tokyo.

Quantum Internet at the speed of light?


As the number of transistors on a microprocessor continues to increase at the rate that they are, I predict by the year 2045 will find the circuits on a microprocessor measured on an atomic scale. And, the logical next step will be to create quantum computers, which will harness the power of atoms and molecules to perform memory and processing tasks. 

Thanks to the strange laws of quantum mechanics, quantum computers would be able to carry out certain computational tasks much faster than conventional silicon based computers. And, were not just talking about the local processing power of PC’s, Tablets, and Smart Phones it’s much more about the internet then local processing power as the shift to cloud based processing over local becomes the norm. 

Not only do optical fibers transmit information every day around the world at the speed of light, but they can also be harnessed for the transport of quantum information. Computer Networks will be able to directly transfer the quantum information stored in an atom onto a particle of light. Such information could then be sent over optical fiber to a distant atom (quantum PC). Among the most promising technologies for the construction of a quantum computer are systems of single atoms, confined in so-called ion traps and manipulated with lasers. In the laboratory, these systems have already been used to test key building blocks of future quantum computers. What makes the construction of these interfaces especially challenging is that the laws of quantum mechanics don’t allow quantum information to be simply copied. Instead, a future quantum internet that is, a network of quantum computers linked by optical channels would have to transfer quantum information onto individual particles of light, known as photons. These photons would then be transported over an optical-fiber link to a distant computing site. Now, for the first time, quantum information has been directly transferred from an atom in an ion trap onto a single photon. The quantum information stored in the photon could thus be conveyed over the optical fiber to a distant quantum computer, where the same technique could be applied in reverse to write it back onto an atom. 

Pairing a quantum microprocessor with DNA memory which can achieve a density of 2 petabytes or more per gram of DNA which calculates to allow at least 100 million hours of high-definition video to be stored in about the size of a synthetic DNA teacup. Now you have a recipe that’s more powerful then any super computer cluster in the world today just sitting on your desk! The future of computer technology is bright indeed.


Technology is changing our understanding of Dark Matter in the Universe

Astronomers puzzled? I would be too if I were to observe what they did earlier this year when they spotted an overabundance of dark matter in the heart of the merging galaxy cluster Abell 520. Now with a new group of astronomers viewing the same cluster with a different Hubble camera it completely paints a different picture. It also raises questions of our understanding of the mysterious substance we call dark matter. Because dark matter is not visible, its presence and distribution is found indirectly through its gravitational effects. The gravity from both dark matter and luminous matter warps space, bending and distorting light from galaxies behind it like a giant magnifying glass. Astronomers use this technique to map dark matter in the merging cluster. Using the new Hubble camera astronomers now measured less shear (shear is the warping and stretching of galaxies by gravity of dark matter. More warping indicates the presence of more gravity than is inferred from the presence of luminous matter, therefore requiring the presence of dark matter to explain the observation) in the clusters core. The earlier observation showed 6 to 1 dark matter to normal matter. The new study now shows a ratio of 2.5 to 1! All of this further challenges our theories of how dark matter behaves. It also illustrates the importance of how the evolution of technology is to Astronomy and our understanding of the Universe.

Rick Viegas

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What is Dark Matter?

Pluto’s Moon tally is now up to 5!

Pluto family1Pluto is still not a planet, but it does boast an impressive entourage.

Astronomers said Wednesday that they had spotted a fifth moon orbiting Pluto, which they already knew had four. The discovery, made with the Hubble Space Telescope, gives Pluto more moons than Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars combined.

The announcement, initially conveyed on Twitter, caught the attention of some science-minded comedians on the same medium. ”It’s like, since being kicked out of the planet gang, it’s decided to form a rival solar system,” said Dean Burnett, a neuroscientist and stand-up comic in Britain. ”Good one Pluto, I say.”
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Gliese 581g tops list potentially habitable alien planets

The exoplanet Gliese 581g is the best candidate to host life beyond our own solar system, according to a new ranking of potentially habitable alien worlds, Scientific American has reported. There are now over 800 known exoplanets and this list keeps growing every month as we discover thousands more. We are bound to find planets similar to Earth that could support intelligent organic life like ourselves!

Largest black holes discovered lurking in monster galaxies

Black hole 2 2076038b

University of California, Berkeley, astronomers have discovered the largest black holes to date – two monsters with masses equivalent to 10 billion suns that are threatening to consume anything, even light, within a region five times the size of our solar system… Read More

Dark Matter Search Comes Up Empty… WIMPS?


The most sensitive search yet for the elusive particles that may make up dark matter has turned up nothing, putting stronger limits than ever on the ingredients of nature’s invisible stuff.

Dark matter is thought to make up about 83 percent of the matter in the universe, yet scientists can’t see or touch it. Astronomers detect its presence through its gravitational pull on the normal matter of galaxies and stars.

A leading idea suggests dark matter is made of particles called WIMPS (shorthand for “Weakly Interacting Massive Particles”) predicted by some theoretical physics models. These heavy particles would pervade the universe, flying through Earth and our bodies every moment, yet would almost never collide with other particles, so would be virtually undetectable.. Read More

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