Послано - 15 Марта 2008 : 01:03:55
Inquirer Covers Dark London Best-selling fantasy author Simon R. Green told SCI FI Wire that his latest novel, The Unnatural Inquirer, was inspired by a news story he read about a man who claimed to have received a transmission from the future on his television and sold VHS copies of it on eBay.
"Word is, if you bought a copy all you got was a view of some guy in a futuristic outfit baring his backside to the camera and giggling a lot," Green said in an interview. "Technology is wasted on some people. But it got me thinking about other kinds of rogue broadcasts, and I was off and running."
The book takes place in the Nightside, the sick, secret magical heart of London, where all the really wild things live. "You can find anything there, if it doesn't find you first," Green said. "Forbidden knowledge, appalling pleasures and more monsters than you can shake a really big stick at. And a few good people, doing what they can."
The Unnatural Inquirer is the name of the Nightside's appalling gossip and muckraking tabloid. "Someone in the Nightside claims to have received a broadcast from the Afterlife on their television set," Green said. "Naturally, they recorded it and put the DVD up for sale. But when the Unnatural Inquirer won the rights, the man and his DVD vanished. Our hero, John Taylor, is hired by the UI to get the DVD back. And an awful lot of awful people want to get their hands on it first."
This book, which is the eighth in the Nightside series, was a lot of fun to write, Green said. "I got to write about the kind of things a tabloid dealing with supernatural gossip and muckraking might deal with," he said. "Headlines like TRIBUTE PRINCESS DIANA TO TOUR NIGHTSIDE! GIANT APE ADMITS SIZE ISN'T EVERYTHING! And at the bottom of the page in very small print; 'Old Ones Fail to Rise Yet Again.'"
Also recently released was the first of Green's new Secret Histories series, The Man With the Golden Torc. The second book, Daemons Are Forever, is due out in June and will be followed by a least one more volume, The Spy Who Haunted Me. --John Joseph Adams
Послано - 15 Марта 2008 : 01:09:52
Death Race Not a Remake The star of the upcoming Roger Corman produced film “Death Race” says it’s not a remake of the 1975 cult classic Corman film “Death Race 2000.” Jason Statham (”Crank,” “The Transporter 1 & 2″) told SCI FI Wire in a recent interview that this new film, which will be directed by Paul WS Anderson, is more of a homage to the original than a remake of it. Anderson, known for helming such landmark SF films such as “Event Horizon,” “AVP: Alien vs. Predator” and “Resident Evil” also co-wrote the script for “Death Race” with J.F. Lawton (”DOA: Dead or Alive,” “Chain Reaction”). The film also co-stars the great Ian McShane (”Deadwood,” “The Golden Compass”). “It’s fantastic fun,” Statham said. “It’s more of a homage to the Corman film. It’s not really a direct remake. I suppose it’s very different. There’s a great story to it, and I think it’ll do really well. Paul Anderson was a dream to work with, and I’m really excited about seeing it.” Jason may have a valid point because all reports coming out of the production thus far have indicated that the only thing resembling the original is the automobile race itself. All the rest has a core theme about what a possible future version of America could look like if current trends in video games and reality television were taken out to their uncontrolled limit. Statham plays the part of a prisoner, who has only a few weeks before being paroled, but is forced to compete in a deadly cross-country auto race by the prison warden, portrayed by three time Academy Award nominated actress Joan Allen (”Bourne Ultimatum,” “Face/Off”). “It’s a big budget [film]” Statham said. “It’s a great, great fun film. I’m working with people of immense caliber. I’ve got Joan Allen there, who I’m doing scenes with. I’ve got Ian McShane. To be able to work with people like that, it just gets better and better.” “The cars in this are really killer,” Statham said. “They’ve got ejector seats, and they spray out oil and napalm, and they’ve got rocket launchers. The story is it’s a race to the death, and all the inmates in the prison build these cars.” “Death Race,” currently in post-production, is set to open in theaters worldwide on September 26, 2008.
Послано - 15 Марта 2008 : 01:34:47
Speech Center Found in Chimps Brain — Can They Converse? Scientists keep finding more similarities between humans and chimps. They share most of our genes, they seem to be able to handle tools, and they grasp some English pretty well, too. Now researchers have found that we share a similar brain pattern when communicating. Broca’s area, located in the part of the human brain known as the inferior frontal gyrus, has been shown to be critical for human speech and sign language. When a person speaks, or even plans to say something, this region lights up with activity. “This is the first time someone has measured activity in that area in chimp brains,” said Jared Taglialatela, a biologist at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta. “It looks like a similarity between humans and chimps.” Taglialatela and his colleagues used a PET scan to image activity in the brains of three chimps after doing two tasks. In one, the chimps asked for food by gesturing and vocalizing — making grunts and other noises. In another they passed rocks out of their cages in exchange for food, as they had been taught to do before. The scientists found that Broca’s area was activated in the chimps’ brains after making gestures and vocalizing, but not after the rock task, signaling that this brain region is particularly tied to communication. The finding, reported online Feb. 28 in the journal Current Biology, narrows the gap between humans and chimpanzees a little bit more. “If we really want to talk about the big differences between humans and chimps — they’re covered in hair and we’re not,” Taglialatela told LiveScience. “Their brains are about one-third the size of humans’. But the major differences come down to ones of degree, not of kind.” He said we share many profound likenesses with our closest animal relations. They have been shown to possess remarkable language capacities, to have the ability to make and use tools and even to learn behaviors from other members of their community — all traits once thought to be the hallmarks of humanity. Chimps have been trained to use computer touch screens to communicate with humans and can understand many words of spoken English. They can also solve basic puzzles, sequence numbers in order, and, in one surprising study, beat college students on tests of short-term memory. We even share most of our DNA. Reportedly, the human and chimpanzee genomes differ by only 1.5 to 5 percent. So what does separate us from apes? “I would really stress that the differences are just a matter of degree,” Taglialatela said. “There’s some fairly good work with regards to chimps making and using tools in the wild, but of course it doesn’t really compare to operating an MRI scanner.” The same goes for language, he said. “Their English comprehension has been shown to be very sophisticated, but they could never have a conversation like we’re having right now,” he said. “And recursiveness — the ability to talk about language — is something I think is beyond the ability of chimpanzees.” Taglialatela also said chimps do not have the self-control humans do. Where people often censor their words and actions to fit a social situation, chimps generally act on impulse. If they are hungry, they will ask for food; if they are angry at another chimp, they might take a swat at him. “They’re not furry little humans, is what it comes down to,” he said. “But nonetheless, they’re not so different.” [Pictured above is Leslie, is a 38-year-old female chimpanzee at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center] Credit: Jared Taglialatela, PhD, Yerkes National Primate Research Center.
Послано - 15 Марта 2008 : 19:32:29
Надыбал еще информации по Dextre, можно попробовать скомпилировать одну новость из двух статей. SCI FI to SCI FACT: Meet Dextre
Astronauts from the NASA Space Shuttle Endeavor will assemble the new two-armed robot dubbed Dextre for the International Space Station (ISS). Shuttle Commander Dominic Gorie and pilot Gregory Johnson will be lending their expertise during the assembly process for the sci-fi styled space robot once the shuttle docks this week with the ISS. Besides Dextre, the Endeavor will also be delivering the first section of Japan’s giant Kibo space station lab, a float-in closet for storing tools, more experiments and some much needed station spare and replacement parts. Putting everything together will take about 16 days and five separate space walks. Both of these will be a record for the Shuttle service and the ISS. Once all these pieces are in place this will be the first time since the station began construction that all five of the major international space station partner countries will have their own piece of the real estate conjoined in orbit around Earth. Dextre was created by Canada’s Space Agency (CSA), just as the first single robotic arm was. The cost? $200 million (USD). However, Dextre will have two massive 11-foot arms, a shoulder span of nearly 8 feet and a height of 12 feet. It will also be much more manuverable with greater dexterity, thus the name, Dextre. The human crew might feel a little intimidated by this monster. “…I’ll tell you something,” commented astronaut Garrett Reisman. “He’s enormous and to see him with his giant arms, it is a little scary. It’s a little monstrous, it is.” Fortunately for the crew the only thing sci-fi about Dextre is his looks. He has limited memory and can only do what humans program him into it. Of course, all great sci-fi plots have an evil human programming robots to do things they were never created to do. But, this gizmo will actually be a savior for astronauts and take over the more dangerous aspects of work that was once reserved for long human space walks. It will be controlled by inhabitants of the space station while they are safely inside. Dextre has the ability to pivot at its waist, and utilizes seven joints in each arm to be able to reach hard-to-get angles even a human would find difficult to reach in a cumbersome space suit with thick gloves at zero gravity. Its hands have gripping capability with built-in socket wrenches of all sizes, various cameras and lights that can be used for several projections by the astronaut manipulating the arms. Since only one arm moves at a time there is little concern over Dextre’s stability or the chance of a collision, either into the station or Dextre’s other arm. It’s called a he because of its masculine sounding name, but Dextre is headless, legless and definitely looks more like a robotic device than a human-looking cyborg. In emergency situations Dextre can also be operated from NASA and CSA ground stations on Earth’s surface. “It’s quite surprising what a robot like Dextre can do with its sense of touch and its precision,” said Daniel Rey, a Canadian Space Agency engineer who heads the project.
If the nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, does harbor rocky planets similar to Earth as new findings suggest, there exist a host of ways to get us there, in theory. Sending a person to Alpha Centauri within a human lifetime wouldn’t be easy. Alpha Centauri is 4.37 light-years away — more than 25.6 trillion miles, or more than 276,000 times the distance from the Earth to the sun. “Interstellar travel is extremely hard,” said science fiction author and NASA physicist Geoffrey Landis. But the lure has never been stronger. Scientists last week said the Alpha Centauri system has the ingredients for an Earth-like planet, and they think they can spot it. Conventional rockets are nowhere near efficient enough. At a maximum speed of about 17,600 mph (about 28,300 kph), it would take the space shuttle, for example, about 165,000 years to reach Alpha Centauri. In any case, “the problem with conventional rockets is that if you’re carrying fuel, you need fuel just to carry all the fuel you bring with you, and it just gets exponentially worse,” Landis said. But antimatter engines might work. These drives rely on the extraordinary amount of energy released when antimatter and matter annihilate each other. The problem, however, is creating enough and storing any antimatter for the trip. “All of the current methods of manufacturing antimatter require enormous particle accelerators and produce antimatter in very small quantities,” Landis said. “And to store antimatter, if you need a ton of magnets for one gram of antimatter, the entire idea of a lightweight way to store immense amounts of energy is no longer lightweight.” Although one could in principle freeze anti-hydrogen and thus bypass the need for magnets, “if even the tiniest amount ever leaked out and touched the walls surrounding it, you’d produce a lot of heat, which in turn would heat up the frozen anti-hydrogen, and the whole thing catastrophically goes away,” Landis said. Antimatter could nevertheless perhaps find use in interstellar spaceships as a way to help trigger nuclear reactions. “That’s something that hasn’t been ruled out yet, and a little antimatter could help go a long way,” Landis said. Suck it up Instead of rockets that carry all their fuel with them, spaceships might scoop it up along the way. One design proposed by physicist Robert Bussard (who died last year) would employ giant electromagnetic fields to suck in hydrogen to fuel a nuclear rocket. Unfortunately, this “ramscoop” or Bussard ramjet, probably could not work. “The interstellar medium is not as dense as Bob Bussard thought it would be,” Landis said. “And so far all attempts to design some kind of scoop had the unfortunate effect of producing more drag than you get back thrust, working kind of like parachutes.” Moreover, “we don’t really have any notion of how to use the pure hydrogen we find in interstellar space as fusion fuel,” Landis added. All of the proposals for fusion in the lab use deuterium-tritium (two isotopes of hydrogen) or deuterium with helium-3 (an isotope of helium) — “we don’t have any suggestions for pure hydrogen in a fusion reaction,” he said. “It was a clever idea, but the devil’s in the details.” Sail away Light sails might be another way to go — giant, thin, lightweight reflective sails that rely on the slight push provided by light beams. “The point is to not carry the energy you need for propulsion with you, but to get it transmitted to you,” explained Jordin Kare, a Seattle-based technical consultant on advanced space systems. Instead of relying just on the enormous amount of light given off by the sun, light sails to Alpha Centauri could also ride laser beams that earthlings would fire carefully at those ships to give an extra boost, especially when sails were too far away to catch much light from our sun. The idea with a laser sail is that the sky is the limit in regards to speed. You just keep accelerating, albeit gradually. The problem with interstellar travel with laser sails is that a lot of light needs to be used for a long time to get fast enough to get to Alpha Centauri within a human lifetime. This means very powerful and extraordinarily large lasers are needed in order to focus on sails that get farther and farther away, Kare explained. An idea similar to light sails that Landis helped come up with involved firing a particle beam at a spaceship that would ride that energy. “The problem with laser beams is that they disperse over distance, so we thought about particle beams,” Landis explained. The beam would have to have a neutral electrical charge so as not to disperse itself over time. “It would be a feasible idea,” he said. Bombs away! Another idea for space travel would involve riding explosions through space. Such “pulsed propulsion” would hurl bombs behind a ship, which is shielded with a giant plate. The explosions would push against the plate, propelling the ship. Project Orion suggested using nuclear bombs, while other proposals have since proposed smaller explosives. “Nuclear pulsed propulsion works best for really big systems. If you want to send a colony of 1,000 people to space, an Orion-type ship is definitely the way to do it,” Kare said. “If you want to send a one-ton probe, I would say a laser system is the way to go.” A variant on both the laser sail and pulsed propulsion idea that Kare came up with was the “sail beam.” Essentially, a laser would propel lots of miniature sails like bullets at a distant ship. The impact of these sails would propel the spacecraft. “The idea is to get a craft up to about a tenth of the speed of light that way,” Kare said. “It could get you to Alpha Centauri in 60 to 70 years.” So far no one has created technology that is widely agreed upon as capable of caring for or preserving humans across the lifetimes it might take to get to Alpha Centauri. It might easily take more than one lifetime to reach the star system — one antimatter engine design would take 200 years to send humans there. If that proves so, mission designers might have to take sex and family into account so offspring of the original crew would be around at the end of the trip, unless someone successfully invents a technique for placing people in suspended animation. Then again, warp drives and similar far-out ideas might one day zip us faster than light to Alpha Centauri and beyond. “We don’t know all the physics there is to know yet, and something we don’t know yet might give us tremendous capabilities,” Landis said.
Да это вообще не новость - так, фразы какие-то, о том, что уже известно. На ускорителях мини черные дыры пока не получены, так что, что излагать-то? Разве что что-то типа "Черные дыры большие и маленькие", где раасказать о том, что это такое и чем они отличаются.
Послано - 16 Марта 2008 : 14:20:12
How We Present Ourselves to Aliens Humans live and die by approximations. We are seldom as perfect or as accurate as we would like to be. And as we contemplate what we might say to an advanced extraterrestrial civilization, maybe that's a point we should emphasize. If SETI succeeds, then it's very likely the civilization we discover will be much older than our own. The reasoning is simple. The only way we are likely to detect ET is if alien civilizations are much older than we are. If the typical civilization has the capacity to communicate by radio for only a few decades before it self-destructs, then it's very unlikely that we and they will happen to co-exist in the long lifetime of our galaxy. That disparity of age explains why current SETI programs merely listen for signals from other civilizations, rather than transmit. Transmitting requires greater patience and more resources than listening, so shouldn't we expect our cosmic elders to shoulder the burden? Besides, what could a young civilization possibly have to offer in an intellectual exchange across interstellar space? Surely advanced aliens would have little to gain from our understanding of astronomy or physics, chemistry or mathematics. What then might we say to hold up our end of an interstellar conversation? First Impressions One of our natural tendencies, when we make contact with strangers, is to try to impress them. Otherwise sloppy dressers might polish their shoes for a job interview, hopeful suitors will wash their cars for a first date, and prospective children-in-law will be on their best behavior in the presence of the parents of their intended. And sometimes such careful self-presentation works — as my wife will readily attest. Wouldn't we want to do the same in our first contact with ET? Lewis Thomas, in his book Lives of a Cell, suggests that if we want to impress an alien civilization, we should send "Bach, all of Bach, streamed out into space, over and over again." Thomas defends his choice by noting that "it is surely excusable for us to put the best possible face on at the beginning of such an acquaintance." And in fact when musical selections were chosen for the interstellar recording borne by two of the Voyager spacecraft, three of the 27 pieces were by Bach. But perhaps even more impressive to an advanced civilization would be a more balanced presentation that reflects honestly on our foibles and shows a certain self-awareness of our imperfections. When looked at in this light, perhaps even a description of our somewhat primitive science, mathematics and technology could be illuminating to extraterrestrials. For example, at a workshop on The Art and Science of Interstellar Message Composition sponsored by the SETI Institute and the Leonardo Network, artist Richard Clar emphasized the ways that the process of constructing messages could be instructive to ET. According to Clar, we might use technologies developed for other purposes to compose interstellar messages. For instance, if we wish to tell ET about the three-dimensional structure of the human body, we might create messages using medical imaging technologies like Computerized Axial Tomography — more commonly known as CAT-scans. The messages would also, indirectly, contain information about the level of our development as a species. Though our technologies may be crude by extraterrestrial standards, the rudimentary level of our accomplishments may itself be of interest to an advanced civilization, which might long since have forgotten the details of its own struggle to develop a stable, enduring society. A Measured Response Indeed, even a brief review of the history of terrestrial mathematics might prove of interest to an alien. As all high school geometry students can tell you, if we know the radius of a circle, we can easily calculate its circumference. Presumably, extraterrestrials would also know that c = 2pr, where "c" is the circumference of the circle and "r" is its radius. What might surprise ET is how well humans get by, even when we are a bit inaccurate. Though we now know that the value of p is 3.14159 ... (and on it goes into infinity), earlier mathematicians used much cruder estimates of p. For example, when wise King Solomon was planning a bathing area in the great temple he was constructing, its specifications indicated that the pool would have a radius of 5 units and a circumference of 30 units. If you plug these numbers into the equation for calculating the circumference of a circle, you'll see that the value of p was estimated to be 3. While this number underestimates p by about 5%, by all accounts, the temple turned out to be quite spectacular. Perhaps the most important message that ET could gain from this example is that in spite of our imperfections and miscalculations, we humans are capable of moving forward, sometimes with a fair amount of style. Embracing Imperfection Indeed, rather than continually focusing on ways that we as a species are superior beings, perhaps as we attempt to make contact with ET, we should take the opposite approach. As a species we are, to put it bluntly, quite imperfect. More often than our egos would like to admit, we snap at our spouses, forget appointments, pay our bills late and round off important mathematical constants to the nearest integer. Perhaps somewhere out there, circling a distant star, is an extraterrestrial civilization a million years our senior. Having long ago conquered war, poverty, and disease, having formed a stable society capable of enduring on timescales that stagger our imaginations, what would they think of our human flaws and imperfections? If some day we send them a message of our own, signaling our interest in joining the Galactic Club, would our application simply be laughed off? Who knows? They might be surprised, perhaps even pleasantly so, to discover a young civilization that would initiate a conversation in which each exchange could take hundreds or thousands of years. Wise old extraterrestrials might even admire our audacity for believing that, in spite of our shortcomings, humans may continue to exist in the coming centuries — perhaps even long enough to receive a reply from ET.
The NASA Chariot is a lunar truck prototype created to service the future US lunar outpost. Developed by the Exploration Technology Development Program's Human-Robotics Systems Project in just eleven months, the vehicle is designed to meet the payload transport, range, terrain and speed specifications defined by NASA's Lunar Architecture Team. The Chariot's chassis can be reconfigured for a variety of purposes and payloads. It can carry a mix of suited crew and payload; it can also be outfitted with a small pressurized cabin.
The pilot's control pedestal can rotate 360 degrees; the Chariot has no "front" or "rear." According to Johnson Space Center roboticist Rob Ambrose "The Apollo astronauts couldn't back up at all because they couldn't see where they were going in reverse." The vehicle itself has a zero turn radius — it can turn around entirely within its own length (see video).
NASA's Chariot is also the first lunar drop deck lowboy — the Chariot can drop the chassis right down to the ground for easy loading and unloading.
Science fiction writers have spent a fair amount of time thinking about how to get around on the Moon's surface. Arthur C. Clarke thought we might need mass transit:
"The monocab entered a long tunnel at the base of one of the domes. Sadler had a glimpse of great doors closing behind them — then another set, then another. Then there was the unmistakable sound of air surging around them, a final door opened ahead ..." (Read more about Clarke's monocab from Earthlight )
Clarke also created a practical vehicle for towing material around on the Moon's surface that took advantage of the powdery lunar soil - the dust-ski, which moved like a jet-ski through deep lunar powder:
"At that very moment ... one of the searching dust-skis was passing directly overhead. Built for speed, efficiency and cheapness ... It was, in fact, no more than an open sledge with seats for the pilot and one passenger — each wearing a space suit — and with a canopy overhead to give protection from the sun. A simple control panel, motor and twin fans at the rear, storage racks for tools and equipment — that completed the inventory. A ski going about its normal work usually towed at least one carrier sledge behind it ... " (Read more about Clarke's dust-ski from A Fall of Moondust )
Robert Heinlein thought that lunar prospectors might want to have something more personal for travel and hauling:
"The solitary prospector, deprived of his traditional burro, found the bicycle an acceptable and reliable, if somewhat less congenial, substitute. A miner's bike would have looked odd in the streets of Stockholm; over-sized wheels, doughnut sand tires, towing yoke and trailer, battery trickle charger, two-way radio, saddle bags and Geiger-counter mount made it not the vehicle for a spin in the park — but on Mars or on the Moon it fitted its purpose the way a canoe fits a Canadian stream. " (Read more about Heinlein's lunocycle from The Rolling Stones )
Hollywood megastars need just right the right conditions to explode onto the scene, a phenomenon shared by rare supermassive celestial stars. Two scientists think they have decoded the gassy recipe to create stars as much as 100 times bigger than the sun, perhaps solving the mystery of their formation. Mark Krumholz Princeton University in New Jersey and his colleague Christopher McKee of the University of California Berkeley used mathematical models to show how small stars can prime superstar formation. "Gravity tends to break interstellar gas clouds into small pieces, preventing massive star formation," Krumholz said. "But little stars heating up a gas cloud can smooth it out, forcing gravity to create a huge star." Krumholz and McKee detail their findings in the Feb. 28 issue of the journal Nature. Star power Although massive stars are about a million times rarer than the most common stars — those about 80 percent smaller than the sun — they are the movers and shakers of the universe. "They're very rare, but massive stars are the dominant players in galaxies," Krumholz said. "They're the things that can push around and heat up interstellar gas, which is essentially where all stars come from." He also explained that big stars seed the cosmos with elements that are required for life. "They enrich the universe with metals from their supernovae," he said, noting that only enormous stars are powerful enough to fuse together small atoms and create the heavy materials. Hot influence To form a galactic superpower, Krumholz said an interstellar gas cloud needs to be thousands of times more dense than average. Problem is, gravity tends to break dense gas clouds into pieces and thwart massive star formation. "The challenge isn't getting enough gas, it's getting the cloud into a small enough region and preventing its breakup," he said. If a few small stars form within the cloud, Krumholz explained, they can heat up the cloud and increase its "column density," or pressure. The heating process prevents gravity from taking control of the cloud, breaking it up and forming only small stars. "Heating up the gas helps pressure win over gravity's influence, ultimately forcing the gas cloud to collapse in a massive star," Krumholz said. The new view of star formation highlights the rarity of massive stars — the only kind astronomers on Earth can see in distant galaxies — but leads to the possibility that more stars form in galaxies than previously thought. "There may be significant parts of galaxies where massive stars can't form, but lower-mass stars like the sun can," Krumholz said. "We estimate the number of stars in a galaxy on the amount of light we see, and if massive stars are missing, then it's possible that we've dramatically underestimated the rate of star formation in distant regions of the universe."
Mysteriously, four spacecraft that flew past the Earth have each displayed unexpected anomalies in their motions. These newfound enigmas join the so-called "Pioneer anomaly" as hints that unexplained forces may appear to act on spacecraft. A decade ago, after rigorous analyses, anomalies were seen with the identical Pioneer 10 and 11 spacecraft as they hurtled out of the solar system. Both seemed to experience a tiny but unexplained constant acceleration toward the sun. A host of explanations have been bandied about for the Pioneer anomaly. At times these are rooted in conventional science — perhaps leaks from the spacecraft have affected their trajectories. At times these are rooted in more speculative physics — maybe the law of gravity itself needs to be modified. Now Jet Propulsion Laboratory astronomer John Anderson and his colleagues — who originally helped uncover the Pioneer anomaly — have discovered that four spacecraft each raced either a tiny bit faster or slower than expected when they flew past the Earth en route to other parts of the solar system. 'Humble and perplexed' The researchers looked at five deep-space probes — Galileo to Jupiter, the NEAR mission to the asteroid Eros, the Rosetta probe to a comet, Cassini to Saturn, and the MESSENGER craft to Mercury. Each spacecraft flew past the our planet to either gain or lose orbital energy in their quests to reach their eventual targets. (Galileo made two flybys.) In five of the six flybys, the scientists have confirmed anomalies. "I am feeling both humble and perplexed by this," said Anderson, who is now working as a retiree. "There is something very strange going on with spacecraft motions. We have no convincing explanation for either the Pioneer anomaly or the flyby anomaly." In the one probe the researchers did not confirm a noticeable anomaly with, MESSENGER, the spacecraft approached the Earth at about latitude 31 degrees north and receded from the Earth at about latitude 32 degrees south. "This near-perfect symmetry about the equator seemed to result in a very small velocity change, in contrast to the five other flybys," Anderson explained — so small no anomaly could be confirmed. The five other flybys involved flights whose incoming and outgoing trajectories were asymmetrical with each other in terms of their orientation with Earth's equator. For instance, the NEAR mission approached Earth at about latitude 20 south and receded from the planet at about latitude 72 south. The spacecraft then seemed to fly 13 millimeters per second faster than expected. While this is just one-millionth of that probe's total velocity, the precision of the velocity measurements was 0.1 millimeters per second, carried out as they were using radio waves bounced off the craft. This suggests the anomaly seen is real — and one needing an explanation. The fact this effect seems most evident with flybys most asymmetrical with respect to Earth's equator "suggests that the anomaly is related to Earth's rotation," Anderson said. As to whether these new anomalies are linked with the Pioneer anomaly, "I would be very surprised if we have discovered two independent spacecraft anomalies," Anderson told SPACE.com. "I suspect they are connected, but I really do not know." Unbound idea These anomalies might be effects we see with an object possessing a spacecraft's mass, between 660 and 2,200 lbs. (300 and 1,000 kg), Anderson speculated. "Another thing in common between the Pioneer and these flybys is what you would call an unbound orbit around a central body," Anderson said. "For instance, the Pioneers are flying out of the solar system — they're not bound to their central body, the sun. For the other flybys, the Earth is the central body. These kinds of orbits just don't occur very often in nature — it could be when you get into an unbound orbit around a central body, something goes on that's not in our standard models." The researchers are now collaborating with German colleagues to search for possible anomalies in the Rosetta probe's second flyby of the Earth on November 13. "We should continue to monitor spacecraft during Earth flybys. We should look carefully at newly recovered Pioneer data for more evidence of the Pioneer anomaly," Anderson added. "We should think about launching a dedicated mission on an escape trajectory from the solar system, just to look for anomalies in its motion." Montana State University physicist Ronald Hellings, who did not participate in this study, said, "There's definitely something going on. Whether that's because of new physics or some problem with the model we have is yet to be worked out, as far as I know. A lot of people are trying to look into this." Anderson and his colleagues will detail their latest findings in an upcoming issue of the journal Physical Review Letters.
Послано - 17 Марта 2008 : 00:20:14
Более подробный материал по искусственному горизонту событий: Black Hole Effect Created in Lab The mysterious properties of black holes can be recreated on a tabletop, scientists now reveal.
Solving mysteries concerning black holes could yield key clues toward a "theory of everything" that unites how we conceive of all the natural forces.
Black holes rank among the greatest enigmas of the universe. Scientists theorize black holes have gravitational pulls so powerful that nothing, including light, can escape after falling past a border known as the event horizon.
Direct experiments with black holes are unlikely, due at the very least to how far any are from Eearth, not to mention how difficult these warps in space and time would be to work with. Instead, researchers are searching for ways to create lab models of event horizons.
Now scientists have created an artificial event horizon on a tabletop using fiber optics.
The researchers started by firing a stream of intense, brief laser pulses inside an optical fiber. These pulses acted like a current of flowing light.
Such intense, brief pulses "make physical effects visible that would also occur for much longer and weaker pulses, but are hard to detect there," explained researcher Ulf Leonhardt, a theoretical physicist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. "High intensity and short pulses are needed for seeing subtle effects and discriminating them from noise."
At the same time, the researchers fired a continuous beam of infrared light down the optical fiber. This beam created waves that got overtaken by the laser flow, resembling how light waves are overcome by the gravitational pull just past an event horizon.
"The most surprising aspect for me is how simple it actually is to create artificial event horizons," Leonhardt told LiveScience. He and his colleagues detailed their findings in the March 7 issue of the journal Science.
Scientists had proposed other systems to mimic aspects of black holes. All those, however, needed moving parts — specifically, very fragile, ultra-cold blobs of matter — and none of them have yet successfully displayed phenomena resembling event horizons.
The artificial event horizons Leonhardt and his colleagues have devised could help researchers explore bizarre aspects of black holes, such as radiation they are supposed to emit. Black holes are not entirely black — instead, physicist Stephen Hawking discovered that all black holes should evaporate at least a bit, leaking energy dubbed "Hawking radiation."
Scientists have not yet seen this mysterious energy — Hawking radiation from normal black holes is completely obscured by the cosmic microwave background, radiation left over from the Big Bang that pervades the entire universe. However, Leonhardt suggests that with their new lab model, "we can create artificial event horizons that would generate enough Hawking radiation to be detectable."
A greater understanding of Hawking radiation could help unite our currently disparate theories of physics into one "theory of everything." that could conceive of all the natural forces.
So far scientists have not successfully united the field of general relativity, which explains how matter and energy behaves at large scales and predicts the existence of black holes, with that of quantum mechanics, which helps explain how matter and energy behaveact at the atomic level (and at smaller levels)below and predicts the existence of Hawking radiation.
A better understanding of Hawking radiation could help bridge general relativity with quantum mechanics to understand how these "worlds are connected," Leonhardt explained.
Да-да, давайте есть пчелу мирно! (c)
Отредактировано - SeaJey on 17 Марта 2008 00:20:44
Послано - 27 Апр 2008 : 19:15:02
New Plan For Identifying Watery Earth-like Planets Emerges Twinkle, twinkle little star, goes the nursery rhyme, but what scientists are really wanting to find is planet’s with a particular twinkle. That’s because sunlight glinting off extraterrestrial oceans could help astronomers spot liquid surface water on other worlds.
Researchers have modeled the way a distant planet would reflect light towards Earth as it orbits its star. They found that when a watery planet appears as a crescent, light striking the smooth surface of large bodies of water would make it appear brighter. But light reflected off of the surface of a drier planet would not look brighter in this way. Oceans cover over 70 percent of Earth's surface, and surely there are other watery worlds out there like ours surmise astronomers. The problem is that there are currently no telescopes capable of specifically identifying planets with water on their surfaces. However, this new method gives researchers a way to find water worlds like Earth solely by observing its “twinkle”. The method, reported in an upcoming issue of Icarus, relies on the specific reflective properties of water and sunlight. "A planet like Venus, with a dense atmosphere, will scatter the sunlight in all directions," says Darren M. Williams, associate professor of physics and astronomy, Penn State Erie, the Behrend College. "If you look at Venus in phases, when it is full, it is brightest and when it is crescent, it is faintest." But if a planet with water on its surface were full, in respect to its sun, with the whole disk illuminated, water would actually look darker than dirt. Conversely, when the planet is in crescent phase, with the sun glancing off of the watery surface, the reflection would be brightest. By monitoring the light curve of a distant planet through an optical space telescope as the planet spins on its axis and moves around its star, researchers can observe the changes in brightness, correlated to the planet's phase, which should tell them precisely whether or not the planet has liquid oceans. If the temperatures match up, they can then be fairly certain that the liquid is water. It sounds simple enough, but if the research pans out it would represent a big step forward in finding Earthlike planets. It’s one thing to find a planet that lies in the “sweet spot” distance from it’s star, but to know whether or not there is water on the planet would take the search for extraterrestrial life to a whole new level. "We are looking for Earth-like planets in the habitable zone of their star, a band not too hot nor too cold for life to exist," says Williams. "We also want to know if there is water on these planets." For life as we know it to exist, planets must have habitable temperatures throughout a period long enough for life to evolve. As far as we know, it would also help our search to find a significant amount of water on the planet’s surface. Scientists already know how to determine the distance a planet orbits from its star, and analysis of light interacting with molecules in the atmosphere can indicate if water exists in some form. However, Williams and Eric Gaidos, associate professor of geobiology, University of Hawaii, want to specially identify truly Earthlike planets with liquid water on their surfaces. The image of the Blue Marble, taken by Apollo 17 in December 1972, is striking because the Earth is mostly covered in water. The researchers believe that large enough amounts of water will provide a glint of light visible in the infrared and visible spectrum if they watch the planet for long enough. "We are going to look at the planets for a long time," says Williams. "They reflect one billionth or one ten billionth of their sun. To gain enough light to see a dot requires observation over two weeks with the kinds of telescopes we are imagining. If we stare that long, unless the planet is rotating very slowly, different sides of the planet will come through our field of view. If the planet is a mix of water, we are going to see the mix travel around the planet." Astronomers are hopeful that a terrestrial planet finder telescope will orbit the earth in the next 10 to 20 years, which will make the search much easier. But until then, Williams has arranged for the current Mars Express and Venus Express missions of the European Space Agency to look back at the Earth occasionally from great distances and observe what our watery planet looks like in various phases. "Any time that the Earth is in a crescent phase as viewed by a distant space vehicle, we should take advantage of the situation and look back at the Earth," says Williams. This will help researchers verify and fine-tune the method, and with any luck we’ll soon be able to identify planets truly worthy of the “Earth’s Twin” title.
An international team of researchers have stared down the barrel of one of the most violently energetic objects in the universe - and they didn't blink. Instead, they've figured out the physics behind one of the most impressive astrophysical events in existence. BL Lacertae is a blazar, a supermassive galactic-core black hole emitting vast and variable beams of energy. Please understand that giving this thing a name like "blazar" is like calling a speeding sixteen wheeler truck full of professional wrestlers, grizzly bears and dynamite a "gentle prodder". The English language simply lacks the ability to get across the staggering scale of these events - because it doesn't have a case above upper or letters bigger than capital. You can try writing down the values as numbers, but they end up being so stupidly huge that our monkey brains, programmed to deal with "one two three lots", just don't comprehend them. The most famous property of black holes is the event horizon, the "point of no return" beyond which you cannot escape. But even before this final barrier you're still close to a gigantic gravitational well built out of most of an Active Galactic Nucleus (AGN) - if not a point of no return, it's still a "point of incredibly difficult to escape from". We observe vast, super-energetic near-light speed particle streams from the poles of some such systems - what gives them the power? That was the question Professor Alan Marscher and an international team set out to answer, confirming their theories with observations of the inner workings of the BL Lac blazar particle stream. Big questions need big tools (especially when they're over nine hundred million miles away), so they enlisted the help of a global network of satellites including the Very Large Baseline Array (VLBA), a continental set of dishes with resolution equivalent to a dish larger than America. These mega-scale observations tracked particles as they were hurled from the throat of the blazar, emitting radiation as they go, and confirmed the team's theories that the power source is massively compressed and twisted magnetic fields. As material is sucked into the black hole, it spirals in along a large accretion disk. As it gets closer to being consumed, the material is crushed smaller and smaller by increasing gravitational forces - and the magnetic field lines coming along with it are crushed together as well, creating hugely intense fields oriented around the spinning black hole. These gigantic fields can drive particles away from the hole, causing them to corkscrew along a narrowly confined path while emitting precise bursts of radiation - bursts the astronomers observed exactly. Understanding these universe-grade events is a great step forward in astrophysics - for one thing, The BL Lacertae blazar is a particle accelerator that makes the LHC look like an asthmatic child throwing pebbles. Posted by Luke McKinney.
Software whiz Piotr Wozniak's latest invention is channeling the story historian Jonathan Spence turned into a bestseller about the Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci who wrote A Treatise on Mnemonics, in Chinese in 1596, for the governor of Jiangxi Province. Ricci recreated the medieval European idea of a memory palace -- an edifice you build in your mind and furnish with mnemonic devices. Recollection is a process of walking through the rooms and associating information with their contents.
Unlike Ricci's world and era, we have our computers -our replacement brains, which take us further and further from the old discipline of memory. Why memorize what we can look up? And so our inner life is gradually impoverished.
Piotr Wozniak's SuperMemo is based on the insight that there is an ideal moment to practice what you've learned. Practice too soon and you waste your time. Practice too late and you've forgotten the material and have to relearn it. The right time to practice is just at the moment you're about to forget, which is different for every person and each bit of information.
Human forgetting follows a pattern. We forget exponentially. A graph of our likelihood of getting the correct answer to a question sweeps quickly downward over time and then levels off.
Twenty years ago, Wozniak realized that computers could easily calculate the moment of forgetting if he could discover the right algorithm. SuperMemo is the result of his research, predicting the future state of a person's memory and schedules information reviews at the optimal time. The result is striking. Like Ricci's Memory Palace, users can seal huge quantities of vocabulary into their brains. As we plan the days, weeks, even years of our lives, Wozniak's program would have us rely not merely on our traditional sources of self-knowledge — introspection, intuition, and conscious thought — but also on something revolutionary: predictions about ourselves encoded in machines. Given the chance to observe our behaviors, computers can run simulations, modeling different versions of our path through the world. By tuning these models for optimum performance, SuperMemo gives us rules to live by, telling us when to wake, sleep, learn, and exercise; they will cue us to remember what we've read, help us track whom we've met, and remind us of our goals. Computers, in Wozniak's world, will increase our intellectual capacity and enhance our rational self-control.
The news wires are abuzz with stories of hackers attacking U.S. military sites, CNN, and anti-China sites. The tech wires are filled with warnings against opening unsolicited emails, and protecting against spam. All of this has a common theme, and that theme is botnets. A Botnet is a collection of software robots, or bots, which run autonomously and automatically on groups of zombie computers controlled remotely.
Botnets are used to bring down websites using a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack – are a collection of computers, spread across the internet, which have been zombied by someone so that they can be used automatically. Websites have a hard time standing up to these attacks, as the sheer amount of computer attacking them is overwhelming. So that is why a team from the University of Washington want to bring together their own botnet; a botnet for good, not for evil! They believe that their plan would not only be cheap to implement, but would be able to cope with attacks from botnets of any size. Known as Phalanx, the Washington team believes their system could render all forms of DDoS attacks obsolete. Instead of the server Phalanx is protecting access information directly, all incoming information would have to pass through the swam of “mailbox” computers. These mailboxes don’t simply work as a relay for information to pass through, but they only allow information to be accessed when it is requested. "Hosts use these mailboxes in a random order," the researchers explain. "Even an attacker with a multimillion-node botnet can cause only a fraction of a given flow to be lost," the researchers say. "Rather than using an ill-gotten botnet, Phalanx would use the large networks of computers which companies currently use to serve massive amounts of content," says team member Colin Dixon. The Washington team performed a highly successful test run of their system. Simulating an attack from a million-computer botnet, on a server connected to a network of 7,200 mailboxes, saw the server functioning normally, even though the majority of the mailboxes were under simultaneous attack. "These existing networks are so large and well-provisioned that they are currently the best option to withstand denial of service attacks from botnets," he told New Scientist. "Longer term, I think it's quite possible to fold home machines into the system as well."
At an event marking the 50th anniversary of NASA on Monday, Stephen Hawking, Newton's heir as the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, answered the question, “Are we alone?” His answer is short and simple; probably not!
Hawking presented three options. One, being that there is no life out there, and two – somewhat pessimistically, but subsequently, a little too realistic – being that when intelligent life gets smart enough to send signals in to space, it is also busying itself with making nuclear bombs. Hawking, known not only for his sharp mind, but his sharp sense of humor, prefers option number three. "Primitive life is very common and intelligent life is fairly rare," he quickly added: "Some would say it has yet to occur on earth." Alien abductions, in Hawking’s view, are nothing more than claims made by “weirdos,” but we should be careful if we ever happen upon an alien. Because alien life may not have DNA like ours, Hawking warns "Watch out if you would meet an alien. You could be infected with a disease with which you have no resistance." Other prominent astrobiologists have warned that we humans may be blinded by our familiarity with carbon and Earth-like conditions. In other words, what we’re looking for may not even lie in our version of a “sweet spot”. After all, even here on Earth, one species “sweet spot” is another’s species worst nightmare. In any case, it is not beyond the realm of feasibility that our first encounter with extraterrestrial life will not be a solely carbon-based occasion.
Alternative biochemists speculate that there are several atoms and solvents that could potentially spawn life. Because carbon has worked for the conditions on Earth, we speculate that the same must be true throughout the universe. In reality, there are many elements that could potentially do the trick. Even counter-intuitive elements such as arsenic may be capable of supporting life under the right conditions. Even on Earth some marine algae incorporate arsenic into complex organic molecules such as arsenosugars and arsenobetaines. Several other small life forms use arsenic to generate energy and facilitate growth. Chlorine and sulfur are also possible elemental replacements for carbon. Sulfur is capably of forming long-chain molecules like carbon. Some terrestrial bacteria have already been discovered to survive on sulfur rather than oxygen, by reducing sulfur to hydrogen sulfide.
Nitrogen and phosphorus could also potentially form biochemical molecules. Phosphorus is similar to carbon in that it can form long chain molecules on its own, which would conceivably allow for formation of complex macromolecules. When combined with nitrogen, it can create quite a wide range of molecules, including rings.
So what about water? Isn’t at least water essential to life? Not necessarily. Ammonia, for example, has many of the same properties as water. An ammonia or ammonia-water mixture stays liquid at much colder temperatures than plain water. Such biochemistries may exist outside the conventional water-based "habitability zone". One example of such a location would be right here in our own solar system on Saturn's largest moon Titan.
Hydrogen fluoride methanol, hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen chloride, and formamide have all been suggested as suitable solvents that could theoretically support alternative biochemistry. All of these “water replacements” have pros and cons when considered in our terrestrial environment. What needs to be considered is that with a radically different environment, comes radically different reactions. Water and carbon might be the very last things capable of supporting life in some extreme planetary conditions.
Will unmanned robotic missions be able to detect weird microscopic life-forms they are not programmed to recognize that might be lurking below the surface of Mars, or beneath the murky seas of Jupiter's jumbo moon, Europa?
The answer to this question is at the core of one of the greatest of the ongoing debates in space exploration: the question of man vs. unmanned robotic missions.
NASA currently operates more than 50 robotic spacecraft that are studying Earth and reaching throughout the solar system, from Mercury to Pluto and beyond. Another 40 unmanned NASA missions are in development, and space agencies in Europe, Russia, Japan, India and China are running or building their own robotic craft. What is not commonly known however is that many of NASA's leading scientists also champion human exploration as a worthy goal in its own right and as a critically important part of space science in the 21st century. In a past issue of Scientific American Jim Bell, an astronomer and planetary scientist at Cornell University, and author of “Postcards from Mars,” notes that “…you might think that researchers like me who are involved in robotic space exploration would dismiss astronaut missions as costly and unnecessary.” But he then he goes on, “Although astronaut missions are much more expensive and risky than robotic craft, they are absolutely critical to the success of our exploration program." The heart of the debate is this: robotic machines will only do what they are programmed to do; they are not programmed to detect weirdness: the unimaginable, the unknown, the strange non-carbon life that we may have encountered on Mars, for example with the two Viking vehicles, in 1976. Each carried equipment for sampling the Martian soil and miniature chemistry laboratories to test the samples for signs of life.The results these automated labs radioed back to Earth were enigmatic: the chemical reactions from the Martian soil were strange, unlike anything seen on Earth. But they were also unlike any reactions that living organisms would produce. Ben Bova, the acclaimed science-fiction author of Titan and The Aftermath, his most recent novels in is his ongoing series about the expansion of the human race throughout the Solar System, points out in an interview that most scientists examining the Viking results, reluctantly concluded that Mars was lifeless: "But the fact is that the landers were equipped only to detect signs of Earth-type life. The chemical reactions observed could have been the results of Martian life. They certainly were not ordinary inorganic chemistry." The debate over the meaning of the Viking results, Bova concludes, is still unsettled, more than 30 years later. But a human biologist or biochemist could have learned a lot more and settled the matter, one way or the other, within a few hours. What are we looking for, exactly, when we search for alien life? That's the cosmic question pondered in a new report from the National Research Council, The Limits of Organic Life in Planetary Systems. For more than five years, a committee of scientists tried to imagine what life-as-we-don't-know-it might be like. Their conclusion: Life may exist in non-carbon forms completely unlike anything we see on Earth. The human-versus-machine debate is a false choice. Robotic unmanned spacecraft are directed by human beings on Earth. Unless disabled by fierce sandstorms, our Mars rovers are in constant realtime communication with their masters at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, as will the New Horizons spacecraft now heading for Pluto with human monitors watching over it. Exploration of the distant gas giants, Saturn and Jupiter, will be performed by next-generation robotic machines like DepthX, a mushroom-shaped machine, an underwater hydrobot that 'thinks' for itself, which is being developed to search for life on one of Jupiter's moons.
Think it takes thousands or even millions of years for animals to evolve significantly new traits? Think again. New research lends just a touch of credibility to the idea behind the popular sci-fi TV series Heroes, which portrays certain humans as having quickly evolved new astounding traits in response to increasingly tumultuous environmental pressures.
easingly tumultuous environmental pressures. In 1971 biologists moved 5 adult pairs of Italian wall lizards from their island home of Pod Kopiste, in the South Adriatic Sea, and introduced them to the neighboring island of Pod Mrcaru. Now, an international team of researchers has discovered that introducing these small, green-backed lizards, Podarcis sicula, to a new environment caused them to undergo shockingly fast and large-scale evolutionary changes. Researchers returned to the islands twice a year for three years, in the spring and summer of 2004, 2005 and 2006. Captured lizards were transported to a field laboratory and measured for snout-vent length, head dimensions and body mass. Tail clips taken for DNA analysis confirmed that the Pod Mrcaru lizards were genetically identical to the source population on Pod Kopiste. In other words, there is no doubt that these lizards are the offspring of the 1971 transplant. The results of the study were recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The lizards evolved entirely new digestive system features to cope with dietary changes, evolved bigger heads and also ceased to defend territories—an instinct once very integral to the species behavior back on their original home territory. “Striking differences in head size and shape, increased bite strength and the development of new structures in the lizard’s digestive tracts were noted after only 36 years, which is an extremely short time scale,” remarks Duncan Irschick, a professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Observed changes in head morphology were caused by adaptation to a different food source explains Irschick. The lizards on the barren island of Pod Kopiste were well-suited to catching mobile prey, feasting mainly on insects. Life on Pod Mrcaru, where they had never lived before, offered them an abundant supply of plant foods, including the leaves and stems from native shrubs. Analysis of the stomach contents of lizards on Pod Mrcaru showed that their diet included up to two-thirds plants, depending on the season, a large increase over the population of Pod Kopiste. “As a result, individuals on Pod Mrcaru have heads that are longer, wider and taller than those on Pod Kopiste, which translates into a big increase in bite force,” says Irschick. “Because plants are tough and fibrous, high bite forces allow the lizards to crop smaller pieces from plants, which can help them break down the indigestible cell walls.” Examination of the lizard’s digestive tracts revealed something even more surprising. Eating more plants caused the development of new structures called cecal valves, designed to slow the passage of food by creating fermentation chambers in the gut, where microbes can break down the difficult to digest portion of plants. Cecal valves, which were found in hatchlings, juveniles and adults on Pod Mrcaru, have never been reported for this species, including the source population on Pod Kopiste. “These structures actually occur in less than 1 percent of all known species of scaled reptiles,” says Irschick. “Our data shows that evolution of novel structures can occur on extremely short time scales. Cecal valve evolution probably went hand-in-hand with a novel association between the lizards on Pod Mrcaru and microorganisms called nematodes that break down cellulose, which were found in their hindguts.” Change in diet also affected the population density and social structure of the Pod Mrcaru population. Because plants provide a larger and more predictable food supply, there were more lizards in a given area on Pod Mrcaru. Food was obtained through browsing rather than the active pursuit of prey, and the lizards had given up defending territories. “What is unique about this finding is that rapid evolution can affect not only the structure and function of a species, but also influence behavioral ecology and natural history,” says Irschick. So next time you see Hayden Panettiere on TV running around in her cheer skirt regenerating her limbs, just think how the premise may be just slightly less crazy that you previously suspected.
Since 1966 people have been pointing at Star Trek and asking "How come all the aliens speak English?" They go on to point out the impossibility of a universal translator, make fun of the show and basically prove that they couldn't have missed the point any harder if it was on the asteroid of Pluto. Of course, the reason a magic device can let everyone talk to each other is that forty-five minutes of people saying "I'm sorry, what?" is terrible television. But recent advances at the University of California might show that those nit-pickers aren't just petty-minded pedants, but flat-out wrong.
Professor Terrence Deacon believes that all languages must have a common universal structure. While there may be an infinite variety of means to communicate, there are only a finite number of things communication tries to do - the most fundamental of which is attempting to describe the physical world. By homing in on this fundamental goal any two languages must have in common, Professor Deacon believes it should be able to decode any xenoliguistics, be they communicated by sounds, scents, numbers or phllggQQ'arns. He weakens his point by referring to how this happens the Carl Sagan book "Contact", which we can only hope he knows is fiction. And even if fiction was admissible in the court of scientific inquiry, a few entries from Stephen Baxter would destroy any "fundamental commonality" principle, conjuring the idea of alien races so fundamentally different from us we wouldn't even know they were there, let alone communicating. The intrepid interpreter's theories can be saved by an "argotic anthropic principle" - any species similar enough for us to even attempt communication with probably does have language as we would understand the term. Of course, waiting around for ET to show up to test the theory might take a while. Dr Denise Herzing of Florida Atlantic University says we may be able to speak to dolphins using such a system. Then again, Dr Herzing is a research scientist working on animal consciousness with the Wild Dolphin Project, so it's hard to tell if that's expertise or bias. One things for sure: proving that dolphins can speak would trigger a huge response by animal rights organizations. Assuming the dolphin's name isn't "Flipper".
Einstein’s theory of relativity – the combination of his general and special relativity theories – dictates that all photons must move at the speed of light. A photon is the carrier of electromagnetic radiation of all wavelengths, including gamma rays, X-rays, ultraviolet light, visible light, infrared light, microwaves, and radio waves. This theory has stood the test of time over the last century, with no challengers. Until now…
The Major Atmospheric Gamma-ray Imaging Cherenkov (MAGIC) telescope sited at Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma in the Canary Islands has found that gamma radiation emitted from a distant galaxy arrived at earth four minutes after lower-energy photons, despite apparently being emitted at the same time. If this information is correct – and Daniel Ferenc, a physics professor at UC Davis and a member of the MAGIC collaboration says that a repeat performance will be needed to confirm such a finding – then the findings are in direct contradiction to Einstein’s theory of relativity. Ferenc says that everybody at the MAGIC collaboration are “…very excited," and that they will now try to find a new source to test this theory on. The current source of their findings is Markarian 501, a galaxy more than 300 million light years from earth with a “blazer” – a very compact and highly variable energy source associated with a supermassive black hole at the center of a host galaxy. Part of the blazer includes a relativistic jet – an extremely powerful jet of plasma – that shoot out, amongst other things, gamma rays; the likes of which Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four never encountered. These jets can be carried as many tens of kiloparsecs from the central black hole, and are the focus of the MAGIC’s collaboration. Joined by John Ellis from CERN – the world’s largest physics laboratory – who headed up a team of theoretical physicists, the MAGIC team were able to determine that low and high-energy emissions appeared to have been emitted at the same time. After traveling through space for some 300 million years, the high-energy emissions were late by four minutes.
Послано - 27 Апр 2008 : 19:36:51
Если никто не возражает, я пока возьму вот эту: Piotr Wozniak's 'Memory Engine' -Predictions About Ourselves Encoded in Machines; и эту: Stephen Hawking Predicts Discovery of Alien Life: But Will It be Carbon Based? Остальное по мере возможности.
Remember a little thing called the space-time continuum? Well what if the time part of the equation was literally running out? New evidence is suggesting that time is slowly disappearing from our universe, and will one day vanish completely. This radical new theory may explain a cosmological mystery that has baffled scientists for years.
Scientists previously have measured the light from distant exploding stars to show that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. They assumed that these supernovae are spreading apart faster as the universe ages. Physicists also assumed that a kind of anti-gravitational force must be driving the galaxies apart, and started to call this unidentified force "dark energy". However, to this day no one actually knows what dark energy is, or where it comes from. Professor Jose Senovilla, and his colleagues at the University of the Basque Country in Bilbao, Spain, have proposed a mind-bending alternative. They propose that there is no such thing as dark energy at all, and we’re looking at things backwards. Senovilla proposes that we have been fooled into thinking the expansion of the universe is accelerating, when in reality, time itself is slowing down. At an everyday level, the change would not be perceptible. However, it would be obvious from cosmic scale measurements tracking the course of the universe over billions of years. The change would be infinitesimally slow from a human perspective, but in terms of the vast perspective of cosmology, the study of ancient light from suns that shone billions of years ago, it could easily be measured The team's proposal, which will be published in the journal Physical Review D, dismisses dark energy as fiction. Instead, Prof Senovilla says, the appearance of acceleration is caused by time itself gradually slowing down, like a clock with a run-down battery. “We do not say that the expansion of the universe itself is an illusion," he explains. "What we say it may be an illusion is the acceleration of this expansion - that is, the possibility that the expansion is, and has been, increasing its rate." If time gradually slows "but we naively kept using our equations to derive the changes of the expansion with respect of 'a standard flow of time', then the simple models that we have constructed in our paper show that an "effective accelerated rate of the expansion" takes place." Currently, astronomers are able to discern the expansion speed of the universe using the so-called "red shift" technique. This technique relies on the understanding that stars moving away appear redder in color than ones moving towards us. Scientists look for supernovae of certain types that provide a sort of benchmark. However, the accuracy of these measurements depends on time remaining invariable throughout the universe. If time is slowing down, according to this new theory, our solitary time dimension is slowly turning into a new space dimension. Therefore the far-distant, ancient stars seen by cosmologists would from our perspective, look as though they were accelerating. "Our calculations show that we would think that the expansion of the universe is accelerating," says Prof Senovilla. The theory bases it’s idea on one particular variant of superstring theory, in which our universe is confined to the surface of a membrane, or brane, floating in a higher-dimensional space, known as the "bulk". In billions of years, time would cease to be time altogether. "Then everything will be frozen, like a snapshot of one instant, forever," Senovilla told New Scientist magazine. "Our planet will be long gone by then." Though radical and in many way unprecedented, these ideas are not without support. Gary Gibbons, a cosmologist at Cambridge University, say the concept has merit. "We believe that time emerged during the Big Bang, and if time can emerge, it can also disappear - that's just the reverse effect."
"Hello, Dave." Like a casting call for "2001 A Sapce Odyssey," the American Institute for Advanced Architectures (IAA) has designed the worlds first exaflop computer -a machine that would give HAL extreme paranoia. Unless you work for NASA or Dr Scorpio, exa- isn't a prefix you'll have seen much: it means a billion billion. A quintillion. Eighteen zeroes. Frickin' loads.
An exaflop computer could perform a thousand million billion FLoatin point Operations Per Second (FLOPS), made even more impressive by the fact our most advanced computers currently can't do one percent of that. While most manufacturers are complaining about the curse of Moore's Law, how it's impossible to keep doubling processor power every eighteen months, these guys think that merely doubling capabilities is for girly-men and ballerinas. They've decided to skip the petaflop generation of supercomputing entirely, having received seven million dollars in funding to jump to the next level. They'll be assisted by the Sandia and Oakridge National Laboratories - because this is kind of a big job. To put it into perspective, this system will have more power than every desktop in the UK put together. Times eight. Not that you can make a megaputer by buying every computer you see and stacking them together, the real challenge is avoiding bottlenecks. Building the system will require advances in parallel architecture - there's no point in having thousands of processors if they're all waiting for one slow 486 to finish a floating point division. Users are already lining up for this, the system that will make HAL9000 look like a Casio calculator. Of course the National Ignition Facility are at the head of the line, with the fiendishly difficult dynamics involved in laser-plasma experiments. A more worrying client is the Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program, the people who take care of all those nuclear weapons we were lucky enough not to use. Call us crazy, but we'd hope those guys wouldn't need more computing power than the ability to count warheads and say "Yep, all there". Of course they're still doing research on warheads. The first major computer was developed by the Manhattan project, which needed an awesome number-cruncher to do the sums involved in massive explosive energy release. And now the guys with buildings full of rotting nuclear weapons want a computer that can do calculations over a thousand times bigger than any we've ever even imagined before. While we at the Daily Galaxy usually aim to report headlines in an objective and scientific manner, we might recommend that this is an excellent time to panic and run for the hills.
monolith is a science-fiction icon. It can represent technology, God, alien influence or intense monkey violence, depending on what exactly you got out of Kubrick's masterpiece. But will we ever see one?
Rather than go to all the bother of developing a hyperintelligent computer probe ourselves, the easiest route is the "Christmas" strategy: just wait for someone to give us what we want. This assumes the existence of aliens, but let's be honest: nobody involved in the search doubts that for a second. The fact it's always called a "search" is one clue - the unspoken belief that it's definitely out there and we just have to find it. You can attribute this to hope, loneliness, or faith; but the most convincing reasons are a combination of the sheer size of the universe and the fact that, once you remove the "Invisible Sky Beard" factor from our genesis, it seems unlikely it should only happen here. But why build monoliths at all? Because of the universe's speed limit: if you can't get to other stars (because you'd be inconveniently dead of old age before you made it one-hundredth of the way), the only other option is to build a robot to go for you. Should we observe such a probe it would bring good news and bad . The good - there's an incredibly advanced alien civilization saying "Hi there, we're here!" The bad is them saying "Yeah, we can't beat the speed of light either. You're pretty much stuck there." Rather a mournful picture of the universe, islands of intelligence stranded by the ridiculous distances between them. As we reported previously, such systems would likely be Bracewell probes - self-replicating systems able to cover as much universe as possible in search of intelligence. Clarke's monolith never shows any replicative ability, but the sheer number of them in 3001 would be strong evidence that they can. The thing is: if human scientists waited for other people to do things for them, we'd still be delaying investigations into fire and non-cave habitats. Many of the onyx-object's capabilities are within sight of our own technology. Let's look at a few functions, and how close we've got: 1) Computers If you're sending a computer probe to represent yourself and your entire culture to anyone you meet, it's got to be pretty good - and since our current AIs can still be confused by handwriting, they probably aren't going to cut it. But if there's one thing we've gotten really good at it's making our own hardware look embarrassingly simple within a couple of years. One of the holy grails of computer research is an artificial mind capable of doing anything for us - once developed, the new goal will probably be convincing it to keep doing so. Able to exist indefinitely in hardware and even turn themselves off over extended periods, AIs would be the ideal interplanetary ambassadors - though whether they're representing us or the "Computer Empire 01" remains to be seen. 2) Communications This one we've already got. The movie monolith still uses radio emissions to communicate with homebase - albeit incredibly powerful ones. These take a millennia per round trip, which is why the probe has to be smart enough to function by itself for the ten centuries or so between instructions. That might seem like a forbiddingly long time to keep a project going, considering the average human can barely maintain a new year's resolution into February, but any species that's out to engineer other societies is probably better at long term goals than us. Never mind communicating with distant probes - we've been broadcasting with the same level of technology since "I Love Lucy" (though anybody who receives those particular messages might not be too keen to meet us). In fact, some believe we can do better. Studies of quantum entanglement raise the possibility of instantaneous communication over unlimited distances - you still have to spend years transporting half of the entangled atoms to far flung locations, but by affecting one you can communicate with the other. Anywhere. To say this technology is in its infancy would be to understate how truly blastocystal it is - and many argue that it's still utterly impossible, with every chance of being right. But as Mr Clarke himself said, claiming anything to be impossible is a very dangerous proposition - and even the attempt is evidence that we're moving beyond the imagination of one of the greatest visionaries of our time. Go us! 3) Mental interfaces The infamous final half hour of 2001, also known as "the psychedelingist cinema ever filmed", represents the monolith reading Dave's mind - and yes, we're already working on that. We've been able to study individual neuron electrical activity for a while, but that's as far from reading thoughts as biting your fingernails is from open-heart surgery. More sophisticated interfaces are on the way, however, and they aren't all from the cutting edge of neurological research. They're coming from where the real money is - gaming. Emotiv Systems have already demonstrated a prototype brain scanning headset, and while the games are at the Space Invader level it may only be a matter of time before our fantasies of being totally immersed in cyber-violence are realised. Though this may indicate we're some time from being ready to talk to aliens instead of shooting at them. Berkeley scientists have also developed a system that can decode what a human is looking at purely by examining brain activity, an impressive decryption of higher level functions. Though should that person be watching the 2001 hotel room scene, it's likely that while the computer will know what he sees it won't know what the hell is going on either. 4) Stellar engineering In 2061 the monoliths get together and turn Jupiter into a mini-star. We'll admit, that's just a tiny bit beyond us at the moment - but considering we still can't tell if we've destroyed our own planet with hairspray or not yet, that's probably for the best. Even more interesting than the monolith hardware is the function, and what it would tell us about the creators. It takes a pretty admirable culture to build the most advanced device they're capable of, then pretty much throw it away in the hopes of finding something - we can only hope we reach that stage instead of threatening to shoot our own satellites out of the sky. We have one ability that might raise us to that level - curiosity. It might kill cats, but it drives us to invent, to learn, to discover new things about ourselves and the world around us (which only rarely involves killing cats. Rats are pretty buggered though). It's the one base urge that can be embraced to conquer lust, hate and greed - and one that might just drive us into the grand futures that Arthur C. Clarke envisioned. We'd probably only try to communicate with any cultures we find, but that's plenty. The aliens in 2001 were set on steering the evolution of simpler cultures, but considering half our own planet still kill each other over the exact name of their imaginary friend, telling other worlds how to evolve would be scarier than an eight year old coming out of the Louvre with a packet of permanent markers telling people "I fixed the pictures!" It'll be some time before we're ready to build our own monolith, a fact made obvious by even its basic design. The enduring image of the monolith is a pure, unmarked blackness - and can you imagine us even launching something without a logo on it?
A Daily Galaxy post last year, The Importance of Being Forgetful, featured the built-in neural process of forgetting, which discussed why the average human brain is equipped with the ability to filter through seemingly irrelevant details. While the average person may not have vast memory resources, it appears to be an evolutionary trade-off that allows the majority of us to focus on the most relevant facts.
However, some of the most incredible minds on Earth lack this ability to filter irrelevant facts, or perhaps it is more accurate to say that to a savant, the irrelevant IS relevant, and incredibly so. Somehow their brains are able to store and access incredible loads of information, even perceiving and relating to this information in an entirely different way. Stephen Wiltshire is considered an autistic savant. He has an ability which can certainly be described as a “super power”. Sometimes referred to as the “human camera”, Wilshire has the unnerving ability to draw exact replicas of intricate structures, buildings and landscapes—virtually anything he lays eyes on—after a quick glance. Without taking notes or drawing rough sketches, Wiltshire methodically replicates what his eyes have seen down to the exact number of windows in tall skyscrapers. While watching a video (see link below) of Stephen drawing Rome, it almost seems as if he is a character straight from NBC’s popular TV series Heroes—born with a superhuman ability. Like many other savants, Wiltshire’s mind is a mystery. He did not speak his first words, “pencil” and “paper” until he was five years old. Savants like Wiltshire seem to have been born fundamentally different. Imagine being able to learn one of the most difficult languages on Earth, Icelandic, in just 7 days. Well known Savant, Daniel Tammet, makes is look easy. His extraordinary abilities are linked to synesthesia. He “feels” numbers in terms of texture, shape and color. Some scientists believe that the epileptic seizures he suffered as a small child, which nearly ended his life, somehow unlocked the door to an incredible ability that may be inherent in all humans. Individuals have been known to develop extraordinary abilities much later in life, or after severe brain trauma. Alonzo Clemons, for example, developed an incredible talent, which appears to have emerged directly following a head injury as a child. He can see a fleeting image (on a television screen for example) of any animal, and in less than 20 minutes sculpt a perfect replica of that animal in three-dimensional accuracy. The wax animal is correct in each and every detail, down to each fiber and muscle. Similarly, Orlando Serrell did not possess any unusual skills until he was struck by a baseball on the left side of his head on August 17, 1979 when he was ten years old. Serrell suffered from a long headache, but after the headache ended, Orlando inexplicably had the ability to perform calendrical calculations of amazing complexity. He can also recall details of his life, like the weather, where he was, and what he was doing every day since the day that baseball hit his head. Because of cases like these, some scientists believe that the potential to express multiple super-abilities is a universal trait, but is obscured by the normal functioning intellect. In the case of some savants, it is believed that damage to the brain has somehow disrupted normal functioning and therefore allows the brain to express these incredible skills and abilities. Various researchers have noted how many “disabled” individuals are simultaneously “superabled” through some little understood phenomenon. Mind expert Allan Snyder of the University of Sydney and director of Centre for the Mind, is certain that all people have these latent super abilities, but only some are able to express them through “malfunctions” of overriding brain functions. "They are exceptional in that they can tap in and somehow we can't. They have privileged access," said Snyder.
So, if all of us have latent super-abilities, is it possible to activate them permanently, or at least periodically, without compromising normal brain functioning? Probably, say the Australian scientists who used transcranial magnetic stimulation to temporarily switch off the frontal temporal lobe of volunteers. Afterwards the subjects showed an immediate improvement in calendar calculating, naming the day of the week of any recent history event, and in their artistic abilities. Of course these were just the abilities tested. Scientists do not know all of the latent abilities that humans may possess. It has been predicted that more advanced neurological studies may someday discover how to allow “Regular” people to tap into the incredible latent powers of their own mind, and thereby unleashing some of the “superhuman” potential in all of us.
“I see a strong parallel between the evolution of robot intelligence and the biological intelligence that preceded it. The largest nervous systems doubled in size about every fifteen million years since the Cambrian explosion 550 million years ago. Robot controllers double in complexity (processing power) every year or two. They are now barely at the lower range of vertebrate complexity, but should catch up with us within a half century." Hans Moravec, pioneer in mobile robot researcher and founder of Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute.
According toMoravec, our robot creations are evolving similar to how life on Earth evolved, only at warp speed. By his calculations, by mid-century no human task, physical or intellectual, will be beyond the scope of robots. Here is a summary of his educated predictions for the future of robotics up until they can do everything we can do: 2010: A first generation of broadly-capable "universal robots" will emerge. The “servant” robots, will be able to run application programs for many simple chores. These machines will have mental power and inflexible behavior analogous to small reptiles. 2015: Utility robots host programs for several tasks. Larger "Utility Robots" with manipulator arms able to run several different programs to perform different tasks may follow single-purpose home robots. Their tens of billion calculation per second computers would support narrow inflexible competences, perhaps comparable to the skills of an amphibian, like a frog. 2020: Universal robots host programs for most simple chores. Larger machines with manipulator arms and the ability to perform several different tasks may follow, culminating eventually in human-scale "universal" robots that can run application programs for most simple chores. Their tens of billion calculation per second lizard-scale minds would execute application programs with reptilian inflexibility. 2030: Robot competence will become comparable to larger mammals. In the decades following the first universal robots, a second generation with mammallike brainpower and cognitive ability will emerge. They will have a conditioned learning mechanism, and steer among alternative paths in their application programs on the basis of past experience, gradually adapting to their special circumstances. A third generation will think like small primates and maintain physical, cultural and psychological models of their world to mentally rehearse and optimize tasks before physically performing them. A fourth, humanlike, generation will abstract and reason from the world model. If Moravec is correct in his predictions, if won’t be long before robots have cognition. With daily breakthroughs happening in the robotic community—it may happen even sooner. Not only will they be able to think autonomously, but robot intelligence and capabilities would equal (and most likely quickly surpass) any human capability. That likely possibility begs the question, what happens when robots are superior to their creators? Will they still be subservient to us, or will the popular “robot takeover” of sci-fi movies become reality? I love robots as much as the next geek, but maybe we need some sort of plan for when they stop loving us… On the other hand, others believe that it is humans who will evolve into advanced “robots”. Their belief is that with futuristc technologies being developed in multiple fields, human intelligence may eventually be able to “escape its ensnarement in biological tissue” and be able to move freely across boundaries that can’t support flesh and blood—while still retaining our identities. That idea seems much further away, but whatever the case may be—there are changes ahead.
A coherent picture of the environmental conditions that led to the evolution of animal life is finally emerging. Scientists say that oxygen deficiency and a lack of the heavy metal molybdenum in the oceans had blocked the evolution of life on Earth for nearly two billion years.
The molybdenum record shows that the second step occurred around 600 million years ago, when the entire ocean became oxygenated, which enabled the rise of multi-cellular life called eukaryotes -- the category that includes plants, humans and other complex creatures. "These molybdenum depletions may have retarded the development of complex life such as animals for almost two billion years of Earth history," said Timothy Lyons, a professor at University of California Riverside. "The amount of molybdenum in the ocean probably played a major role in the development of life." Deprived of molybdenum, bacteria cannot fix nitrogen efficiently -- and this in turn affects multi-cellular, or animal, life which depends on bacteria for their own nitrogen intake. Molybdenum levels are also a reliable indicator of oxygen levels in ocean chemistry. The deficiency of molybdenum over this long period also mirrors a deficiency in oxygen.
Tel Aviv computer scientists have developed a computer that can appreciate female beauty. They don't seem to be aware of the danger of this work, since giving an internet-enabled computer the ability to enjoy the female form will cripple it far worse than any virus.
The computer was trained with input data from human subjects, who rated the attractiveness of a collection of Caucasian women from one to seven. They obviously felt that while a binary "hot or not" system would be apropos for the computer mind, it lacked sophistication. The computer analyzed the same images according to its own priorities (including all the usual computerizable priorities: symmetry, feature ratio, resemblance to Sarah Connor etc) and cross-referenced these with the fleshy human opinions. Based on this, the computer can now predict how attractive humans will find new images. The heart of the system is the conversion of input images into a collection of mathematical values. This is performed by the "facial feature extractor", which is honestly the most ominous sounding thing since the Jaws sound crew got hold of a cello. The computer's final preferences match a number of things already known about human psychology. The digital deliberator prefers women with smooth skin smooth skin (a fact the advertising industry has mercilessly applied in the form of soft focus). Faces that have been "averaged" over a number of attractive subjects are preferable to any individual, a revealing aspect of the human instinct for conformity. The makers refer to this capture of wider human psychology in a program as a success of "psychophysics", and if they see any problem in programming an immortal psychophysical computer system to be attracted to our human women, they sure aren't showing it. The work is being touted in advance in human-like machine intelligence, but that isn't quite the case. After all, if the computer truly reacted to female beauty like a man did, surely it would immediately lose the ability to perform sophisticated mathematical analysis.
A brilliant young physicist João Magueijo asks the heretical question: What if the speed of light—now accepted as one of the unchanging foundations of modern physics—were not constant? Magueijo, a 40-year old native of Portugal, puts forth the heretical idea that in the very early days of the universe light traveled faster—an idea that if proven could dethrone Einstein and forever change our understanding of the universe. He is a pioneer of the varying speed of light (VSL) theory of cosmology -an alternative to the more mainstream theory of cosmic inflation- which proposes that the speed of light in the early universe was of 60 orders of magnitude faster than its present value. Solving the most intractable problems of cosmology in one brilliant leap, Magueijo’s varying-speed-of-light theory (VSL) would have stunning implications for space travel, black holes, time dilation, and string theory—and could help uncover the grand unified theory that ultimately eluded Einstein. Joao Magueijo's radical ideas intend to turn that Einsteinian dogma on its head. Marueijo is trying to pick apart one of Einstein’s most impenetrable tenets, the constancy of the speed of light. This idea of a constant speed (about 3×106 meters/second) -is known as the universal speed limit. Nothing can, has, or ever will travel faster than light. Magueijo -who received his doctorate from Cambridge, has been a faculty member at Princeton and Cambridge, and is currently a professor at Imperial College, London- says: not so. His VSL theory presupposes a speed of light that can be energy or time-space dependent. In his fist book, Faster than the Speed of Light, Magueijo leads laymen readers into the abstract realm of theoretical physics, based on several well known, as well as obscure, thinkers. The VSL model was first proposed by John Moffat, a Canadian scientist, in 1992. Magueijo carefully builds the foundations for a discussion of Big Bang cosmology, and then segues into the second half of the book, which is devoted to VSL theory. Like most radical, potentially seminal thinkers, Magueijo shakes the foundations of the physics community, while irritating off many of his fellow scientists. VSL purposes to solve the problems at which all cosmologists are forever scratching: those inscrutable conceptual puzzles that surround the Big Bang. Currently many of these problems have no widely accepted solutions. Could Einstein be wrong and Magueijo right? Is he a gadfly or a true, seminal genius? Time will tell.
Science has long failed to provide anything stable that could suggest what came before the Big Bang. General Relativity curls up in to the fetal position and demands to be left alone whenever anyone brings the idea of “what came before” to it. Physicists Alejandro Corichi from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and Parampreet Singh from the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Ontario, are proposing that what came before the Big Bang may have been eerily familiar.
A new theory called Loop Quantum Gravity (LQG) has cropped up in recent years, and while there is a lot of math and science to this theory, one of its assumptions is that instead of a Big Bang spacetime singularity, there was a Big Bounce. “The significance of this concept is that it answers what happened to the universe before the Big Bang,” Singh told PhysOrg.com. “It has remained a mystery, for models that could resolve the Big Bang singularity, whether it is a quantum foam or a classical space-time on the other side. For instance, if it were a quantum foam, we could not speak about a space-time, a notion of time, etc. Our study shows that the universe on the other side is very classical as ours.” Previous work on the LQG showed that there had been a universe on the other side, but while it showed valid math, there was no chance to observe in our current universe the state of the pre-bounce universe. This is because, under the previous theory – worked upon by Penn State physicist Martin Bojowald – there was nothing preserved across the bounce. Bojowald described this as a sort of “cosmic amnesia.” Corichi and Singh have modified the LQG by approximating a key equation called the quantum constraint. Their version is called the sLQG, and it shows that the relative fluctuations of volume and momentum in the pre-bounce universe are conserved across the bounce. “This means that the twin universe will have the same laws of physics and, in particular, the same notion of time as in ours,” Singh said. “The laws of physics will not change because the evolution is always unitary, which is the nicest way a quantum system can evolve. In our analogy, it will look identical to its twin when seen from afar; one could not distinguish them.” “In the universe before the bounce, all the general features will be the same,” said Singh. “It will follow the same dynamical equations, the Einstein’s equations when the universe is large. Our model predicts that this happens when the universe becomes of the order 100 times larger than the Planck size. Further, the matter content will be the same, and it will have the same evolution. Since the pre-bounce universe is contracting, it will look as if we were looking at ours backward in time.” But the researchers are quick to point out that this second universe is not full of duplicates of us. It does not suggest that every particle on the other side is exactly the same, and that there is someone who has lived your life. It is pretty much as if the “evil Spock” from the old Star Trek episodes had been from the previous world, not a parallel dimension. A non-Star Trek description would be; “If one were able to look at certain microscopic properties with a very strong microscope – a very high-energy experiment probing the Planck scale – one might see differences in some quantities, just as one might see that twins have different fingerprints or one has a mole and the other does not, or a different DNA,” Singh said. In the end, Corichi and Singh’s model may even be able to show us what our own future universe will look like. Depending on how fast our own universe is accelerating, there’s a possibility that – through generalizing their model – a re-collapse of our own universe is possible.
Spintronics might sound like a particularly loud techno DJ, but it's an advance in computing technology that could lead to a revolutionary new memory. All the speed of flash memory, all the size of hard disks, and none of the old-age burnout of either.
Electronics is based on the movement of electrons (hence the name). We've known that electrons carry a small, definite amount of charge since the eighteen-nineties - it just took a while to work out how to build things like iPods out of them. The fact that they also have a value called 'spin', a quantum number based on their intrinsic angular momentum, was discovered thirty years later - and we're finally getting around to using that too. The new memory is based on the combination of the very advanced and the very simple. The very advanced is recent progress in the field of spintronics, using nano-fabricated materials to access and manipulate "spin currents", flows of spin-polarized electrons. The very simple is looking at existing microchips and saying "isn't there an awful lot of room on top of those things?" Current microchip architecture is very two-dimensional, efforts to expand it into 3-D limited by the horrendous complexity of layering and connecting multiple chips in a stack. The new "Racetrack Memory" takes advantage of this extra space, erecting a vertical nanowire which can contain a spin-based data, 'racing' back and forth along the track past a reader at the bottom. You can think of it as combining the advantages of both current memory systems - each location is immediately accessible and readable, like a flash chip, but each contains a lot of data, like an extremely rapidly moving hard disk. This racing data is made possible by the physics of spin-momentum transfer, whereby pulses of spin-current can shift all the data in the nanowire back or forward. The structure is know as a "current-controlled magnetic domain-wall nanowire shift register", which is probably why they gave it a snappy name like "racetrack" - they don't want people to die of fright (or old age) when they read out the full title. Not that super-dense memory is a supreme selling point of spintronics. Flash chips and hard disks continue to advance rapidly, and people who would have laughed at the idea of gigabyte storage five years ago now walk around with more than that in their phones. Further expansions in memory, up to the tera, peta, and exabyte levels aren't going to astonish anyone. What's important is that it's a definite demonstration of the utility of spintronics. Still a developing field, with unresolved issues remaining to be worked out before we start slinging around spintronic storage, such snazzy demonstrations are vital to keep interest (and funding) alive. Obvious imitations of existing electronics is a great place to start - saying "like what you have, but better and cheaper!" will get anyone's interest - but it isn't the whole point. The science of spintronics enables operations that simple charge-shuffling can't emulate - we just have to get the spinny nuts and bolts worked out before we decide how to use them. One thing's for sure: with such immediately accessible applications keeping people aware of the field, it won't be long before we start seeing some truly spintronic innovations.
Russian websites on space exploration are the second most frequently visited sites after erotic ones, the head of the Federal Space Agency, Anatoly Perminov, told reporters.
"We have carried out a special analysis of the audience that visits our space site. It turns out that it's young people who are under 35 years old and the older generation that have a strong interest in cosmonautics. "Space comes second after erotic matters as regards the numbers of visits to space sites," he said. "We are pleased that people go in for these two things. It means the country is reviving," he joked.
Quantum computers are so sought after they make the Holy Grail look like an IKEA wineglass. The list of things people expect a quantum computer to do starts with "crack unbreakable codes" and goes up from there, so every small advance on the way gets a lot of attention. The latest such headline comes from Northwestern University, where researchers have built a quantum CNOT gate that can be linked to fiber optics.
That might not blow your socks off, but it's getting attention because the makers are smart enough to use buzzwords like "quantum internet" - which is honestly more exciting-sounding than Angeline Jolie talking about her day at the Jello Wrestling Championships. The idea is that CNOT gates are a "universal gate", which means you can make any other logical operation if you have enough of them. Fiber optics connect computers together, so conceivably a fiber-optic enabled CNOT gate could herald a global network of quantum megacomputers. Unfortunately, it's in the same way a single brick heralds the Empire State building. The demonstration so far is only one gate, and it isn't within the fiber - it's just connected to it. The efficiency of the system is very low and you have to do far more work to check if it functioned than the gate actually does, so claims of instantaneous hypercomputation are more premature than a wedding proposal in the 1st grade. Which isn't to say it's not awesome, of course. The system is a definite stride forward, a demonstration that photons can be shuttled around the place (just like the real world) and still perform quantum calculations, unlike previous demonstrations which were more carefully isolated from reality than an albino baby unicorn. The work done by Professor Kumar and colleagues will be a milestone when we look back on our QuantiMax-9000 computers as we surf the HyperNet. It'll just be a milestone near the start, not the end.
Послано - 28 Апр 2008 : 19:08:54
"Piotr Wozniak's 'Memory Engine' -Predictions About Ourselves Encoded in Machines" и "Stephen Hawking Predicts Discovery of Alien Life: But Will It be Carbon Based?" выложены на вычитку. "Space Exploration & Sex -Two Most Viewed Web Topics in Russia" добавлено в новости. Я возьму еще "Is Time Disappearing From the Universe? - A Galaxy Classic"