Using NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered the first Earth-size planet orbiting a star in the “habitable zone” — the range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the surface of an orbiting planet. The discovery of Kepler-186f confirms that planets the size of Earth exist in the habitable zone of stars other than our sun.
While planets have previously been found in the habitable zone, they are all at least 40 percent larger in size than Earth and understanding their makeup is challenging. Kepler-186f is more reminiscent of Earth.
“The discovery of Kepler-186f is a significant step toward finding worlds like our planet Earth,” said Paul Hertz, NASA’s Astrophysics Division director at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “Future NASA missions, like the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and the James Webb Space Telescope, will discover the nearest rocky exoplanets and determine their composition and atmospheric conditions, continuing mankinds' quest to find truly Earth-like worlds.”
What the authors are able to find, despite the deficiencies of the data, is important: the first-ever scientific analysis of whether the US is a democracy, or is instead an oligarchy, or some combination of the two. The clear finding is that the US is an oligarchy, no democratic country, at all. American democracy is a sham, no matter how much it's pumped by the oligarchs who run the country (and who control the nation's "news" media). The US, in other words, is basically similar to other dubious "electoral" "democratic" countries. We weren't formerly, but we clearly are now. Today, after this exhaustive analysis of the data, “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” That's it, in a nutshell.
The four-year-old sapling—grown from a cherry stone that spent time aboard the International Space Station (ISS)—burst into blossom on April 1, possibly a full six years ahead of Mother Nature's normal schedule.
Its early blooming baffled Buddhist brothers at the ancient temple in central Japan where the tree is growing.
"We are amazed to see how fast it has grown," Masahiro Kajita, chief priest at the Ganjoji temple in Gifu, told AFP by telephone.
"A stone from the original tree had never sprouted before. We are very happy because it will succeed the old tree, which is said to be 1,250 years old."
The seeds were sent to the ISS as part of "an educational and cultural project to let children gather the stones and learn how they grow into trees and live on after returning from space," said Miho Tomioka, a spokeswoman for the project's organiser, Japan Manned Space Systems (JAMSS).
"We had expected the (Ganjoji) tree to blossom about 10 years after planting, when the children come of age," she added.
Kaori Tomita-Yokotani, a researcher at the University of Tsukuba who took part in the project, told AFP she was stumped by the extra-terrestrial mystery.
"We still cannot rule out the possibility that it has been somewhat influenced by its exposure to the space environment," she said.
Tomita-Yokotani, a plant physiologist, said it was difficult to explain why the temple tree has grown so fast because there was no control group to compare its growth with that of other trees.
She said cross-pollination with another species could not be ruled out, but a lack of data was hampering an explanation.
"Of course, there is the possibility that exposure to stronger cosmic rays accelerated the process of sprouting and overall growth," she said.
"From a scientific point of view, we can only say we don't know why."
The discovery, called a continuity field, at first seems to be yet another optical illusion.
“The continuity field smoothes what would otherwise be a jittery perception of object features over time,” said David Whitney, associate professor of psychology at UC Berkeley and senior author of the study. “Essentially, it pulls together physically but not radically different objects to appear more similar to each other. This is surprising because it means the visual system sacrifices accuracy for the sake of the continuous, stable perception of objects.”
It actually means that what we do see is, in fact, a mixture of past and present. According to the research, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, stability is attained at the expense of accuracy.
"What you are seeing at the present moment is not a fresh snapshot of the world but rather an average of what you've seen in the past 10 to 15 seconds," said study author Jason Fischer, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at MIT.
“Even though the sequence of images was random, the participants’ perception of any given image was biased strongly toward the past several images that came before it,” said Fischer, who calls this phenomenon “perceptual serial dependence.”
In a controlled experiment researchers dispersed the gratings on the computer screen. Now that the gratings were far apart from each other, the participants didn’t merge the angles together. This leads to the conclusion that the continuity field effect starts to work only when objects are close to each other.
Fischer and Whitney also underline that “the strength of this [brain] bias was modulated by attention.” Quite obviously, the influence of the gratings lessened as more time passed.
It turns out lots of familiar objects and faces may not be as real as we are used to thinking. The human brain conceals lots of mysteries. Although it has a 15-second delay in perception, the brain can also work incredibly fast. Neuroscientists from MIT recently found that even if the eye sees an image for as little as 13 milliseconds, the brain can still successfully process it.
Jeb Bush: Many illegal immigrants come out of an ‘act of love’
Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love. It’s an act of commitment to your family. I honestly think that that is a different kind of crime that there should be a price paid, but it shouldn’t rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families.
"An illustration of how astronomers used quasar light to trace the expansion of the universe." (Photo : Paul Hooper at Spirit Design, with Mat Pieri and Gongbo Zhao, ICG)
"This means if we look back to the universe when it was less than a quarter of its present age, we'd see that a pair of galaxies separated by a million light years would be drifting apart at a velocity of 68 kilometers a second as the universe expands," says Font-Ribera, a postdoctoral fellow in Berkeley Lab's Physics Division. "The uncertainty is plus or minus only a kilometer and a half per second." Font-Ribera presented the findings at the April 2014 meeting of the American Physical Society in Savannah, GA.
BOSS employs both galaxies and distant quasars to measure baryon acoustic oscillations (BAO), a signature imprint in the way matter is distributed, resulting from conditions in the early universe. While also present in the distribution of invisible dark matter, the imprint is evident in the distribution of ordinary matter, including galaxies, quasars, and intergalactic hydrogen.
BAO directly descends from pressure waves (sound waves) moving through the early universe, when particles of light and matter were inextricably entangled; 380,000 years after the Big Seed, the universe had cooled enough for light to go free. The cosmic microwave background radiation preserves a record of the early acoustic density peaks; these were the seeds of the subsequent BAO imprint on the distribution of matter.
"It's the most precise measurement of the Hubble parameter at any redshift, even better than the measurement we have from the local universe at redshift zero," says Font-Ribera. "These results allow us to study the geometry of the universe when it was only a fourth its current age. Combined with other cosmological experiments, we can learn about dark energy and put tight constraints on the curvature of the universe - it's very flat!"
Galaxies — those vast collections of stars that populate our universe — are all over the place. Perhaps the most resonant example of this fact is the Hubble eXtreme Deep Field, a collection of photographs from the Hubble Space Telescope revealing thousands of galaxies in a single composite picture.
While estimates among different experts vary, an acceptable range is between 100 billion and 200 billion galaxies, Mario Livio, an astrophysicist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, told Space.com. The universe is expanding faster than the speed of light (which does not violate Einstein's speed limit because the expansion is of the universe itself, rather than of objects traveling through the universe). Also, the universe is accelerating in its expansion.
This is where the concept of the "observable universe" — the universe that we can see — comes into play. In 1 trillion to 2 trillion years, Livio said, this means that there will be galaxies that are beyond what we can see from Earth.
"We can only see light from galaxies whose light had enough time to reach us," Livio said. "It doesn’t mean that that’s all there is in the universe. Hence, the definition of the observable universe."
"The numbers are not going to change much," Livio added, pointing out the first galaxies probably formed not too long before that. "So a number like 200 billion [galaxies] is probably it for our observable universe."
An intriguing signal could be due to “dark matter annihilations” pops up on the left of this data gathered by NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope
NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope may provide the best evidence yet for the existence of dark matter. The evidence comes from gamma-ray seen streaming away from the center of our own galaxy.
Dark matter is believed to draw matter together through gravitation, assisting the buildup of galaxies. Astrophysicists are still uncertain as to the exact nature or composition of dark matter, as it has never been directly measured. Gravitational effects on normal visible matter are the only evidence dark matter provides to reveal its existence.
Current models of the universe suggest it is composed of 26.8 percent dark [sic: "light"] matter, while less than five percent is ordinary matter. The rest is dark [sic: "light"] energy.
At the launch in Vienna, the talk was of uniting to create a Europe of
Fatherlands, rather than a United States of Europe.
The launch was highlighted by perspicacious comments by the FPOe's top
candidate for MEP, Andreas Moelzer, in which he compared EU bureaucracy
unfavourably with Hitler's Third Reich and was also quoted as saying the EU was
in danger of turning into a "conglomerate of Negroes".
It's always "the Agenda" with these reporters, always the smear, the label, the pejorative adjectives. So throw it right back in their arrogant, self-righteous faces and mock them. Rewrite the exact same story, but just change a few words: "overshadowed," "controversial." "Overshadows" sounds ominous, like a dark shadow. But why was the launch "overshadowed"? Because the reported says so? Fuck the reporter. What's so "controversial"? The reporter doesn't tell us. We're just supposed to believe her. The fact is, there are "conglomerates of Negroes."
Europe's economic downturn has fueled populist parties of all stripes across the continent, from the United Kingdom Independence Party to Greece's Golden Dawn. But it's not all about the economy: Europeans are in the grips of a chronic identity crisis fed by immigration, largely from former European colonies.
So far, there is nothing to suggest a far-right group could break the hold of the largest two blocs in parliament: the center-right European People's Party that groups together conservative politicians and has 275 seats, and the center-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, which has 194 seats.
However, there is a long-term concern.
"Five years from now, people could be voting in even larger numbers for such parties," Incerti said.
It's not "genocide." It's just an "identity crisis." Relax.
City officials and preservationists want to protect the chimney as a piece of a forgotten America. But the property’s owners, members of a prominent Charleston family, see it as more than just an obstacle to their development plans.
If the landmark designation is ultimately approved by the City Council, the Pearlstines would have to preserve the chimney unless granted special permission to knock it down. In other words: Jews would be required to keep a Nazi-built relic on their property.
Nor can he shake an image of well-treated German soldiers warmed by this fireplace, singing the Nazi anthem, “The Horst Wessel Song.” He would not mind as much, he says, had German soldiers died here.
“If people want to come by and see where the Germans sat around during the war, it just...,” he says, pausing, imagining their relative comfort. “A sort of anger wells up that isn’t there when it’s just a bunch of bricks.”
Where's the "tolerance"? Where's the "diversity"? Where's the documentaries on the human drama, the experiences and angst, endured by these prisoners?
Where is NPR? Where is PBS? Where are the whining journalists and the sobbing humanitarians?
Where's the restitution - with interest - to the survivors of the prisoners?
DARPA may be known for pioneering the Internet and building amazing humanoid robots, but the agency isn’t all bits and bytes. It announced yesterday that a new division, the Biological Technologies Office, will be investigating how biological sciences can inform defense and be integrated into the technologies DARPA is already working on.
DARPA’s press release about BTO says, "Starting today, biology takes its place among the core sciences that represent the future of defense technology." Though the goal isn’t to develop offensive strategies like biological weapons, DARPA still notes that it will have its eye on ethical concerns: “Because BTO programs … will sometimes be society’s first encounter with the ethical, legal, or social dilemmas that can be raised by new biological technologies.” Sounds like a bottomless well of ideas for dystopian sci-fi thrillers.