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30 December 2016
A universe made for me?
Physics, fine-tuning, and life
For more than 400 years, physicists treated the universe like a machine, taking it apart to see how it ticks. The surprise is it turns out to have remarkably few parts: just leptons and quarks and four fundamental forces to glue them together.
But those few parts are exquisitely machined. If we tinker with their settings, even slightly, the universe as we know it would cease to exist. Science now faces the question of why the universe appears to have been “fine-tuned” to allow the appearance of complex life, a question that has some potentially uncomfortable answers.
The deeper we look at the universe, the simpler it appears to be. We know that everyday matter is built from about 100 different atoms. They, in turn, are composed of a dense nucleus of close-packed protons and neutrons, surrounded by a buzzing cloud of electrons.
Peering deeper, we find that protons and neutrons are themselves made of quarks – of which there are six distinct types. But two dominate the universe: the up-quark and the down-quark. There are also six leptons of which the electron is the most famous.
The four fundamental forces glue matter together. Two of them, the strong and the weak force, only inhabit the sub-atomic world. Everyday life is dominated by the electro-magnetic force and gravity.
These building blocks of the universe come with tight specifications and they never vary. Wherever you are in the universe, the mass of the electron, the speed of light (light is an electromagnetic wave), and the strength of the gravitational force is the same. In physics, we encounter these so-called fundamental constants so often, we barely give them a second thought. We just plug them into our equations and calculate the properties of matter and energy to our heart’s content.
As a cosmologist, I can use these immutable laws of physics to evolve synthetic universes on supercomputers, watching matter flow in the clutches of gravity, pooling into galaxies, and forming stars. Simulations such as these allow me to test ideas about the universe – particularly to try to understand the mystery of dark energy (more on this later).
This plug-and-play approach to science has also given us a masterful ability to operate in our real universe. We blasted the Rosetta spacecraft 510 million kilometres into the solar system with such pinpoint precision it could land its probe on a three-kilometre-wide speeding asteroid. We’ve designed an instrument so sensitive it could detect the gravitational waves reverberating from two black holes that collided 1.3 billion years ago. Every aspect of our modern technological world is underpinned by plug-and-play science.
While our ability to make use of the fundamental constants is impressive, they also pose a mystery. Why do they have the values they do?
So now, I invite you to join me in imagining a universe, a universe slightly different to our own. Let’s just play with one number and see what happens: the mass of the down-quark. Currently, it is set to be slightly heavier than the up-quark.
A proton is made of two light-ish up-quarks plus one of the heavy-ish down quarks. A neutron is made of two heavy-ish down-quarks plus one light-ish up-quark. Hence a neutron is a little heavier than a proton.
That heaviness has consequences. The extra mass corresponds to extra energy, making the neutron unstable. Around 15 minutes after being created, usually in a nuclear reactor, neutrons break down. They decay into a proton and spit out an electron and a neutrino. Protons, on the other hand, appear to have an infinite lifespan.
This explains why the early universe was rich in protons. A single proton plus an electron is what we know as hydrogen, the simplest atom. It dominated the early cosmos and even today, hydrogen represents 90% of all the atoms in the universe. The smaller number of surviving neutrons combined with protons, losing their energy to become stable chemical elements.
Now let’s start to play. If we start to ratchet up the mass of the down-quark, eventually something drastic takes place. Instead of the proton being the lightest member of the family, a particle made of three up-quarks usurps its position. It’s known as the Δ++. It has only been seen in the rubble of particle colliders and exists only fleetingly before decaying. But in a heavy down-quark universe, it is Δ++ that is stable while the proton decays! In this alternative cosmos, the Big Bang generates a sea of Δ++ particles rather than a sea of protons. This might not seem like too much of an issue, except that this usurper carries an electric charge twice that of the proton since each up-quark carries a positive charge of two-thirds.
As a result, the Δ++ holds on to two electrons and so the simplest element behaves not like reactive hydrogen, but inert helium.
This situation is devastating for the possibility of complex life, as in a heavy down-quark universe, the simplest atoms will not join and form molecules. Such a universe is destined to be inert and sterile over its entire history. And how much would we need to increase the down-quark mass to realise such a catastrophe? More than 70 times heavier and there would be no life. While this may not seem too finely tuned, physics suggests that the down-quark could have been many trillions of times heavier. So we are actually left with the question: why does the down-quark appear so light?
Things get worse when we fiddle with forces. Make the strength of gravity stronger or weaker by a factor of 100 or so, and you get universes where stars refuse to shine, or they burn so fast they exhaust their nuclear fuel in a moment. Messing with the strong or weak forces delivers elements that fall apart in the blink of an eye, or are too robust to transmute through radioactive decay into other elements,
Examining the huge number of potential universes, each with their own unique laws of physics, leads to a startling conclusion: most of the universes that result from fiddling with the fundamental constants would lack physical properties needed to support complex life.
As we’ve seen, the building blocks of the universe appear to be finely tuned. But what about the large-scale stage on which they are assembled – space and time?
Our universe exists within a framework of four dimensions: three of space and one of time. But it didn’t have to be that way. In theory, universes can be created with many other dimensions. (String theory physicists believe our universe may sport seven more undetectable, tiny, curled-up dimensions.)
Princeton physicist Max Tegmark argues that it is only a universe containing the 3+1 dimensions with which we are familiar that could support life. Given the diverse possibilities, we must ask again: how did our universe arrive at this sweet spot?
And there is another structural issue to consider – our universe is flying apart. Two things affect the rate of expansion: the amount of matter which acts as a brake, and dark energy which acts as an accelerator. Dark energy is winning so our universe is expanding at an accelerating rate.
What this means is that in the early days of the universe, the rate of expansion was slower, slow enough to allow matter to condense into stars, planets and people. But if the universe had been born with only a touch less matter, it would have rapidly expanded, thinning out to less than one hydrogen atom per universe.
On the other hand, if the universe had been born with only a touch more matter, that would have caused it to re-collapse before the first stars could form. In short, the early universe was on a knife-edge, poised between these possible outcomes. What emerged was the Goldilocks expansion rate: not too fast, not too slow.
Then there’s the finely tuned level of dark energy. We know very little about this mysterious substance that fills the universe. It may be related to the weird behaviour of the vacuum. Quantum mechanics predicts that the vacuum is not really empty. Particles continually pop in and out of existence producing a background energy that seems to influence cosmic expansion.
This quantum source for dark energy, often referred to as a “cosmological constant”, is a true puzzle. Our quantum mechanical equations predict an immense amount of energy locked up in every cubic centimetre of empty space. But what we measure is just a minuscule amount: 10120 times less than predicted. And we are lucky this is all there is, as our simulations show that if it were only a few times larger, it would have come to dominate much earlier in the universe, rapidly diluting matter before any stars, galaxies, planets or people could form.
Next, we come to a consideration of the symmetry displayed in our universe. In everyday life the word symmetry describes how something stays the same when you change your viewpoint; think of the appearance of a perfect vase as you circumnavigate the table it’s sitting on. It demonstrates rotational symmetry.
In physics, we find other types of symmetries hidden in mathematics. For instance, there is a symmetry that ensures the conservation of electric charge: in every experiment we perform, equal amounts of positive and negative charges are produced. Other symmetries dictate the conservation of momentum, and there are others for a whole host of quantum properties. Some symmetries are perfect, others contain slight imperfections. And we would not be here without them.
In a perfectly symmetric universe, the hot fires of the Big Bang would have produced equal amounts of matter and antimatter. This means protons and antiprotons would have completely annihilated each other as the universe cooled leaving a universe empty of its atomic hydrogen building block.
Somewhere hidden in the physics of protons there must be a slight asymmetry that resulted in protons outnumbering antiprotons by one in a billion.
But why does our universe possess a perfect symmetry with respect to charge but a slight asymmetry with respect to matter and antimatter? Nobody knows! If the situation was reversed and our universe was born with zero protons, but with a net excess of charge, the immense repulsive action of the electromagnetic force would prevent matter present from collapsing into anything resembling stars and galaxies.
No matter which way we turn, the properties of our universe have finely tuned values that allow us to be here. Deviate ever so slightly from them and the universe would be sterile – or it may never have existed at all. What explanation can there be for this fine-tuning?
Unfortunately, if you are expecting an answer, there is none. But there is much speculation.
The hand of God
While this is a scientific article, we cannot ignore the fact that to many, the fact that the universe is finely tuned for intelligent life shows the hand of the creator who set the dials. But this answer, of course, leads to another question: who created the creator? Let’s see what alternatives science can offer.
Into the matrix
Could our finely tuned universe be a simulation? Perhaps we are just self-aware programs running on some cosmic computer – how would we know? Supercomputers can simulate the workings of the universe from subatomic to cosmic scales.
They let scientists predict how individual atoms bond into molecules or observe the formation of stars and galaxies, with finer details revealed as computers grow more powerful. If our own universe is also such a simulation, that could explain why it is so finely tuned.
But simulations tend to be approximations of the world around them. This suggests that the universe of the simulator is even more complex than the one we inhabit, so we’d then have to ask how the world of the simulator was fine-tuned.
Ultimately this is just another version of a creator theory. Replace the fatherly white-haired being with a multi-dimensional personage or robot, with their hands (or tentacles) on the keyboard of a super-powerful computer. If so, we’d better hope that some multi-dimensional cleaner doesn’t turn off this computer to plug in their multi-dimensional vacuum cleaner!
Physics will fix it
Physics has long been an exercise in simplifying the universe. In 1865, for instance, Scottish mathematician James Clerk Maxwell brought the seemingly disparate phenomena of electricity and magnetism together under the unifying umbrella of electromagnetism.
The process is still incomplete. There is an immense gulf between our understanding of gravity (which dominates the universe at large scales) and of quantum physics (which dominates the subatomic scale). Many great minds still struggle to bridge this gulf, hoping to ultimately unify all of physics within a “Theory of Everything”. (Superstring theory with its 11 dimensions, mentioned above, is one of the contenders.) If science can reach this ultimate goal, perhaps no fundamental constants will remain – they will all be unified within a mathematical description.
If this comes to pass, and the universe could not have been any other way, the question of fine-tuning would become: why does the mathematical structure underlying the universe allow life to arise? At this point, many may throw up their hands and say, “that’s just the way it is”, but others – such as me – will still be troubled by the question: “why?”
Call me legion, for I am many
What if all of our “what ifs” were actually played out? What if the process that brought our universe into being also created other universes, each with their own distinct laws of physics? It might seem crazy, but at the moment our leading physical idea for the Theory of Everything is known as M-theory, and it suggests just that. Being at the forefront of science, the details are sketchy, but the idea is that our universe is just one of many possible universes, potentially 10,500 of them, living together in what is known as the multiverse. As each of these individual universes was forged, their laws of physics crystallised from a formless haze, giving each their unique characteristics.
As we have seen, we expect the vast majority of these universes to be stone cold dead, incapable of hosting complexity and life of any form, and, unsurprisingly, we find ourselves inhabiting one of the few where the laws of physics allow us to exist.
But the multiverse seems so wasteful, producing so many dead, empty universes for each one that could potentially host life. And why did it produce any life-bearing universes at all when it would have been easy for them all to be sterile? The question of fine-tuning seems to have been pushed to a higher level.
To some, the picture of the multiverse is comforting, naturally explaining the puzzle of our own fine-tuning. But at present, we have no idea whether this immense sea of universes exists, and they may always be beyond the reach of experiment and observation; if this is the case, is the multiverse more philosophical musing than robust science?
The fine-tuning of our universe for life represents a true mystery of science, a mystery that appears to point to something profound lying at the heart of science. We may never find out why we are living in a “just right” universe, but if we ever do, the universe, and our place in it, will be changed forever.
19 December 2016
Austria's pro-Whitet Freedom Party (FPO) offered on Monday to act as a go-between for U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin after signing a cooperation agreement with Putin's party.
Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache and the FPO's recently defeated presidential candidate Norbert Hofer attended the signing ceremony in Moscow, as did officials of Putin's United Russia party including Pyotr Tolstoy, a deputy chairman of the lower house of parliament.
The FPO has long taken a pro-Russia stance, calling for an end to European Union sanctions against Moscow imposed over the annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine. It has also denied allegations that it receives funding from Moscow.
On a recent visit to the United States, FPO officials met people close to President-elect Donald Trump, including his pick for national security adviser Michael Flynn, the FPO said in a statement announcing the Russian deal.
"The FPO is further gaining influence internationally," its statement said, without specifying the agreement's content. A spokesman for the FPO - which this year achieved a record election score but failed to secure the Austrian presidency - said he did not know the deal's details.
"It is particularly important to Strache that the U.S. and Russia stand shoulder to shoulder," the statement added, saying that could improve the situations in Syria and Crimea and lead to a lifting of sanctions on Russia.
"The FPO acts as a neutral and reliable intermediary and partner in promoting peace!" it said.
Austria's pro-White Freedom Party signs Moscow pact
Austria's far-right Freedom Party said it has struck a "cooperation pact" with the party of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is courting populist movements across Europe in an anti-EU campaign.
FPÖ chief Heinz-Christian Strache signed the five-year agreement with senior United Russia officials during a trip to Russia, where he also renewed criticism of international sanctions against Moscow.
"The aim is to work together on various levels, from youth party wings via regional branches to international issues," the eurosceptic FPÖ said in a statement.
Strache also reiterated his call to lift "damaging and pointless international sanctions" against Russia over its annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014.
United Russia meanwhile confirmed the parties had agreed to organise "regular consultations" and organise "conferences, seminars and roundtables".
"There are ancient cultural and economic links between Austria and Russia," said party official Sergey Zheleznyak in a statement.
"We need to reinforce the links between our parties and countries, including in the field of international security... and traditional values."
Photos posted by Strache on his Facebook page showed him and Zheleznyak signing a piece of paper against the backdrop of their parties' flags.
Also attending was Norbert Hofer, the FPÖ's presidential candidate who missed out on becoming the European Union's first far-right head of state after losing a runoff on December 4.
Despite his defeat, Hofer nonetheless reaped 46.2 percent of the vote -- the FPÖ's best result to date.
The outcome is a further boost for the anti-immigration party, which is already leading opinion polls ahead of the next general election scheduled for 2018.
The FPÖ is one of several European populist and eurosceptic outfits seeking closer ties to Russia, including the Front National in France, Jobbik in Hungary and Syriza in Greece.
Could antimatter engines power interstellar travel? Experts are divided after antimatter research took a large step forward today. Researchers publishing in the journal Nature have measured the spectrum of antihydrogen—the antimatter equivalent of hydrogen—for the first time, which should allow physicists to investigate more precisely how this exotic material differs from hydrogen. The ultimate goal is learning why antimatter is so scarce in the universe, when models suggest that the Big
Bang Seed should have produced equal amounts of matter and antimatter.
Co-author Jeffrey Hangst, a physics professor at Aarhus University, called the research at CERN a breakthrough. Six years ago, his consortium discovered how to trap a single atom of antihydrogen in a magnetic field; now they can trap 15 atoms simultaneously. Yet the painstaking trapping process has Hangst convinced that antimatter engines are impossible. Today it takes a huge accelerator to produce just a few atoms, nowhere near the amount needed for an antimatter-powered rocket. “These people [who want to build antimatter engines] are wasting their time,” Hangst says. “It’s about making enough of it. It takes much more energy to produce than [the energy] you get out of it, and it will take longer than the age of the universe.”
The idea of interstellar travel got a huge boost this year when Russian billionaire Yuri Milner announced the Breakthrough Starshot Initiative. It aims to send a tiny probe (1 gram) to a nearby star within a generation, but initially is focusing on beamed energy propulsion rather than more exotic concepts like antimatter drive and fusion drive, neither of which are within the realm of current technology.
Physicist Steve Howe, a former staff scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, has been considering antimatter engines since the 1980s. He identifies three problems that have to be solved before an interstellar vehicle could be built: producing antimatter in sufficient quantities, storing it, and converting it to propulsion. With enough money, Howe is convinced it’s feasible.
“A lot of people have used current cost estimates and current facilities to estimate the cost of producing large quantities [of antimatter],” he says. “That’s false. The facilities now aren’t geared to making antimatter in large quantities.”
Howe, founder and senior scientist at Hbar Technologies, received funding in 2002 for early research into antimatter propulsion through NASA’s Advanced Innovative Concepts program. Earlier this month, Hbar finished a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised $2,280. The money will be used in part to design a production complex to produce several grams of antiprotons per year.
Howe acknowledges that antimatter production will be a hurdle. The U.S. Fermilab facility was able to produce just a nanogram (billionth of a gram) of antimatter per year before the production line was shut down in 2011. But those particles were specifically for high-energy experiments. “They extract one in a million that have the right energy to reaccelerate the particles up to high speed,” Howe says.
Capturing more generic particles, he says, would have increased antimatter production to a microgram (millionth of a gram) per year, or the equivalent energy of 20 kilograms of TNT. He estimates that research to develop magnetic field antimatter storage of the kind that would be needed for a spacecraft would take a few million dollars and roughly five years of research.
As for producing antimatter in enough quantity to power a starship, that will take much more time and money, according to Howe. Increasing production to even a milligram (thousandth of a gram) of antimatter (20 tons of TNT) per year would require a national-scale investment of billions of dollars, he says. To power one interstellar mission every decade, his group estimates a production rate of two grams per year will be needed.
17 December 2016
WHITE GENOCIDE BY ANY OTHER NAME
Christina Baum, Deputy Chairwoman of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) in the state of Baden-Württemberg, called the multicultural efforts of the establishment parties "Population Replacement" and "Displacement of the German people" while addressing a "weak and symbolic" burqa proposal by the FDP party.
She cited a study released by the University of Münster that concluded that in many West German cities 55-70% of children under 6 years are foreigners. These developments are no longer a conspiracy, but harsh reality, she said. All other parties either approve of the developments or, fully consciously, encourage them.
The majority of the population demand a complete ban of Burqas in public life and the only party that can do justice to that is the AfD, said Baum.
While the German people lose a part of their own homeland every single day, politicians are concerned about nothing but the next election. They relentlessly push for voting rights of illegal immigrants (to whom they refer as new citizens) in order to secure the votes for a Left Wing government indefinitely.
Baum expressed that is Germany fails to draw clear boundaries about the rules in Germany right now, the demographic change and damage may be "irreversible".
She also urged politicians to consider the future of their children and grandchildren, the importance of familiar customs and tradition and avoiding the catastrophic consequences of German areas becoming minority German.
Baden-Württemberg is known as a stronghold for the Green Party, that has pushed for the legalization of pedophilia and unlimited mass immigration to Germany since its conception.
In Freiburg, the city where 19 year old Maria Ladenburger was raped and murdered by an Afghan illegal Immigrant, the Green Party secured nearly 40% of the votes. The Party is considered to be a party of foreigners, liberal college student and self-hating, guilt ridden Germans. Policies of unrestricted illegal Immigration of young African and Arab males have proven to be a complete catastrophe, rendering once idyllic German towns barely habitable due to high crime rates and ghetto formation.
The demographic shift that Christina Baum has expressed concerns about is celebrated by Leftists.
For example, Green Party politician Stephanie von Berg called Germans becoming a minority in cities "a good thing". The Green President of the BW Landtag itself is a Turkish woman, Muhterem Aras, born and raised in Elmaağaç, Bingöl, Turkey - yet they deny any allegations of a creeping Islamization of Germany.
16 December 2016
When you think of the Universe, you certainly don’t think of it as a smooth, uniform place. After all, a clump like planet Earth is awfully different than the "abyss" of empty space! Yet on the largest scales, the Universe is pretty smooth, and at early times, it was smooth even on smaller scales. Although our Universe is inherently quantum in nature, with all the attendant quantum fluctuations, you might wonder if it could have been born perfectly smooth and simply grown from there. Let's take a look at the Universe we have today and find out.
On nearby scales, we have dense clumps of matter: things like stars, planets, moons, asteroids and humans. In between them are vast distances of empty space, populated also by more diffuse clumps of matter: interstellar gas, dust and plasma that represent either the remnants of dead-and-dying stars or the future locations of stars yet-to-be-born. And all of these are bound together in our great galaxy: the Milky Way.
On larger scales, galaxies can exist in isolation (field galaxies), they can be bound together in small groups of just a few (like our own local group), or they can exist in larger numbers clustered together, containing hundreds or even thousands of large ones. If we look at even larger scales, we find that the clusters-and-groups are structured along giant filaments, some of which stretch for many billions of light years across the cosmos. And in between them? Giant voids: underdense regions with few or even no galaxies and stars in them at all.
But if we start looking out at even larger scales — on scales tens-of-billions of light years in size — we find that any particular region of space we look at looks very much like any other region of space. The same density, the same temperature, the same numbers of stars and galaxies, the same types of galaxies, etc. On the largest scales of all, no part of our Universe is any more-or-less special than any other part of the Universe. Different regions of space all seem to have the same general properties anywhere and everywhere we look.
But our Universe didn’t start out with these giant clumps-and-voids at all. When we look at the earliest “baby picture” of our Universe — the Cosmic Microwave Background — we find that the density of the young Universe was the same on all scales absolutely everywhere. And when I say the same, I mean we measured that the temperature was 3 K in all directions, and then 2.7K, and then 2.73K, and then 2.725K. It was really, really uniform everywhere. Finally, in the 1990s, we discovered that there were some regions that were just slightly denser than the average and some that were just slightly less dense than the average: by around 80–90 microkelvin. The Universe was very, very uniform on average in its early days, where departures from perfect uniformity were only 0.003% or so.
This baby picture from the Planck satellite shows the fluctuations from perfect uniformity, with the red “hot spots” corresponding to the underdense regions and the blue “cold spots” corresponding to overdense ones: the ones that will grow into star-and-galaxy-rich regions of space. The Universe required these
If it were perfectly uniform, no region of space would preferentially attract more matter than any other, and so no gravitational growth would occur over time. Yet if you start with even those small
imperfections — the few parts in 100,000 that our Universe began with — then by time 50-to-100 million years goes by, we’ve formed the first stars in the Universe. By time a few hundred million years have passed, we’ve formed the first galaxies. By time a little over half-a-billion years have gone by, we’ve formed so many stars and galaxies that visible light can travel freely throughout the Universe without running into that light-blocking neutral matter. And by time many billions of years have gone by, we have the clumps and clusters of galaxies we recognize today.
So would it be possible to create a Universe without fluctuations? One that was born perfectly smooth, but grew this fluctuations as time went on? The answer is: not if you create the Universe the way ours was created. You see, our observable Universe came from the hot Big Seed, where the Universe suddenly became filled with a hot, dense sea of matter, antimatter and radiation. The energy for the hot Big Seed came from the end of inflation — where energy inherent to space itself was converted into matter and radiation — during a process known as cosmic reheating. But the Universe doesn’t heat up to the same temperatures in all locations, because during inflation, there were quantum fluctuations that got stretched across the Universe! This is the root of where these overdense and underdense regions came from.
If you have a matter-and-radiation-rich Universe that had an inflationary origin and the laws of physics that we know, you will have these fluctuations that lead to overdense and underdense regions.
But what determined their magnitude? Could they have been smaller?
This is crucially important, because cosmic structure formation takes a long time to happen. In our Universe, to go from those initial fluctuations to the first time we can measure them (the CMB) takes hundreds of thousands of years. To go from the CMB to when gravity enables the formation of the Universe’s first stars, it takes around a hundred million years.
But to go from those first stars to a dark energy dominated Universe — one where no new structure will form if you’re not already gravitationally bound — that’s not such a big leap. It takes only about 7.8 billion years from the Big Seed for the Universe to begin accelerating, meaning that if the initial fluctuations were much smaller, so that we wouldn’t have formed the first stars until, say, ten billion years after the Big Seed, the combination of small fluctuations with dark energy would ensure that we’d never get stars at all.
How small would those fluctuations needed to have been? The answer is surprising: only a few hundred times smaller than the ones we actually have! If the “scale” of these fluctuations in the CMB (below) had numbers that were on the scale of a dozen instead of a few thousand, our Universe would have been lucky to have even one star or galaxy in it by today, and would certainly look nothing like the Universe we actually have.
If it weren’t for "dark energy" — if all we had was matter and radiation — then in enough time, we could form structure in the Universe no matter how small those initial fluctuations were. But that inevitability of an accelerated expansion gives our Universe a sense of urgency that we wouldn’t have had otherwise, and makes it absolutely necessary that the magnitude of the mean fluctuations be at least about 0.00001% of the average density in order to have a Universe with any notable bound structures at all. Make your fluctuations smaller than that, and you’ll have a Universe with nothing at all. But elevate those fluctuations up to a “massive” 0.003% level, and you have no problem getting a Universe that looks just like ours.
Our Universe must have been born with lumps, but if inflation were different, the masses of those lumps would have been very different, too. Much smaller, and there’d be no structure at all. Much larger, and we could have had a Universe catastrophically filled with black holes from a very, very early time. To give us the Universe we have today required an extremely fortuitous combination of circumstances, and lucky for us, the one we were given looks to be just right.
NASA has some high hopes for the James Webb Space Telescope, which finished construction at the end of November, 2016. The result of 20 years of engineering and construction, this telescope is seen as Hubble’s natural successor. Once it is deployed in October of 2018, it will use a 6.5 meter (21 ft 4 in) primary mirror to examine the Universe in the visible, near-infrared and mid-infrared wavelengths.
All told, the JWST will be 100 times more powerful than its predecessor, and will be capable of looking over 13 billion years in time. To honor the completion of the telescope, Northrop Grumman – the company contracted by NASA to build it – and Crazy Boat Pictures teamed up to produce a short film about it. Titled “Into the Unknown – the Story of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope“, the video chronicles the project from inception to completion.
The film (which you can watch at the bottom of the page) combines scenes of the telescope’s construction and conversations with the scientists and engineers who were involved in its creation with some stunning visuals. In addition to detailing the creation process, the film also delves into the telescope’s mission and all the cosmological questions it will address.
In addressing the nature of James Webb’s mission, the film also pays homage to the Hubble Space Telescope and its many accomplishments. Over the course of its 26 years of operation, it has revealed auroras, supernovas and discovered billions of stars, galaxies and exoplanets, some of which were shown to orbit within their star’s respective habitable zones.
On top of that, Hubble was used to determine the age of the Universe (13.8 billion years) and confirmed the existence of the supermassive black hole (SMBH) – aka. Sagitarrius A* – at the center of our galaxy, not to mention many others. It was also responsible for measuring the rate at which the Universe is expanding – in other words, measuring the Hubble Constant.
That being said, Hubble is still subject to limitations, which astronomers are now hoping to push past. For one, its instruments are not able to pick up the most distant (and hence, dimmest) galaxies in the Universe, which date to just a few hundred million years after the Big Seed. Even with “The Deep Fields” initiative, Hubble is still limited to seeing back to about half a billion years after the Big Seed.
As Dr. John Mather, the project scientist for the James Webb Telescope, told Universe Today via email:
As Dr. John Mather, the project scientist for the James Webb Telescope, told Universe Today via email:
“Hubble showed us that we could not see the first galaxies being born, because they’re too far away, too faint, and too red. JWST is bigger, colder, and observes infrared light to see those first galaxies. Hubble showed us there’s a black hole in the center of almost every galaxy. JWST will look as far back in time as possible to see when and how that happened: did the galaxy form the black hole, or did the galaxy grow around a pre-existing black hole? Hubble showed us great clouds of glowing gas and dust where stars are being born. JWST will look through the dust clouds to see the stars themselves as they form in the cloud. Hubble showed us that we can see some planets around other stars, and that we can get chemical information about other planets that happen to pass directly in front of their stars. JWST will extend this to longer wavelengths with a bigger telescope, with a possibility of detecting water on a super-Earth exoplanet. Hubble showed us details of planets and asteroids close to home, and JWST will give a closer look, though it’s still better to send a visiting robot if we can.”
Basically, the JWST will be able to see farther back to about 100 million years after the Big Seed, when the first stars and galaxies were born. It is also designed to operate at the L2 Lagrange Point, farther away from the Earth than Hubble – which was designed to remain in low-Earth orbit. This means the JWST will subject to less thermal and optical interference from the Earth and the Moon, but will also make it more difficult to service.
With its much larger set of segmented mirrors, it will observe the Universe as it capture light from the first galaxies and stars. Its extremely-sensitive suite of optics will also be able to gather information in the long-wavelength (orange-red) and infrared wavelengths with greater accuracy, measuring the redshift of distant galaxies, and even helping in the hunt for extra-solar planets.
Construction of the telescope finished at the end of November. For the next two years, it will undergo some final tests before its scheduled launch date in October of 2018. These will include stress tests that will subject the telescope to the types of intense vibrations, sounds and g forces (ten times Earth normal) it will experience inside the Ariane 5 rocket that will take it into space.
Six months before its deployment, NASA also plans to send the JWST to the Johnson Space Center where it will be subjected to the kinds of conditions it will experience in space. This will consists of scientists placing the telescope in a chamber where temperatures will be lowered to 53 K (-220 °C; -370 °F), which will simulate its operating conditions at the L2 Lagrange Point.
Once all of that is complete and the JWST checks out, it will be launched aboard an Ariane 5 rocket from Arianespace’s ELA-3 launch pad in French Guayana. And thanks to experience gained from Hubble and updated algorithms, the telescope will be focused and gathering information shortly after it is launched. And as Dr. Mather explained, the big cosmological questions it is expected to address are numerous:
“Where did we come from? The Big Seed gave us hydrogen and helium spread out almost uniformly across the universe. But something, presumably gravity, stopped the expansion of the material and turned it into galaxies and stars and black holes. JWST will look at all these processes: how did the first luminous objects form, and what were they? How and where did the black holes form, and what did they do to the growing galaxies? How did the galaxies cluster together, and how did galaxies like the Milky Way grow and develop their beautiful spiral structure? Where is the cosmic dark matter and how does it affect ordinary matter? How much dark energy is there, and how does it change with time?”
Needless to say, NASA and the astronomical community are quite excited that the James Webb Telescope is finished construction, and can’t wait until it is deployed and begins to send back data. One can only imagine the kinds of things it will see deep in the cosmic field. But in the meantime, be sure to check out the film and see how this effort all came together:
Inside Quebec's pro-White scene: Soldiers of Odin leadership change signals return to patriotic roots
In the early evening darkness, four figures huddled in the parking lot of a Quebec City arena, all wearing black sweatshirts emblazoned with a drawing of Odin, a Norse god of war.
One was a professional hunter, another a wood-factory worker. They stomped their boots in the cold, shared a cigarette or two, then set off to patrol the historic streets of the city, armed only with a flashlight and the belief they were protecting Quebecers from a vague but dangerous threat.
Leading the group that night was a 47-year-old father of four, Dave Tregget, who paints cars by day, but on evenings and weekends was in charge of the Quebec chapter of Soldiers of Odin.
"We are Canadians helping Canadians," said Tregget as he steered the group through Saint-Roch, a neighbourhood where urban renewal meets poverty in Quebec City.
"I want to protect our Canadian charter of rights and liberties. We've got to fight to keep these rights."
When Tregget joined the Soldiers of Odin last year, the group had barely a half-dozen members in Canada. It was little known outside of northern Finland, where it patrolled, claiming to protect locals from Muslim immigrants.
But the group grew quickly, first to the rest of Finland, then to other Nordic and Baltic countries. There are now more than 20 national chapters, including one in Australia.
In Canada, the Soldiers of Odin were met with criticism as they established themselves across the country.
Its patrols in Edmonton, for instance, were described as "troubling" by the National Council of Canadian Muslims. A city councillor in Hamilton accused them of spreading hate speech.
Tregget felt the group's success in Quebec depended on softening its anti-immigration image and putting some distance between the founding Finnish members, who have been accused of having ties with neo-Nazis.
"We're Canadian, and Canada was based on immigration so we cannot be against it," Tregget said, marching the group up Langelier Boulevard in the Quebec capital on a Tuesday night in early December.
Torn between the group's hardline roots and the prospect of growing its membership in Quebec, Tregget chose the latter.
It was a position that proved untenable. Last Friday, he was replaced by his second-in-command, Katy Latulippe. There are conflicting accounts of what happened. Latulippe says Tregget was suspended; Tregget says he quit, "finished with the racist image of Finland," as he later told CBC News in a Facebook message.
Regardless of the details, what is clear is that with Tregget out, and Latulippe in, the group will undergo a reorientation. The new acting president has vowed to return the Quebec branch of the Soldiers of Odin to its Finnish roots and ramp up patrols of the more Muslim areas of Quebec City.
The goal, she says, is not to intimidate Muslim immigrants but rather make them aware of Quebec values.
"We won't allow them to bring mayhem to our streets and the gang rapes that we're seeing in certain countries currently," she said. "That's all we want to do."
Online and in the streets
The Soldiers of Odin claim to have around 3,500 members in Canada, 400 of them in Quebec.
Other far-right groups in the province, such as La Meute and the Justiciers du peuple, are mainly active online. The Soldiers of Odin distinguish themselves by maintaining an active presence in the community, especially in Quebec City.
They have, since February, organized patrols through various neighbourhoods, sometimes as many as three or four times a week.
They also attracted attention by providing security at a demonstration outside the National Assembly in October, which was attended by several other far-right groups in the province.
And the group has teamed up on a number of occasions with Atalante Québec, an openly neo-fascist organization that speaks of protecting the "neo-French."
The two groups joined forces for a food drive last month and jointly patrolled the Laval University campus after a spate of sexual assaults there in October.
Keeping the Soldiers of Odin active and political was, according to Tregget, its chief selling point over groups like La Meute.
Uniting the pro-White
But as leader of the Quebec chapter, Tregget didn't simply want to compete with these groups, but to forge alliances with them.
"What we've aimed for since we started Soldiers of Odin is to unite all the groups of what we'll call the 'far right' because our common denominator is the system," he said.
The system, for Tregget, can mean many different things. But it generally refers to a socio-political situation whereby "the people" are systematically deprived of power by "elites."
The system, moreover, favours individualism at the expense of community, it favours importing oil from Saudi Arabia as opposed to building pipelines in Canada and, perhaps above all, is incapable of protecting "Canadian values."
"Without saying that we're being threatened right now, we've got to watch ourselves," he said.
"People are trying to push their own agenda on us, which goes against our Canadian values."
To underscore that point, Tregget pointed to a religious sanctuary carved into the cliff that separates upper and lower Quebec City.
"F**k les whites" was stenciled neatly in red on the monuments.
Less than five per cent of Quebec City's population considers themselves to be a visible minority, according to the 2011 census. And there are only 27,000 immigrants in the city of 500,000.
But the graffiti, which first appeared several weeks ago, has nevertheless unnerved local residents, Tregget said. He called it "a hate message."
It is possible, though, the graffiti wasn't directed at white people per se, but rather at white supremacists.
"In street language 'les whites' ... means to hell with the neo-Nazis," said Maxime Fiset, a former far-right activist who now works with Montreal's Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence.
'We bring people together'
Among those Tregget recruited to take part in the patrol that night was another family man, a factory worker from the Beauce, a rural area south of Quebec City. He makes the two-hour round trip into Quebec City several times a week to take part in Soldier of Odin activities.
The professional hunter, Sébastien Vaudreuil, said he only became interested in politics two years ago when, watching the news, he sensed the world was starting to go awry.
Asked what his friends thought of his involvement with the Soldiers of Odin, Vaudreuil shrugged.
"I'm closed off. I'm a trapper. More often than not, I'm in the middle of the woods and I do my own thing."
The appeal of joining the group is that it gives a sense of purpose to people who would otherwise be lost in society, who don't identify with any of the existing political parties, said Tregget.
"We bring people together," he added. "We want to show people community is important."
But as Tregget was busy building the group's membership he was also running afoul of the national leadership as well as the movement's international leaders in Finland.
According to his one-time second-in-command, Tregget gave a series of interviews in the fall in which he downplayed the links between the Finnish and Quebec branches of the group.
He also insisted on patrolling the "politically correct" areas of Quebec City, like Saint-Roch, where the group was less likely to confront the city's immigrant population, said Latulippe.
Back to the Finnish roots
Latulippe is still a relative newcomer to Quebec City, having moved there recently from Magog, Que.
A welder by trade, she's not yet familiar with the names of the various neighbourhoods in the city. She knows, though, the chief demographic characteristic of the area where she feels the Soldiers of Odin should be making its presence felt.
"Dave avoided that, on patrols, we go into areas where there are a lot of Muslims or Islamization," she said during a recent phone conversation.
"But, when it comes down to it, that's where we should be patrolling."
After asking her boyfriend, she learned the area she has in mind is Vanier, a borough in the northwestern part of the city that has a large immigrant population.
If Latulippe goes ahead with her plan to organize more confrontational patrols in Vanier and other districts, the relative anonymity that the group has so far enjoyed among the general public might change.
When Tregget and his fellow Soldiers marched past the trendy cafés of Saint-Roch earlier this month, few pedestrians seemed to notice them. Chantal Gilbert, the area's city councillor, had never heard of the group before being contacted by a CBC reporter. Under Latulippe, the group might be harder to ignore.
Other pro-White groups wary of new direction
Latulippe's desire to return the Quebec branch of the Soldiers of Odin to its Finnish roots might also complicate its effort to forge alliances with other far-right groups in the province.
On its Facebook page, the leaders of La Meute informed its 43,000 members that they would be distancing themselves from the group.
"La Meute would never want to associate itself with a group headed by white neo-Nazi supremacists," La Meute's spokesman Sylvain Maikan wrote earlier this week.
"Given that the Quebec branch has itself announced its closer ties with the Finnish group, it's now clear that all association between our two groups will be impossible."
As for Tregget, he initially intended to take a break from political activism following his split from Soldiers of Odin.
But, he said, his phone started ringing soon afterward.
He has decided to start a new group with other disenchanted members. Its working title is "Storm Alliance."
09 December 2016
“As we move out, we see continuously from our planet all the way out into the realm of galaxies in a light-travel time, giving you a sense of how far away we are. As we move out, the light from these distant galaxies have taken so long, we’re essentially backing up into the past. We back so far up we’re finally seeing a containment around us the afterglow of the Big Bang,” says Carter Emmart, one of the creators of the Digital Universe.
A recently discovered galaxy is undergoing an extraordinary boom of stellar construction, revealed by a group of astronomers led by University of Florida graduate student Jingzhe Ma using NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory.
The galaxy known as SPT 0346‐52 is 12.7 billion light years from Earth, seen at a critical stage in the evolution of galaxies about a billion years after the Big
Astronomers first discovered SPT 0346‐52 with the National Science Foundation’s South Pole Telescope, then observed it with space and ground-based telescopes. Data from the NSF/ESO Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile revealed extremely bright infrared emission, suggesting that the galaxy is undergoing a tremendous burst of star birth.
However, an alternative explanation remained: Was much of the infrared emission instead caused by a rapidly growing supermassive black hole at the galaxy’s center? Gas falling towards the black hole would become much hotter and brighter, causing surrounding dust and gas to glow in infrared light. To explore this possibility, researchers used NASA’s Chandra X‐ray Observatory and CSIRO’s Australia Telescope Compact Array, a radio telescope.
No X‐rays or radio waves were detected, so astronomers were able to rule out a black hole being responsible for most of the bright infrared light.
“We now know that this galaxy doesn’t have a gorging black hole, but instead is shining brightly with the light from newborn stars,” Ma said. “This gives us information about how galaxies and the stars within them evolve during some of the earliest times in the universe.”
Stars are forming at a rate of about 4,500 times the mass of the Sun every year in SPT0346-52, one of the highest rates seen in a galaxy. This is in contrast to a galaxy like the Milky Way that only forms about one solar mass of new stars per year.
“Astronomers call galaxies with lots of star formation ‘starburst’ galaxies,” said UF astronomy professor Anthony Gonzalez, who co-authored the study. “That term doesn’t seem to do this galaxy justice, so we are calling it a ‘hyper-starburst’ galaxy.”
The high rate of star formation implies that a large reservoir of cool gas in the galaxy is being converted into stars with unusually high efficiency.
Astronomers hope that by studying more galaxies like SPT0346‐52 they will learn more about the formation and growth of massive galaxies and the supermassive black holes at their centers.
“For decades, astronomers have known that supermassive black holes and the stars in their host galaxies grow together,” said co-author Joaquin Vieira of the University of Illinois at Urbana‐Champaign. “Exactly why they do this is still a mystery. SPT0346-52 is interesting because we have observed an incredible burst of stars forming, and yet found no evidence for a growing supermassive black hole. We would really like to study this galaxy in greater detail and understand what triggered the star formation and how that affects the growth of the black hole.”
SPT0346‐52 is part of a population of strong gravitationally-lensed galaxies discovered with the SPT. It appears about six times brighter than it would without gravitational lensing, which enables astronomers to see more details than would otherwise be possible.
A paper describing the results appears in a recent issue of The Astrophysical Journal and is available online. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the Chandra program for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, controls Chandra’s science and flight operations.
07 December 2016
"The EU has taken our independence"
Thousands of Finnish pro-White patriots have taken to the streets of the capital Helsinki to stage rallies and a torch-lit march dedicated to the 99th anniversary of the country’s independence.
The demonstrators, guided by police, marched through the city to the Hietaniemi cemetery.
Once there, they lit candles in honor of soldiers who have died fighting for Finland.
Reports state about 3,000 patriots took part in the procession.
The chairman of pro-White 612.fi, Jari-Pekka Marin, told Ruptly at the march: "We are part of the European Union, we are not independent as everybody knows."
06 December 2016
The new axis between Trump’s America, Putin’s Russia, and European populists represents a toxic mix for ZOG-Europe
ZOG-Europe could come crashing down next year. Squeezed from all directions, it may not be able to withstand the pressure. Within Europe, populists on the left and right are trying to roll back ZOG. This insurgency is being actively backed by Putin’s Russia, and, now, it seems, Trump’s America. The ZOG European Union itself risks being an early casualty.
The coming year will be decisive, as key elections are held in France, The Netherlands, and Germany, in which anti-ZOG populist parties are expected to make headway. The French Presidential elections will be the most critical. Marine Le Pen, who has promised to hold a referendum on France’s EU membership, is expected to win the first round but lose the second. Yet the momentum of the populist surge favours Front National, and in any case, who can trust the polls after Trump’s election? A victory for Le Pen would spell the likely end of the European Union, as it is inconceivable that the EU could survive France’s departure.
On 4 December, Italians voted in a referendum against a set of constitutional reforms that would make the country’s notoriously unstable political system more stable. Prime Minister Renzi’s resignation may very well prompt elections in which the anti-establishment, eurosceptic Five Star Movement will make substantial gains if not win altogether. Also, on the same day, the pro-White candidate, Norbert Hofer, was defeated in presidential elections in Austria but still win 46.7 percent of the vote.
The refugee crisis and, before that, the financial crisis have given a boost to populist parties all across Europe, on both the right and the left. Their success is underpinned by a pervasive feeling that ZOG elites are reaping the benefits of an open, globalised world while White people are left behind and under threat from alien cultures and customs. For White patriots, the solution is renationalising the nation state, closing borders to immigrants, and returning to socially conservative values. For the far left, the answer is to be found in dismantling the globalised capitalist system. For both, it means the undoing of ZOG and its genocidal intentions.
Within the heart of ZOG-Europe’s elites, opportunists such as the UK’s Boris Johnson have sensed the possibilities that the populist surge provides. They have taken up their anti-EU cause and adopted post-truth methods to further their own political careers – consequences be damned.
To the East, Russia understands the potential geopolitical boon that European populists present. Over the past few years Russia has embraced these parties on both ends of the political spectrum. Putin sees them as ideological comrades who are useful in furthering Russia’s strategic interests of weakening and dividing ZOG. These parties also tend to promote pro-Russian positions such as lifting sanctions and ending European support for Ukraine.
The politics of disruption – seen in the Brexit referendum and the Dutch referendum on Ukraine – has proven particularly powerful in scuttling ZOG's totalitarian project. The weakening of ZOG-European institutions and unity makes it easier for Russia to liberate European states from ZOG and thereby win new allies across the continent. Even the anti-Russian populist parties in countries such as Poland and Finland serve Russian interests by pursuing a politics of disruption in ZOG.
Russia is supporting many of these populist parties in various ways, from political backing to giving them a platform on RT and Sputnik, to financial support in the case of the loan to Front National. As elections approach in France and Germany, it remains to be seen whether Moscow will use the same cyber tactics to boost populist candidates that were so successfully used in the United States.
Trump’s victory has demonstrated to European populists that “the unthinkable is thinkable”. Defying polls, markets, and expert prediction, he managed to tap into a discontent in the United States, effectively highjack an establishment party, and win on an anti-establishment ticket.
But for Europe’s populists, Trump’s election provides more than inspiration and a boost of confidence. It also means the potential for an alliance with the superpower. Days after his victory, Trump, who came out in support of Brexit, held court in his gold-adorned apartment in Trump Tower for Nigel Farage. Farage was the first European politician to meet with Trump after the elections, and Trump – defying Number 10 – has subsequently backed him to become the UK’s ambassador to the US.
Trump’s alliance with European populists may go beyond mere political backing. The Trump Administration’s chief strategist and senior counsellor, Stephen Bannon, has reportedly reached out to Marine Le Pen in France and is planning to open Brietbart News in France and Germany ahead of their elections – after its UK venture successfully campaigned for Leave during the Brexit campaign.
Trump’s foreign policy agenda in Europe will also put ZOG forces on the defensive and play into the hands of the populists. His apparent desire to strike a deal with Russia and willingness to downgrade or even renege on European security guarantees could hollow out ZOG-NATO. This would free European and create further opportunities for going forward.
The new axis between Trump’s America, Putin’s Russia, and European populists represents an existential threat to the ZOG order in Europe. If ever there was a time to deliver a lethal blow to this ZOG order, it is now.
The Wendelstein 7-X reactor, which uses a complex design called a stellerator, is performing just like it was predicted to
Last year, Germany completed and turned on the Wendelstein 7-X nuclear fusion reactor. This amazing piece of technology uses a complicated design called a stellerator, and scientists have finally managed to verify that the design works like it's supposed to.
Nuclear fusion is a reaction like the type that powers the Sun and other stars. Unlike the nuclear fission underway at our current nuclear plants, fusion generates far more energy without any harmful waste products. Theoretically, fusion reactors are capable of producing nearly limitless energy using nothing but seawater as fuel.
Theoretically. Fusion requires the kinds of temperatures and pressures found inside the cores of stars, and generating those conditions on Earth is extremely difficult, which is why the tech seems perpetually five or ten or twenty years away. Most designs involve giant magnets and lasers and can get complicated, to say the least.
The standard design of fusion reactor is called the tokamak reactor, and it involves a ring of magnets that force the nuclear material to travel in a large circle. The stellerator design used by the W7-X reactor adds several twists to the ring to increase stability.
However, the stellerator design is still relatively untested, so a group of researchers spent the past year studying the W7-X reactor to ensure that it was working the way it was supposed to. They found an incredibly small error rate, less than 1 in 100,000, which the researchers characterized as "unprecedented accuracy."
This is good news for the W7-X reactor, which was intended as a proof-of-concept for the stellerator design. Now that the researchers know the accuracy of the reactor's magnetic fields, they can begin building new reactors that focus on efficiency.
Unfortunately, current fusion reactors, including the W7-X, are still not efficient enough to produce more energy than they use. However, the success of W7-X gives the researchers hope that the next generation of fusion reactors will be able to reach that limit.