Mystery of Extreme Continent Building Solved –A Key to Life on Earth and Beyond




"We've revealed a major unknown in the evolution of our planet," says Esteban Gazel, an assistant professor of geology with Virginia Tech. An international research team, led geoscientist Gazel, has revealed information about how continents were generated on Earth more than 2.5 billion years ago — and how those processes have continued within the last 70 million years to profoundly affect the planet's life and climate.


Habitable Alien Planets of Binary Stars –“They May Be Hidden Behind Gas Giants”





Luke Skywalker’s home in “Star Wars” is the desert planet Tatooine, with twin sunsets because it orbits two stars. So far, only uninhabitable gas-giant planets have been identified circling such binary stars, and many researchers believe rocky planets cannot form there. Now, mathematical simulations show that Earthlike, solid planets such as Tatooine likely exist and may be widespread.


Astronomers Debate: “How Long Can a Technology-Based Civilization Last?” (Weekend Feature)





"We have no idea how long a technological civilization like our own can last," says University of Rochester astrophysicist Adam Frank. "Is it 200 years, 500 years or 50,000 years? Answering this question is at the root of all our concerns about the sustainability of human society. Are we the first and only technologically-intensive civilization in the entire history of the universe? If not, shouldn't we stand to learn something from the past successes and failures of other species?"


Why the Quantum, Why the Universe –“Are Findings Pointing to a New Physics?”





The existence and stability of atoms relies heavily on the fact that neutrons are slightly more mas-sive than protons. The experimentally determined masses differ by only around 0.14 percent. A slightly smaller or larger value of the mass difference would have led to a dramatically different universe, with too many neutrons, not enough hydrogen, or too few heavier elements. The tiny mass difference is the reason why free neutrons decay on average after around ten minutes, while protons – the unchanging building blocks of matter – remain stable for a practically unlimited period.


“The Dark World of Our Universe” –Astronomers Zeroing In on This Great Mystery





Dark matter is a giant question mark looming over our knowledge of the Universe. There is more dark matter in the Universe than visible matter, but it is extremely elusive; it does not reflect, absorb or emit light, making it invisible. Because of this, it is only known to exist via its gravitational effects on the visible Universe. A favored theory is that dark matter might be constituted of "supersymmetric" particles. Supersymmetry is a theory in which all particles in our Standard Model — electrons, protons, neutrons, and so on — have a more massive "supersymmetric" partner. While there has been no experimental confirmation for supersymmetry as yet, the theory would solve a few of the gaps in our current thinking. One of supersymmetry's proposed particles would be stable, electrically neutral, and only interact weakly with the common particles of the Standard Model — all the properties required to explain dark matter.



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