Another amazing week of news from the Cosmos: from the New York Times’ Carl Zimmer on the origins of life and how it may have evolved on other worlds to the the creeping suspicion, that there is something substantial missing from our standard model of the Universe to Albert Einstein’s demon-haunted quantum world.
A.I. Is Not A-OK –““It will be everywhere. What does an A.I.-enabled best friend look like, especially to a child? What does A.I.-enabled war look like? Does A.I. perceive aspects of reality that we don’t? Is it possible that A.I. will see things that humans cannot comprehend?”, reports Maureen Dowd interviewing Google Chairman, Eric Schmidt, for the New York Times.
The Greatest Origin Story of All: NASA Webb Space Telescope – 29 Days on the Edge, reports SciTech Daily–“As the largest and most complex telescope ever sent into space, the James Webb Space Telescope is a technological marvel. By necessity, Webb takes on-orbit deployments to the extreme. Each step can be controlled expertly from the ground, giving Webb’s Mission Operations Center full control to circumnavigate any unforeseen issues with deployment.”
If the Earth Isn’t Special, Then the Whole Cosmos Is –Amazing things happen when you realize Earth is just another planet, reports Jamie Green for Slate.
Life’s Edge by Carl Zimmer– what does it mean to be alive? reports The Guardian. “In this subtle and profound meditation on the science of life, filled with memorable insights into the past and future of biology, Zimmer reveals the extraordinary complexity and diversity of life, as well as the ingenious attempts of scientists to probe its origins and how it may have evolved on other worlds.”
Early Earth –A Model for Emerging Life on Alien Planets?–““The Archean Eon stands out for being so incredibly distant, and incredibly distinct, from modern Earth,” University of Washington astrobiologist, Tyler Robinson, told The Daily Galaxy about the eon when life on Earth likely emerged. “The conditions on this near-alien version of Earth are so unique that the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) should be able to distinguish Archean-like features from signatures more synonymous with modern Earth, Mars, or Venus.”
A once-quiet battle to replace the space station suddenly is red hot –-Three competitors have already entered the arena. More are expected.” The sprawling International Space Station—so long a beacon of hope, unity, and technological achievement; so gleaming and bright it can be seen from a city’s downtown as it passes overhead—is nearer the end of its life than the beginning. And time is running out to replace the station before it’s gone.”
AI Designs Quantum Physics Experiments beyond What Any Human Has Conceived –Originally built to speed up calculations, a machine-learning system is now making shocking progress at the frontiers of experimental quantum physics, reports Scientific American.
The Standard Model that Describes the Fundamental Nature of the Universe – “Something Substantial is Missing,” reports The Daily Galaxy–““The Hubble constant,” writes Daniel Holz, “holds the answers to big questions about the universe, like its size, age and history, but the two main ways to determine its value have produced significantly different results. Now there was a third way, which could resolve one of the most pressing questions in astronomy—or it could solidify the creeping suspicion, held by many in the field, that there is something substantial missing from our model of the universe.”
NASA’s Webb Will Join Forces with the Event Horizon Telescope to Reveal the Milky Way’s Supermassive Black Hole, reports the Space Telescope Science Institute. “In its first year of operations, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will join forces with a global collaborative effort to create an image of the area directly surrounding the supermassive black hole at the heart of our Milky Way galaxy. The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) is famous for its first image of the “shadow” of the black hole at the core of galaxy M87, and it has now turned its efforts to the more complex environment of Sagittarius A*, the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole.
The head of NASA says life probably exists outside Earth –-“The head of NASA suspects that we are not alone in the universe—or multi-universes, for that matter. Bill Nelson, who was sworn in as NASA administrator in May, sounded remarkably open-minded about the possibility of extraterrestrial life during an interview (below) with the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics last week.
New Force of Nature? Tantalizing Evidence for New Physics From CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, reports SciTech Daily –“The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) sparked worldwide excitement in March as particle physicists reported tantalizing evidence for new physics — potentially a new force of nature. Now, our new result, yet to be peer reviewed, from CERN’s gargantuan particle collider seems to be adding further support to the idea.”
Astronomers discover massive galaxy ‘shipyard’ in the distant universe- Astronomers at the University of Arizona have discovered a structure thought to be a ‘protocluster’ of galaxies on its way to developing into a galaxy supercluster. Observations show the protocluster, which is located 11 billion light-years from Earth, as it appeared when the universe was 3 billion years old, when stars were produced at higher rates in certain regions of the cosmos.
Could Gravity’s Quantum Origins Explain Dark Energy? –-A potentially transformative theoretical study links a new model of quantum gravity with the universe’s bizarrely accelerating rate of expansion, reports Conor Purcell for Scientific American.
Is the Great Neutrino Puzzle Pointing to Multiple Missing Particles? asks Quanta –Years of conflicting neutrino measurements have led physicists to propose a “dark sector” of invisible particles — one that could simultaneously explain dark matter, the puzzling expansion of the universe, and other mysteries.
NASA’s New Telescope Will Show Us the Infancy of the Universe, reports The New Yorker –Twenty-five years and ten billion dollars in the making, the James Webb Space Telescope will enable scientists to see deeper into the past than ever before.
NASA Says We Need to Talk About What Happens When We Find Life Beyond Earth, reports Peter Dockril for Science Alert –“In a new scientific commentary – led by none other than the space agency’s chief scientist, James Green – NASA researchers make the case for why we need to establish a framework for reporting evidence of extraterrestrial life. Our generation could realistically be the one to discover evidence of life beyond Earth,” the team writes. “With this privileged potential comes responsibility.”
Climate change is an existential threat not to humanity but to our project of civilization –Civilization is facing an existential threat from climate change. Will we humans make it? Does anyone in the universe make it? reports Big Think.
SpaceX Could Make Elon Musk World’s First Trillionaire, says Morgan Stanley, reports Rupert Neate for The The Guardian. “[Morgan Stanley analyst Adam] said: ‘As one client put it, “talking about space before Starship is like talking about the internet before Google.” Jonas estimates that the privately held SpaceX could be worth $200 billion (£145 billion), and rise higher still as it exploits a range of potential industries, including space infrastructure, Earth observation and deep-space exploration.”
Einstein’s demon-haunted quantum world –Einstein hated “spooky action at a distance,” but much to his chagrin, quantum mechanics remains as spooky as ever, reports Big Think–“To Einstein’s horror, quantum physics boasts a very “spooky action at a distance,” (his term) that he couldn’t exorcise. Current experiments have confirmed that nature is even spookier than Einstein ever would have accepted.
Neutrino results herald new chapter in physics, reports BBC News –“A new chapter in physics has opened, according to scientists who have been searching for a vital building block of the Universe. A major experiment has been used to search for an elusive sub-atomic particle: a key component of the matter that makes up our everyday lives.”
Holographic Space Telescope Takes Aim at the Next ‘Planet Earth’, reports Photonics –“o support the discovery of planets outside the solar system, scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) created an experimental space telescope that can directly analyze the spectra of an exoplanet. The main component of the Dual Use Exoplanet Telescope (DUET) is a Fresnel hologram that can transform incident starlight directly into a spectrogram.”
What physicists get wrong about consciousness –Panpsychism as an interpretation of physics, reports Philip Goff |Associate Professor of Philosophy, Durham University. Author of Galileo’s Error: Foundations for a New Science of Consciousness and Consciousness and Fundamental Reality for IAI.
Hubble Captures a Doomed Star –Like a witness to a violent death, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope recently gave astronomers an unprecedented, comprehensive view of the first moments of a star’s cataclysmic demise. Hubble’s data, combined with other observations of the doomed star from space- and ground-based telescopes, may give astronomers an early warning system for other stars on the verge of blowing up.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope observations of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa have revealed the presence of persistent water vapor — but, mysteriously, only in one hemisphere. Europa harbors a vast ocean underneath its icy surface, which might offer conditions hospitable for life. This result advances astronomers’ understanding of the atmospheric structure of icy moons, and helps lay the groundwork for planned science missions to the Jovian system to, in part, explore whether an environment half-a-billion miles from the Sun could support life.
The Science of Aliens: Would They Be Religious? asks Air & Space –Belief in a higher power is widespread on Earth, but what about the rest of the galaxy?
The James Webb Space Telescope Hasn’t Launched Yet. In One Way, It’s Already a Relic –It will collect important data, but what does its name say about who it’s for? reports Slate. “The James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled to finally launch this fall. The 21-foot-diameter infrared telescope, which will observe astronomical objects in unprecedented detail, is nearly a decade and a half behind schedule, after being originally slated for takeoff in 2007. It’s over budget, with a final price tag of $10 billion, up from an original estimated cost of $500 million. It also memorializes a questionable person.”
Recent Galaxy Reports