Welcome to an extraordinary catch of news from the Cosmos. Today’s stories range from Why AI Needs a Genome to Our Solar System is a Cosmic Oddity to the Quantum Experiment that Could Prove Reality Doesn’t Exist, and much more.
“The Galaxy Report” brings you news of space and science that has the capacity to provide clues to the mystery of our existence and adds a much needed cosmic perspective in our current Anthropocene Epoch.
The Missing Planet –“Citizen scientists have discovered a new object orbiting a Sun-like star that had been missed by previous searches. The object is very distant from its host star—more than 1,600 times farther than the Earth is from the Sun—and is thought to be a large planet or a small brown dwarf, a type of object that is not massive enough to burn hydrogen like true stars,” reports lead author, Jackie Faherty for the American Museum of Natural History.
Mini-Jet Found Near Milky Way’s Supermassive Black Hole, reports NASA. “Our Milky Way’s central black hole has a leak. This supermassive black hole looks like it still has the vestiges of a blowtorch-like jet dating back several thousand years. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope hasn’t photographed the phantom jet but has helped find circumstantial evidence that it is still pushing feebly into a huge hydrogen cloud and then splattering, like the narrow stream from a hose aimed into a pile of sand.”
Why AI Needs a Genome –AI could learn and adapt like humans with algorithms that work like genes, reports Lina Zeldovich for Nautilus. “Humans come with a lot of scripted behavioral wisdom. AI comes with none.”
When Did Life Start in the Universe? asks Harvard’s Avi Loeb –Interstellar xenia, or the welcoming of cosmic strangers, could solve this mystery. “Our sun is not a typical star. Most stars are one tenth as massive and will live hundreds of times longer than the sun. Moreover, most stars formed billions of years before the sun, based on the observed star formation history since the big bang. Why were we born so late in cosmic history around a relatively massive star like the sun? Statistically speaking, we were more likely to exist earlier or around a lower-mass star.
What if the aliens we are looking for are AI? asks BBC Future–“Maybe there are no intelligent space aliens in our immediate cosmic vicinity. Perhaps they have never evolved beyond unthinking microbial slime or – based on our transmissions – aliens have concluded it is safer to stay away. There is, however, another explanation: ET is nothing like us.”
The Weirdness of Dark-Matter Free Galaxies, reports The Daily Galaxy –“The discovery of yet another dark-matter free, ultra-diffuse galaxy, raises a number of unanswered questions for astronomers: how are they formed? What do they tell us about standard cosmological models? How common are they, and what other unique properties do they have? It will take the discovery of more dark-matter-less galaxies to resolve the ultimate question of what dark matter really is.”
(VIDEO) The astonishing resonances between patterns in nature, microscopic and cosmic –“For the ABC Science series Phenomena, the Australian artist and filmmaker Josef Gatti collaborated with the Australian composer Kim Moyes for an amalgamation of art and science exploring ‘naturally occurring patterns, and the fundamental forces of nature that create them’. This episode explores natural surfaces at a range of scales – from the microscopic to the cosmic.”
Is our solar system a cosmic oddity? Evidence from exoplanets says yes –When we started finding planetary systems around other stars we thought many of them would be like ours. We’ve now found hundreds – and it’s so far, so wrong, reports New Scientist.
New NASA Telescope Will Provide X-Ray Views of the Universe –NASA Launches New Mission to Explore Universe’s Most Dramatic Objects –“A joint effort with the Italian Space Agency, the IXPE observatory is NASA’s first mission dedicated to measuring the polarization of X-rays from the most extreme and mysterious objects in the universe – supernova remnants, supermassive black holes, and dozens of other high-energy objects.”
The Extraterrestrial Signal -We May Not Want to Receive –“Is there a fundamental flaw in why we have not received a signal from an advanced alien civilization? How do we decode an alien message –alien is alien so it might be impossible. What if they communicate chemically? Will they use the language of math and science signaling at 1420 megahertz? What if we are too primitive to comprehend a message or the technology of its signal that may exist in a form beyond matter? What if it’s a message from an extinct civilization astrophysicist such as Harvard’s Avi Loeb believes exist in our galaxy.”
The quantum experiment that could prove reality doesn’t exist, reports New Scientist –“A new class of experiments is putting Einstein’s conviction to the test, seeing if quantum weirdness stretches beyond the tiny world of quarks, atoms and qubits into the everyday world of tables, chairs and, well, moons. “If you can go from one atom to two atoms to three to four to five to a thousand, is there any reason why it stops?” says Jonathan Halliwell at Imperial College London.
This is the way the world ends: not with a bang, but with a quantum vacuum decay of the ground state of the universe to its true minimum, reports Space.com. –“The universe underwent radical phase transitions in the past. These transitions eventually led to the division of the four fundamental forces of nature and the panoply of particles we know today. All of that occurred when the universe was less than a second old, and it has been stable ever since. But it might not last forever.”
Gravitational Waves Should Permanently Distort Space-Time –The “gravitational memory effect” predicts that a passing gravitational wave should forever alter the structure of space-time. Physicists have linked the phenomenon to fundamental cosmic symmetries and a potential solution to the black hole information paradox, reports Katie McCormick for Quanta.
Astronomers theorize that it can take billions of years for supermassive black holes and their accompanying galaxies to form. How is it possible that these quasars became so gigantic, with billions of solar masses, in the first 700 million years of the universe? Once you can see past their glare, what do their accompanying galaxies look like? And what do their “neighborhoods” look like? An an international team of astronomers, will pursue answers to these questions with observations taken by the James Webb Space Telescope.
NASA Is on the Cusp of a New Era –A planetary scientist explains why SpaceX’s Starship will transform her field, reports Brian Gallagher for Nautilus. ” It shatters the size and constraints with which scientists and engineers have had to content themselves. With space-bound instruments no longer needing to be painstakingly and expensively miniaturized, and with launch costs down and launch frequency up, NASA can think big—really big.”
A young, sun-like star may hold warnings for life on Earth –Astronomers spying on a stellar system located dozens of lightyears from Earth have, for the first time, observed a troubling fireworks show: A star, named EK Draconis, ejected a massive burst of energy and charged particles much more powerful than anything scientists have seen in our own solar system.
Mathematicians Explore Mirror Link Between Two Geometric Worlds — reports Kevin Hartnett for Quanta. “Twenty-seven years ago, a group of physicists made an accidental discovery that flipped mathematics on its head. The physicists were trying to work out the details of string theory when they observed a strange correspondence: Numbers emerging from one kind of geometric world matched exactly with very different kinds of numbers from a very different kind of geometric world.”
The Ten Best Science Books of 2021 –From captivating memoirs by researchers to illuminating narratives by veteran science journalists, these works affected us the most this year, reports The Smithsonian.