via Technology ReviewThe value of the cosmological constant suggests that the laws of nature could not have been fine-tuned for life by an omnipotent being, says a cosmologist
One of the more curious debates in science focuses on the laws of physics and why they seem fine-tuned for life.
The problem is that the laws of physics contain various constants that have very specific, mysterious values that nobody can explain. These constants are balanced in such a way that life has evolved at least once, in one small part of the Universe.
But why do the constants have these values? Various scientists have calculated that even the tiniest of changes to these constants would make life impossible. That raises the question of why they are so finely balanced
One explanation is that this is pure accident and that there is no deeper reason for the coincidence. Another idea is that there is some deeper law of nature, which we have yet to discover, that sets the constants as they are. Yet another is that the constants can take more or less any value in an infinite multitude of universes. In ours, they are just right, which is why we have been able to evolve to observe them.
This is what researchers at the ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider expect data from a Higgs boson to look like. The Higgs boson is the subatomic particle that scientists say gives everything in the universe mass.
ANDREW PRINCE, NPR
Deep beneath the border of France and Switzerland, the world’s most massive physics machine is sending subatomic particles smashing into each other at speeds nearing the speed of light. Physicists working with the 17-mile-long Large Hadron Collider hope it will help solve some of the universe’s mysteries.
But first, researchers must overcome two very mundane hurdles: how to handle all of the data the LHC generates, and how to get non-scientists to care.
One physicist has a novel way to solve both problems: sound. FULL STORY
Posted in Science January 11th, 2011 by ceejaydp Comments Off
via Technology Review
Our cosmos was “bruised” in collisions with other universes. Now astronomers have found the first evidence of these impacts in the cosmic microwave background
There’s something exciting afoot in the world of cosmology. Last month, Roger Penrose at the University of Oxford and Vahe Gurzadyan at Yerevan State University in Armenia announced that they had found patterns of concentric circles in the cosmic microwave background, the echo of the Big Bang.
This, they say, is exactly what you’d expect if the universe were eternally cyclical. By that, they mean that each cycle ends with a big bang that starts the next cycle. In this model, the universe is a kind of cosmic Russian Doll, with all previous universes contained within the current one.
That’s an extraordinary discovery: evidence of something that occurred before the (conventional) Big Bang. READ MORE
Posted in Science, Space January 4th, 2011 by ceejaydp Comments Off
Scientists have uncovered a new large species of squid among 70 types gathered during an exploration of the depths of the Indian Ocean, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature said on Monday[2010.11.15].
The 70 centimetre (27 inches) long new species is part of the “chiroteuthid” family with light emitting organs that attract prey in the darkness thousands of metres (feet) down close to the craggy seabed, the IUCN said. READ MORE
Posted in Science, Squid January 3rd, 2011 by ceejaydp Comments Off
via USA Today
If Yogi Berra had pursued a career in quantum physics instead of baseball, you could imagine him saying something like, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”
That’s because for a lot of things in quantum physics (and baseball), exactly what happened in the past can be as much of a mystery as the what will happen in the future. The future, though, may be literally telling us what is happening now, according to a real trailblazer in the admittedly spooky world of quantum physics. FULL STORY
Posted in Science December 31st, 2010 by ceejaydp Comments Off
via The Huffington Post: Living
by Robert Lanza, M.D.
Why do you happen to be alive on this lush little planet with its warm sun and coconut trees? And at just the right time in the history of the universe? The surface of the molten earth has cooled, but it’s not too cold. And it’s not too hot; the sun hasn’t expanded enough to melt the Earth’s surface with its searing gas yet. Even setting aside the issue of being here and now, the probability of random physical laws and events leading to this point is less than 1 out of 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, equivalent to winning every lottery there ever was. READ MORE
via Talking Science
In 2009, Dr. Garlick succeeded in growing three-dimensional tissues from human embryonic stem cells, making him and his team of scientists the first to achieve the pioneering research for the field. READ MORE
Posted in Science December 22nd, 2010 by ceejaydp Comments Off
Humans are still better than computers at solving certain kinds of problems, so crowdsourcing is becoming a common way to harness lots of meat-based processing power. Turning the problem into a game guarantees even more participation.
Phylo asks players to find the best arrangement of colorful little boxes, whilst behind the scenes they’re actually aligning genome sequences. Everybody’s alignments are analyzed by the game and will be included in a global database.
This sounds like an excellent excuse the next time you’re accused of wasting time by playing games.