One key characteristic of a beautiful scientific theory is the simplicity of the underlying concepts. According to Weinberg, Einstein's theory of gravitation is described in fourteen equations whereas Newton's theory can be expressed in three. Despite the appearance of greater complexity in Einstein's theory, Weinberg finds it more beautiful than Newton's theory because the Einsteinian approach rests on one elegant central principle – the equivalence of gravitation and ........ Read more »
Artist's depiction of the WMAP satellite gathering data to understand the Big Bang. Source: NASA.For decades physicists have been trying to decipher the first moments after the Big Bang. Using very large telescopes, for example, scientists scan the skies and look at how fast galaxies move. Satellites study the relic radiation left from the Big Bang, called the cosmic microwave background radiation. And finally, particle colliders, like the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, allow researchers to smas........ Read more »
Grohs, E., Fuller, G., Kishimoto, C., Paris, M., & Vlasenko, A. (2016) Neutrino energy transport in weak decoupling and big bang nucleosynthesis. Physical Review D, 93(8). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.93.083522
Sometimes at the climax of a Star Trek episode, the captain would yell out "Battle stations!" and send the crew scurrying frantically through the corridors. It wasn't really clear what those battle stations were. Presumably, crew members headed to posts they'd been previously assigned, and this let the whole ship react to the crisis efficiently.
Certain ants respond to a crisis by binding their bodies together into floating rafts. And like the Star Trek crew, they seem to have designat........ Read more »
Avril, A., Purcell, J., & Chapuisat, M. (2016) Ant workers exhibit specialization and memory during raft formation. The Science of Nature, 103(5-6). DOI: 10.1007/s00114-016-1360-5
Just because a snake can't kill you doesn't mean it's slow on the draw. New research shows that harmless snakes strike just as quickly as venomous vipers do. The snakes hurl themselves at their targets so quickly, in fact, that a lesser animal would black out from the acceleration.
Vipers have long been the presumed titleholders for strike speed, explains David Penning, a graduate student in biology at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. These snakes strike to kill, plunging their v... Read more »
Penning, D., Sawvel, B., & Moon, B. (2016) Debunking the viper's strike: harmless snakes kill a common assumption. Biology Letters, 12(3), 20160011. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2016.0011
Climate change will continue to affect future generations, but are our children receiving accurate information about it? A new survey suggests not - here's a look and why and some possible solutions... Read more »
Gravitational waves, detected by LIGO, might have implications for finding black holes.... Read more »
Abbott, B. (2016) Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger. Physical Review Letters, 116(6). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.116.061102
Emanuele Berti. (2016) Viewpoint: The First Sounds of Merging Black Holes. APS Physics 9 (2016) 17. arXiv: 1602.04476v2
Universe would end earlier than the anticipated time for the Sun to burn completely.
Scientific observation of the stars and galaxies in our universe are showing that the universe is continuously expanding, and the rate of this expansion is continuously increasing. After looking at this continuous expansion, one of the suggested possibilities for the future is that, the stars would die, everything in the universe will drift out, and t........ Read more »
Jose Beltran Jimenez, Ruth Lazkoz, Diego Saez-Gomez, & Vincenzo Salzano. (2016) Observational support for approaching cosmic doomsday. arXiv. arXiv: 1602.06211v1
The methanol economy is an exciting prospect - create the molecule using CO2 from the atmosphere, reducing greenhouse gases and providing liquid fuel at the same time! Researchers have now shown how to create methanol directly from air for the first time.... Read more »
Kothandaraman J, Goeppert A, Czaun M, Olah GA, & Prakash GK. (2016) Conversion of CO2 from Air into Methanol Using a Polyamine and a Homogeneous Ruthenium Catalyst. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 138(3), 778-81. PMID: 26713663
According to a new model, Big Bang never happened and Universe existed forever without any beginning.
Physics Letters B
According to our present knowledge, Universe came into existence about 13.8 billion years ago. Before the existence of Universe, everything was in the form of a tiny point, which is also referred to as singularity. Therefore, it is assumed that everything in the Universe was present in that tiny point at that time. Then a........ Read more »
Almost all science stems from a need to explain what we see. Not general relativity. What comes first, theory or technology? a reflection after LIGO has detected gravitational waves.... Read more »
The LIGO Scientific Collaboration, & the Virgo Collaboration. (2016) Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger. Phys. Rev. Lett. 116, 061102 (2016). arXiv: 1602.03837v1
En recherchant où et quand Einstein avait prévu l’existence des ondes gravitationnelles dont tout le monde parle, je suis tombé non seulement sur son article en allemand de 1918, mais aussi sur un court article qui en retrace l’historique. En fait, Einstein s’était planté deux ans plus tôt dans un autre article.... Read more »
The detection of gravitational waves produced by the collision of two black holes over 1 billion light years away confirms Einstein's vision of our Universe.... Read more »
Abbott, B., Abbott, R., Abbott, T., Abernathy, M., Acernese, F., Ackley, K., Adams, C., Adams, T., Addesso, P., Adhikari, R.... (2016) Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger. Physical Review Letters, 116(6). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.116.061102
by Anna Schneider For the iconic monarch butterfly, the shorter days in fall mean it’s time to pack up and head south to a warmer climate! Just like clockwork, the Eastern population of monarch butterflies makes a 2000 mile journey to their winter paradise roosts in central Mexico. The journey in itself is one of the greatest migrations among all animals. But here’s the catch: none of these butterflies has made this trip before. Several generations of monarchs have come and gon........ Read more »
Gegear, R., Foley, L., Casselman, A., & Reppert, S. (2010) Animal cryptochromes mediate magnetoreception by an unconventional photochemical mechanism. Nature, 463(7282), 804-807. DOI: 10.1038/nature08719
Guerra, P., Gegear, R., & Reppert, S. (2014) A magnetic compass aids monarch butterfly migration. Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms5164
Merlin, C., Gegear, R., & Reppert, S. (2009) Antennal Circadian Clocks Coordinate Sun Compass Orientation in Migratory Monarch Butterflies. Science, 325(5948), 1700-1704. DOI: 10.1126/science.1176221
Although lizards mostly scurry on all fours, certain species can run on two legs when the mood strikes. What's the benefit to this human-like running style? For one thing, it seems to let lizards get over obstacles without slowing down. They just have to make sure not to tip over.
Georgia Southern University biologist Lance McBrayer and graduate student Seth Parker studied running in a handsome little reptile called Sceloporus woodi, or the Florida scrub lizard. McBrayer says there's been... Read more »
Parker, S., & McBrayer, L. (2016) The effects of multiple obstacles on the locomotor behavior and performance of a terrestrial lizard. Journal of Experimental Biology. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.120451
Greenland has long held sea-level rise at bay, absorbing melted water into spongy upper layers. But new research has found that icy covers to these layers are preventing water absorption and driving water into the oceans.... Read more »
Machguth, H., MacFerrin, M., van As, D., Box, J., Charalampidis, C., Colgan, W., Fausto, R., Meijer, H., Mosley-Thompson, E., & van de Wal, R. (2016) Greenland meltwater storage in firn limited by near-surface ice formation. Nature Climate Change. DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2899
Think about the last time you stood squinting in front of a full-length mirror, trying to decide whether the colors in your outfit went together. Now imagine you're a reptile, and you wouldn't even understand a mirror if you saw one, but somehow you need to find a rock that matches your skin color. Otherwise you might get eaten by a bird today. Oh, and the skin color you need to match is on your back.
Certain lizards in Greece manage to pull this off every day, though how they do it is a ... Read more »
Marshall, K., Philpot, K., & Stevens, M. (2016) Microhabitat choice in island lizards enhances camouflage against avian predators. Scientific Reports, 19815. DOI: 10.1038/srep19815
A commentary in Nature proposes a complete overhaul of how we treat our wastewater. Among the benefits would be new energy-producing industry and reduce greenhouse gas emissions!... Read more »
Carbon fees are a tremendous policy tool to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But what is their effect on other public health missions, like providing cleaner cookware to the poor in developing countries. We take a look at new research designing policy to meet both public health needs.... Read more »
Cameron, C., Pachauri, S., Rao, N., McCollum, D., Rogelj, J., & Riahi, K. (2016) Policy trade-offs between climate mitigation and clean cook-stove access in South Asia. Nature Energy, 1(1), 15010. DOI: 10.1038/nenergy.2015.10
Thanks to the Internet, amateur volunteers known as "citizen scientists" can readily donate their time and effort to science--in fields ranging from medicine to zoology to astrophysics. The astrophysics project Space Warps offers a compelling example of why citizen science has become such a popular tool and how valuable it can be.
... Read more »
Marshall, P., Verma, A., More, A., Davis, C., More, S., Kapadia, A., Parrish, M., Snyder, C., Wilcox, J., Baeten, E.... (2015) SPACE WARPS - I. Crowdsourcing the discovery of gravitational lenses. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 455(2), 1171-1190. DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stv2009
More, A., Verma, A., Marshall, P., More, S., Baeten, E., Wilcox, J., Macmillan, C., Cornen, C., Kapadia, A., Parrish, M.... (2015) SPACE WARPS- II. New gravitational lens candidates from the CFHTLS discovered through citizen science. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 455(2), 1191-1210. DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stv1965
Previous research has suggested that the Amazon could reach a tipping point when rainforest gives way to a grassy savannah. Could this really happen? A new modeling study suggests the diversity of the Amazon could prevent such a drastic change.... Read more »
Levine NM, Zhang K, Longo M, Baccini A, Phillips OL, Lewis SL, Alvarez-Dávila E, Segalin de Andrade AC, Brienen RJ, Erwin TL.... (2015) Ecosystem heterogeneity determines the ecological resilience of the Amazon to climate change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 26711984
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