Why Is There Something Instead of Nothing? - Lawrence Krauss
via All Science, All The Time/fb
For the first time, a phenomenon known as a glory was imaged on another planet: Venus. A glory produces a halo of colors of the rainbow in concentric circles that surround a bright center when light is backscattered by water droplets in clouds. Venusian clouds contain sulfuric acid, which could also cause light to reflect backwards and produce a glory. The Venus Express orbiter was situated between Venus and the Sun at a distance of about 6000 km from the planet when the glory was observed having a width of about 1200 km. With the intensity being higher than expected, there may be chemicals other than sulfuric acid involved in producing the glory.
Glories can often be produced when the shadow of an object is cast upon clouds, with the halo appearing to surround the shadow. An observer must be between the Sun and the clouds upon which the shadow has been cast in order for the phenomenon to be seen. It is common to observe a glory from a plane when the Sun casts a shadow on the clouds below.
Not only may this phenomenon reveal more about the chemical composition of the atmosphere of Venus, but it has provided a spectacular glimpse of a glory on a world other than our own for the very first time.
Malaysia’s air force chief has denied remarks attributed to him that a missing Malaysia Airlines plane was tracked by military radar to the Strait of Malacca, far from its planned route.
Rodzali Daud said such reports in local media were untrue, but it was possible the plane had turned back.
Flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing went missing on Saturday, after taking off with 239 people on board.
Meanwhile, Vietnam said it was scaling back some of its search activities.
"We’ve decided to temporarily suspend some search and rescue activities, pending information from Malaysia," Vietnam’s deputy minister of transport Pham Quy Tieu said on Wednesday.
Earlier this week, Malaysia widened the search for the missing plane amid conflicting reports on its last known position. Early search efforts focussed on waters between Malaysia and Vietnam.
On Tuesday, a local media report quoted Gen Rodzali Daud as saying that the flight was last detected by military radar at the Strait of Malacca, off Malaysia’s west coast.
On Wednesday, Gen Rodzali Daud said he “did not make any such statements”, but the air force had “not ruled out the possibility of an air turn-back”.
Meanwhile, AFP news agency reported that the search had been expanded into the Andaman Sea, north of the Strait of Malacca, citing Malaysian civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman.
You — the person now reading this story — can help experts solve the mystery of what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared over the open sea.
In fact, thousands of aspiring good Samaritans are volunteering their time to scour part of the plane’s search zone using detailed satellite images posted online by DigitalGlobe, a Colorado firm that owns one of the world’s most advanced commercial satellite networks.
So many volunteers have joined the effort that the firm’s website — with its pinpoint pictures of everything floating in the ocean — has crashed.
It is a busy week for “crowdsourcing,” the Internet phenomenon where information is gathered from John and Jane Q. Public — people like you — and from your social media postings.
"This is a real needle-in-the-haystack problem, except the haystack is in the middle of the ocean," Luke Barrington of DigitalGlobe told CNN affiliate KMGH. "I will ask you to mark anything that looks interesting, any signs of wreckage or life rafts."
DigitalGlobe’s satellite photos taken 400 miles above the Gulf of Thailand can capture a detail as small as a home plate. The challenge is finding the manpower to scour 1,235 square miles of such images on one of DigitalGlobe’s websites, Tomnod.com — with more pictures to be posted this week from satellites above the Strait of Malacca, said Abby Van Uum, an Edelman publicist retained by DigitalGlobe.
That’s where crowdsourcing comes in.
"In many cases, the areas covered are so large, or the things we’re looking for are so hard to find, that without the help of hundreds of thousands of people online, we’d never be able to find them," Barrington said.
One volunteer, Mike Seberger, 43, found a fascinating image in a matter of minutes: the silhouette in the ocean has the scale of a Boeing 777-200, the same model of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
His discovery can be seen on his CNN iReport page, which is also a form of crowdsourcing used by CNN.
"At first, I skipped past it, thinking, ‘Nah. No way I would find anything that quickly,’ " Seberger told CNN on Tuesday. "But then I kept scrolling back to it and thinking to myself, ‘It does resemble a plane….’
"I played with the zoom on my browser a bit, and took a screenshot at 200%, which is what I uploaded" to CNN iReport, said Seberger, a manager of information technology in the Chicago area.
But Seberger does have his doubts: “Looking at it objectively, the shape of ‘my’ object appears plane-like and the dimensions are consistent with a 777-200. That said, I feel it is more likely to be a boat.”
DigitalGlobe and the Tomnod.com website officials have yet to respond to his flagging of the curious image. “Their site is getting slammed, apparently, because about half the time that I try to access it, I get an error page, and sometimes even though I log in, no map loads,” Seberger said Tuesday. “The site got slammed like healthcare.gov.”
Company officials weren’t available to respond to CNN’s requests for a comment Tuesday.
In response to the Malaysia Airlines plane’s disappearance, DigitalGlobe activated its subscription service to emergency managers, which provides online access to satellite images before and after the incident, the firm said on its website. The photos are used for emergency response, damage assessment and recovery.
The company performed a similar “global crowdsourcing campaign” in November’s Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, allowing volunteers to tag online more than 60,000 objects of interest from satellite photos. The information was forwarded to emergency responders, the firm said.
The firm also tracked damage last year in the Moore, Oklahoma, tornado and the Colorado floods. In another case, the satellite imagery also helped locate the remains of two missing hikers in Peru, the affiliate reported.
The firm, based in Longmont, also uses geospatial big data, which is “information and insight taken from imagery and derived from various sources such as social media,” the firm said.
The company used the technology in satellite images of the recent Sochi Olympics in Russia and cross-referenced the photos with social media data “to analyze overall activity, linguistic composition and mood for people around Sochi,” the firm said.
Sorry for the bad link. Nowww you can melt your ears off.
Prepare to have your ears melted. Turn this one up, kids.
Conquering Dystopia - Ashes of Lesser Men
You know you’re a nerd when you have a shirt that matches your textbook! This book is one of the more important ones that I own. A great deal of material will never change, but naturally, there will be improvements in our knowledge of the cosmos as the years go by, and this book will always be updated. That’s a good thing though as it simply represents our very best understanding with the very best technology pioneered by the very best minds in the science. There is so much more to learn about the universe. That’s what inspires me personally. So many things to figure out that we just don’t know yet.
Bigotry, racism of any kind, it is learned obviously. And who is most likely to blame for this? The parents. Teach your kids to respect others no matter how different they are, remind them that being different isn’t a bad thing. It all starts with the parents. If they do a good enough job at raising them, their child won’t succum to bullying and making other children feel bad for their indifferences.
I give up trying to figure out what the hell happened here. This is too bizarre for speculation at this point…
Military radar suggests the missing Malaysia Airlines plane turned west, away from its planned route, before vanishing, Malaysia’s air force says.
Flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing went missing on Saturday, after taking off with 239 people on board.
The international search for any wreckage has been widened.
Earlier, it emerged two men travelling on stolen passports on board the plane were Iranians with no apparent links to terrorist groups, officials said.
The international police organisation Interpol’s Tehran bureau has said the two Iranians had no criminal records and had left Iran legally. One of the men is believed to have been migrating to Germany.
There are reports that the plane veered from its route and reached the Malacca Strait, west of Malaysia.
The Malaysian authorities initially said flight MH370 disappeared about an hour after it took off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, as it flew over the South China Sea, south of Vietnam’s Ca Mau peninsula.
No distress signal or message was sent, but it is believed the plane attempted to turn back, perhaps towards Kuala Lumpur.
Officials still do not know what went wrong with the aircraft.
None of the debris and oil slicks spotted in the South China Sea or Malacca Strait so far have proved to be linked to the disappearance.
In the US, CIA Director John Brennan said the possibility of a terror link could not be ruled out. But he said “no claims of responsibility” over the missing jet had “been confirmed or corroborated”.
"Clearly this is still a mystery, which is very disturbing," he said at the Council on Foreign Relations think-tank.
Two-thirds of the passengers on board the plane were Chinese. Some were from a range of other Asian countries, North America or Europe.
Relatives have expressed frustration at the lack of information about the plane’s fate.
At least 40 ships and 34 aircraft are taking part in the search in the seas off Vietnam and Malaysia.
We live in a galaxy known as the Milky Way – a vast conglomeration of 300 billion stars, planets whizzing around them, and clouds of gas and dust floating in between.
Though it has long been known that the Milky Way and its orbiting companion Andromeda are the dominant members of a small group of galaxies, the Local Group, which is about 3 million light years across, much less was known about our immediate neighbourhood in the universe.
Now, a new paper by York University Physics & Astronomy Professor Marshall McCall, published today in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, maps out bright galaxies within 35-million light years of the Earth, offering up an expanded picture of what lies beyond our doorstep.
"All bright galaxies within 20 million light years, including us, are organized in a ‘Local Sheet’ 34-million light years across and only 1.5-million light years thick," says McCall. "The Milky Way and Andromeda are encircled by twelve large galaxies arranged in a ring about 24-million light years across – this ‘Council of Giants’ stands in gravitational judgment of the Local Group by restricting its range of influence."
This is a diagram showing the brightest galaxies within 20 million light years of the Milky Way, this time viewed from the side. Credit: Marshall McCall / York University
McCall says twelve of the fourteen giants in the Local Sheet, including the Milky Way and Andromeda, are “spiral galaxies” which have highly flattened disks in which stars are forming. The remaining two are more puffy “elliptical galaxies”, whose stellar bulks were laid down long ago. Intriguingly, the two ellipticals sit on opposite sides of the Council. Winds expelled in the earliest phases of their development might have shepherded gas towards the Local Group, thereby helping to build the disks of the Milky Way and Andromeda.
McCall also examined how galaxies in the Council are spinning. He comments: “Thinking of a galaxy as a screw in a piece of wood, the direction of spin can be described as the direction the screw would move (in or out) if it were turned the same way as the galaxy rotates. Unexpectedly, the spin directions of Council giants are arranged around a small circle on the sky. This unusual alignment might have been set up by gravitational torques imposed by the Milky Way and Andromeda when the universe was smaller.”
The boundary defined by the Council has led to insights about the conditions which led to the formation of the Milky Way. Most important, only a very small enhancement in the density of matter in the universe appears to have been required to produce the Local Group. To arrive at such an orderly arrangement as the Local Sheet and its Council, it seems that nearby galaxies must have developed within a pre-existing sheet-like foundation comprised primarily of dark matter.
"Recent surveys of the more distant universe have revealed that galaxies lie in sheets and filaments with large regions of empty space called voids in between,” says McCall. “The geometry is like that of a sponge. What the new map reveals is that structure akin to that seen on large scales extends down to the smallest.”
Everyone is different but for me, looks will only get you so far. The day I make a beautiful, yet ditzy woman my girlfriend is the day I’ve soldout as someone that values intelligence in another. It won’t happen. I’m too much of a nerd to be with someone that has no idea wtf I’m talking about. I’ve learned…
Sooooo goooooooood. Much satisfaction.
If you listen to metal, it would be an atrocity to not have heard this. Sweet Sagan this shit…. “Destroyer of Dreams” and “Tethys” best so far but there are soooooo many good songs. I’m gonna be listening to this obsessively for some time. I can tell already.
You don’t need a show to tell you that. Make it a habit to be skeptical of grandiose claims. Do your own research, draw your own conclusions, and base opinions on the knowledge you’ve earned yourself. Considering the amount of disinformation and distorted facts to appease various agendas, wouldn’t you just want to find things out on your own anyways?
Anthropologists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and geneticists at University College London, working in collaboration with archaeologists from Berlin and Kiev, have analyzed ancient DNA from skeletons and found that selection has had a significant effect on the human genome even in the past 5,000 years, resulting in sustained changes to the appearance of people.
There has been much research into the factors that have influenced the human genome since the end of the last Ice Age. Anthropologists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and geneticists at University College London (UCL), working in collaboration with archaeologists from Berlin and Kiev, have analyzed ancient DNA from skeletons and found that selection has had a significant effect on the human genome even in the past 5,000 years, resulting in sustained changes to the appearance of people. The results of this current research project have been published this week in an article entitled “Direct evidence for positive selection of skin, hair, and eye pigmentation in Europeans during the last 5,000 years” in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
For a number of years population geneticists have been able to detect echoes of natural selection in the genomes of living humans, but those techniques are typically not very accurate about when that natural selection took place. The researchers in Mainz and London now decided to take a new approach. This involved analyzing DNA from archaeological skeletons and then comparing the prehistoric data with that of contemporary Europeans using computer simulations. Where the genetic changes could not be explained by the randomness of inheritance, the researchers were able to infer that positive selection played a role, i.e., that frequency of a certain mutation increased significantly in a given population.
While investigating numerous genetic markers in archaeological and living individuals, Sandra Wilde of the Palaeogenetics Group at the JGU Institute of Anthropology noticed striking differences in genes associated with hair, skin, and eye pigmentation. “Prehistoric Europeans in the region we studied would have been consistently darker than their descendants today,” says Wilde, first author of the PNAS article. “This is particularly interesting as the darker phenotype seems to have been preferred by evolution over hundreds of thousands of years. All our early ancestors were more darkly pigmented.” However, things must have changed in the last 50,000 years as humans began to migrate to northern latitudes.
"In Europe we find a particularly wide range of genetic variation in terms of pigmentation," adds co-author Dr. Karola Kirsanow, who is also a member of the Palaeogenetics Group at Mainz University. "However, we did not expect to find that natural selection had been favoring lighter pigmentation over the past few thousand years." The signals of selection that the Mainz palaeogeneticists and their colleagues at University College London have identified are comparable to those for malaria resistance and lactase persistence, meaning that they are among the most pronounced that have been discovered to date in the human genome. The authors see several possible explanations. “Perhaps the most obvious is that this is the result of adaptation to the reduced level of sunlight in northern latitudes,” says Professor Mark Thomas of UCL, corresponding author of the study. “Most people of the world make most of their vitamin D in their skin as a result UV exposure. But at northern latitudes and with dark skin, this would have been less efficient. If people weren’t getting much vitamin D in their diet, then having lighter skin may have been the best option.”
"But this vitamin D explanation seems less convincing when it comes to hair and eye color," Wilde continues. "Instead, it may be that lighter hair and eye color functioned as a signal indicating group affiliation, which in turn played a role in the selection of a partner." Sexual selection of this kind is common in animals and may also have been one of the driving forces behind human evolution over the past few millennia.
"We were expecting to find that changes in the human genome were the result of population dynamics, such as migration. In general we expect genetic changes due to natural selection to be the exception rather than the rule. At the same time, it cannot be denied that lactase persistence, i.e., the ability to digest the main sugar in milk as an adult, and pigmentation genes have been favored by natural selection to a surprising degree over the last 10,000 years or so," adds Professor Joachim Burger, senior author of the study. "But it should be kept in mind that our findings do not necessarily mean that everything selected for in the past is still beneficial today. The characteristics handed down as a result of sexual selection can be more often explained as the result of preference on the part of individuals or groups rather than adaptation to the environment."