Not just one, but seven Earth-size planets that could potentially harbor life have been identified orbiting a tiny star not too far away, offering the first realistic opportunity to search for biological signs of alien life outside of the solar system.
The planets orbit a dwarf star named Trappist-1, about 40 light years, or about 235 trillion miles, from Earth. That is quite close, and by happy accident, the orientation of the orbits of the seven planets allows them to be studied in great detail.
One or more of the exoplanets — planets around stars other than the sun — in this new system could be at the right temperature to be awash in oceans of water, astronomers said, based on the distance of the planets from the dwarf star.
Ancient seagrass holds secrets of the oldest living organism on Earth
It’s big, it’s old and it lives under the sea — and now an international research collaboration has confirmed that an ancient seagrass holds the secrets of the oldest living organism on Earth.
This new equation might finally unite the two biggest theories in physics, claims physicist
Linking general relativity and quantum mechanics with wormholes.
One of the most stubborn problems in physics today is the fact that our two best theories to explain the Universe – general relativity and quantum mechanics – function perfectly well on their own, but as soon as you try to combine them, the maths just doesn’t work out.
But a Stanford theoretical physicist has just come up with a new equation that suggests the key to finally connecting the two could be found in bizarre spacetime tunnels called wormholes.
As far as we know, there are four fundamental forces that hold our Universe together – gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces.
But, in April last year, physicists in Hungary saw evidence of a possible fifth force of nature, one that could potentially explain some of the lingering mysteries in our Universe, such as dark matter.
Physicists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and the University of Cambridge have together discovered a new state of matter. The groundbreaking findings, reported in the journal Nature, detail the observations of the long-theorized but ever-elusive state known as “quantum spin liquid” – in which electrons seemingly break into smaller pieces.
“This is a new quantum state of matter, which has been predicted but hasn’t been seen before,” said Johannes Knolle, a scientist at Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory and one of the paper’s coauthors, in a news release.
LIGO Detected Gravitational Waves from Black Holes
On September 14, 2015 at 5:51 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (09:51 UTC), the twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors, located in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington, USA both measured ripples in the fabric of spacetime – gravitational waves – arriving at the Earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. The new Advanced LIGO detectors had just been brought into operation for their first observing run when the very clear and strong signal was captured.
On Thursday (Feb. 11) at 10:30 a.m. ET, the National Science Foundation will gather scientists from Caltech, MIT and the LIGO Scientific Collaboration in Washington D.C. to update the scientific community on the efforts being made by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) to detect gravitational waves.
In the wake of some very specific rumors focused on the possible discovery of these elusive ripples in spacetime, hopes are high that the international LIGO collaboration of scientists will finally put an end to the fevered speculation and announce the discovery of gravitational waves.
If life is effectively an endless series of photocopies, as DNA is transcribed and passed on from one being to the next, then evolution is the high-stakes game of waiting for the copier to get it wrong.
Too wrong, and you’ll live burdened by a maladaptive mutation or genetic disorder. Worse, you might never live at all.
But if the flaw is wrong in exactly the right way, the incredible can happen: disease resistance, sharper eyesight, swifter feet, big brains, better beaks for Darwin’s finches.
Earth’s magnetic field is our great protector, shielding us from dangerous incoming solar radiation that would otherwise make life on Earth almost impossible. However, the strength of the field has changed through geological time, with the poles of the planet’s magnet switching dramatically at somewhat random intervals – roughly between 200,000 and 5 million years. Although the field strength has been dropping for the past two centuries, a new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests it is not in danger of flipping any time soon.
Our planet’s magnetic field appears to be quite chaotic: It undergoes not only reversals, but also excursions wherein the poles “wander,” changing their coordinates on the surface of the planet rapidly with respect to geological time, before suddenly switching back to “normal.” Although the most recent reversal occurred 780,000 years ago, the poles temporarily flipped during an excursion in the middle of the last ice age 41,000 years ago.