Remember the big BICEP2 big bang discovery? Not everyone’s so sure about its veracity…
On March 17 Paul Steinhardt, a physicist at Princeton University, abandoned a theory he’d been championing for more than a decade. Known as the “ekpyrotic universe” model, it was an alternative to the prevailing theory of inflation, which says the cosmos expanded faster than the speed of light in the first fraction of a fraction of a second of the big bang. If so inflation is true, then the process should have released a burst of gravity waves; in Steinhardt’s model, they shouldn’t exist. On that day in March a team of observers announced at a major press conference at the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics that they had indeed detected the waves, thus providing the first clear look at the universe’s earliest moments. The announcement made a huge splash. “Space Ripples Reveal Big Bang’s Smoking Gun,” trumpeted The New York Times front page. “Discovery Bolsters Big Bang Theory,” proclaimed The Wall Street Journal. Dozens of similar headlines appeared, seemingly everywhere. Steinhardt promptly pronounced his theory dead.
Construction to Begin on 2016 NASA Mars Lander
NASA and its international partners now have the go-ahead to begin construction on a new Mars lander, after it completed a successful Mission Critical Design Review on Friday.
NASA’s Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission will pierce beneath the Martian surface to study its interior. The mission will investigate how Earth-like planets formed and developed their layered inner structure of core, mantle and crust, and will collect information about those interior zones using instruments never before used on Mars.
InSight will launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, on the central California coast near Lompoc, in March 2016. This will be the first interplanetary mission ever to launch from California. The mission will help inform the agency’s goal of sending a human mission to Mars in the 2030s.
Project Persephone aims at taking space exploration much further than current plans envisage.
Noah’s Ark for Space?
Researchers in the UK, USA, Italy and the Netherlands are working on a “living spaceship” to launch in 100 years. The self-sustaining spacecraft will rely on biotechnologies to carry people beyond our Solar System. Organic matter, algae, artificial soil, production of biofuel and sustainable foods are all part of the plan.
The project, dubbed Project Persephone, is part of Icarus Interstellar, a nonprofit foundation aiming to achieve interstellar flight by 2100. Other projects include Icarus (an unmanned fusion-powered interstellar probe), Helius (an investigation of laser-initiated pulse propulsion), Tin Tin (a nanosat mission to Alpha Centauri) and Forward (a beamed energy/sails initiative for interstellar propulsion).
Image: The Daedalus, another Icarus Interstellar concept (artist’s impression). Credit: David A Hardy
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Ultra-fast, the robotic arm can catch objects on the fly
The video triggers a lot of near future man vs machine sport use cases.
A robot developed by EPFL researchers is capable of reacting on the spot and grasping objects with complex shapes and trajectories in less than five hundredths of a second.
Watch Astronauts Come Back to Earth — Live!
"At 19:15 UTC (3:15 p.m. EDT) today, three astronauts stuffed into a Soyuz capsule currently docked to the International Space Station will close the hatch, separating them from their three comrades. A little over three hours later (22:33 UTC, 6:33 p.m. EDT) they will undock, move away from ISS, and then at 00:45 a.m. UTC (8:45 p.m. EDT) they will commence their deorbit burn, which will drop them into Earth’s atmosphere and send them down into the fields of Kazakhstan."
Read more from Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy.
Diamond planets may be more common than astronomers thought
Carbon-rich planets may be more common than previously thought, according to new research by Yale University astronomers.
Some of these planets, all located far beyond Earth’s solar system, could contain vast deposits of graphite or diamonds, and their apparent abundance prompts new questions about the implications of carbon-intense environments for climate, plate tectonics, and other geological processes, as well as for life.
“Stargate at CERN”. The CMS Detector weighs 12,500 tonnes and is located 100 meters underground. It is connected to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a 27 kilometres (17 miles) long tunnel, built by 10,000 scientists and engineers. The total cost of the 40 year long project is 3 billion Euro (4.4 bn USD), world’s most expensive and complex experimental facilitie.
A pair of scientists who have been at CERN since almost the very beginning still often find themselves in the laboratory’s cafeteria, arguing physics.