Theory Challenging Einstein’s View On Speed of Light Could Soon Be Tested

mspohr writes: The Guardian has a news article about a recently published journal entry proposing a way to test the theory that the speed of light was infinite at the birth of the universe: “The newborn universe may have glowed with light beams moving …

mspohr writes: The Guardian has a news article about a recently published journal entry proposing a way to test the theory that the speed of light was infinite at the birth of the universe: “The newborn universe may have glowed with light beams moving much faster than they do today, according to a theory that overturns Einstein’s century-old claim that the speed of light is a constant. Joao Magueijo, of Imperial College London, and Niayesh Afshordi, of the University of Waterloo in Canada, propose that light tore along at infinite speed at the birth of the universe when the temperature of the cosmos was a staggering ten thousand trillion trillion celsius. Magueijo and Afshordi came up with their theory to explain why the cosmos looks much the same over vast distances. To be so uniform, light rays must have reached every corner of the cosmos, otherwise some regions would be cooler and more dense than others. But even moving at 1bn km/h, light was not traveling fast enough to spread so far and even out the universe’s temperature differences.” Cosmologists including Stephen Hawking have proposed a theory called inflation to overcome this conundrum. Inflation theorizes that the temperature of the cosmos evened out before it exploded to an enormous size. The report adds: “Magueijo and Afshordi’s theory does away with inflation and replaces it with a variable speed of light. According to their calculations, the heat of universe in its first moments was so intense that light and other particles moved at infinite speed. Under these conditions, light reached the most distant pockets of the universe and made it look as uniform as we see it today. Scientists could soon find out whether light really did outpace gravity in the early universe. The theory predicts a clear pattern in the density variations of the early universe, a feature measured by what is called the ‘spectral index.’ Writing in the journal Physical Review, the scientists predict a very precise spectral index of 0.96478, which is close to the latest, though somewhat rough, measurement of 0.968.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Theory Challenging Einstein’s View On Speed of Light Could Soon Be Tested

mspohr writes: The Guardian has a news article about a recently published journal entry proposing a way to test the theory that the speed of light was infinite at the birth of the universe: “The newborn universe may have glowed with light beams moving …

mspohr writes: The Guardian has a news article about a recently published journal entry proposing a way to test the theory that the speed of light was infinite at the birth of the universe: “The newborn universe may have glowed with light beams moving much faster than they do today, according to a theory that overturns Einstein’s century-old claim that the speed of light is a constant. Joao Magueijo, of Imperial College London, and Niayesh Afshordi, of the University of Waterloo in Canada, propose that light tore along at infinite speed at the birth of the universe when the temperature of the cosmos was a staggering ten thousand trillion trillion celsius. Magueijo and Afshordi came up with their theory to explain why the cosmos looks much the same over vast distances. To be so uniform, light rays must have reached every corner of the cosmos, otherwise some regions would be cooler and more dense than others. But even moving at 1bn km/h, light was not traveling fast enough to spread so far and even out the universe’s temperature differences.” Cosmologists including Stephen Hawking have proposed a theory called inflation to overcome this conundrum. Inflation theorizes that the temperature of the cosmos evened out before it exploded to an enormous size. The report adds: “Magueijo and Afshordi’s theory does away with inflation and replaces it with a variable speed of light. According to their calculations, the heat of universe in its first moments was so intense that light and other particles moved at infinite speed. Under these conditions, light reached the most distant pockets of the universe and made it look as uniform as we see it today. Scientists could soon find out whether light really did outpace gravity in the early universe. The theory predicts a clear pattern in the density variations of the early universe, a feature measured by what is called the ‘spectral index.’ Writing in the journal Physical Review, the scientists predict a very precise spectral index of 0.96478, which is close to the latest, though somewhat rough, measurement of 0.968.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

San Francisco’s 58-Story Millennium Tower Seen Sinking From Space

An anonymous reader quotes a report from SFGate: Engineers in San Francisco have tunneled underground to try and understand the sinking of the 58-story Millennium Tower. Now comes an analysis from space. The European Space Agency has released detailed …

An anonymous reader quotes a report from SFGate: Engineers in San Francisco have tunneled underground to try and understand the sinking of the 58-story Millennium Tower. Now comes an analysis from space. The European Space Agency has released detailed data from satellite imagery that shows the skyscraper in San Francisco’s financial district is continuing to sink at a steady rate — and perhaps faster than previously known. The luxury high-rise that opened its doors in 2009 has been dubbed the Leaning Tower of San Francisco. It has sunk about 16 inches into landfill and is tilting several inches to the northwest. Engineers have estimated the building is sinking at a rate of about 1-inch per year. The Sentinel-1 twin satellites show almost double that rate based on data collected from April 2015 to September 2016. The satellite data shows the Millennium Tower sunk 40 to 45 millimeters — or 1.6 to 1.8 inches — over a recent one-year period and almost double that amount — 70 to 75 mm (2.6 to 2.9 inches) — over its 17-month observation period, said Petar Marinkovic, founder and chief scientist of PPO Labs which analyzed the satellite’s radar imagery for the ESA along with Norway-based research institute Norut. The Sentinel-1 study is not focused on the Millennium Tower but is part of a larger mission by the European Space Agency tracking urban ground movement around the world, and particularly subsidence “hotspots” in Europe, said Pierre Potin, Sentinel-1 mission manager for the ESA. The ESA decided to conduct regular observations of the San Francisco Bay Area, including the Hayward Fault, since it is prone to tectonic movement and earthquakes, said Potin, who is based in Italy. Data from the satellite, which is orbiting about 400 miles (700 kilometers) from the earth’s surface, was recorded every 24 days. The building’s developer, Millennium Partners, insists the building is safe for occupancy and could withstand an earthquake.

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Pluto’s ‘Icy Heart’ May Have Tilted the Dwarf Planet Over

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Pluto’s most iconic feature — its “icy heart” — may have been responsible for tipping the dwarf planet over. Scientists believe the 600-mile-wide region of frozen plains known as Sputnik Planitia ga…

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Pluto’s most iconic feature — its “icy heart” — may have been responsible for tipping the dwarf planet over. Scientists believe the 600-mile-wide region of frozen plains known as Sputnik Planitia gained enough mass over the years, causing Pluto to tilt to its current orientation. And that could mean there’s a subsurface ocean lurking underneath the dwarf planet. The cracks and faults on Pluto’s surface tell the story of its rollover, according to two new studies published today in Nature. Researchers used computer models to simulate Pluto’s reorientation, which would have put a lot of stress on the crust and created these cracks. Those models match up pretty well with the patterns of canyons and mountains that NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft saw when it flew by Pluto last year. As for how the flip occurred, the two Nature studies offer complementary arguments. Isamu Matsuyama’s study says that the low-lying Sputnik Planitia filled up with a bunch of nitrogen ice, gaining mass that pushed Pluto over. But the second study says the nitrogen ice wasn’t enough to completely change Pluto’s orientation. Even more weight was needed, and a dense ocean lurking just underneath Sputnik Planitia would have been enough to do the trick. Nimmo’s study is just further evidence that liquid may be teaming underneath Pluto, making this dwarf planet one of a growing group of objects in our Solar System that harbor oceans. Sputnik Planitia is located in a very special place on Pluto, right next to something called a tidal axis — the imaginary line that connects Pluto and its largest moon Charon. This axis dictates how Pluto moves if its mass changes. If you were to add extra weight to a certain point on Pluto, the entire dwarf planet would reorient itself so that the weighted point would end up next to this axis.

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New Theory of Gravity Might Explain Dark Matter

vikingpower writes: Dutch prodigy and Amsterdam University Professor Erik Verlinde published a paper on arXiv yesterday, November 7, titled “Emergent Gravity and the Dark Universe.” In the paper, Verlinde derives gravity from the so-called Holographic …

vikingpower writes: Dutch prodigy and Amsterdam University Professor Erik Verlinde published a paper on arXiv yesterday, November 7, titled “Emergent Gravity and the Dark Universe.” In the paper, Verlinde derives gravity from the so-called Holographic Principle, which — simply put — states that gravity emerges from the interplay between and entropy re-arrangement of sub-atomic “strings” that live in a negatively curved spacetime. At that level […] spacetime and gravity are emergent from an underlying microscopic description in which they have no a priori meaning.” Most importantly, Verlinde’s paper has as a consequence that dark matter, nemesis of many an astronomer, is nothing more than an illusion. Verlinde, who was awarded the Dutch national Spinoza science prize in the recent past, already completed the tour de force of deriving Newtonian gravity from the same principles in a 2010 paper, also on arXiv. We are probably looking at Nobel-prize material here, as Verlinde is acknowledged by his peers to “go one better than Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.” Slashdot reader turkeydance adds from a report via Forbes (Warning: source may be paywalled): As dark matter continues to vex astronomers, new solutions to the dark matter question are proposed. Most focus on pinning down the form of dark matter, while others propose modifying gravity to account for the effect. But a third proposal is simply to remove gravity from the equation. What if the effects of gravity aren’t due to some fundamental force, but are rather an emergent effect due to other fundamental interactions? A new paper proposes just that, and if correct it could also explain the effects of dark matter.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

New Theory of Gravity Might Explain Dark Matter

vikingpower writes: Dutch prodigy and Amsterdam University Professor Erik Verlinde published a paper on arXiv yesterday, November 7, titled “Emergent Gravity and the Dark Universe.” In the paper, Verlinde derives gravity from the so-called Holographic …

vikingpower writes: Dutch prodigy and Amsterdam University Professor Erik Verlinde published a paper on arXiv yesterday, November 7, titled “Emergent Gravity and the Dark Universe.” In the paper, Verlinde derives gravity from the so-called Holographic Principle, which — simply put — states that gravity emerges from the interplay between and entropy re-arrangement of sub-atomic “strings” that live in a negatively curved spacetime. At that level […] spacetime and gravity are emergent from an underlying microscopic description in which they have no a priori meaning.” Most importantly, Verlinde’s paper has as a consequence that dark matter, nemesis of many an astronomer, is nothing more than an illusion. Verlinde, who was awarded the Dutch national Spinoza science prize in the recent past, already completed the tour de force of deriving Newtonian gravity from the same principles in a 2010 paper, also on arXiv. We are probably looking at Nobel-prize material here, as Verlinde is acknowledged by his peers to “go one better than Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.” Slashdot reader turkeydance adds from a report via Forbes (Warning: source may be paywalled): As dark matter continues to vex astronomers, new solutions to the dark matter question are proposed. Most focus on pinning down the form of dark matter, while others propose modifying gravity to account for the effect. But a third proposal is simply to remove gravity from the equation. What if the effects of gravity aren’t due to some fundamental force, but are rather an emergent effect due to other fundamental interactions? A new paper proposes just that, and if correct it could also explain the effects of dark matter.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

New Paper Explores The Prospects For Life Around M-Class Stars

Long-time Slashdot reader RockDoctor summarizes the significance of a new paper describing “The Habitability of Planets Orbiting M-Dwarf Stars”:

Although Star Trek had a minor smattering of “M-class planets” — a designation that tells one nothing of …

Long-time Slashdot reader RockDoctor summarizes the significance of a new paper describing “The Habitability of Planets Orbiting M-Dwarf Stars”:

Although Star Trek had a minor smattering of “M-class planets” — a designation that tells one nothing of substance — “M-class star” is a much more meaningful designation of color, with two size classes, the dwarfs and the red giants… an M-dwarf of 1/10 the mass of the Sun will burn for around 1000 times the time that the Sun does… Therefore, if humanity ever meets an alien species, the odds of them coming from an M-dwarf [system] are already high. If humanity ever meets an alien species that has been around a billion years longer than us and has technology we can’t even dream of, then the odds of it coming from an M-dwarf are overwhelmingly high.

This new paper offers “a comprehensive picture of the current knowledge of M-dwarf planet occurrence and habitability,” pointing out that most of these stars are apparently orbited by planets packed closely together, with “a paucity of Jupiter-mass planets and the presence of multiple rocky planets.” And more importantly, roughly a third of those rocky planets are orbiting in a “habitable zone” — far enough away from their stars to support liquid water.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

New Paper Explores The Prospects For Life Around M-Class Stars

Long-time Slashdot reader RockDoctor summarizes the significance of a new paper describing “The Habitability of Planets Orbiting M-Dwarf Stars”:

Although Star Trek had a minor smattering of “M-class planets” — a designation that tells one nothing of …

Long-time Slashdot reader RockDoctor summarizes the significance of a new paper describing “The Habitability of Planets Orbiting M-Dwarf Stars”:

Although Star Trek had a minor smattering of “M-class planets” — a designation that tells one nothing of substance — “M-class star” is a much more meaningful designation of color, with two size classes, the dwarfs and the red giants… an M-dwarf of 1/10 the mass of the Sun will burn for around 1000 times the time that the Sun does… Therefore, if humanity ever meets an alien species, the odds of them coming from an M-dwarf [system] are already high. If humanity ever meets an alien species that has been around a billion years longer than us and has technology we can’t even dream of, then the odds of it coming from an M-dwarf are overwhelmingly high.

This new paper offers “a comprehensive picture of the current knowledge of M-dwarf planet occurrence and habitability,” pointing out that most of these stars are apparently orbited by planets packed closely together, with “a paucity of Jupiter-mass planets and the presence of multiple rocky planets.” And more importantly, roughly a third of those rocky planets are orbiting in a “habitable zone” — far enough away from their stars to support liquid water.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

A Naked Black Hole Is Screaming Through the Universe

New submitter PongoX11 writes: Millions of years ago, B3 1715+425 was just an ordinary supermassive black hole. It had a comfortable life, of devouring stars and belching deadly x-rays, at the center of its distant galaxy. Now, starless and alone, it’s…

New submitter PongoX11 writes: Millions of years ago, B3 1715+425 was just an ordinary supermassive black hole. It had a comfortable life, of devouring stars and belching deadly x-rays, at the center of its distant galaxy. Now, starless and alone, it’s screaming through space at 2,000 kilometers per second — and it may never stop. BC 1715+425’s troubles began when its galaxy bumped up against another. This isn’t all that unusual: in fact, astronomers believe that the largest galaxies in our universe formed during ancient mergers. Normally, when two galaxies collide, the supermassive black holes at their centers start to orbit one another, moving closer and closer together in an inescapable gravitational attraction. Eventually, those black holes can fuse, releasing a burst of energy as gravitational waves and completing the cosmic joining. Most of the time, this process seems to work out for all parties involved, judging from the fact that nearly all supermassive black holes reside at the center of galaxies, and nearly all galactic centers contain a supermassive black hole. But every now and then, something goes wrong and cosmic wreckage ensues. B3 1715+425, speeding away from the core of a bloated galactic merger 2 billion light years from Earth, is living proof of this. The working theory is that millions of years ago, B3 1715+425’s galaxy passed through a much larger galaxy (one that had formed during many previous mergers) and got shredded to bits, a bit like a paper airplane flying into a hurricane. The leftovers include a faint galactic remnant, just 3,000 light years across, and the supermassive black hole itself, nearly naked and hemorrhaging ionized gas as it tears through the void. “We were looking for orbiting pairs of supermassive black holes, with one offset from the center of a galaxy, as telltale evidence of a previous galaxy merger,” said James Condon, the astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory who led the study. “Instead, we found this black hole fleeing from the larger galaxy and leaving a trail of debris behind it.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

A Naked Black Hole Is Screaming Through the Universe

New submitter PongoX11 writes: Millions of years ago, B3 1715+425 was just an ordinary supermassive black hole. It had a comfortable life, of devouring stars and belching deadly x-rays, at the center of its distant galaxy. Now, starless and alone, it’s…

New submitter PongoX11 writes: Millions of years ago, B3 1715+425 was just an ordinary supermassive black hole. It had a comfortable life, of devouring stars and belching deadly x-rays, at the center of its distant galaxy. Now, starless and alone, it’s screaming through space at 2,000 kilometers per second — and it may never stop. BC 1715+425’s troubles began when its galaxy bumped up against another. This isn’t all that unusual: in fact, astronomers believe that the largest galaxies in our universe formed during ancient mergers. Normally, when two galaxies collide, the supermassive black holes at their centers start to orbit one another, moving closer and closer together in an inescapable gravitational attraction. Eventually, those black holes can fuse, releasing a burst of energy as gravitational waves and completing the cosmic joining. Most of the time, this process seems to work out for all parties involved, judging from the fact that nearly all supermassive black holes reside at the center of galaxies, and nearly all galactic centers contain a supermassive black hole. But every now and then, something goes wrong and cosmic wreckage ensues. B3 1715+425, speeding away from the core of a bloated galactic merger 2 billion light years from Earth, is living proof of this. The working theory is that millions of years ago, B3 1715+425’s galaxy passed through a much larger galaxy (one that had formed during many previous mergers) and got shredded to bits, a bit like a paper airplane flying into a hurricane. The leftovers include a faint galactic remnant, just 3,000 light years across, and the supermassive black hole itself, nearly naked and hemorrhaging ionized gas as it tears through the void. “We were looking for orbiting pairs of supermassive black holes, with one offset from the center of a galaxy, as telltale evidence of a previous galaxy merger,” said James Condon, the astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory who led the study. “Instead, we found this black hole fleeing from the larger galaxy and leaving a trail of debris behind it.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.