Prized: Sir Isaac Newton's first edition copy of his Principia, widely regarded as one of the most significant works in the history of science  Read more:

Sir Isaac Newton’s handwritten notes now available online

    • More than 4,000 pages of scientist’s works uploaded
    • Includes seminal Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica

Cambridge Digital Library

Groundbreaking: This annotated sketch of work on optics by Sir Isaac Newton is among 4,000 pages of his historic documents which have been put online by Cambridge University

Prized: Sir Isaac Newton's first edition copy of his Principia, widely regarded as one of the most significant works in the history of science

The college notebook - used by Newton between 1664 and 1665 - contains notes from his reading on mathematics and geometry, showing particularly the influence of John Wallis and René Descartes

The college notebook also shows evidence of Newton's own mathematical thinking including his study of infinite series and development of binomial theorem and the evolution of the differential calculus

Newton's English is recognisably different from our own, but his maths - building on work done by Rene Descartes - is exactly the same as what mathematicians use today. Here, he describes the curve of a mathematical function

Newton's 'Waste Book' contains much of the mathematician's work on calculus - which he began in 1664 while away from Cambridge due to the plague

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An image taken by Kepler of star cluster NGC 6791, which is located 13,000 light years from Earth. The image has been color-coded so that brighter stars appear white, and fainter stars, red. Image credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech

Searching for Dark Matter in Exoplanet Data

An image taken by Kepler of star cluster NGC 6791, which is located 13,000 light years from Earth. The image has been color-coded so that brighter stars appear white, and fainter stars, red. Image credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech

Our galaxy could be filled with asteroid-size black holes that presumably formed shortly after the big bang. If they exist in large numbers, these so-called primordial black holes would serve as the dark matter that keeps stars gravitationally glued inside galaxies. None of these primordial black holes have been detected so far, but a new theoretical analysis described in Physical Review Letters demonstrates that a current planet-hunting mission is well placed to search for them.

As dark matter candidates go, primordial black holes are widely considered to be the dark horse. Previous astronomical searches for these objects came up empty, so many cosmologists put their money on the alternative candidate: a weakly interacting particle that physicists hope to find in accelerators or other experiments.

Still, there is a mass range of relatively small primordial black holes that has yet to be ruled out. Kim Griest, of the University of California in San Diego, and colleagues believe that part of this “observational gap” could be explored by piggybacking on a separate astronomy survey. NASA’s Kepler satellite was designed to search for planets around 150,000 stars (in a single field of view) that are relatively close to Earth. A planet passing in front of one of these stars dims the starlight by a small amount. Conversely, a black hole passing between us and a Kepler star would have the opposite effect: it would act as a lens and brighten the starlight. The authors calculate that Kepler is the first instrument sensitive enough to detect this so-called microlensing for black holes with masses of around 0.1% of an Earth mass. – Michael Schirbe

Read also: NASA satellite could reveal if primordial black holes are dark matter

Using negative partial information for quantum com- munication. (a) In these diagrams, time runs from top to bottom, and space is horizontal. The line marked \A" is Al- ice's space-time trajectory, while the line marked \B" is Bob's. Bob creates an ee

Toward a fully relativistic theory of quantum information

Using negative partial information for quantum communication. (a) In these diagrams, time runs from top to bottom, and space is horizontal. The line marked “A" is Alice's space-time trajectory, while the line marked “B" is Bob's. Bob creates an eē pair (an Einstein-Podolski-Rosen pair) close to him, and sends the ebit over to Alice. Alice, armed with an arbitrary quantum state q, performs a joint measurement M on both e and q, and sends the two classical bits 2c she obtains from this measurement back to Bob (over a classical channel). When Bob receives these two cbits, he performs one out of four unitary transformations U on the anti-ebit he is still carrying, conditionally on the classical information he received. Having done this, he recovers the original quantum state q, which was "teleported" over to him. The partial information in e is one bit, while it is minus one for the antiebit. (b) In superdense coding, Alice sends two classical bits of information 2c over to Bob, but using only a single qubit in the quantum channel. This process is in a way the “dual" to the teleportation process, as Alice encodes the two classical bits by performing a conditional unitary operation U on the anti-ebit, while it is Bob that performs the measurement M on the ebit he kept and the qubit Alice sent.

Christoph Adami

Information theory is a statistical theory dealing with the relative state of detectors and physical systems.
Because of this physicality of information, the classical framework of Shannon needs to be extended to deal with quantum detectors, perhaps moving at relativistic speeds, or even within curved space-time.
Considerable progress toward such a theory has been achieved in the last fifteen years, while much is still not understood.
This review recapitulates some milestones along this road, and speculates about future ones.
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Biggest telescope starts observations

RadioAstron, effectively the largest radio telescope ever built, is up and running.

The telescope’s main component, a 10-metre radio dish aboard the spacecraft Spectr-R, launched in July to an oblong orbit that extends between 10,000 and more than 300,000 kilometres from Earth.

By coordinating observations with radio telescopes on Earth in a technique called interferometry, the telescope can make observations as sharp as a single dish spanning the entire distance between the two farthest dishes. When Spectr-R is at its farthest from Earth, the system acts like one enormous telescope about 30 times as wide as our planet, boasting about 10,000 times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope.

In its first observation on 15 November, Spektr-R was about 100,000 kilometres above Earth. The space telescope linked up with three 32-metre antennas in Russia’s QUASAR Network, a 70-metre antenna in Evpatoria, Ukraine, and the 100-metre Effelsberg telescope in Germany to target a bright, distant galaxy called 0212+735.

Over its five-year mission, RadioAstron will take detailed looks at objects such as the black hole at the centre of nearby galaxy M87, nascent planetary systems and neutron stars. It will detect radio waves emitted by water masers, clouds of water molecules in the discs of galaxies, which could help measure how far those galaxies are from Earth. That in turn could help study the expansion of the universe and dark energy.

Comparison of diameter and rotation rate of a redgiant to the sun. Image Credit: Paul G. Beck, KU. Leuven.

Astronomers reveal a rapidly spinning core inside old stars

Comparison of diameter and rotation rate of a redgiant to the sun. Image Credit: Paul G. Beck, KU. Leuven.

Scientists have made a new discovery about how old stars called ‘red giants’ rotate, giving an insight into what our sun will look like in five billion years.
An international team of astronomers led by PhD student Paul Beck from Leuven University in Belgium have managed to look deep inside some old stars and discovered that their cores spin at least ten times as fast as their surfaces. The result appeared today in the journal Nature.
It has been known for a long time that the surfaces of these stars spin slowly, taking about a whole year to complete one rotation. The team has now discovered that the cores at the heart of the stars spin much faster with about one rotation per month. The discovery was made possible because of the ultra high precision of the data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope.

This artist impression illustrates the rotation inside a red giant star. Such stars have radii of more than 5 times the radius of the Sun. Initially the outer layers, which are rotating very slowly, are shown. When these layers are hidden, the hot core of the star, which rotates 10 times faster than the surface, becomes visible. While the surface of this red giant needs about one year to complete a full revolution, it takes the core only a few weeks to rotate once. For better visual effect, the rotation rate is artificially increased. In the animation, 60 seconds correspond to an entire year in real time. Image Credits: Paul G. Beck, KU. Leuven

Beck and his collaborators analysed waves travelling through the stars, which appear at the surface as rhythmic variations in the stars’ brightness. The study of such waves is called asteroseismology, and is able to reveal the conditions deep inside a star which would otherwise remain hidden from view. Different waves probe different parts of the star and by a detailed comparison of the depth to which these waves travel inside the star, the team found evidence of the rotation rate and its dramatic increase towards the stellar core. “It is the heart of a star, which determines how it evolves,” says Beck, “and understanding how a star rotates deep inside helps us to understand how stars like our Sun will grow old.”
The stars studied in the article are so-called red giants. Our Sun will become a red giant in about 5 billion years. Their outer layers have expanded to more than 5 times their original size, and cooled down significantly so that they appear red. Meanwhile, their cores did exactly the opposite, and have contracted to an extremely hot and dense environment. To understand what has happened to a star’s spin consider what happens to an ice skater performing a pirouette. A spinning ice skater will slow down if the arms are stretched far out, and will spin faster if the arms are pulled tightly to the body. Similarly, the rotation of the expanding outer layers of the giant has slowed down, while the shrinking core has spun up
The Kepler space telescope, is one of NASA’s most successful current space missions. Designed to search for Earth-size planets in the habitable zone of distant stars, the mission has detected numerous planetary candidates, and has confirmed many bona fide planets outside our solar system. Kepler is capable of detecting variations in a star’s brightness of only a few parts in a million, and its measurements are therefore ideally suited to detect the tiny waves mentioned above. The effect of rotation on these waves is so small, that its discovery needed two years of almost continuous data gathering by the Kepler satellite.

folded light curve with model fit in red. Black dots represent  individual observations. Dark blue points represent 30-minute binned data, and cyan points represent residuals after  fitting. Red asterisk represents the mid-transit times based on the model fit with eccentricity value allowed to float

Kepler-22b: A 2.4 Earth-radius Planet in the Habitable Zone of a Sun-like Star

Read also: Kepler 22-b: Earth-like planet confirmed

William J. Borucki et al

Folded light curve with model fit in red. Black dots represent individual observations. Dark blue points represent 30-minute binned data, and cyan points represent residuals after fitting. Red asterisk represents the mid-transit times based on the model fit with eccentricity value allowed to float

A search of the time-series photometry from NASA’s Kepler spacecraft reveals a transiting planet candidate orbiting the 11th magnitude G5 dwarf KIC 10593626 with a period of 290 days. The characteristics of the host star are well constrained by high-resolution spectroscopy combined with an asteroseismic analysis of the Kepler photometry, leading to an estimated mass and radius of 0.970 +/- 0.060 MSun and 0.979 +/- 0.020 RSun. The depth of 492 +/- 10ppm for the three observed transits yields a radius of 2.38 +/- 0.13 REarth for the planet.
The system passes a battery of tests for false positives, including reconnaissance spectroscopy, high-resolution imaging, and centroid motion.
A full BLENDER analysis provides further validation of the planet interpretation by showing that contamination of the target by an eclipsing system would rarely mimic the observed shape of the transits.

Image of the star field near Kepler-22

The final validation of the planet is provided by 16 radial velocities obtained with HIRES on Keck 1 over a one year span.
Although the velocities do not lead to a reliable orbit and mass determination, they are able to constrain the mass to a 3{\sigma} upper limit of 124 MEarth, safely in the regime of planetary masses, thus earning the designation Kepler-22b.
The radiative equilibrium temperature is 262K for a planet in Kepler-22b’s orbit.
Although there is no evidence that Kepler-22b is a rocky planet, it is the first confirmed planet with a measured radius to orbit in the Habitable Zone of any star other than the Sun.

Characteristics of Kepler-22 and -22b

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A visible light image of the FGC 1287 group of galaxies in Abell 1367. This is based on a composite of images taken from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey through three colour filters. The white contours show the neutral hydrogen distribution. The huge gas tail emanates from the edge on spiral galaxy FGC 1287. Two other members of the group have associated neutral hydrogen here marked by contour lines.

A Tale of Tails

A visible light image of the FGC 1287 group of galaxies in Abell 1367. This is based on a composite of images taken from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey through three colour filters. The white contours show the neutral hydrogen distribution. The huge gas tail emanates from the edge on spiral galaxy FGC 1287. Two other members of the group have associated neutral hydrogen here marked by contour lines.

An international group of astronomers led by Tom Scott at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía in Granada, Spain, has discovered extraordinarily long one-sided gaseous tails in two groups of galaxies that are amongst the longest structures ever observed in such environments. They emanate from CGCG 097-026 and FGC1287, two spiral galaxies in small groups in the outskirts of the galaxy cluster known as Abell 1367 in the constellation of Leo, at a distance of 300 million light years. The new work, which could lead to a major shift in our understanding of galaxy evolution, is published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Clusters of galaxies are the biggest structures in the Universe that are held together by gravity. They are like a huge metropolis populated by galaxies that interact with one another and with their environment, the hot gas trapped within the cluster’s gravitational field. In the last few decades, astronomers have revealed that, in order to enjoy life in these big cities, galaxies have to pay an entrance fee: they are stripped of their cold hydrogen gas when they enter.
Without this gas, the fuel for future star formation, they age much more quickly than their counterparts who shun the big conurbations. Scientists believe that this is why clusters of galaxies have a significantly larger fraction of passive, quiescent objects where stars are no longer forming than is found in lower density environments. The research by Scott and his team might change this view, showing that galaxies can be robbed of their gas reservoir well before reaching the outskirts of the metropolis.
The astronomers made their discovery after using the Expanded Very Large Array (EVLA) of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in the USA to study Abell 1367 in detail. “When we looked at the data, we were amazed to see these tail structures” says Tom Scott.
‘The projected lengths of the gaseous tails are 9 to 10 times that of the size of the parent galaxies, i.e., 520,000 and 815,000 light years respectively. In both cases the amount of cold hydrogen gas in the tails is approximately the same as that remaining in the galaxy’s disk. In other words, these galaxies have already left behind half of their fuel for star formation before entering the sphere of influence of the cluster.”
The commonly accepted scenario invoked to explain the loss of gas in galaxies is based on the idea that when galaxies enter a big cluster, they lose their gas interacting with the hot intra-cluster medium. Like a meteor entering the Earth’s atmosphere, the atomic hydrogen is stripped by the pressure that builds up from moving through the dense, hot gas that pervades the cluster, the stripped gas being dispersed within the intergalactic medium. Scientists call this mechanism ram-pressure stripping.
However, in this case, the perturbed galaxies are still well outside the sphere of influence of this cluster medium and it is not clear which mechanism is responsible for these unique gas tails.
“We considered the various physical processes proposed by theorists in the past to describe gas removal from galaxies, but no one seems to be able to explain our observations” says Luca Cortese, researcher at ESO-Garching, Germany, and co-author of this work. “Whereas in the case of CGCG97-026, the gravitational interaction between the various members of the group could explain what we see, FGC1287 is completely different from any case we have seen before.”
Indeed, ram pressure stripping does not seem to be a viable explanation in this case. As this galaxy is located in the outskirts of the cluster, it lies beyond what is thought to be the sphere of influence of the hot and diffuse gas in Abell 1367. To make things even more complicated, gravitational interactions are apparently unable to explain the extraordinary length of the tail and the lack of any sign of disturbance in the stellar body of the galaxy.
The origin of these extraordinary tails still remains a puzzle for scientists, and they perhaps require some physical mechanism that has not been considered before.
“Although the mechanism responsible for this extraordinary gas tail remains to be determined, our discovery highlights how much there still is to learn about environmental effects in galaxy groups” says team member Elias Brinks, a scientist at the University of Hertfordshire. “This discovery might open a new chapter in our understanding of environmental effects on galaxy evolution.”

lunar eclipse

Video: A Super-Sized Lunar Eclipse


Lunar eclipse 10-12-2011, Video and photos

A big eclipsed Moon over Indian Peaks in Colorado. Credit: Patrick Cullis

Natural beauty: The eclipse is seen framed within Turret Arch at Arches National Park, near Moab, Utah

The moon is seen in the sky over the Golden Gate Bridge during an eclipse today

Pie in the sky: Photographers take pictures of the moon during a lunar eclipse over the north tower of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

Crimson tide: The eclipse illuminates a statue of Buddha in Kurunegala, Sri Lanka

Dramatic disc: The lunar eclipse is seen in the sky beside the famous Sufi shrine, Data Darbar in Lahore, Pakistan. This light is a projection of all the sunrises and sunsets happening on our planet at this time

Lunar Eclipse Over The Pacific Ocean San Diego


New Interpretation for the Observed Cosmological Redshifts

… and its Implications

Branislav Vlahovic
The cosmological redshifts z in the frequencies of spectral lines from distant galaxies as compared with their values observed in terrestrial laboratories, which are due to the scale factor a(t), frequently are interpret as a special-relativistic Doppler shift alone. We will demonstrate that this interpretation is not correct and that the contribution of the gravitational redshift is always present and significant.
We will show that the gravitational redshift is actually about the same magnitude as the cosmological redshift, but that only for cosmological models without the dark energy component cosmological and gravitational redshift can be considered to be the same.
Significant contribution of the gravitational redshift due to the gravitational field of the Universe, which is ignored in interpretation of the observational data, could have significant impact on cosmological theories.
We will first calculate contributions of gravitational redshift to CMB and time dilation of Type Ia supernovae, and use it to explain the excess redshifts of quasars and active galaxies, and redshifts of companion galaxies of stars.
We will show its possible implications on the interpretation of mass density of matter and mass as function of cosmological time.
Finally we will demonstrate that taking into account gravitational redshift allows to interpret luminosity distance and surface brightness of distant galaxies to be consistent with the static universe cosmological models.


The Known Universe

The Known Universe takes viewers from the Himalayas through our atmosphere and the inky black of space to the afterglow of the Big Bang. Every star, planet, and quasar seen in the film is possible because of the world’s most complete four-dimensional map of the universe, the Digital Universe Atlas that is maintained and updated by astrophysicists at the American Museum of Natural History.
The new film, created by the Museum, is part of an exhibition, Visions of the Cosmos: From the Milky Ocean to an Evolving Universe, at the Rubin Museum of Art in Manhattan through May 2010. Data: Digital Universe, American Museum of Natural History Visualization Software: Uniview by SCISS Director: Carter Emmart Curator: Ben R. Oppenheimer Producer: Michael Hoffman Executive Producer: Ro Kinzler Co-Executive Producer: Martin Brauen Manager, Digital Universe Atlas: Brian Abbott Music: Suke Cerulo

Axion couplings and masses excluded at the 90% confidence level by the experiment. The main figure shows the results from the Phase I upgrade and the inset has the limits from all data by ADMX.

The Axion Dark Matter eXperiment

Axion couplings and masses excluded at the 90% confidence level by the experiment. The main figure shows the results from the Phase I upgrade and the inset has the limits from all data by ADMX.

Dmitry Lyapustin
The Axion is a particle arising from the Peccei-Quinn solution to the strong CP problem.
Peccei-Quinn symmetry breaking in the early universe could produce a large number of axions which would still be present today, making the axion a compelling dark matter candidate.
The goal of the Axion Dark Matter eXperiment (ADMX) is to detect these relic axions through their conversion to photons in a strong magnetic field.
Results are presented from a recent ADMX data-taking, along with plans for the next phase of ADMX, which will allow the experiment to explore a significant fraction of the favored dark matter axion mass and coupling phase space.
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Is the Higgs boson real?

Read also: Cern scientist expects ‘first glimpse’ of Higgs boson (8-12-2011)

by Ian Sample –

Rumours abound that Cern scientists have finally glimpsed the long-sought Higgs boson. We asked physicists to share their thoughts on the elusive entity….

…… I asked some physicists to share, in a couple of simple sentences, their hunches on what gives mass to fundamental particles. Is it the simplest version of the Higgs mechanism, which gives us what is called the Standard Model Higgs boson? Is it a more complex kind of Higgs field? Or something else entirely? I hoped the replies would give a flavour of the range of views they hold.

Most got back to me. A few kept their replies to a couple of sentences. Some included technical language, and perhaps that was inevitable. One Nobel prize winner said the Higgs boson doesn’t exist. Another responded with a limerick…….

Here are the physicists’ responses, in no particular order:

Shelly Glashow, Boston University. Nobel prize in physics, 1979

They said when the collider goes on
Soon they’d see that elusive boson
Very soon we shall hear
Whether Cern finds it this year
But it’s something I won’t bet very much on.

Frank Wilczek, MIT, Nobel prize in physics, 2004

“The Higgs mechanism for generating masses is extremely attractive and has no real competition. Beyond that there’s little certainty. A near-minimal implementation of supersymmetry, perhaps augmented with ultra-weakly interacting particles, is the prettiest possibility. So I’d like several Higgs particles, Higgsinos, some ghostly stuff, and a pony.”
[Note: A Higgsino is a supersymmetric partner of a Higgs boson].

Lisa Randall, author of Knocking on Heaven’s Door, Harvard

“It is difficult to think of alternatives that are consistent theoretically and with everything observed to date that don’t involve the Higgs mechanism – the process of essentially distributing a ‘charge’ throughout the vacuum. Elementary particles interact with this ‘charge’ and acquire mass. It is not necessarily clear, however, what is responsible for that charge in the first place and that is what determines what experiments will see.

“I still think the most likely answer is a conventional light Higgs boson. But when asked what I thought the odds were in a popular lecture, I surprised myself by saying 70%. I’ve even bet chocolate based on those odds. If not true, I think a heavier composite Higgs boson made up of more fundamental components might be the answer.”

John Terning, University of California, Davis

“We know that strong interactions of quarks and gluons provide the bulk of the proton’s mass; I suspect that there are some new – very strongly interacting – particles that provide the masses for the fundamental particles. The most spectacular possibility is that these new particles are the magnetic monopoles that Paul Dirac predicted.

Martinus Veltman, Universities of Michigan and Utrecht. Nobel prize in physics, 1999

“You are mistaken about the Higgs search at Cern. The machine runs at half energy so far, and no one expects relevant (for the Higgs particle) results. After the shutdown [in 2013] the machine will gradually go up in energy, and if all goes well (this is non-trivial) then in about half a year the machine energy might reach design value and there might be Higgs-relevant results. So if you are thinking next week then you are mistaken. Of course, we never know what surprises nature has in store for us … It is my opinion that there is no Higgs.”

Philip Anderson, Princeton University. Nobel prize in physics, 1977

“I doubt if the opinions of one who thinks about these problems perhaps every 30 years or so will carry much weight. I’ve been busy. But the last time I thought, I realised a) that the Higgs(-A) mechanism fits the facts too beautifully not to be true, but b) it must be incomplete, because there’s no proper accounting of the vacuum energy.”
[Note: Anderson essentially described the Higgs mechanism in 1962, two years before Higgs and five other physicists published the theory.]

David Kaplan, University of Washington, Seattle

“I expect some variant of the Standard Model is correct, such as a two-Higgs doublet theory, although later one could well discover the Higgs bosons to be composite particles. Discovery of neutrino masses has opened a window onto physics beyond the Standard Model, and discovery of the mass-generation mechanism for quarks and leptons will open it wider.”
[Note: the two Higgs doublet model calls for five Higgs bosons]

David Curtin, Stony Brook University

“It could be the Standard Model Higgs, but I sincerely hope not. Only data will reveal what nature chose, but two of my favourite alternatives are extra dimensions and supersymmetry – their discovery would tell us incredibly exciting things about several fundamental questions, including (but not limited to) the nature of space-time itself.”

Gerard t’Hooft, Utrecht University, Nobel prize in physics 1999

“The whole idea that something should give mass to the fundamental particles is a hype that resulted from over-commercialisation of the Higgs theory, which actually might backfire on us. Fact is that in our present theoretical descriptions, most of the mass terms in the equations for the fundamental particles appear to violate an important symmetry (chiral symmetry) unless they can be connected to an additional field, the Higgs field, which would also require the existence of a not yet discovered particle, the Higgs particle …

“However, since chiral symmetry is unavoidable for the inner consistency of our description of the fundamental particles, the beautiful theoretical prediction of a Standard Model Higgs particle still stands out, and I still consider the near discovery of such a particle very likely. Alternative descriptions, such as many Higgs particles, each of which are more difficult to detect, or some altogether different mechanism, are much less attractive theoretically. As we know from the history of science, this argument does not suffice to rule out the existence of such alternatives, but I consider them much less probable.”

David Miller
, University of Glasgow

“Technicolor models use a new force of nature to generate particle masses. This new force is very strong, confining particles in bound states, and the binding energy gives the mass of the state. This is directly analogous to the generation of mass for the proton by the strong nuclear force.”

Artist's impression of the Big Bang. (Courtesy:

String-theory calculations describe ‘birth of the universe’

Artist's impression of the Big Bang. (Courtesy:

Researchers in Japan have developed what may be the first string-theory model with a natural mechanism for explaining why our universe would seem to exist in three spatial dimensions if it actually has six more. According to their model, only three of the nine dimensions started to grow at the beginning of the universe, accounting both for the universe’s continuing expansion and for its apparently three-dimensional nature.

Expanding universe as a classical solution in the Lorentzian matrix model for nonperturbative superstring theory
Sang-Woo Kim, Jun Nishimura, Asato Tsuchiya
Recently we have shown by Monte Carlo simulation that expanding (3+1)-dimensional universe appears dynamically from a Lorentzian matrix model for type IIB superstring theory in (9+1)-dimensions. The mechanism for the spontaneous breaking of rotational symmetry relies crucially on the noncommutative nature of the space. Here we study the classical equations of motion as a complementary approach. In particular, we find a unique class of SO(3) symmetric solutions, which exhibits the time-dependence compatible with the expanding universe. The space-space noncommutativity is exactly zero, whereas the space-time noncommutativity becomes significant only towards the end of the expansion. We interpret the Monte Carlo results and the classical solution as describing the behavior of the model at earlier time and at later time, respectively……

String theory is a potential “theory of everything”, uniting all matter and forces in a single theoretical framework, which describes the fundamental level of the universe in terms of vibrating strings rather than particles. Although the framework can naturally incorporate gravity even on the subatomic level, it implies that the universe has some strange properties, such as nine or ten spatial dimensions. String theorists have approached this problem by finding ways to “compactify” six or seven of these dimensions, or shrink them down so that we wouldn’t notice them. Unfortunately, Jun Nishimura of the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK) in Tsukuba says “There are many ways to get four-dimensional space–time, and the different ways lead to different physics.” The solution is not unique enough to produce useful predictions.

These compactification schemes are studied through perturbation theory, in which all the possible ways that strings could interact are added up to describe the interaction. However, this only works if the interaction is relatively weak, with a distinct hierarchy in the likelihood of each possible interaction. If the interactions between the strings are stronger, with multiple outcomes equally likely, perturbation theory no longer works……
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So much of our modern technology is at risk from space weather, including satellites, communications and power grids. Airline passengers flying over the poles and astronauts can also be adversely effected. Studying the causes and effects of space weather can help us to better predict these events and to take precautions to minimize their impacts. Credit: NASA

Space Weather

So much of our modern technology is at risk from space weather, including satellites, communications and power grids. Airline passengers flying over the poles and astronauts can also be adversely effected. Studying the causes and effects of space weather can help us to better predict these events and to take precautions to minimize their impacts. Credit: NASA

Five scientists speaking at a workshop at the 2011 Fall AGU meeting in San Francisco on Tuesday, December 6 at 10 AM PST will discuss the complex — and relatively new — research area of space weather. The term refers to a host of disturbances that can alter the vast electromagnetic system stretching from the sun to Earth and all the way to the edges of the solar system. This system is increasingly dynamic as the sun moves toward solar maximum in 2013 and sends out correspondingly more energy and eruptions. Such energy can disrupt and even damage human technology, and scientists would like to predict space weather as well as meteorologists do for conventional weather on Earth. Our understanding of space weather has already improved substantially since the last solar maximum in 2001, and a host of spacecraft instruments are supplying data to continue to expand our knowledge.

The speakers will provide the context to understand the science of the sun-Earth system, discuss the details of potential space weather effects, and explain the state-of-the-art in terms of space weather modeling and prediction.

Earth’s own magnetic environment, the magnetosphere, is an inextricable part of this system, changing constantly in response to incoming energy from the sun such as the stream of particles known as the solar wind, giant eruptions of radiation from the sun called solar flares, or bursts of solar material called coronal mass ejections. In the workshop, Daniel Baker from the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colo., explains the current understanding of the physics behind this system. Showing high-resolution pictures of the sun’s roiling surface, Baker will trace ejections from their origin at the sun through space to Earth’s protective magnetic envelope. Here, under the correct circumstances, the sun’s energy can connect efficiently and effectively with Earth’s own atmosphere.
Louis Lanzerotti from the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, N.J., explains what happens next. At their most benign, such space weather events trigger beautiful aurora in the night sky as incoming particles collide with Earth’s atmosphere and produce light. But space weather can also adversely impact our modern technological infrastructure. Even in the mid-1800s, telegraph operators noticed that auroras in the night sky coincided with disruptions to telegraph operation – and today such disruptions can affect a much wider array of technologies that have developed over the last century. Such space weather-produced effects include loss of radio contact for airplanes on transpolar flights, astronauts imperiled by radiation, damage to electric grids, and disruption of cell phone service and underwater telecommunication cables, and destruction of satellite electronics. The effects of the sun can be complex, subtle, and some times quite surprising, and we need accurate models and accurate forecasts to protect modern technology.

Discussing the state-of-the-art in such models, Michael Hesse of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., describes researchers’ recent successes in data analysis and modeling efforts. Hesse leads the Community Coordinated Modeling Center at Goddard, which combines models with real time observations from NASA spacecraft that together show all sides of the sun. By incorporating stereoscopic views of a coronal mass ejection, for example, scientists at the CCMC can better predict its direction and velocity.

Such prediction techniques are still young, not unlike the early days of Earth weather forecasting, but they nevertheless represent a giant leap in accuracy. Antti Pulkkinen, a scientist with both Goddard and Catholic University in Washington, D.C., describes the new more accurate, numerical-based models. These have been made possible due to improvement not only in the models themselves, but due to more comprehensive observations and the increased power of supercomputers. One use for such models: the Solar Shield Project, which can predict which areas on Earth may experience the worst effects from an incoming solar storm. Power grid operators can then take steps to protect their technology from harm rather than risk damage to their transformers.
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Kepler 22-b: Earth-like planet confirmed

Astronomers have confirmed the existence of an Earth-like planet in the “habitable zone” around a star not unlike our own.

The planet, Kepler 22-b, lies about 600 light-years away and is about 2.4 times the size of Earth, and has a temperature of about 22C.

It is the closest confirmed planet yet to one like ours – an “Earth 2.0″.

However, the team does not yet know if Kepler 22-b is made mostly of rock, gas or liquid.

During the conference at which the result was announced, the Kepler team said that it had spotted some 1,094 new candidate planets.

The Kepler space telescope was designed to look at a fixed swathe of the night sky, staring intently at about 150,000 stars. The telescope is sensitive enough to see when a planet passes in front of its host star, dimming the star’s light by a minuscule amount.

Kepler identifies these slight changes in starlight as candidate planets, which are then confirmed by further observations by Kepler and other telescopes in orbit and on Earth.
Kepler 22-b was one of 54 candidates reported by the Kepler team in February, and is just the first to be formally confirmed using other telescopes.

More of these “Earth 2.0″ candidates are likely to be confirmed in the near future, though a redefinition of the habitable zone’s boundaries has brought that number down to 48.

Kepler 22-b lies at a distance from its sun about 15% less than the distance from the Earth to the Sun, and its year takes about 290 days. However, its sun puts out about 25% less light, keeping the planet at its balmy temperature that would support the existence of liquid water.

The Kepler team had to wait for three passes of the planet before upping its status from “candidate” to “confirmed”.

“Fortune smiled upon us with the detection of this planet,” said William Borucki, Kepler principal investigator at Nasa’s Ames Research Center.

“The first transit was captured just three days after we declared the spacecraft operationally ready. We witnessed the defining third transit over the 2010 holiday season.”

The results were announced at the Kepler telescope’s first science conference, alongside the staggering number of new candidate planets. The total number of candidates spotted by the telescope is now 2,326 – of which 207 are approximately Earth-sized.

In total, the results suggest that planets ranging from Earth-sized to about four times Earth’s size – so-called “super-Earths” – may be more common than previously thought.

In this artist's concept, NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has entered a new region between our solar system and interstellar space, which scientists are calling the stagnation region. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Voyager Hits New Region at Solar System Edge

In this artist's concept, NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has entered a new region between our solar system and interstellar space, which scientists are calling the stagnation region. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

PASADENA, Calif. — NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft has entered a new region between our solar system and interstellar space. Data obtained from Voyager over the last year reveal this new region to be a kind of cosmic purgatory. In it, the wind of charged particles streaming out from our sun has calmed, our solar system’s magnetic field has piled up, and higher-energy particles from inside our solar system appear to be leaking out into interstellar space.

“Voyager tells us now that we’re in a stagnation region in the outermost layer of the bubble around our solar system,” said Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. “Voyager is showing that what is outside is pushing back. We shouldn’t have long to wait to find out what the space between stars is really like.”

Although Voyager 1 is about 11 billion miles (18 billion kilometers) from the sun, it is not yet in interstellar space. In the latest data, the direction of the magnetic field lines has not changed, indicating Voyager is still within the heliosphere, the bubble of charged particles the sun blows around itself. The data do not reveal exactly when Voyager 1 will make it past the edge of the solar atmosphere into interstellar space, but suggest it will be in a few months to a few years.

The latest findings, described today at the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting in San Francisco, come from Voyager’s Low Energy Charged Particle instrument, Cosmic Ray Subsystem and Magnetometer.

Scientists previously reported the outward speed of the solar wind had diminished to zero in April 2010, marking the start of the new region. Mission managers rolled the spacecraft several times this spring and summer to help scientists discern whether the solar wind was blowing strongly in another direction. It was not. Voyager 1 is plying the celestial seas in a region similar to Earth’s doldrums, where there is very little wind.

During this past year, Voyager’s magnetometer also detected a doubling in the intensity of the magnetic field in the stagnation region. Like cars piling up at a clogged freeway off-ramp, the increased intensity of the magnetic field shows that inward pressure from interstellar space is compacting it.

Voyager has been measuring energetic particles that originate from inside and outside our solar system. Until mid-2010, the intensity of particles originating from inside our solar system had been holding steady. But during the past year, the intensity of these energetic particles has been declining, as though they are leaking out into interstellar space. The particles are now half as abundant as they were during the previous five years.

At the same time, Voyager has detected a 100-fold increase in the intensity of high-energy electrons from elsewhere in the galaxy diffusing into our solar system from outside, which is another indication of the approaching boundary.

“We’ve been using the flow of energetic charged particles at Voyager 1 as a kind of wind sock to estimate the solar wind velocity,” said Rob Decker, a Voyager Low-Energy Charged Particle Instrument co-investigator at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. “We’ve found that the wind speeds are low in this region and gust erratically. For the first time, the wind even blows back at us. We are evidently traveling in completely new territory. Scientists had suggested previously that there might be a stagnation layer, but we weren’t sure it existed until now.”

Launched in 1977, Voyager 1 and 2 are in good health. Voyager 2 is 9 billion miles (15 billion kilometers) away from the sun.

The Voyager spacecraft were built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., which continues to operate both. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology. The Voyager missions are a part of the NASA Heliophysics System Observatory, sponsored by the Heliophysics Division of the Science Mission Directorate in Washington. For more information about the Voyager spacecraft, visit:  –

periodic table exoplanets

The Periodic Table of Exoplanets

click on this image to see an enlargement

This table summarizes in eighteen thermal-mass categories most of the current known exoplanets (as of October 2011). Planets are divided in six mass classes as mercurians, subterrans, terrans, superterrans, neptunians, and jovians. Planets in the hot zone (first row) are too close to the stars to support liquid water. Planets in the habitable zone (second row) can sustain liquid water if large enough. Planets in the cold zone (third row) are icy-rich bodies. The mean mass (M) and radius (R) of the exoplanets in each category is shown at the bottom of the frames.
    In the Solar System Mercury is an example of a hot mercurian, Venus is on the edge of a hot and warm terran, Mars is on the edge of a warm subterran and mercurian, Jupiter and Saturn are cold jovians, and Uranus and Neptune cold neptunians. Only warm subterrans, terrans, and superterrans are potentially habitable, although warm jovians might have habitable exomoons. The only known mercurian was discovered in the Arecibo Observatory. You can click the image for a higher resolution version. An updated of this table will be available for the Habitable Exoplanets Catalog.


The Puzzling Weighted Average

“…..Suppose you are given two measurements of the same physical quantity. Make it something easy to visualize, such as the length of a stick. They tell you that when measured with method 1 the result was x1=10 cm, with a estimated uncertainty s1=0.1 cm, and when measured with method 2 the result was x2=11 cm, with estimated uncertainty s2=0.5cm. Here is a question for you today: What is your best guess of the length of the stick ?

To make things interesting, let me give you a few possible answers from which to pick. We will discuss it later which is the correct one, and this will allow us to shed some light in the whole matter. Unless your knowledge of basic Statistics is above that of an average graduate student in Physics, you will be surprised, I guarantee it.

1.  Anything between 10 and 11cm, I do not care to make the exact calculation but it is obviously trivial and I can’t be bothered with such trivial details.
2.  10 cm, the result with the best stated accuracy
3.  10.5 cm, the linear average of the two measurements
4.  The best estimate is L*=[10/(0.1^2)+11/(0.5^2)]/[1/(0.1^2)+1/(0.5^2)] cm, which is of course the weighted mean of the two measurements, with weights equal to the inverse variances.
5.  Not possible to answer, unless some more information is provided about the stated accuracies.
6.  Something between 10 and 11 cm, whose exact value depends on details which were not disclosed in the statement of the problem.

Which is the answer you’d take ?….”
….. for answers press  here


‘Lethal’ radiation doses can be treated with drugs

MICE can survive a dose of radiation that should have killed them when given a double-drug therapy – even if they get the drug cocktail 24 hours after exposure.

Radiation damages rapidly dividing cells in the intestine, allowing harmful bacteria to leak into the bloodstream. Eva Guinan at Harvard Medical School found that boosting levels of a protein involved in the immune response against the bacteria – while simultaneously giving an antibiotic – helped 80 per cent of mice survive (Science Translational Medicine, DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3003126).

The protein and antibiotic are both safe to use in people, and could be stockpiled in case of a nuclear accident, says Guinan….


Higgs-mass predictions and rumors …

(update 9-12-2011)
Higgs mass: 124.6 GeV CMS, 126 GeV ATLAS

Higgs rumors (from here): 126 GeV – 3.5 sigma in ATLAS and 2.5 sigma at 124 GeV for CMS … 
…. read also: 
Higgs Expectations , by Tommaso Dorigo

Higgs Boson Mass predicted by the Four Color Theorem

Ashay Dharwadker, Vladimir Khachatryan
28 Dec 2009

The Higgs-type particle

We show that the mathematical proof of the four color theorem yields a perfect interpretation of the Standard Model of particle physics.
The steps of the proof enable us to construct the t -Riemann surface and particle frame which forms the gauge.
We specify well-defined rules to match the Standard Model in a one-to-one correspondence with the topological and algebraic structure of the particle frame.
This correspondence is exact – it only allows the particles and force fields to have the observable properties of the Standard Model, giving us a Grand Unified Theory.
In this paper, we concentrate on explicitly specifying the quarks, gauge vector bosons, the Standard Model scalar Higgs H0 boson and the weak force field.
Using all the specifications of our mathematical model, we show how to calculate the values of the Weinberg and Cabibbo angles on the particle frame.
Finally, we present our prediction of the Higgs H0 boson mass

MH0 = 125.992 ≃ 126 GeV ,

as a direct consequence of the proof of the four color theorem…..
…details in

More Higgs-mass predictions:


Relativity on Rotated Graph Paper

Roberto B. Salgado
We present visual calculations in special relativity using spacetime diagrams drawn on graph paper that has been rotated by 45 degrees. The rotated lines represent lightlike directions in Minkowski spacetime, and the boxes in the grid (called “light-clock diamonds”) represent units of measurement modeled on the ticks of an inertial observer’s lightclock. We show that many quantitative results can be read off a spacetime diagram by counting boxes, using a minimal amount of algebra. We use the Doppler Effect, in the spirit of the Bondi k-calculus, to motivate the method…..
Read more:


The definition of Extraterrestrial Life

Philosophy and problems of the definition of Extraterrestrial Life

Jean Schneider
When we try to search for extraterrestrial life and intelligence, we have to follow some guidelines.
The first step is to clarify what is to be meant by “Life” and “intelligence”, i.e. an attempt to define these words.
The word “definition” refers to two different situations.
First, it means an arbitrary convention.
On the other hand it also often designates an attempt to clarify the content of a pre-existing word for which we have some spontaneous preconceptions, whatever their grounds, and to catch an (illusory) “essence” of what is defined.
It is then made use of pre-existing plain language words which carry an a priori pre-scientific content likely to introduce some confusion in the reader’s mind.
The complexity of the problem will be analyzed and we will show that some philosophical prejudice is unavoidable.
There are two types of philosophy: “Natural Philosophy”, seeking for some essence of things, and “Critical (or analytical) Philosophy”, devoted to the analysis of the procedures by which we claim to construct a reality.
An extension of Critical Philosophy, Epistemo-Analysis (i.e. the Psycho-Analysis of concepts) is presented and applied to the defintion of Life and to Astrobiology.

On Earth, Life is perceived under two aspects: organic life and psychical life.
Organic life, subject of Biology, is shared by all livings, from bacteria to humans.
Psychical life is the attribute of some animals and humans.
In the generally shared common view, psychical life culminates in human «intelligence» and there is no rupture, no fundamental gap between human intelligence and animal psychology.
Intelligence is then just viewed as a skill, an ability to react to situations and the environment.
In the context of Astrobiology, the question naturally arises whether these approaches are adapted to exo-life.
Here we treat these questions with a philosophical approach.
It must be pointed out that there are two types of Philosophy of Knowledge: « Natural » Philosophy and Critical Philosophy.
Hereafter we first clarify some differences between these two conceptions of Philosophy. We then explain why critical Philosophy is more efficient than Natural Philosophy.
We finally make an analysis, based on critical Philosophy and its extension called « Epistemo-Analysis », to try to define organic and intelligent exo-life. For the latter we will point out its basic difficulty.
We know that there is no form of evolved Life elsewhere in the Solar System.
But there is plenty of room for evolved life on extrasolar planets.
We therefore deal here only with life on these exoplanets.
To conclude this introduction, we underline that our discussion is inspired by its pragmatic consequences: what actions to take to search for organic and psychical exo-Life?
Read more:

black holes

Any black holes at the LHC?

Jonas Mureika, Piero Nicolini, Euro Spallucci
We introduce analytical quantum gravity modifications of the production cross section for terascale black holes by employing an effective ultraviolet cut off ℓ.
We find the new cross sections approach the usual “black disk” form at high energy, while they differ significantly near the fundamental scale from the standard increase with respect to s.
We show that the heretofore discontinuous step function used to represent the cross section threshold can realistically be modeled by two functions representing the incoming and final parton states in a high energy collision.
The growth of the cross section with collision energy is thus a unique signature of ℓ and number of spatial dimensions d.
If these predictions prove to be model-independent, they suggest black hole formation might be virtually impossible for collision energies less than 100 TeV.
While no such signals would be observed at the LHC, attention should be focused on ultra-high energy cosmic ray events….

Read more:


Amazing visualization of a solar magnetic storm

20 Hz: A Semiconductor work by Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt.

Audio Data courtesy of CARISMA, operated by the University of Alberta, funded by the Canadian Space Agency. Special Thanks to Andy Kale.
Made for the exhibition Invisible Fields at Arts Santa Monica in Barcelona Spain.
20 Hz observes a geo-magnetic storm occurring in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Working with data collected from the CARISMA radio array and interpreted as audio, we hear tweeting and rumbles caused by incoming solar wind, captured at the frequency of 20 Hertz. Generated directly by the sound, tangible and sculptural forms emerge suggestive of scientific visualisations. As different frequencies interact both visually and aurally, complex patterns emerge to create interference phenomena that probe the limits of our perception.
05.00 minutes. / HD / 2011
HD single channel and HD 3D single channel.
20Hz is co-commissioned by Arts Santa Monica + Lighthouse . Supported by the British Council.

A scene from the film 2012, which refers to the idea that the Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world. Photograph: SONY/Sportsphoto Ltd/Allstar

2012: a transition to a new era, not the end of the world

… according to Sven Gronemeyer

A scene from the film 2012, which refers to the idea that the Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world. Photograph: SONY/Sportsphoto Ltd/Allstar

“….Gronemeyer has been studying the stone tablet found years ago at the archeological site of Tortuguero in Mexico’s Gulf coast state of Tabasco.

He said the inscription described the return of the mysterious Mayan god Bolon Yokte at the end of a 13th period of 400 years, known as Baktuns, on the equivalent of 21 December 2012. Mayans considered 13 a sacred number. There is nothing apocalyptic in the date, he said.

The text was carved about 1,300 years ago. The stone has cracked, which has made the end of the passage almost illegible.

Gronemeyer said the inscription referred to the end of a cycle of 5,125 years since the beginning of the Mayan Long Count calendar in 3113 BC.

The fragment was a prophecy of the then ruler Bahlam Ajaw, who wanted to plan the passage of the god, Gronemeyer said.

“For the elite of Tortuguero, it was clear they had to prepare the land for the return of the god and for Bahlam Ajaw to be the host of this initiation,” he said.

Bolon Yokte, the god of creation and war, was to prevail that day in a sanctuary of Tortuguero.

“The date acquired a symbolic value because it is seen as a reflection of the day of creation,” Gronemeyer said. “It is the passage of a god and not necessarily a great leap for humanity…..”

Read more: