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Submission + - The discovery of liquid water on Mars, told in pictures

StartsWithABang writes: It wasn't merely one discovery that led to the announcement of liquid water on Mars, but a slew of pieces of evidence of a watery past, including dried-up riverbeds, sedimentary rock formations, martian spherules, frozen lakes and subsurface ice. Couple that with the recurring slope lineae — and the discovery that they grow and leave salt deposits behind — and you've got a planet with not only liquid water, but possibly the potential for life right now on the surface.

Submission + - Photons don't experience time

StartsWithABang writes: Travel at any constant speed, at rest, slowly, or near the speed of light, and you'll experience time passing at the same rate it always does: one second per second. If someone else is moving relative to you, they'll see your clock run slow (and you'll see theirs run slow) depending on how quickly you move relative to one another. But what about a photon, which moves at the speed of light? From your point of view, no matter what your motion is, you won't see time pass for it at all, and it won't even experience time! For a photon, its entire existence is instantaneous.

Submission + - We've already gone beyond the Standard Model thanks to massive neutrinos

StartsWithABang writes: Yes, the Nobel Prize in physics this year was awarded for the discovery of neutrino oscillations, with the implication that neutrinos have mass. Believe it or not, this is the first and only observation of a particle in the Standard Model observed to have a behavior that isn’t predicted by the Standard Model: our first indication of beyond-the-Standard-Model physics for the known particles.

Submission + - Why the LHC's successor should go around the Earth's equator

StartsWithABang writes: At 13 TeV of proton-proton energy collisions, CERN’s Large Hadron Collider gives us the greatest number of the most powerful particle collisions ever seen on Earth, far more than any cosmic source from the Universe and far more energetic than any other terrestrial accelerator. It’s already found us the Higgs boson and has helped better measure other Standard Model particles’ properties, but has yet to turn up anything beyond the Standard Model. But that could all change if we built a machine that went to even higher energies! While the particle physics community focuses on an electron-positron linear collider at lower energy, the real frontier would come from going bigger: possibly even around the Earth’s circumference!

Submission + - Gravitational waves fail to show up where expected

StartsWithABang writes: We live in a Universe full of galaxies, supermassive black holes, and violence. The violence is particularly relevant here, because every so often, these galaxies merge, and if they each contain a supermassive black hole, the gravitational wave “ripples” that get sent through space will literally shake and affect everything that’s in them. If you had a perfect clock — something that kept time perfectly that you could watch “tick” — you’d expect to see the timing of these ticks be affected. Astrophysics gives us these clocks: millisecond pulsars, in great abundance. Yet the Parkes Pulsar Timing Array project has just completed an 11-year survey of thousands of them, and found no evidence of the gravitational waves they were expecting.

Submission + - The story of the founding of Fermilab

StartsWithABang writes: Back in 1967, the National Accelerator Laboratory was first commissioned, which would later become Fermilab, making such discoveries as the bottom and top quarks, the tau neutrino, and the discovery of CP-violation. In short, this was the machine, the laboratory and the home of the people who confirmed for us the validity of the Standard Model in a way never before achieved. But Fermilab isn’t just a cold, lifeless place where physicists hole up to make these discoveries: it’s also a triumph of nature and architecture, and it’s all owed to the brilliance and vision of its first director: Bob Wilson.

Submission + - B612 foundation loses partnership with NASA; asteroids not a significant risk

StartsWithABang writes: Yes, asteroids might be humanity's undoing in the worst-case scenario. It's how the dinosaurs went down, and it could happen to us, too. The B612 foundation has been working to protect us by mapping and then learning to deflect potential threats to our planet, but their proposed mission needed $450 million, a goal they've fallen well short of. As a result, NASA has severed their partnership, which is a good thing for humanity: the risk assessment figures show that worrying about killer asteroids is largely a waste.

Submission + - You can see "direct" sunlight with neutrinos, but not light

StartsWithABang writes: It’s a good thing that sunlight doesn’t reach us simply from its moment of creation in the core of stars, otherwise we’d be bombarded with lethal gamma rays, rather than the life-giving UV, visible and infrared light we actually experience. But the neutrino signatures from those reactions can travel to us directly, allowing us to observe that direct sunlight indirectly, rather than from the photosphere or corona.

Submission + - How a lunar eclipse is different from a dark sky site

StartsWithABang writes: By far, one of the highlights of astronomy this year took place earlier this week: a total lunar eclipse featuring a perigee Moon. The sight of watching the Earth’s shadow consume the Moon, eventually swallowing it whole and revealing a faint, red lunar disk, and then the process reversing itself, is unlike any other visible to the naked eye. But the rest of the sky is always a treat as well. While a full Moon often ruins an otherwise pristine night sky with its light pollution, a dark sky during a lunar eclipse can be just as exciting as a new Moon sky, with a transition unlike anything else.

Submission + - Does the water we've seen on Mars make life a real possibility?

StartsWithABang writes: With such a low atmospheric pressure, liquid water on Mars seemed an unlikely prospect. But newly formed gullies gave us hints that something was flowing, the observation of salts showed that water must have been present, and the newest observations have taught us exactly how the combination of these salts plus water molecules can lead to liquid water under Martian surface conditions. Could these briny, crusty pools potentially house primitive, Martian life? It's not only possible, it's worth looking for.

Submission + - Quasars don't turn galaxies on; it's the other way around!

StartsWithABang writes: When young galaxies are first formed, they’re accompanied by tremendous bursts of star formation, giving rise to billions of new stars within just a few million years. Yet how these galaxies first form in the initial stages is very much an open question. In addition, pretty much every large galaxy we find — even in the extremely young Universe — has a supermassive black hole at its center. But these black holes aren't the engines of newly formed galaxies, it's the other way around!

Submission + - Ceres' secrets revealed

StartsWithABang writes: What causes those mysterious bright spots on the Solar System’s largest asteroid? Although those bright, highly-reflective features at the bottom of Occator crater on Ceres were what first jumped out at us, subsequent imaging has revealed that these features are present in many other (but not all!) locations where the surface has been eroded away by impacts. Measurements of Ceres’ density reveals that it’s not only much lighter than Earth, but also lighter than other large asteroids like Vesta, hinting at the possibility of a subsurface ocean. These features could be ice, rock, geyser or salt deposits, but are probably not volcanic in origin.

Submission + - Are inflation and dark energy connected?When you think about the frontiers of sc

StartsWithABang writes: When you think about the frontiers of scientific knowledge — on the border between what’s known and what’s unknown — you have the phenomena that we know exist, yet that we can’t fully explain. This includes the matter-antimatter asymmetry, the inflationary origin of our Universe, dark matter and dark energy, among others. Yet two of these, inflation and dark energy, have an awful lot in common. Are they connected? There’s a whole class of models devoted to the study that they might be, but we have yet to have evidence come in, one way or the other.

Submission + - The eight Solar System worlds beyond Earth most likely to have life

StartsWithABang writes: The good news about life in the Universe is that the ingredients for it appear to be everywhere, including in interstellar space, in asteroids, comets, and a whole host of worlds other than our own. The bad news is that even if the conditions are right for life to arise, there's no guarantee that it will. Yet we might not even have to venture to another star system to find life beyond Earth; there are eight tantalizing possibilities right in our own backyard. Most excitingly, Pluto made the list!

Submission + - When Newton crumbled 100 years before Einstein

StartsWithABang writes: We like to think that Newton was infallible until Einstein came along, with only the genius of special and then general relativity replacing Newtonian mechanics and gravitation. But when it came to the field of optics, it was the spectacular (and largely forgotten) work of François Arago that changed our conception of our world. A wonderful example of how logic, reason, and the power of your own mind is simply useless in understanding the world, unless you can confront your ideas with a physical experiment.

You've been Berkeley'ed!