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+ - Does the scientific method need revision?

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "We all have our own interpretation of what “the scientific method” is, but there’s always at least one thing that they all have in common: the ultimate arbiter of whether a theory or idea is valid depends on the evidence that comes back from physically observable phenomena. But not everyone necessarily agrees with this in the way we commonly understand it. Sabine Hossenfelder has some fantastic thoughts analyzing and synthesizing a variety of viewpoints, laying the hammer down with a sweeping statement:

"You can thus never arrive at a theory that describes our universe without taking into account observations, period. The attempt to reduce axioms too much just leads to a whole “multiverse” of predictions, most of which don’t describe anything we will ever see."

String theorists and quantum gravity researchers who disagree, you've been warned."

+ - The Big Bang for Children

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "It's a term that most of us hear about from a young age, as soon as we're old enough to ask the question of where everything comes from: the Big Bang. Yet, despite the fact that it's been the dominant scientific theory of our cosmic origins for half a century now, most adults are baffled as to how to explain it to other grown-ups, much less a child. Here's the first attempt I know of to break down the story of our expanding, matter-filled Universe at a level even a child can understand."

+ - The three greatest advances in the Universe since 1980's Cosmos

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "34 years ago, Carl Sagan became the first person to present — in a format accessible to the entire world — a synthesized story of all the most important scientific points and facts that we had learned about the cosmic story common to us all. No longer did we live in a Universe the size of our galaxy, dominated by Newtonian gravity, but in a Universe billions of years old, with more than 100 billion galaxies in it, that all started with a bang. But since 1980, we’ve learned so much more, and some of the best ideas that Carl knew — about the beginning, middle, and end of the Universe — have actually been improved upon, and the story as it was told in 1980 has been superseded by a more accurate one."

+ - We most certainly did not just find dark matter

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "There seems to be a formula for this very specific extraordinary claim: point your high-energy telescope at the center of a galaxy or cluster of galaxies, discover an X-ray or gamma ray signal that you can't account for through conventional, known astrophysics, and claim you've detected dark matter! Only, these results never pan out; they've turned out either to be due to conventional sources or simply non-detections every time. There's a claim going around the news based on this paper recently that we've really done it this time, and yet that's not even physically possible, as our astrophysical constraints already rule out a particle with this property as being the dark matter!"

+ - The icy fate of the Universe

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "While the coming of winter will inevitably followed by warmer temperature as the Earth's northern hemisphere tilts back towards the Sun again, the Universe isn't so lucky, as it continues its inevitable slide towards absolute zero in temperature. But the Universe won't just end in ice, it will end in ice in the fastest way possible, as the expansion rate will never even drop to zero. Bonus fun fact: 97% of the galaxies in the part of the Universe observable to us are already unreachable, even at the speed of light."

+ - Does liquid water freeze or boil in space? 1

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "Here on Earth, liquid water is plentiful; our planet has the stable temperatures and pressures that water needs to exist in its liquid state. But what happens if you take that water to space? In the vacuum of space, the temperatures are much too low for liquid water; everything should freeze. But the pressures are much to low for liquid water as well; everything should boil! So which one does it do: does it freeze or does it boil? Surprisingly, it does both; first it boils, then it freezes! Under the right conditions, we can even reproduce this on Earth, too."

+ - 2014's greatest meteor shower arrives this weekend

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "Most meteor showers originate from comets well out beyond Neptune, only entering the inner Solar System periodically. In those cases, we have to wait long periods of time for the showers to develop, and suffer many years with paltry displays as we pass through the parts of the comet's orbit thin in particles. But the Geminids are special: they're formed from a short-period asteroid and only began in the mid-19th century. Ever since then they've been intensifying, and conditions are right this year for the most spectacular display of all time. Come catch 2014's greatest meteor shower, including where to look, when, and where to go online in case of clouds!"

+ - Scientist starts video series on the scientifically accurate story of Genesis

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "From the video channel's description: "We live on a small, wet, rocky world where life has flourished. But there are hundreds of billions of stars out there in our galaxy alone, and our galaxy is just one of hundreds of billions in our observable Universe.

There were a huge number of things that occurred — from the very beginning up through the present day — that resulted in our world, and ourselves, existing as it all does today. How did all of this come to be? And where does all this come from?

Theoretical astrophysicist Ethan Siegel guides us, one aspect at a time, through the most cosmic of journeys, by sharing the story the Universe tells us about itself."

Episode 1 is on organic molecules: watch it here."

+ - How to measure magnetism across the Universe

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "It’s easy to visualize a magnetic field if you’ve got a set of iron filings and a laboratory to experiment in, but what about the distant stars? What of entire galaxies? They’re thought to have magnetic fields, just as our Sun does. But we can’t measure the coronal loops so easily for objects thousands, millions or billions of times as distant. Yet, we have our techniques, based on how charged particles and light interact with magnetic fields. Come see how we map the Universe’s magnetism from afar!"

+ - MAVEN begins science mission to determine fate of Martian atmosphere

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "You might think there's very little that Earth and Mars have in common, with our planet covered in water, with a thick atmosphere, active magnetic field and teeming with life, while Mars is a dry, cold, barred desert world that's incapable of liquid water. But for the first one or two billion years of its existence, Mars likely had liquid water and all the right conditions for life. What happened? The leading theory says that Mars cooled, lost its magnetic field, and had its atmosphere stripped away by the solar wind, and NASA's MAVEN mission is about to take the data to either validate or falsify this hypothesis!"

+ - Why Pluto Still Matters

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "Nearly a century ago, Pluto was discovered, and for 48 years it remained the only known object whose orbit takes it beyond the gravitational pull of Neptune. In a single generation, we've now discovered more than 1,000 additional objects in the Kuiper Belt, but does that make Pluto any less special? A strong argument for why Pluto might matter now more than ever."

+ - The moment of truth for BICEP2

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "Earlier this year, the BICEP2 team shook up the world by announcing the discovery of primordial gravitational waves: a signal from the earliest stages of the Universe, going all the way back to before the Big Bang! By looking at the photon polarization data, they claimed to have surpassed the gold “5” standard for announcing a discovery in physics. But recently, that’s been walked back, as there could have been a systematic error at play: simple emission from our own Milky Way. Later this month, the Planck team will release their results, and either confirm or refute BICEP2. Here’s where we stand on the eve of that announcement."

+ - How does matter cool in an expanding Universe?

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "If the Universe is expanding and cooling, it’s easy to visualize how radiation cools: it has a wavelength, space expands, and so as the wavelength gets stretched, the energy drops. But what about the matter? Energies must have dropped for matter as well, otherwise it wouldn’t have lost enough kinetic energy to become gravitationally bound into gas clumps, stars and galaxies. And yet, those things very much exist! What’s the resolution to this? The incredible answer is here."

+ - Giving thanks, the astrophysicist's way

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "Today (Thursday), the fourth Thursday of November, marks American Thanksgiving, an annual harvest festival and feast where we celebrate a variety of things, particularly the good things that have come to us in life. And yet, what’s amazing is that—if you’re willing to start with expanding spacetime and the laws of physics—a Universe that looks a whole lot like ours, complete with clusters, galaxies, stars, planets, heavy elements, and, most probably, life, is inevitable. And it’s inevitable all over the Universe. Be thankful for that!"

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