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+ - The hierarchy problem is the greatest unsolved problem in physics

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "When it comes to our Universe, you might think we understand it pretty well. We have a full list of particles we know to exist, we understand the forces that describe their behavior, and we’ve been able to detect and measure each and every interaction between them. But not everything is known. Perhaps the most disturbing puzzle out there is why the force of gravity — the most easily observable force in the Universe and the first to be understood at all — is so much mind-bogglingly weaker in magnitude than all the others. If you took two protons, for example, and held them a meter apart, the electromagnetic repulsion between them would be 10^40 times stronger than their gravitational attraction! Why is this? There are four proposed solutions that Run II of the LHC will put to the test. If we get lucky, the greatest unsolved problem in theoretical physics will finally be solved."

+ - The astronomical objects that shouldn't exist

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "When it comes to theoretical physics, you might realize the entire point is to set up a framework to predict what phenomena are going to occur in the Universe. So if you rewind the clock back to very early times, set up the initial conditions and apply those laws, you would expect to get our Universe out, if we’ve gotten things correct. And if we don’t have things figured out properly? We’ll start observing objects that we didn’t correctly predict. But does that mean that the laws of nature, the fundamental particles therein or even our overarching theories are wrong? Perhaps, but that isn’t the most likely explanation."

+ - The closest conjunction of the year comes tonight

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "When you look up at the sky, all the twinkling lights — the stars — appear to be fixed. But littered among them are the non-twinkling wanderers: the planets. Just 11 days ago, the Mars/Venus conjunction occurred, giving us a spectacular view of two naked-eye planets separated by a mere half-a-degree. But tomorrow night, particularly for skywatchers in Europe and northern Africa, an even closer conjunction, of just 0.1, occurs between Venus and Uranus, the closest one of the year."

+ - NASA's Spitzer team releases highest-resolution view of the full galactic plane

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "From our vantage point within the Milky Way, most of our 200-400 billion stars are obscured by the dust lanes present within. But thanks to its views in infrared light, the Spitzer Space Telescope can glimpse not only all of the stars and the dust simultaneously, it can do it at an alarming resolution. Recently, NASA has put together a 360 panorama of more than 2,000,000 Spitzer images taken from 2003-2014, and one astrophysicist has gone and stitched them together into a single, 180,000-pixel-long viewable experience that shows less than 3% of the sky, but nearly 50% of its stars."

+ - Spock and the legacy of Star Trek

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "While the nerd/geek world mourns the death of Leonard Nimoy in its own way, it's important to remember the legacy that Star Trek — and that Spock and alien characters like him — left on our world. Unlike any other series, Star Trek used a futuristic, nearly utopian world to explore our own moral battles and failings, and yet somehow always managed to weave in an optimism about humanity and our future. This is something, the author argues, that is sorely missing from the new J.J. Abrams movies."

+ - How would humans die in the vacuum of space?

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "In films like Gravity, Mission to Mars and Total Recall, humans are often shown dying rapidly and catastrophically from exposure to the vacuum of space. But are these deaths scientifically accurate? Would you freeze, boil, explode, swell-to-incapacitation or something else? You wouldn't last long during a rapid decompression, but if you could survive the initial switch, you'd actually have 10-to-14 seconds of consciousness, followed by a total of 90 seconds or so to be rescued before death permanently took you."

+ - Earth second almost Moon

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "Planets can have not only moons, but gravitationally captured bodies co-orbiting the Sun either ahead or behind them in orbit. Jupiter, for example, has not only all the moons that orbit around it, but thousands of gravitationally captured objects in addition: the Trojans (and Greeks). While Earth may have only one true moon orbiting our world, what of these Trojans? Do we have any captured asteroids or comets hanging out around one of our Lagrange points? We absolutely do, but only one of them is here to stay, and it very likely isn’t the one — 3753 Cruithne — you’ve heard of."

+ - Every star will die, but most will live again

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "No matter how well we care for our bodies, they eventually wear down, give out, and we all will someday face death. Yet if there’s anything to be learned from looking at the physical Universe, there’s no reason to expect that death is truly the end. Every time a star runs out of fuel and dies, no matter what type of star it is or what fate it suffers, there’s always a new chance for both new stars and new life to arise from it. From stars resulting in the most massive supernovae to the smallest red dwarfs, the death of these objects is only a single step along a cosmic journey that began long before any stars existed and will continue long after the Universe ceases to resemble what we know today."

+ - What happens when Betelgeuse explodes? 1

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "One of the great, catastrophic truths of the Universe is that everything has an expiration date. And this includes every single point of light in the entire sky. The most massive stars will die in a spectacular supernova explosion when their final stage of core fuel runs out. At only an estimated 600 light years distant, Betelgeuse is one (along with Antares) of the closest red supergiants to us, and it’s estimated to have only perhaps 100,000 years until it reaches the end of its life. Here's the story on what we can expect to see (and feel) on Earth when Betelgeuse explodes!"

+ - Non-scientists can't tell the difference between real science and a numbers game

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "No one science can stand wholly on its own. For inquiry about the Universe to give a correct, complete picture, it requires that we bring in a whole slew of evidence, often from tangentially related fields. The interplay between three fields in particular — astronomy, physics, and math (not a science, but the tool used to help understand the relationships arising in the first two) — have given rise to the most successful picture of the Universe of all-time. But to the non-scientists out there, it's often difficult to tell a sciencey-sounding idea from real science."

+ - The cause of the Moon's great crater chains

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "You might think that your odds of getting 3, 5, or even 10 or more craters all next to each other and in a row on an object like the Moon are astronomically small. Yet, we've identified dozens of features that show exactly this! Here are some of the most spectacular, along with the redux of the leading ideas of where they came from, including secondary impacts, tidally disrupted impactors and volcanic and geologic explanations."

+ - Using the cold to make frozen soap bubbles

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "While those of us faced with below-freezing temperatures are already sick of the long, brutal winter, there's a little do-it-yourself beauty coming your way. All it takes is some water, dish soap, and either glycerine or corn syrup, and you're all set to make your own frozen soap bubbles. Here's a great how-to guide, complete with ingredients, conditions and techniques, that showcases the amazing results of three aficionados who've already done it!"

+ - The story of the very early Universe

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "Our observable Universe got its start at the hot Big Bang, where every single known particle and antiparticle of matter or radiation existed in great abundance. Normally, the story of what happened to everything as the Universe expanded and cooled is glossed over, picking up with the leftover matter forming nuclei and atoms. Here is a terrific and accessible treatment of all the details that happen in between. Required reading for aficionados of how our Universe came to be the way it is."

+ - The science of a bottomless pit

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "It’s the ultimate dream of many children with time on their hands and their first leisurely attempt at digging: to go clear through the Earth to the other side, creating a bottomless pit. Most of us don’t get very far in practice, but in theory, it should be possible to construct one, and consider what would happen to a very clever test subject who took all the proper precautions, and jumped right in. Here's what you would have to do to travel clear through the Earth, come out the other side, and make the return trip to right back where you started."

+ - Don't trust your proofs in theoretical physics

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "In mathematics, a theorem will absolutely, definitively settle an issue as to whether something can or cannot happen. But in physics, the waters are a lot murkier. Proofs and theorems of forbidden phenomena (like 21-cm hydrogen emission) abound, and yet those phenomena occur. Similarly, theorems exist that certain events must occur (like the Poincare recurrence theorem), and yet they never will. Beware of what a proof or theorem actually means for the Universe, and keep this in mind when it comes to the origin of space and time itself!"

Eureka! -- Archimedes