mknewman writes: A refreshingly simple new idea has emerged in the complicated world of high energy physics. It proposes that the early universe was a one-dimensional line. Not an exploding sphere, not a chaotic ball of fire. Just a simple line of pure energy.
Over time, as that line grew, it crisscrossed and intersected itself more and more, gradually forming a tightly interwoven fabric, which, at large distances, appeared as a 2-D plane. More time passed and the 2-D universe expanded and twisted about, eventually creating a web — the 3-D universe we see today.
This concept, called "vanishing dimensions" to describe what happens the farther one looks back in time, has been gaining traction within the high energy physics community in recent months.
mknewman writes: The European Space Agency reported Wednesday that a ground station in Australia has re-established contact with Russia's Phobos-Grunt probe, two weeks after a mysterious post-launch glitch.
On Tuesday, the Interfax news agency quoted Russia's deputy space chief, Vitaly Davydov, as saying that "chances to accomplish the mission are very slim." Then ESA said its tracking station in Perth, Australia, made contact with the probe late Tuesday (20:25 GMT, or 3:25 p.m. ET).
"ESA teams are working closely with engineers in Russia to determine how best to maintain communication with the spacecraft," the agency reported on its website Wednesday.
mknewman writes: CMS spokesperson Guido Tonelli dangled an intriguing teaser in today's release: "As we speak, hundreds of young scientists are still analyzing the huge amount of data accumulated so far; we'll soon have new results and, maybe, something important to say on the Standard Model Higgs Boson."
mknewman writes: A distant galaxy with stars that began forming just 200 million years after the big bang has been discovered. The finding addresses questions about when the first galaxies arose and how early the universe evolved, scientists report.
The galaxy was spotted with the Hubble Space Telescope. It is visible through a cluster of galaxies called Abell 383, whose powerful gravity bends the rays of light like a magnifying glass. The so-called gravitational lens amplifies light from the distant galaxy, making it appear 11 times brighter and allowing detailed observations.
Infrared data from Hubble and NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope show the galaxy's stars formed when the universe was 200 million years old. Observations with the W.M. Keck Observatory on Muna Kea in Hawaii revealed the observed light from the galaxy dates to when the universe was 950 million years old. The universe formed about 13.7 billion years ago.
mknewman writes: EMC2 recently created a buzz in the fusion underground by reporting on its Web site that a series of experiments was able to "validate and extend" earlier results reported by the late physicist Robert Bussard. The company is now using a $7.9 million contract from the U.S. Navy to build a bigger test machine, known as WB-8. (WB stands for "Wiffle Ball," which refers to the shape of the machine's magnetic fields.)
What's more, Nebel and his colleagues are now seeking contributions to fund the development of what they say would be a 100-megawatt fusion plant — a "Phase 3" effort projected to cost $200 million and take four years.
"Successful Phase 3 marks the end of fossil fuels," the Web site proclaims.
mknewman writes: "Armadillo Aerospace qualified to win a million dollars of NASA's money today by accomplishing a rocket-powered round trip modeled after a moon landing. The team's remote-controlled Scorpius rocket (formerly known as the Super Mod) blasted off from its Texas launch pad, rose into the sky and floated over to set down on a mock moon landing pad. After refueling, Scorpius blasted off again for what one observer called a "perfect flight" back to the original launch pad.
The judges confirmed that Armadillo satisfied all the contest requirements. Scorpius made pinpoint landings within a meter of each landing pad's center target, according to William Pomerantz, the director of space prizes for the X Prize Foundation.
That means the million-dollar top prize in the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge will definitely be given away this year. But Armadillo's rocketeers will still have to wait another month and a half to find out if they won, while other entrants in the competition try to do the same feat better.
Rainy conditions posed a challenge for the flight, and for a while it looked as if the prospects for flying today were slim. A fortunate break in the weather gave Armadillo a chance to go for the gold."