#space

Dennis Overbye on the news that scientists have discovered the gravity waves that are likely a sign that the theory of early universe inflation is correct:

Under some circumstances, a glass of water can stay liquid as the temperature falls below 32 degrees, until it is disturbed, at which point it will rapidly freeze, releasing latent heat.

Similarly, the universe could “supercool” and stay in a unified state too long. In that case, space itself would become imbued with a mysterious latent energy.

Inserted into Einstein’s equations, the latent energy would act as a kind of antigravity, and the universe would blow itself up. Since it was space itself supplying the repulsive force, the more space was created, the harder it pushed apart.

What would become our observable universe mushroomed in size at least a trillion trillionfold — from a submicroscopic speck of primordial energy to the size of a grapefruit — in less than a cosmic eye-blink.

But things get really crazy when you consider that this could theoretically also be true for an infinite amount of universes beyond our own, the “multiverse”.

tylerhwillis
tylerhwillis:

Which of the following would be brighter, in terms of the amount of energy delivered to your retina:
1. A supernova, seen from as far away as the Sun is from the Earth, or 2. The detonation of a hydrogen bomb pressed against your eyeball?
Applying the physicist rule of thumb suggests that the supernova is brighter.
And indeed, it is … by nine orders of magnitude.

Eye-opening.

tylerhwillis:

Which of the following would be brighter, in terms of the amount of energy delivered to your retina:

1. A supernova, seen from as far away as the Sun is from the Earth, or
2. The detonation of a hydrogen bomb pressed against your eyeball?

Applying the physicist rule of thumb suggests that the supernova is brighter.

And indeed, it is … by nine orders of magnitude.

Eye-opening.

science-junkie
science-junkie:

Scientists generate first map of clouds on an exoplanet
On the exoplanet Kepler 7b, the weather is highly predictable, an international team of scientists has found: On any given day, the exoplanet, which orbits a star nearly 1,000 light-years from Earth, is heavily overcast on one side, while the other side likely enjoys clear, cloudless weather. 
Image: Kepler 7b (left), which is 1.5 times the radius of Jupiter (right), is the first exoplanet to have its clouds mapped. The cloud map was produced using data from NASA’s Kepler and Spitzer space telescopes. NASA/JPL-CALTECH/MIT
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Amazing.

science-junkie:

Scientists generate first map of clouds on an exoplanet

On the exoplanet Kepler 7b, the weather is highly predictable, an international team of scientists has found: On any given day, the exoplanet, which orbits a star nearly 1,000 light-years from Earth, is heavily overcast on one side, while the other side likely enjoys clear, cloudless weather. 

Image: Kepler 7b (left), which is 1.5 times the radius of Jupiter (right), is the first exoplanet to have its clouds mapped. The cloud map was produced using data from NASA’s Kepler and Spitzer space telescopes. NASA/JPL-CALTECH/MIT

Read more

Amazing.

Caleb Scharf:

No matter how conservative or optimistic we are, the statistics tell us that something like an astonishing one out of every seven stars must harbor a planet similar in size to the Earth, and at roughly the right orbital distance to allow for the possibility of a temperate surface environment. In other words, roughly 15 percent of all suns could, in principle, be hosting a place suitable for life as we know it.

Which is crazy, when you think about it. The likelihood of life not existing elsewhere becomes very small with these ratios.

But to discover whether or not we are alone, whether or not something akin to this Earth has happened somewhere else, and perhaps, just perhaps, whether or not there are other minds, on other worlds, thinking these same kinds of thoughts? That’s big, perhaps the biggest thing that could ever happen to a species.