March 2006

The Case of the Disappearing Neutrinos

March 31, 2006

Following up on yesterday’s intriguing antimatter results at Fermilab, a neutrino study called the Main Injector Neutrino Oscillation Search (MINOS) is providing independent confirmation of a critical idea: neutrinos have mass. This is significant news because it helps to illuminate earlier experiments that suggested neutrinos oscillate between three different types, something that could occur only […]

Read the full article →

Clues About the ‘Antimatter Wars’

March 30, 2006

With 700 physicists from 90 different institutions in 20 countries working on an experiment, you expect interesting results. And the DZero experiment at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory is living up to the expectation. Scientists at Fermilab have been studying a subatomic particle known as the B_s meson (pronounced ‘B sub s’). Their work suggests that […]

Read the full article →

Henry Hsieh on Main-Belt Comets

March 29, 2006

Centauri Dreams recently discussed the discovery of so-called ‘main-belt comets’ — icy objects found in asteroid-like orbits that apparently formed in the inner Solar System rather than on its outer edges. The work, performed by Henry Hsieh and David Jewitt (University of Hawaii) raises questions about the origins of Earth’s water supply, which had been […]

Read the full article →

Icy Moons and Their Oxygen

March 28, 2006

Gas giant moons like Europa offer the tantalizing hint of life-sustaining conditions, with oxygen supplied by their abundant ices. But without sufficient heat, how is the oxygen to be coaxed from their frozen surfaces? So far, the explanation has been that high-energy particles bombarding such a moon’s surface could help to release the gas, which […]

Read the full article →

‘Main-Belt Comets’ A Clue to Earth’s Water

March 27, 2006

How did a newly formed Earth, supposedly hot and dry, wind up with oceans? Comets have been the leading candidate for the needed delivery mechanism, given their large ice content. But ice from the asteroid belt may make a better fit to Earth’s water supply, and the discovery of a new class of comets there […]

Read the full article →

A Potential Breakthrough in Quantum Gravity

March 25, 2006

An effect that far exceeds what would be expected under Einstein’s theory of General Relativity has been produced in a laboratory. The fact that the effect — the gravitational equivalent of a magnetic field — is one hundred million trillion times larger than what General Relativity predicts has raised the eyebrows of more than a […]

Read the full article →

Transit Window Soon to Open for GL 581

March 24, 2006

If the goal is to find terrestrial planets around nearby stars, the transit method is our best bet. Sure, microlensing can deliver powerful results, and is fully capable, we believe, of finding a small, rocky world around a distant star. But microlensing as currently used is limited to stars that are tens of thousands of […]

Read the full article →

A Brown Dwarf in the Neighborhood

March 23, 2006

How many brown dwarfs await discovery near the Sun? Nobody knows, but the most recent is an interesting object indeed. Found some 12.7 light years from Earth as a companion to the red star SCR 1845-6357, it is the third closest brown dwarf yet discovered. “If you think of the galaxy as being the size […]

Read the full article →

Seeding the Solar System with Life

March 22, 2006

For years now, we’ve had our eye on Mars rocks that are known to occasionally fall to Earth, blown off their planet of origin in some primeval impact. But recent computer modeling suggests that a reverse process may also occur: rocks from Earth, potentially carrying life, could reach environments as distant as Europa and Titan. […]

Read the full article →

New Detector Boosts Laser Communications

March 21, 2006

Why is it so tricky to deliver large amounts of data from space? One key issue is frequency — because the amount of data that can be transmitted varies with the square of the frequency, higher frequencies give you more bang for the buck. Moving the Deep Space Network from today’s X-Band (between 8.40 and […]

Read the full article →