May 2008

Omega Centauri: When Galaxies Collide

May 20, 2008

By Larry Klaes An alternative title for Larry’s new story might be “Toward a Science of Galactic Archaeology.” For the vast cities of stars we see in the night sky are in a constant, if extremely long-term, process of re-shaping themselves through encounters with other galaxies, an activity whose traces in the distant past may […]

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Warp Drive: A Cottage Industry Emerges

May 19, 2008

Mention the term ‘warp drive’ and the name Miguel Alcubierre immediately comes to mind. But it was only recently that the Mexican physicist’s connection to the idea arose. His 1994 paper, written while he was at the University of Wales, took what had been a science fiction concept (most famously, I suppose, in Star Trek) […]

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Asteroid Deflection From Space

May 17, 2008

David S.F. Portree hosts the 54th Carnival of Space at his Altair VI site this week. I love Altair VI — the stories are consistently interesting and the artwork well chosen as well as frequently unusual. Besides, a collector of old pulp magazines like myself can’t help but be drawn to a site with an […]

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First Contact Scenarios: How to Reply

May 16, 2008

I was anticipating a particular punch-line in Michelle Nijhuis’ interesting article on communicating with extraterrestrials (Christian Science Monitor, May 15), and sure enough, it came where it should have, at the very end. Nijhuis quotes Jeffrey Lockwood (University of Wyoming): “In a sense, all writing is writing for extraterrestrials.” Lockwood, who teaches creative writing at […]

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Black Holes: Rethinking the Continuum

May 15, 2008

Whether or not information can truly be lost is a major issue in the study of black holes. Stephen Hawking’s work in the 1970s offered a mechanism for black hole evaporation. Vacuum fluctuations would cause a particle and its antiparticle to appear just beyond the black hole’s event horizon, with one of the two falling […]

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Supernova Remnant the Youngest Yet

May 14, 2008

A tricky aspect of modern astronomy is keeping all the wavelengths straight. Take the case of G1.9+0.3, a supernova remnant (SNR) near the center of the Milky Way. If you look at an X-ray image of this object made with the Chandra satellite in 2007, you’ll see clear signs of growth compared to what the […]

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GLAST: Expect to Be Surprised

May 13, 2008

With the GLAST mission near launch, keep in mind the possibilities of this unique observatory in terms of findings that could revolutionize our view of distant events. GLAST (Gamma-Ray Large Area Space Telescope) will be looking at things we’ve only recently learned about, such as the enigmatic gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) now flagged by the Swift […]

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Rethinking Galactic Empire

May 12, 2008

How much would an extraterrestrial civilization resemble our own? The question resonates because on the one hand, the signature of our activities is what we tend to translate into the SETI search. We look, for example, for the signs of civilizations that are like us but more advanced technologically, which means we apply human thinking […]

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Weekend Reading on Catastrophe

May 10, 2008

Alan Boyle uses the occasion of Neal Turok’s appointment as executive director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics to interview the scientist on topics dear to the heart of Centauri Dreams readers. The ekpyrotic universe idea championed by Turok uses the idea of multidimensional ‘branes’ whose occasional collisions spark events like the Big Bang. […]

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Laser Help for Terrestrial Planet Search

May 9, 2008

Boosting the sensitivity of our exoplanet search tools by a hundredfold is no small matter, yet that’s just what optical frequency combs, when implemented with an ultrafast laser, may be able to do. A frequency comb is created by a laser that generates short, equally spaced pulses of light. ‘Locking’ the individual frequencies — keeping […]

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