January 2008

The Holocene: End of an Epoch?

January 31, 2008

Do technological cultures survive their growing pains? Species extinction through war or unintended environmental consequences — a cap upon the growth of civilizations — could be one solution to the Fermi question. They’re not here because they’re not there, having left ruined cities and devastated planets in their wake, just as we will. It’s a […]

Read the full article →

Dark Energy: Shaping Our Tools

January 30, 2008

Can measuring the positions and velocities of thousands of galaxies provide insight into the nature of dark energy? If so, we may have found a way to study what is perhaps the most puzzling question in astrophysics, the discovery that the expansion of the universe is proceeding faster today than it did in the past. […]

Read the full article →

Putting the Pieces Together in Space

January 29, 2008

By Larry Klaes Tau Zero journalist Larry Klaes takes a look at Mason Peck’s work with reconfigurable space structures. Anyone who ponders the future of large structures in the Solar System — and this might include space-based telescopes, O’Neill habitats or perhaps one day enormous lenses of the sort Robert Forward envisioned — will wonder […]

Read the full article →

Fast Mover from the Large Magellanic Cloud

January 28, 2008

Stars being kicked out of the Milky Way — so-called ‘hypervelocity stars’ — follow a mechanism that seems understood. We know there is a supermassive black hole at galactic center, and it is likely the cause of the ejection of such stars from our galaxy. Nine stars have been found that fit this description, all […]

Read the full article →

First Look at Approaching Asteroid

January 26, 2008

The 70-meter Goldstone antenna in the Mojave Desert has begun observations of 2007 TU24, the asteroid that will pass 538,000 kilometers from the Earth on January 27-28. Early indications are that the object is asymmetrical, with a diameter of approximately 250 meters. Close pass by the Earth is to occur on January 29 at 0833 […]

Read the full article →

38th Carnival of Space

January 26, 2008

Sorting Out Science offers the most recent Carnival of Space in a noir-ish style that recalls the detective pulps of years gone by, not to mention many a film noir itself (Out of the Past may be my favorite, but there were so many terrific movies in the genre). I always pick one blog entry […]

Read the full article →

A New Earth Crosser and an Old Impact

January 25, 2008

With the news that an asteroid called 2007 TU24 will pass 538,000 kilometers from Earth on January 29, attention turns to the Catalina Sky Survey, which discovered this near-Earth object last October. The asteroid is thought to be between 150 and 600 meters in diameter, and should become visible to amateur astronomers in late January. […]

Read the full article →

Black Holes May Fuel Antimatter Cloud

January 24, 2008

Those gamma rays coming out of galactic center, flagging the presence of an antimatter cloud of enormous extent, have spawned few explanations more exotic than the one we consider today: Black holes. Primordial black holes, in fact, produced in their trillions at the time of the Big Bang and left evaporating through so-called ‘Hawking radiation’ […]

Read the full article →

A ‘Super Earth’ Around GJ 436?

January 23, 2008

The closest we’ve come so far to identifying Earth-like planets around other stars is in the identification of so-called ‘super Earths.’ Calculations designed to model the composition of such planets say that worlds up to about ten Earth masses are rocky rather than gaseous. Some of these, as we have in the case of Gliese […]

Read the full article →

The Stars and the Odds

January 22, 2008

The universe so frequently sends the message that we humans are not entirely special. In fact, the notion of us as ‘privileged observers’ seemed to be dead as recently as a few years ago. Over the centuries we had learned that the Sun did not revolve around us, nor was the Sun itself the center […]

Read the full article →