In 2007, a supergiant star two hundred times bigger than the sun was utterly obliterated by runaway thermonuclear reactions triggered by gamma ray-driven antimatter production. The resulting blast was visible for months because it unleashed a cloud of radioactive material over fifty times the size of our own star, giving off a nuclear fission glow visible from galaxies away.
SN 2007bi was discovered by the international Nearby Supernova Factory based at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The explosion ejected more than 22 solar masses of silicon and other heavy elements into space, including more than six solar masses of radioactive nickel which caused the expanding gases to glow brightly for many months.
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It's no accident that we see stars in the sky, says famed Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins: they are a vital part of any universe capable of generating us. But, as Dawkins emphasizes, that does not mean that stars exists in order to make us."It is just that without stars there would be no atoms heavier than lithium in the periodic table," Dawkins wrote in The Ancestors Tale -- A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution, "and a chemistry of only three elements is too impoverished to support life. Seeing is the kind of activity that can go on only in the kind of universe where what you see is stars."
Continue reading ""Alien Edens" ----Evolutionary Biologist Richard Dawkins: 'Life Exists Elsewhere in the Universe' " »
It came suddenly from the distant reaches of the Constellation Sagittarius, some 50,000 light years away. For a brief instant, a couple of tenths of a second, on December 27, 2004, an invisible burst of energy the equivalent of half a million years of sunlight shone on Earth. Many orbiting satellites electronics were zapped and the Earth's upper atmosphere was amazingly ionized from a massive hit of gamma ray energy.
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"The answer may be that other regions of the Universe are not quite so favorable for life as we know it, and that the laws of physics we measure in our part of the Universe are merely ‘local by-laws', in which case it is no particular surprise to find life here," says John Webb of the University of New South Wales .
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"Of all the many glorious images we have received from Saturn, none are more strikingly unusual than those taken from Saturn's shadow," said Carolyn Porco, Cassini's imaging team lead based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
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In a major paper in Science, Perimeter Faculty member Xiao-Gang Wen reveals a modern reclassification of all 500 phases of matter. Using modern mathematics, Wen and collaborators reveal a new system which can, at last, successfully classify symmetry-protected phases of matter. Their new classification system will provide insight about these quantum phases of matter, which may in turn increase our ability to design states of matter for use in superconductors or quantum computers. The paper provides a revealing look at the intricate and fascinating world of quantum entanglement, and an important step toward a modern reclassification of all phases of matter.
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Astronomers have come to realize that the process of star formation, once thought to consist essentially of just the simple coalescence of material by gravity, occurs in a complex series of stages. As the gas and dust in giant molecular clouds comes together into stars, dramatic outflowing jets of material develop around each, as do circumstellar disks (possibly pre-planetary in nature). Other features are present as well: Astronomers in the 1960s were amazed to discover that these star-forming regions sometimes produce natural masers (masers are the bright, radio wavelength analogs of lasers). Clouds of water vapor or methanol vapor in regions of active star formation generate some of the most spectacular masers.
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The Fermi paradox is the apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations and the lack of evidence for, or contact with, such civilizations. As Enrico Fermi asked if the Universe is conducive to intelligent life, “Where is everybody?”
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"Even if there is only 1 intelligent civilization per galaxy where you have over 100 billion stars per galaxy with some galaxies sporting nearer to a trillion stars. There are over 100 billion galaxies in the visible universe, maybe more. So even assuming you have only 1 species per galaxy, that's still 100 billion x 100 billion possible life sustaining solar systems. Which is probably a small estimate. We know that the building blocks of life are present more or less everywhere in the universe."
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