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April 2015
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Origins of Life On Earth & Beyond --"From Matter to Living Biology" (Weekend Feature)



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What is the recipe for life? If you were to build a cell from scratch, what ingredients would you need? And what kind of environment would you need to cook inanimate matter into a living cell? These are the questions that occupy Harvard biochemist Jack Szostak, as he imagines the dynamic world where life was born.

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Weekend 'Galaxy' Insight --"We May be One of the Early Advanced Species in the Universe"






"Intelligent life may be in it's 'very young'stage in the observable Universe. Its 200 billion galaxies show a clear potential to continue on as we see them today for hundreds of billions of years, if not much longer. Because planets and life are so young in our Universe. Perhaps the human species are not late comers to the party. We may be among the early ones."

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"Observing 20 Billion Galaxies" --The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST)





"Dark energy is accelerating the expansion of the universe and ripping it apart," said Murayama, the Director of the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (Kavli IPMU) at the University of Tokyo and a professor at the Berkeley Center for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Berkeley. "The questions we are asking are: Where is the universe going? What is its fate? Is it getting completely ripped apart at some point? Does the universe end? Or does it go forever?"

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Today's 'Galaxy' Insight --"Will Intelligence Be a Constant in the Universe?"





"If you go to these other continents and ask zoologists 'What do you think is the smartest thing there? Is it trying to become human? Is it any closer today than it was 50 million years ago to building a radio telescope?' I think the answer would be no. If that's the answer, then there is no trend toward human-like intelligence, and this whole idea of intelligence being convergent is just an empty claim based on what we want to believe about ourselves. Only one species of the billions of species that have existed on Earth has shown an aptitude for radios and even we failed to build one during the first 99% of our 7 million year history."

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Snapshot of the Oldest Light in the Universe --"Reveals Clues to Its Origin"





Astrophysicists have developed a new method for calculating the effect of Rayleigh scattering on photons, potentially allowing researchers to better understand the formation of the Universe. The CMB is the oldest light in the universe, which originated when electrons combined with protons to form the first atoms. These primordial atoms were also the first to Rayleigh scatter light.

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Colossal Flare Observed on Closest Red Giant Star --"Impacts the Milky Way's Ecosystem"





Super-sharp observations with the telescope Alma have revealed what seems to be a gigantic flare on the surface of Mira, one of the closest and most famous red giant stars in the sky, with its 13-light-year long tail. Activity like this in red giants - similar to what we see in the Sun - comes as a surprise to astronomers. The discovery could help explain how winds from giant stars make their contribution to our galaxy's ecosystem.

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"Our Invisible Universe" --The Foamy Structure of Spacetime





A new study combining data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and Fermi Gamma-ray Telescope, and the Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array (VERITAS) in Arizona is helping scientists set limits on the quantum nature of space-time on extremely tiny scales. Certain aspects of quantum mechanics predict that space-time - the three dimensions of space plus time -- would not be smooth on the scale of about ten times a billionth of a trillionth of the diameter of a hydrogen atom's nucleus. They refer to the structure that may exist at this extremely small size as "space-time foam."

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"Extreme Black Hole Jets Signal Galaxy Mergers" --Hubble/ALMA Observatories





In the most extensive survey of its kind ever conducted, a team of scientists have found an unambiguous link between the presence of supermassive black holes that power high-speed, radio-signal-emitting jets and the merger history of their host galaxies. Almost all of the galaxies hosting these jets were found to be merging with another galaxy, or to have done so recently. The results lend significant weight to the case for jets being the result of merging black holes.

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Today's 'Galaxy' Insight --"The Accidental Evolution of Homo Sapiens"





"If one small and odd lineage of fishes had not evolved fins capable of bearing weight on land (though evolved for different reasons in lakes and seas,) terrestrial vertebrates would never have arisen. If a large extraterrestrial object—the ultimate random bolt from the blue—had not triggered the extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago, mammals would still be small creatures, confined to the nooks and crannies of a dinosaur's world, and incapable of evolving the larger size that brains big enough for self-consciousness require.

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Emergence of Spacetime --"Built by Quantum Entanglement"





"It was known that quantum entanglement is related to deep issues in the unification of general relativity and quantum mechanics, such as the black hole information paradox and the firewall paradox," says Hirosi Ooguri, a Principal Investigator at the University of Tokyo's Kavli IPMU. "Our paper sheds new light on the relation between quantum entanglement and the microscopic structure of spacetime by explicit calculations. The interface between quantum gravity and information science is becoming increasingly important for both fields."

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