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November 2015
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"Beyond the Higgs" --Hints That the Universe Could Suddenly Collapse (2015 Most Popular)

 

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A stable universe is one in a low energy state where particles and forces interact and behave according to theoretical predictions, forever. That’s in contrast to metastable, or unstable, meaning a higher energy state in which things eventually change, or change suddenly and unpredictably, and that could result in the universe collapsing. The Higgs and top quark are the two most important parameters for determining an answer to that question. Recent measurements of the Higgs and top quark indicate they describe a universe that is not necessarily stable at all energies.

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Hubble Hints at Source of Milky Way's Titanic Eruption 2 Million Years Ago (2015 Most Popular)



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At a time when our earliest human ancestors mastered walking upright the heart of our Milky Way galaxy underwent a titanic eruption, driving gases and other material outward at 2 million miles per hour. Now, at least 2 million years later, astronomers are witnessing the aftermath of the explosion: billowing clouds of gas towering about 30,000 light-years above and below the plane of our galaxy.

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Scientists Identify Fragments of Primordial Proteins that Existed 3.5 Billion Years Ago

 

 

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Scientists at the Max Planck Society have investigated the hypothesis that the first protein domains arose by fusion and piecemeal growth from an ancestral set of simple peptides, which themselves emerged in an RNA-based pre-cellular life, around 3.5 billion years ago.

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NASA/Hubble: "Human Civilization Has Arrived Early in the Universe" (2015 Most Popular)

 

 

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Earth came early to the party in the evolving universe. According to the new theoretical study, when our solar system was born 4.6 billion years ago only eight percent of the potentially habitable planets that will ever form in the universe existed. And, the party won't be over when the sun burns out in another 6 billion years. The bulk of those planets -- 92 percent -- have yet to be born. This conclusion is based on an assessment of data collected by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the prolific planet-hunting Kepler space observatory.

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'Does This Tiny Ocean World Harbor Life?'--NASA's Last Flyby of Saturn's Geyser Moon, Enceladus

 

 

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"We bid a poignant goodbye to our close views of this amazing icy world," said Linda Spilker, the mission's project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "Cassini has made so many breathtaking discoveries about Enceladus, yet so much more remains to be done to answer that pivotal question, 'Does this tiny ocean world harbor life?'"

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Image of the Day: "Previously Unknown Part of the Milky Way"

 

 

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This past fall, astronomers using the VISTA telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory discovered a previously unknown component of the Milky Way. VISTA Variables in the Via Lactea (VVV) is one of six ESO Public Surveys for the 4-meter VISTA Telescope. VVV is scanning the Milky Way bulge and an adjacent section of the midplane, where star formation activity is high.

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Exotic Chemistry of Super-Earths "Defies Classical Rules"

 

 

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Using mathematical models, scientists have 'looked' into the interior of super-Earths and discovered that they may contain compounds that are forbidden by the classical rules of chemistry -- these substances may increase the heat transfer rate and strengthen the magnetic field on these planets.

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NASA: Probes Deadly Solar Eruptions That Could Impair Future Space Missions

 

 

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Among the most feared events in space physics are solar eruptions, massive explosions that hurl millions of tons of plasma gas and radiation into space. These outbursts can be deadly: if the first moon-landing mission had encountered one, the intense radiation could have been fatal to the astronauts. And when eruptions reach the magnetic field that surrounds the Earth, the contact can create geomagnetic storms that disrupt cell phone service, damage satellites and knock out power grids.

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"Clusters of Life Form, Grow, and Overlap Like Oases in the Universe" --Harvard-Smithsonian CfA (Holiday Feature)

 

 

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New research this year by Harvard astrophysicists shows that if life can travel between the stars (a process called panspermia), it would spread in a characteristic pattern that we could potentially identify. "In our theory clusters of life form, grow, and overlap like bubbles in a pot of boiling water," says lead author Henry Lin of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).

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NASA: The Next 10 Years --"The Race is On to Discover If Life is Ubiquitous Throughout Our Galaxy and Beyond" (2015 Most Popular)

 

 

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Nearly 14 billion years ago, our universe was born from a swirling quantum soup, in a spectacular and dynamic event known as the \big bang." After several hundred million years, the first stars lit up the cosmos, and many hundreds of millions of years later, the remnants of countless stellar explosions coalesced into the first planetary systems. Somehow, through a process still not understood, the laws of physics guiding the unfolding of our universe gave rise to self-replicating organisms - life. Yet more perplexing, this life eventually evolved a capacity to know its universe, to study it, and to question its own existence. Did this happen many times? If it did, how? If it didn't, why?

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