"Previous studies in the lower dry valleys of Antarctica and in subglacial lakes were giving us the impression that microbial life was rich in the cold regions. But this is finally Mars!" says Chris McKay of NASA's Ames Research Centre. "University Valley has the coldest driest soil we can find on Earth. And life is really having a hard time of it there. This is certainly the training ground for the search for evidence of life on Mars and an extremely important result for NASA's astrobiology effort."
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"In recent decades the ocean has continued to warm substantially, and with time the warming signal is reaching deeper into the ocean," said LLNL scientist Peter Gleckler, lead author of a paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change. Lawrence Livermore scientists, working with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and university colleagues, have found that half of the global ocean heat content increase since 1865 has occurred over the past two decades.
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This past August, scientists working with CERN's ALICE (a Large Ion Collider Experiment), a heavy-ion detector on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) ring, made precise measurements of particle mass and electric charge that confirm the existence of a fundamental symmetry in nature. "After the Big Bang, for every particle of matter an antiparticle was created. In particle physics, a very important question is whether all the laws of physics display a specific kind of symmetry known as CPT, and these measurements suggest that there is indeed a fundamental symmetry between nuclei and antinuclei," said Marcelo Gameiro Munhoz, a professor at the University of São Paulo (USP).
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Archaean Eon diamonds dug up from ancient rock formations in the Johannesburg area, between 1890 and 1930 – before the industrialisation of gold mining – have revealed secrets of how the Earth worked more than 3.5 billion years ago, confirming that plate tectonics -a key to life- was actively shaping the planet.
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"If you don't explore the various options of what life may be like in the universe, you won't know what to look for when you go out to find it," said Washington State University planetary scientist Dirk Schulze-Makuch. "We do not propose that these organisms exist but like to point out that their existence would be consistent with physical and chemical laws, as well as biology."
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A team of astronomers has found an enigmatic gas cloud, called CO-0.40-0.22, only 200 light years away from the center of the Milky Way. What makes CO-0.40-0.22 unusual is its surprisingly wide velocity dispersion: the cloud contains gas with a very wide range of speeds. The team found this mysterious feature with two radio telescopes, the Nobeyama 45-m Telescope in Japan and the ASTE Telescope in Chile, both operated by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. What makes this velocity dispersion so wide? There are no holes inside of the cloud. Also, X-ray and infrared observations did not find any compact objects. These features indicate that the velocity dispersion is not caused by a local energy input, such as supernova explosions.
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"Human beings are very good at pattern recognition. The dynamic range that our eyes and our brains offer is much greater than a computer algorithm," said Anupreeta More, a project researcher at the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (Kavli IPMU) at the University of Tokyo and a co-principal investigator for Space Warps. More was one of the three astrophysicists who participated in a roundtable discussion, hosted by The Kavli Foundation, about the growing role that citizen scientists are playing in astrophysics.
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Evidence left at the crime scene is abundant and global: Fossil remains show that sometime around 252 million years ago, about 90 percent of all species on Earth were suddenly wiped out — by far the largest of this planet’s five known mass extinctions. But pinpointing the culprit has been difficult, and controversial. This past March, 2015, a team of MIT researchers may have found enough evidence to convict the guilty parties — but you’ll need a microscope to see the killers.
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The mismatch between the predictions of Mars's ancient climate that arise from models developed by paleoclimatologists and indications of the planet's watery past, as interpreted by geologists, bears similarities to a century-old scientific conundrum about Earth's ancient past. At the time, geologists first began to recognize that the shapes of the continents matched each other, almost like scattered puzzle pieces, explains John Grotzinger, Caltech's Fletcher Jones Professor of Geology, chair of the Division of Planetary and Geological Sciences.
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Standard cosmology -- that is, the Big Bang Theory with its early period of exponential growth known as inflation -- is the prevailing scientific model for our universe, in which the entirety of space and time ballooned out from a very hot, very dense point into a homogeneous and ever-expanding vastness. This theory accounts for many of the physical phenomena we observe. But what if that's not all there was to it?
Continue reading "Density of Dark Matter in the Universe --"Was Powered by Interactions in a 'Hidden Sector' of Physics"" »