Tech & ScienceAstronomers have spotted huge swaths of gas spinning around the supermassive black hole thought to sit at the heart of the Milky Way.The rambunctious clouds—observed moving at almost one-third of the speed of light—are a “resounding confirmation” of scientists’ long-standing belief in the galactic behemoth known as Sagittarius A*, researchers said in a statement released by the European Southern Observatory (ESO).Black holes are regions of space where gravity is so intense it gulps up everything from matter to light that strays too close. As a result, the holes themselves are completely dark and incredibly cold. But nearby orbiting matter gets fiercely hot and bright as it races around the massive objects.Astronomers using the ESO’s GRAVITY instrument on the Very Large Telescope in Chile spied some of the material charging around Sagittarius A*. Flares of infrared radiation alerted scientists to the gas swirling near the … [Read more...] about Massive Clouds of Gas Hurtle Around Our Galaxy’s Black Hole at One-third the Speed of Light
Traveling at the speed of light
An image of the cosmic microwave background Credit: ESA and the Planck Collaboration We are not living in the first universe. There were other universes, in other eons, before ours, a group of physicists has said. Like ours, these universes were full of black holes. And we can detect traces of those long-dead black holes in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) — the radioactive remnant of our universe's violent birth. At least, that's the somewhat eccentric view of the group of theorists, including the prominent Oxford University mathematical physicist Roger Penrose (also an important Stephen Hawking collaborator). Penrose and his acolytes argue for a modified version of the Big Bang. In Penrose and similarly-inclined physicists' history of space and time (which they call conformal cyclic cosmology, or CCC), universes bubble up, expand and die in sequence, with black holes from each leaving traces in the universes that follow. And in a new paper … [Read more...] about Physicists think they’ve spotted the ghosts of black holes from another universe
Tech & Science A Virgin Galactic rocket launched its commercial spacecraft and the two pilots aboard more than 30 miles into the atmosphere above the Mojave Desert at almost two-and-a-half times the speed of sound. The VSS Unity’s third launch marked the first time a Virgin Galactic spaceship entered the mesosphere, a middle layer of Earth’s atmosphere 30 to 50 miles above its surface, an altitude too high for commercial aircraft and weather balloons to reach. Company heads hope the successful test proves its first round of space tours isn’t too far off. The “space plane,” propelled by rockets for more than 40 seconds to achieve a speed of Mach 2.47, reached its fastest speed and traveled more than 170,800 feet in the atmosphere. The next step, Virgin engineers said, is to cross the Karman Line, 62 miles above the Earth’s sea level, which is commonly considered the point where the atmosphere ends and space begins. But the VSS Unity might have … [Read more...] about Virgin Galactic Space Plane Travels Twice the Speed of Light, Commercial Flights Next?
This is part of CNET's Road Trip 2017 summer series "The Smartest Stuff," about how innovators are thinking up new ways to make you — and the world around you — smarter. It's still dark when the men arrive for work. At the outdoor base where they've gathered, the only light is the dying glow of a campfire at a guard post near the back. A night watchman rubs his hands over the embers to fend off the cold. The crow of a rooster tells us it's 5 a.m. here in Cuito Cuanavale, a small town in southern Angola, about 750 miles from the capital, Luanda. It's in a region so remote it's known as "the land at the end of the world." The men, wearing hoods and beanies, line up in six rows of eight, like soldiers at attention. But instead of marching off to war, they are preparing to, in a way, do the exact opposite: clear away some of the up to 1 million land mines that have paralyzed Angola since its civil war ended in 2002. The morning ritual is known as the "parade." … [Read more...] about CBS News Logo Hunting for land mines at the end of the world
The world-famous mother of invention, Bell Labs, was itself a child of that mother of all monopolies, Ma Bell. And though Ma Bell in its old form is long gone, the laboratory soldiers on. Martha Teichner reports: It looks like some tiny, weird work of art. But it won three physicists from Bell Labs a Nobel Prize. It's rthe first transistor. "This was an invention from 1947," said Edward Eckert, the archivist for Alcatel Lucent - the AT&T spinoff that operates the labs today. "Without this, a cell phone would be the size of a building. This is the beginning of the microelectronics revolution, everything getting smaller." Eckert also showed Teichner a 1960s helium neon laser - the first one that would emit a continuous beam of laser light. The laser was invented at Bell Labs, when it was the research arm for AT&T - "Ma Bell," everybody's telephone company. "In about ten years, we were able to shrink these types of lasers to something the size of a grain of salt," said … [Read more...] about The spirit of invention continues at Bell Labs