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new scientific discoveries


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#61
Raithe

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It's not a discovery, but science based news..

Alien Telescope Array Mothballed

Apparently SETI have lost the Alien Telescope Array in California. The only Array dedicated to the search for Extraterrestrial Life has been shut down due to US budget cuts.

The bizzarre thing, is that their annual operating costs is basically equivalent to building a mile of highway. So you can really see how the US is saving money by slashing that budget...

#62
Walsingham

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It's not a discovery, but science based news..

Alien Telescope Array Mothballed

Apparently SETI have lost the Alien Telescope Array in California. The only Array dedicated to the search for Extraterrestrial Life has been shut down due to US budget cuts.

The bizzarre thing, is that their annual operating costs is basically equivalent to building a mile of highway. So you can really see how the US is saving money by slashing that budget...


I see your point. But at the same time, a mile of highway actually does something useful.

#63
Raithe

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I see your point. But at the same time, a mile of highway actually does something useful.


Useful is perspective.. But the array is already built, so the costs are pretty much just the operating ones...
And it was the only array dedicated to looking for non-terrestrial signals, all the other arrays do a little bit when they've got nothing better to do.

Sure, that's the big question on whether there's life out there, but they do pick up funky new astrophysics doing it. Sometimes pure science can be worth it.

I mean, we're talking a budget of about £2,000,000 per year. Which is probably how much money they spend on designing toilets for their newest aircraft carriers. :)

Besides, Obama has already hit NASA's budget as well. Combined with the retirement of the last of the shuttles this year... and so much for the spirit of human exploration outside the gravity well...

#64
Walsingham

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Well, you know that I agree on the desperate imperative to get off this frogging rock. It's the only strategic drive which really matters, but we're ignoring it because it's easier to spend the cash on comestics and banker's dividends. It's the ONLY thing I wish the communist Chinese well for. Thought that too may slide as they dial up the bread and circuses over the next few years.

#65
Humodour

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Things like SETI are useful even regardless of aliens because of the offshoot benefits in distributed computing algorithms and signals processing alogirthms and the like. It's not at all a good thing that this got shut down.

That said, with the gargantuan mega telescope, the Square Kilometre Array, coming online in Australia over the next decade, as well as various smaller but still powerful scopes coming online elsewhere around the globe earlier, it's not as if we're going to have a lack of ears to the sky.

#66
Walsingham

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Things like SETI are useful even regardless of aliens because of the offshoot benefits in distributed computing algorithms and signals processing alogirthms and the like. It's not at all a good thing that this got shut down.

That said, with the gargantuan mega telescope, the Square Kilometre Array, coming online in Australia over the next decade, as well as various smaller but still powerful scopes coming online elsewhere around the globe earlier, it's not as if we're going to have a lack of ears to the sky.


Not wanting to sound harsh, but I'd bet a 100 pounds that there's been better work on signal processing coming out of mining and oil exploration than SETI over the last twenty years, and that's self-financing.

#67
pmp10

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Antihydrogen held for seventeen minutes.
Hopefully we will soon know how antimatter reacts to gravity.

#68
Humodour

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They also held 309 antihydrogen atoms, up from the previous record of 38. Quite huge.

#69
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For us thickies, this means what, exactly? Antimatter being a big deal I get only because it's tier 6 in Masters of Orion tech tree.

#70
Zoraptor

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Theoretically and in brief? Matter and antimatter annihilate each other releasing a lot of energy- far more than fission/ fusion do- and it would be an excellent energy source. There's also a bunch of theoretical stuff around exactly why matter exists but antimatter (largely) doesn't.

#71
pmp10

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In practical terms this means nothing, at least not in our lifetimes.
But in the field of theoretical study this could be really important.
AFAIK physicists have always wondered why gravity is the weakest force found in our universe and finding out if/how antimatter is affected by it could revolutionize our understanding of it.

#72
Humodour

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A project to which will answer more questions than the LHC at less than one fifth of the cost... and to be built in Africa or Australia (likely Australia - the scientific case is stronger with more radio silence, political stability, infrastructure, the NBN, etc). Well worth a read.

http://www.cosmosmag.....dark?page=0,1

And here's an article on the mind-boggling computing power which will be involved: http://www.abc.net.a.../04/3206772.htm

As both articles point out, the needs of science research (not even the actual science itself) is one of the key driving forces of modern technology and civilisation - the CSIRO (Australia) invented WiFi from algorithms for studying black holes, and CERN (Europe) developed the World Wide Web for their physics projects such as the LHC. And now the SKA will require some very intense artifical intelligence algorithms for recognising interesting radio signals, because the data has to be processed on the fly then dumped - there will be far, far, far too much to ever possibly store on drives, let alone actually sort through at a later date. And I'm not even going to try and predict where those intelligence algorithms and similar will lead us - I doubt the scientists at the CSIRO or CERN expected their work would turn into some of the key functions and infrastructure of the modern Internet.

#73
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Theoretically and in brief? Matter and antimatter annihilate each other releasing a lot of energy- far more than fission/ fusion do- and it would be an excellent energy source. There's also a bunch of theoretical stuff around exactly why matter exists but antimatter (largely) doesn't.


I have to disagree with you. The dream of efficient energy generation from antimatter-matter annihilation is a very, very long way off, if it is even thermodynamically possible.

But this is awesome even so for more abstract/theoretical reasons: the more antimatter we can confine for longer, the more we are able to study it; how it interacts with our probes (light, neutrinos, etc), how it interacts with matter, how closely it matches our predictions, in what ways it acts the same as matter, and in what ways different.

Here is just one small (but potentially revolutionary) example of why it is important to study anti-matter: http://www.physorg.c...-expansion.html

I'll type the title here so you've got an incentive to visit the link: "Antimatter gravity could explain Universe's expansion". The article specifically talks about the interaction of gravity between matter and antimatter. The suggestion is that matter and antimatter both have attractive gravity, HOWEVER, that the gravitational interaction between particles of matter and particles of antimatter is repulsive. So matter clumps together, antimatter clumps together, but antimatter gravitationally repels matter.

And to quote the article:

As for testing the possibility of antigravity between matter and antimatter, the upcoming AEGIS experiment at CERN could provide some answers. The experiment will compare how the Earth’s gravity affects hydrogen and antihydrogen atoms, and could give scientists a better understanding of antimatter’s gravitational properties.



#74
Zoraptor

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I was answering what the ultimate practical result of antimatter research would be- why it could have as much use in future as a mile highway, if you like. I agree that there's little realistic chance of anyone driving antimatter powered cars anytime soon but if you don't have a particular (hoho) interest in the subject there isn't really any great reason to care other than the potential to get an excellent energy source further down the road.

Personally, I think (as with most knowledge) it's interesting for its own sake and because it has the potential to explain interesting theoretical questions, but I'd have difficulty going beyond that in explaining why anyone else should really be concerned about it.

#75
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True. I guess there is an implicit assumption (in hindsight probably erraneously) on my part that people understand that with new physics always comes awesome new technology directly relevant to our daily lives. Maybe I DO assume to much these days... hmm.

I love the example of the USB stick for example - it couldn't exist without quantum tunnelling (and thus quantum mechanics).

And if we can learn more about gravity, it follows we'll learn more about manipulating it, and that's GOT to be useful.

#76
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So.. using my long dead journalistic instincts for twisting a story upside down... you're saying that if we understood anti-matter there's a possibilty we'd know how the expansion of the universe works, and potentially let SCIENTISTS STOP THE HEAT DEATH OF THE UNIVERSE.

#77
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So.. using my long dead journalistic instincts for twisting a story upside down... you're saying that if we understood anti-matter there's a possibilty we'd know how the expansion of the universe works


Yep!

and potentially let SCIENTISTS STOP THE HEAT DEATH OF THE UNIVERSE.


Perhaps first we should focus on existing long enough to be able to reach that point.

#78
Walsingham

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No argument from me there, Krez. Viva life!

#79
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I love the example of the USB stick for example - it couldn't exist without quantum tunnelling (and thus quantum mechanics).

Well, nothing could exist without quantum tunnelling, but are you saying they actually used quantum tunnelling to design it?

#80
Humodour

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I love the example of the USB stick for example - it couldn't exist without quantum tunnelling (and thus quantum mechanics).

Well, nothing could exist without quantum tunnelling


Uhhh...

but are you saying they actually used quantum tunnelling to design it?


Eh, lots of things these days use quantum tunnelling. People just don't know it. To be more specific they don't know enough to know how advanced it is.




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