For 100 years, Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity has survived just about every test that physicists have thrown at it. Announced in November 1915, the famous scientist’s field equations expanded on Isaac Newton’s long-standing laws by re-imagining gravity as a warping in the fabric of space and time, rather than a simple force between objects.
The results of using general relativity equations actually look similar to what you get using Newton’s math, as long as the masses involved aren’t too large and the velocities are relatively small compared to the speed of light. But the concept was a revolution for physics.
Warped space-time means that light itself is affected by gravity much more strongly than Newton predicted. It also means that planets move around their orbits in a slightly altered but very significant way, and it predicts the existence of exotic objects such as monster black holes and wormholes.
These galaxies are smiling at you thanks to general relativity. (NASA/ESA)
The Halloween asteroid has come and gone, but the forecast for November’s night skies still holds plenty of excitement for stargazers. As the days get shorter, it’s time to say goodbye to Saturn and hello to the Orion Constellation.
End of a Planetary Meet Cute
Fresh off of their rare planetary trio, Venus and Jupiter are once again drifting apart from Mars, although the three planets will stay relatively close together over the next few days, Astronomy Magazine reports. As Mars and Venus orbit the sun much faster than Jupiter, they are already pulling away from the gaseous giant after they clustered in the sky for the last time until October 2017.
For the time being, the three planets can still be seen together in front of the Leo and Virgo constellations after around 2:45 A.M. But on November 7, Mars and Venus “will form…
“I shall be the breath of your lungs,” the water nymph Ondine said to her beloved Hans, a mortal, as the two professed their affection for each other.
However, that romance, in Jean Giraudoux’s celebrated 1939 play Ondine, was not to last. Ondine’s uncle, the King of the Sea, unhappy with the relationship, forced his niece to submit to a Faustian arrangement, agreeing that Hans should die if he ever betrayed her.
Being a breathy French play, Ondine ultimately shows Hans deceiving his love and facing punishment — the ignominious end of literally forgetting to breathe. “All the things my body once did by itself, it does now only by special order,” he laments. “A single moment of inattention, and I forget to breathe. ‘He died,’ they will say, ‘because it was a nuisance to breathe.'”
For most of the NASA robots on and around Mars, March 8, 2015 was just another Sunday. As the red planet continued its slow march around the sun, a burst of solar material buffeted the atmosphere. No big deal—such changes in solar weather are pretty common.
But for one orbiting probe, March 8 was a day of Martian history in the making.
NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission was watching closely as the solar outburst stripped away some of the planet’s already thin atmosphere. Its observations back up scientists’ suspicions that solar activity is a major player in shaping Mars’s atmosphere, a finding that is even more exciting when viewed with an extremely patient eye.
That’s because billions of years ago, the young sun was thought to be much more active, spewing out solar storms more often and with more intensity than it…
On the Greenland Ice Sheet — The midnight sun still gleamed at 1 a.m. across the brilliant expanse of the Greenland ice sheet. Brandon Overstreet, a doctoral candidate in hydrology at the University of Wyoming, picked his way across the frozen landscape, clipped his climbing harness to an anchor in the ice and crept toward the edge of a river that rushed downstream toward an enormous sinkhole.
If he fell in, “the death rate is 100 percent,” said Mr. Overstreet’s friend and fellow researcher, Lincoln Pitcher.
But Mr. Overstreet’s task, to collect critical data from the river, is essential to understanding one of the most consequential impacts of global warming. The scientific data he and a team of six other researchers collect here could yield groundbreaking information on the rate at which the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, one of the biggest and fastest-melting chunks of ice on Earth, will drive up sea levels in the coming decades. The full melting of Greenland’s ice sheet could increase sea levels by about 20 feet.
This river is one of a network of thousands at the front line of climate change.
Researchers at Columbia University have found a way to treat hair loss caused by an autoimmune attack in mice that may lead to an eventual cure for pattern baldness in humans, according to a study published Friday in Science Advances. The current findings are the first to provide “rapid and robust hair growth” in the studied mice, researchers from the Columbia University Medical Center report.
“There aren’t many compounds that can push hair follicles into their growth cycle so quickly,” study author and Columbia researcher Angela M. Christiano said in a statement. “Some topical agents induce tufts of hair here and there after a few weeks, but very few compounds have this potent an effect so quickly.” While previous studies have managed to activate hair growth in mice with damaged or dormant hair follicles over a matter of months, the Columbia’s findings seem to be the first of…
Climate Central reporter John Upton traveled to England and through the U.S. Southeast to investigate both ends of the global trade in wood pellets, interviewing scientists, politicians, policy makers, activists, workers and industry leaders.
Europe has long been viewed as the wellspring of climate action. But the loophole that’s promoting wood burning is so overlooked, he discovered, that it’s unlikely to even be raised during global climate treaty negotiations in Paris this December.