May 11th, 2018 marks what would have been the hundredth birthday of theoretical physicist Richard Feynman. Many physicists name Feynman, who passed away in February 1988, as their primary inspiration in the field and science enthusiasts all over the world frequently quote Feynman’s wit and blunt wisdom. According to a poll of scientists conducted by Physics World in 1999, Feynman was amongst the top ten physicists sharing acclaim with Einstein, Galileo and Newton. But what is it about the man that captivates so many?
April 25th was an important day for astronomers as it marked the release of a massive set of data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia probe. But for Ken Shan and his team, the data presented a unique opportunity to support a hypothesis regarding the cause of Type Ia Supernovas and possible extra-galactic intruders.
A look at a selection of the most important and interesting science stories from the first week of May 2018, including NASA’s INSIGHT probe’s mission to Mars, nuclear fusion for space exploration, photosynthetic sea-slugs and Stephen Hawking’s final research-paper.
Astronomers have long since concluded that the active galactic nuclei of most galaxies such as our own Milky Way play host to supermassive black holes of masses in excess of millions of times that of the Sun. Now new research implies that our own galaxy may well also contain up to as many as twelve ‘wandering’ supermassive black holes in addition to the central SMBH.
the Trump administration looks to finally appoint a NASA head, Republican Congressman Jim Bridenstine, a politician who you will be unsurprised to learn has no background in science and doesn’t accept man as the key driving factor of climate change. Bridenstine has also clearly pushed the idea that NASA should drop “expansion of human knowledge of the Earth and of phenomena in the atmosphere and space” from its mission statement, instead diverting its attention to what he terms ‘space architecture’, commercial and military interests.
The Independent’s Facebook page has unleashed an unparalleled barrage of poor science reporting from the paper’s history onto its followers. The common thread of these articles is their sensational, attention-grabbing headlines and the poor understanding and interpretation of the studies at the heart of the reports. We take a look at three science reports shared in a recent 24 hour period.
Time-travel has long been a staple of genre films, novels and television shows, with many of these tales focusing on the consequences of travelling back in time and threatening one’s own existence. The ‘grandfather paradox’ is not simply a facet of pulp fiction though, it consequences of the violation of causality have been hotly debated philosophers and physicists alike. Could the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics rescue a hapless (and clumsy) time-traveller.
One of the great ironies of Hawking’s death was that fact that one of his most revolutionary contributions to science suggested that nothing in our universe can last forever. In the formulation of Hawking radiation, he showed us the even, cosmological giants, black-holes, may eventually ebb away. In considering Hawking’s genius we will be exposed to a greater, far crueller irony, the reason that one of the greatest minds in this era of science will never hold its greatest accolade.
One of the most pressing but often over-looked concerns with increasing global temperatures are the dangers gradually revealing themselves to scientists from unexpected, previously unconsidered sources. Scientists have discovered that permafrosts hide a potentially deadly threat to ecosystems, massive reserves of mercury hidden in permafrost in the Northern Hemisphere.
In what represents a major breakthrough in infertility treatment, reproductive biologist Evelyn Telfer and colleagues at the University of Edinburgh have finally completed the development of a human egg outside the human body for the first time, it was announced in January. The development represents the first step it what may be a major victory for both infertile couples and women who have suffered illnesses such as cancer in prepubescence, looking to have children.