Laws of Logic Lead to New Restrictions on the Big Bang

Patterns in the ever-expanding arrangement of galaxies might reveal secrets of the universe’s first moments. Dave Whyte for Quanta Magazine Physicists are translating commonsense principles into strict mathematical constraints on how our universe must have behaved at the beginning of time. by Charlie Wood Staff Writer For over 20 years, physicists have had reason to feel envious of certain fictional fish: specifically, the fish inhabiting the fantastic space of M.C. Escher’s Circle Limit III woodcut, which shrink to points as they approach the circular boundary of their ocean world. If only our universe had the same warped shape, theorists lament, they might … Continue reading Laws of Logic Lead to New Restrictions on the Big Bang

The search for alien tech

There’s a new plan to find extraterrestrial civilisations by the way they live. But if we can see them, can they see us? Corey S Powell is a science editor and journalist. He has been editor at Discover, Scientific American and Aeon. He is the author of God in the Equation (2003), and co-author of Undeniable (2014), Unstoppable (2016) and Everything All at Once (2017) with Bill Nye, with whom he also makes the Science Rules! podcast. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.  Edited byPam Weintraub Are we alone in the Universe? And if not, should we be excited – or afraid? These questions are as immediate as the latest Netflix hit … Continue reading The search for alien tech

Why simplicity works

Does the existence of a multiverse hold the key for why nature’s laws seem so simple? Johnjoe McFadden is professor of molecular genetics at the University of Surrey in the UK. His books include Quantum Evolution (2011); Human Nature: Fact and Fiction (2006); Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology (2014), co-authored with Jim Al-Khalili; and Life Is Simple (2021). Edited by Sally Davies It’s May 1964 and, on a low hillside in New Jersey, the physicists Robert Woodrow Wilson and Arno Allan Penzias are listening in on the Universe. They are standing beneath what looks like a gargantuan ear trumpet attached to a … Continue reading Why simplicity works

Harvard Scientist Suggests That Our Universe Was Created in a Laboratory

Avi Loeb and the Great Unknown. The Harvard professor who thinks an alien probe visited our star system in 2017 has a message for the academic community. by VICTOR TANGERMANN It was an otherwise non-notable day in October 2017 when Canadian astronomer Robert Weryk made an astonishing discovery. Thanks to data from the University of Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS1 telescope at the Haleakala Observatory in Hawaii, Weryk spotted an unusual object, oblong and approximately the size of a football field, screaming through the solar system at 196,000 miles per hour. Strangest of all was that it seemed to be accelerating slightly, pushed by … Continue reading Harvard Scientist Suggests That Our Universe Was Created in a Laboratory

Surprise: the Big Bang isn’t the beginning of the universe anymore

We used to think the Big Bang meant the universe began from a singularity. Nearly 100 years later, we’re not so sure. KEY TAKEAWAYS The Big Bang teaches us that our expanding, cooling universe used to be younger, denser, and hotter in the past.  However, extrapolating all the way back to a singularity leads to predictions that disagree with what we observe.  Instead, cosmic inflation preceded and set up the Big Bang, changing our cosmic origin story forever. by Ethan Siegel Where did all this come from? In every direction we care to observe, we find stars, galaxies, clouds of … Continue reading Surprise: the Big Bang isn’t the beginning of the universe anymore

Is the Universe Open-Ended?

An intriguing proposal about what makes reality tick under the surface. BY CALEB SCHARF One of my favorite albeit heavily paraphrased quotes from Albert Einstein is his assertion that the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible. (What he actually said, in his 1936 work “Physics and Reality,” is more longwinded, and includes a digression into Immanuel Kant and the meaning of “comprehensibility,” but he does write “… the eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility.”) In truth, this statement holds back a little. The greater mystery is that the universe is actually capable of … Continue reading Is the Universe Open-Ended?

Let’s talk about sex — in space

It’s naturally part of every human space exploration but remains taboo. Here’s what we do and don’t know about cosmic sex. Author Marie Sina German astronaut Matthias Maurer breezes through interviews, rarely missing a beat when he answers journalists’ questions around his upcoming six-month trip to the International Space Station (ISS). But one topic throws even Maurer off momentarily: sex drive in space.  “We haven’t talked about this, because it’s a professional environment,” he replied to DW’s question on whether astronauts exchange insights on how to handle their desires.  Thanks to commercial space flights, more people are entering the cosmos than ever … Continue reading Let’s talk about sex — in space

Where Aliens Could Be Watching Us

More than 1,700 stars could have seen Earth in the past 5,000 years. BY LISA KALTENEGGER Do you ever feel like someone is watching you? They could be. And I’m not talking about the odd neighbors at the end of your street. This summer, at the Carl Sagan Institute at Cornell University and the American Museum of Natural History in NYC, my colleague Jacky Faherty and I identified 1,715 stars in our solar neighborhood that could have seen Earth in the past 5,000 years.1 In the mesmerizing gravitational dance of the stars, those stars found themselves at just the right place … Continue reading Where Aliens Could Be Watching Us

It’s Time for a New International Space Treaty

With satellite traffic increasing and space tourism set to take off, the laws governing space are due for an overhaul. BY RAMIN SKIBBA SPACE IS MUCH BUSIER than it used to be. Rockets are launching more and more satellites into orbit every year. SpaceX, the private company founded by Elon Musk, blasted more than 800 satellites into space in 2020 alone. Extraterrestrial tourism is about to take off, led by space barons Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson, two of whom have already taken their first private space outings. The frenetic activity of space agencies and space companies around the world will extend beyond Earth’s atmosphere, … Continue reading It’s Time for a New International Space Treaty

NASA predicts a “wobble” in the moon’s orbit may lead to record flooding on Earth

BY SOPHIE LEWIS Every coast in the U.S. is facing rapidly increasing high tide floods thanks to a “wobble” in the moon’s orbit working in tandem with climate change-fueled rising sea levels. A new study from NASA and the University of Hawaii, published recently in the journal Nature Climate Change, warns that upcoming changes in the moon’s orbit could lead to record flooding on Earth in the next decade.  Through mapping the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) sea-level rise scenarios, flooding thresholds and astronomical cycles, researchers found flooding in American coastal cities could be several multiples worse in the 2030s, when … Continue reading NASA predicts a “wobble” in the moon’s orbit may lead to record flooding on Earth